Sparky Booker


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About Me

Dr Booker is a historian of medieval Ireland, with particular interests in social, cultural, and religious history. Her work at Trinity College Dublin on the interaction between the English and Irish living in the English colony in Ireland in the later middle ages has addressed issues of ancestry and intermarriage, legal status, and the mutual exchange of language and customs between the two communities. She has focused particularly on marginalised or disenfranchised groups, like the Irish living in the English colony, and on non-elites who are so often obscured in the historical record. Her monograph on cultural exchange in the ‘four obedient shires’ of the colony is due to appear in Cambridge University Press’ Studies in Medieval Life and Thought series in 2016.

Dr Booker came to Swansea University in 2014 as part of a team on the AHRC-funded project ‘Women negotiating the boundaries of justice’, a comparative historical study across Britain and Ireland. Her research examines the position of women in the courts of the English colony of late medieval Ireland, assessing how they went about pursuing justice in both ecclesiastical and secular courts and how successful they were in doing so.

Dr Booker has been involved in a number of public engagement initiatives, and she co-founded a free public lecture series ‘Tales of Medieval Dublin’, which ran from 2010-2012. This series introduced its audience to 21 colourful characters who lived in the medieval city, and was published as a collection of biographical essays, Tales of Medieval Dublin. Over the past six years she has also helped to build ‘The Battle of Clontarf’ website, aimed at the general public, and contributed to many other activities as a member of the Friends of Medieval Dublin.

Areas of Expertise

  • Medieval Ireland
  • sumptuary law
  • ecclesiastical history
  • Medieval Dublin
  • onomastics
  • gender history
  • identity


  1. ‘Irish clergy and the diocesan church in the ‘four obedient shires’ of Ireland, 1399-1534’. Irish Historical Studies 154
  2. & (Ed.). Tales of Medieval Dublin. Dublin: Four Courts Press.
  3. 'The Knight's Tale'. In Sparky Booker and Cherie Peters (Ed.), Tales of Medieval Dublin. Dublin: Four Courts Press.
  4. ‘Intermarriage in fifteenth-century Ireland: the English and Irish in the ‘four obedient shires’. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 113
  5. ‘Gaelicisation and cultural exchange in late medieval Dublin’. In Seán Duffy (Ed.), Medieval Dublin X. Dublin: Four Courts Press.

See more...

Key Grants and Projects

  • Women Negotiating the Boundaries of Justice: Britain and Ireland, c.1100-c.1750 2014 - 2017

    , with Dr Deborah Youngs , AHRC

  • Gaelicisation and identity in the ‘four obedient shires’ of Ireland, 1399-1534 2012 - 2013

    Postdoctoral Fellowship, Trinity College Dublin, Irish Research Council

  • After the ‘middle nation’: the English of Ireland, gaelicisation, and identity in the ‘four loyal shires’ of Ireland in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries 2008 - 2011

    Postgraduate Scholarship, Trinity College Dublin, Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Research Groups

  • Friends of Medieval Dublin

    The Friends of Medieval Dublin is a group aiming to increase knowledge about and promote public interest in all aspects of medieval Dublin.