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Dr Colm Donnelly

Dr Colm Donnelly

Director of the CAF and Senior Research Fellow


Telephone: 028 90 973845
Email: c.j.donnelly@qub.ac.uk


Dr Colm Donnelly has been employed within Queen's University Belfast since November 1999 and during the last 12 years he has been responsible for the instigation and management of a wide range of successful archaeological projects. He was the co-author with Professor Gerry McCormac (now Vice-Chancellor, University of Stirling) of the application that won the university a Queen Elizabeth II Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education on behalf of the Palaeoecology Centre in 2000, and in 2002 he was a member of the cross-faculty team that prepared the successful application for SPUR2 funding to the value of £6.1 million for the construction of a new Archaeology & Palaeoecology Building and its associated AMS Radiocarbon Laboratory. Colm has been in charge of the CAF since it was established in June 2002 to undertake the fieldwork requirements of EHS: Built Heritage (now NIEA). He is line-manager to the CAF team, is responsible for the implementation and monitoring of all work schedules, and for the financial management of the unit.

Colm is an historical archaeologist who specialises in Medieval and 17th-century buildings, and has a particular interest in tower houses, the subject of his doctoral research. A founding member of the Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group (IPMAG) in 1999, he is also an experienced field archaeologist - a subject he teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate level within Queen's - and he has directed excavations at a range of sites including Sir Toby Caulfield's early 17th-century manor-house at Castlecaulfield, County Tyrone (2011), and the O'Neill tower house and Sir Arthur Chichester's fort on Castle Hill, Dungannon, County Tyrone (2007).

Since 2010 Colm had led a transatlantic excavation and education programme between the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, USA and QUB. This has involved the excavation in Lowell at a site associated with Irish settlers from the 1840s, and the excavation in Tyrone of a homestead of one of those settler families - the Cummiskeys - at Crossan near Dromore.

Colm is a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Historical Archaeology. He is a member of the Past Cultural Change Research Cluster within the School, the Programme Co-Ordinator for the Masters in Professional Archaeology, and External Examiner in Archaeology at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland.

Membership of Societies

  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Member of the Institute of Leadership and Management

Current Teaching

  • ARP2001 Archaeological Excavation (& Module Co-Ordinator)
  • ARP2004  From St .Patrick to the Plantation: The Archaeology of Historic Ireland
  • ARP1003 Barbarians, Vikings and Traders: The Archaeology of Historic Europe
  • GAP1001 Evolution: Humans and Ideas
  • GAP7302 Archaeological Excavation: Legislation, Management and Methodologies (& Module Co-Ordinator)
  • GAP7307 Geophysical Surveying (& Module Co-Ordinator)   


Donnelly, C., 2001: “Tower houses and Late Medieval secular settlement in County Limerick”, in P. Duffy, D. Edwards and E. FitzPatrick (eds.), Gaelic Ireland: Land, Lordship and Settlement c. 1250-1650, Four Courts Press, Dublin, 315-328.

Donnelly, C., 2001: “Decline and Adaptation: The Medieval Irish tower house in Early Modern County Limerick”, in G. Malm (ed.), Archaeology and Architecture, BAR International Series 930, Archaeopress, Oxford, 7-17.

Williams, B. and S. Gormley with contributions by S. MacCartan, C. Donnelly and G. Gilmour, 2002: Archaeological Objects from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland Archaeological Monographs No.5, Environment and Heritage Service and Blackstaff Press, Belfast.

Donnelly, C., and A. Horning, 2002: “Post-Medieval and Industrial Archaeology in Ireland: An overview”, Antiquity76, 557-61.

Donnelly, C., 1998: “Sectionally constructed tower houses: A review of the evidence from County Limerick”, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland128, 26-34. (volume published in 2002).

Donnelly, C., 1999: “A typological study of the tower houses of County Limerick”, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 129, 19-39. (volume published in 2003).

Moore, P., C. Donnelly, E. Murphy, W. Roulston and F. McCormick, 2002: “Excavation at St. John’s Church, Islandmagee, County Antrim”, Ulster Journal of Archaeology61, 130-147 (volume published in February 2004).

Donnelly, C., 2004: “Passage or Barrier? Communication between bawn and tower house in Late Medieval Ireland – the evidence from County Limerick”, Chateau Gaillard 21, 57-64

Donnelly, C., 2004: “Masshouses and Meetinghouses: The Archaeology of the Penal Laws in Early Modern Ireland”, International Journal of Historical Archaeology8.2, 119-132.

Donnelly, C., and E. Murphy, 2004: “Prehistoric Fermanagh”, in E. Murphy and W. Roulston (eds), Fermanagh: History and Society, Geography Publications, Dublin, 1-32.

Logue, R., C. Donnelly and R. McHugh, 2003: “Excavation in the vicinity of St Tassach’s Church, Raholp, County Down”, Ulster Journal of Archaeology62, 116-120 (volume published in February 2005).

Donnelly, C., P. Macdonald, E. Murphy and N. Beer, 2003: “Excavation at Boho High Cross, County Fermanagh”, Ulster Journal of Archaeology62, 121-142 (volume published February 2005).

Donnelly, C., J. O’Neill, T. McNeill and P. McCooey, 2005: “de Courcy’s Castle: The first phase of Anglo-Norman building activity at Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim”, Medieval Archaeology49, 311-17.

Donnelly, C., 2005: “The I.H.S. monogram as a symbol of Catholic resistance in 17th century Ireland”, International Journal of Historical Archaeology9.1, 37-42.

Donnelly, C., and C. McGranaghan, 2004: “O’Connor’s Stronghold, Derrywarragh Island, Maghery, County Armagh”, Ulster Journal of Archaeology63, 123-29 (volume published February 2006).

Donnelly, C., P. Macdonald, E. Murphy and N. Beer, 2006: “Excavation at Boho High Cross, Toneel North, County Fermanagh” in M. Meek (editor) The Modern Traveller to our Past: Festschrift in honour of Ann Hamlin, DPK, Belfast, 150-56.

S. Trick, C. Donnelly and R. McHugh, 2007: “A Geophysical Survey at Tullaghoge Fort”, The Bell: Journal of the Stewartstown and District Local History Society11, 16-27.

C. Donnelly, P. Logue, J. O’Neill and J. O’Neill, 2007: “Timber castles and towers in Sixteenth-century Ireland: Some evidence from Ulster”, Archaeology Ireland21.2, 22-25.

C. Donnelly, E. Murray and P. Logue, 2007: “Excavating with Time Team at Castle Hill, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone”, Archaeology Ireland21.4, 16-19.

C. Donnelly,, 2007: “Thomas J. Westropp and his study of the Medieval tower houses of Counties Clare and Limerick”, in C. Manning (ed), From Ringforts to Fortified Houses: Studies on castles and other monuments in honour of David Sweetman, Wordwell Ltd., Bray, 131-142.

C. Donnelly, 2007: “The Archaeology of the Ulster Plantation”, in A. Horning, R. O’Baoill, C. Donnelly and P. Logue (eds.), The Archaeology of Post-Medieval Ireland, 1550-1850, Proceedings of the Inaugural Conference of the Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group, Wordwell Ltd, Wicklow, 37-50.

C. Donnelly and Murphy, E., 2008: “The origins of cilliní in Ireland”, in E. Murphy (ed) Deviant Burial in the Archaeological Record, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 191-222.

C. Donnelly and Murphy, E., 2008: “The origins of cilliní”, Archaeology Ireland22.3, 26-29.

Orser Jr. C., and C. Donnelly, 2008: “Historical Archaeology in Ireland”, in D. Pearsall (editor-in-chief) Encyclopedia of Archaeology, Elsevier & Academic Press, Oxford and San Diego, 1327-1332.

C. Donnelly, Murray, E., and McHugh, R., 2008: “Dungannon Castle: Its history, architecture and archaeology”, Dúiche Néill 17, 11-24.

Ruffell, A., Donnelly, C., Carver, N., Murphy, E., Murray, E., and McCambridge, J., 2009: “Suspect burial excavation procedure: A cautionary tale”, Forensic Science International 183, 11-16.

Ruffell, A., McCabe, A., Donnelly, C., and Sloan, B., 2009: “Location and Assessment of an Historic (150-160 Years Old) Mass grave using Geographic and Ground Penetrating Radar Investigation, NW Ireland”, Journal of Forensic Sciences54.2, 382-394.

Gormley, S., Donnelly, C., Hartwell, B., and Bell, J., 2009: Condition and Management Survey of the Archaeological Resource in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, TSO Ireland.

Gormley, S., Donnelly, C., Hartwell, B., and Bell, J., 2009: “Monumental Change?”, Archaeology Ireland23.2, 11-13.

McKerr, L., Murphy, E., and Donnelly, C.J., 2009: "I Am Not Dead, but Do Sleep Here': The representation of children in Early Modern burial grounds in the north of Ireland", Childhood in the Past 2, 109-131.

Donnelly, C.J., 2009: "Architecture and Conflict: Limerick's Tower Houses c1400 to c1650", in L. Irwin, G. Ó Tuathaigh, and M. Potter (editors) Limerick: History and Society Geography Publications, Dublin, 71-89.

Murphy, E.M, and Donnelly, C.J., 2010: "Cilliní: lugares para el enterramiento de individuos infantiles en Irlanda", ¡Eso no se Toca! Infancia y Cultura Material en Arqueología. Complutum 21(2) (Complutum), 163-180.

FitzPatrick, E., Murphy,E., McHugh, R., Donnelly, C., and Foley, C., 2011: "Evoking the White Mare: The Cult Landscape of Sgiath Gabhra and in Medieval perception in Gaelic Fir Mhanach", in R. Schot, C. Newman, and E. Bhreathnach (editors) Landscapes of Cult and Kingship, Four Courts Press, Dublin, 163-191.

Donnelly, C.J., 2011: "The Tower Houses of County Limerick", in R. Stalley (editor) Limerick and South-West Ireland: Medieval Art and Architecture, The British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions 34, Maney Publishing, Wakefield, 189-201.