Liminal learning: Social practice in seasonal settlements of western Ireland

Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
Get full text


This article explores the perception and practice of everyday life at transhumant settlements in western Ireland during the period, c.1750–1920 AD. Small-scale summer transhumance to upland pastures was once widespread in Ireland. Dairy cows would be sent by families to hill and mountain commonages, with herders milking the cows and making butter. Recent archaeological and oral historical research has shown that these people dwelled in small structures known as booley houses, which have a high degree of variability in construction, distribution, and use. Unlike Continental European pastoralism, but similar to Scandinavia, it seems to have been mostly young people who occupied booley sites. With oral tradition and field evidence, this article addresses the social implications of seasonal re-location to liminal landscapes, and how it functioned as a didactic rite of passage. Furthermore, it demonstrates the flexibility of pastoral communities as work routines changed over time at both home and booley.




Costello, E. (2017). Liminal learning: Social practice in seasonal settlements of western Ireland. Journal of Social Archaeology, 17(2), 188–209.

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free