Medieval history expert and dedicated Irish socialist Alf O'Brien, 72

Historians in the News

ALF O'BRIEN: ALF O’BRIEN, who has died aged 72, was a lecturer in the department of medieval history in University College Cork, a dedicated socialist and a leading authority on the life and times of medieval Ireland.

He had a particular interest in the growth of commercial relations between Ireland and the rest of Europe between the 11th and mid-16th centuries, a period when the “merchant prince” families of busy ports like Cork, Galway, Waterford, Dublin and other maritime cities burgeoned as trade flourished with European countries like Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

For many years, he had been working towards publication of a major book charting medieval Ireland’s strong commercial links with Europe between the years 1000 and 1540.

In time, Irish ports became staging depots for the onward transit of wine, grain, cloth, cattle, horses, timber, wool, fish, hides and salt to Britain and other countries.

Regrettably, O’Brien’s lifelong project was often disrupted by poor health and it did not come to fruition....

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