Celtic scholar Barry Raftery dies

Tue, Aug 24, 2010, 01:00

THE DEATH has taken place of Prof Barry Raftery, emeritus professor of archaeology at UCD.

Prof Raftery, who was recognised as the country’s leading scholar on the archaeology of later prehistoric societies, was appointed to the chair of Celtic archaeology in UCD in 1996.

He was visiting professor of European prehistory in Ludwig-Maximilians Universität Munich in 1969-70, and was visiting professors at Kiel University (1991) and the University of Vienna (1997).

He received numerous research awards. A former senior vice-president of the Royal Irish Academy, he also held membership of the German Archaeological Institute and was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1995.

His early postgraduate work was on hill forts, and he published the first overview of the form and roles of such sites in Ireland. This also led to the excavation of a critically important site at Rathgall, Co Wicklow.

His doctoral research, on the Irish Iron Age, resulted in two major books: A Catalogue of Irish Iron Age Antiquities (1983), and La Tène in Ireland: Problems of Origin, Development and Chronology (1984).

He played a major role in the international Celtic exhibition in Venice in the early 1990s, which resulted in a landmark volume, The Celts (1991), of which he was an editor, and his own book, Pagan Celtic Ireland (1994).

Prof Raftery, who was in his mid-60s, died at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, on Sunday, following a long illness. He is survived by his wife Nuala and daughters Sara and Tilly.

His removal takes place this evening to the Church of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners, Rathmines, arriving at 5pm. Following funeral Mass in Rathmines at 10am tomorrow he will be buried in the cemetery of St Mary’s, Glenfarne, Co Leitrim.