The Normans were great builders. Norman lords lived in strong stone castles.
Many of these castles can still be seen in Ireland today. Some of the
craftsmen and other people who worked for the lord lived near the castle.
People often came to the castle to sell goods and markets and fairs often
took place near Norman castles. Villages and towns began to grow near
Norman castles. The map shows some Irish towns founded by the Normans.
Monasteries and Churches:
Ireland's finest cathedrals were built by the Normans. Some of them are
still in use today - St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, St. Canice's Cathedral
in Kilkenny and St. Mary's in Limerick. When the Normans came to Ireland,
new religious orders from Europe came too. The Cistercians, the Franciscans,
the Dominicans, the Carmelites and the Augustinians came to Ireland in
Norman times and they still work here. Very often they settled close to
Norman castles. Many new monasteries and churches were built. Some of
these are now in ruin but others are still in use today.
The Normans used Dublin Castle as a centre of government for the whole
country. They also began to divide Ireland into counties. Some of our
laws date back to Norman times. They appointed sheriffs and they set up
a jury system here.
The Normans brought two new languages to Ireland - French and English.
Many Irish families came to work for Norman lords. They learned how to
grow many new crops. They divided the land into three long strips or fields
and learned different ways of tilling the soil. Every year a different
crop was grown in each field and one field was left fallow (idle). In
this way the soil regained its goodness.