In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English
This engaging book traces the history, archaeology, and legends of ancient Ireland from 9000 B.C., when nomadic hunter-gatherers appeared in Ireland at the end of the last Ice Age to 1167 A.D., when a Norman invasion brought the country under control of the English crown for the first time. So much of what people today accept as ancient Irish history—Celtic invaders from Euproe turning Ireland into a Celtic nation; St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland and converting its people to Christianity—is myth and legend with little basis in reality. The truth is more interesting. The Irish, as the authors show, are not even Celtic in an archaeological sense. And there were plenty of bishops in Ireland before a British missionary called Patrick arrived. But In Search of Ancient Ireland is not simply the story of events from long ago. Across Ireland today are festivals, places, and folk customs that provide a tangible link to events thousands of years past. The authors visit and describe many of these places and festivals, talking to a wide variety of historians, scholars, poets, and storytellers in the very settings where history happened. Thus the book is also a journey on the ground to uncover ten thousand years of Irish identity. In Search of Ancient Ireland is the official companion to the three-part PBS documentary series. With 14 black-and-white photos, 6 b&w illustrations, and 1 map.
Excellent overview of Irish prehistory and ancient and medieval history
By Tim F. Martin - April 6, 2008
_In Search of Ancient Ireland_ by Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton is a well-written and thorough tour of Irish history from Neolithic times following the last Ice Age up into the 12th century.
Chapter one looked at the first Irish people. The chapter began with the authors touring the Irish countryside examining eskers, long gravel ridges left behind by retreating glaciers, features that once served as elevated roads relatively free of vegetation, useful to Ireland's first arrivals. Although there is debate over whether a land-bridge still existed at the time between Britain and Ireland, the first people to settle Ireland arrived in small family groups around 9000 BC, having left southwest Scotland for northeast Ireland. The authors discussed Mount Sandel, a Mesolithic site dating to around 7000 BC. Notable finds from the camp include fulacht fiadh (also known from the Bronze Age), essentially mounds of fire-heated stones that were used to boil water for cooking. More... read more
Lyrical prose, well researched.
By A Customer - February 15, 2003
This is not your average history book in that the story of ancient Ireland flows off the pages to entertain and delight. It is a well written, lyrical and well researched history of ancient Ireland. The writers take us to the top of pagan ritual mounds and inside ancient caves, crawling through dark passageways. They visit monasteries where the residents have long since vanished but the ghosts of the past remain to haunt and remind us of an Ireland that once was noble and classical in its learning. When Europe entered its Dark Age, Ireland and the Irish were there to bring the light of scholarship back. I have read other books on this subject but there is so much that is new here. McCaffrey and Eaton consult with the best Irish archeologists, historians and anthropologists to tell their story of Ireland's ancient past with a clarity that is refreshing and enlightening. I loved reading this book and felt as if I had gone back in time and that the past was alive again. An Irish... read more
A real gem!
By colin o'brien - July 13, 2003
This book is a real gem. It contained so much new information on ancient Ireland and the early development of the Irish people. I was totally surprised when I started to read it and found it so interesting. All of the new archeological information is in here and presented in such a way that it is hard to put the book down. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know about early Ireland, the Celtic culture, the Irish monasteries and the English invasion. Great!
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