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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 ancient sites and folk customs that provide tangible links to events thousands of years past. The authors visit and describe many of these places, talking to a wide variety of historians, archeologists and language scholars, 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. It is all here, from the Celtic culture to the rise of the uniquely Irish Christian spirituality to the final chapter which deals with the complex events that lead to the English invasion of the island.
In Search of Ancient Ireland is the official companion to the PBS series of the same name.
|Chapter One THE FIRST IRISH|
|Chapter Two THE AGE OF BRONZE|
|Chapter Three THE CELTIC CULTURE AND IRELAND|
|Chapter Four PAGAN CELTIC RELIGION AND LAWS|
|Chapter Five SAINT PATRICK - PATRON SAINT OF THE IRISH|
|Chapter Six THE RISE OF CELTIC SPIRITUALITY|
|Chapter Seven SAINTS AND SCRIBES|
|Chapter Eight IRISH MONASTERIES & SCHOLARS|
|Chapter Nine RAIDERS FROM THE SEA|
|Chapter Ten VIKING KINGS IN DUBLIN|
|Chapter Eleven BRIAN BORU, EMPEROR OF THE IRISH|
|Chapter Twelve HOW THE ENGLISH CAME TO IRELAND|
Posted November 25, 2003
I really love this book. In fact, I am buying it as a Christmas gift for a number of people in my family. It is well written and very informative. It contains so much that is interesting - from the original settles in Ireland, to the monastic families to the reason why the English invaded in the twelfth century. I do not know of any other book which gives this information in a format that is clear and easy to understand. I had this book as a text book in a class that I took and I just loved it. I even read it in bed!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 10, 2003
In "In Search of Ancient Ireland," Carmel Mc Caffrey and Leo Eaton have written what is essentially an Irish 'Book of Genesis' that is particularly compelling for Irish of the diaspora who often wonder about their roots. The imagery of the songs and stories we've heard from parents and grandparents are about lost causes and loved ones, the intensely emotional ties of family and place. But true (and literally, radical) identity only comes with long memory, a far reach into the past that makes some sense of who we are now. This book goes a long way in supplying that tribal memory. It is a happy combination of good, current historical scholarship written in very accessible prose. It helps us reassess accepted notions such as the 'Celtic invasion' of Ireland and it contains many pleasant surprises. The St. Patrick we thought we knew, for instance, is very quietly stripped of his imposing Roman vestments, miter, and crosier and what emerges is a very gentle man, a dreamer who never got over his love for the Irish. He is described as returning to Ireland to forge a blend of the Christian and ancient spiritualities that was indeed something new. What may also be a surprise for some is the emphasis McCaffrey and Eaton place on the Irish genius for applied technology. They were sophisticated astronomers, the goldsmiths of Europe, the publishers of intricately artistic manuscripts. The director of the national museum is quoted as saying of the Ardagh chalice and its finely wrought gold and bronze that it was "...a technique that originated in the Roman world and was perfected and developed here by the Irish." Another Roman import that gets a thorough analysis in this book is Christianity. It is a sad part of the story, in a way, because, as the chapter "Irish Monasteries and Scholars" points out, the Irish forged an absolutely original expression of Christian life in their "monastic" settlements. Families lived and worked together, community was based on negotiated arrangements, not on imposed regulation, and scholarship and preservation of classic texts was a sacred responsibility. That world died as this book ends. But as you close this book you realize that what did not die is the Irish capacity to resurrect its genius again and again just when it is needed the most.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 14, 2003
This is not your average history book in that the story of ancient Ireland flows off the pages and reads like an ancient tale. 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 loved reading this book and felt as if I had gone back in time and that the past was alive again. An Irish past that I did not even realize existed! Different characters jumped off the pages to almost tell their own stories ¿ St. Patrick, Brian Boru, and even the Vikings take on a real form and the research into the period is excellent, dispelling myths and giving the correct sources. I loved the quotes from the ancient Irish annals. This book is an excellent source book for everything you want to know about ancient Ireland. It made me proud of my Irish ancestryWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 31, 2002
This book is a great read and contains fascinating new information on Irish pre-history and early history. There is much that is new here [including the fact that the Irish did NOT have a Celtic invasion] and the authors have given me a lot of new insight into this period of Irish history. Of all the books that I have read on ancient Irish history this one was the best researched.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 1, 2002
A most welcome addition to Irish history literature! Ms. McCaffrey's prose is sharp & concise, drawing in & taking hold of the reader as she reports from the sites of Ireland's most famous ruins. This book is unique in that the author's accurate descriptions of the sites are but a starting point for sharing the most up to date research of the most respected scholars (who accompany her on location) of the various periods. The book starts as far back as is known about Irish history, an incredible 100,000 BC & before, & takes the reader up to the coming of the English in the 12th century. Especially good are details of Patrick's first wanderings & spreading of Christianity; monastic culture, which is given a new examination & is revealed as more than a life of prayer & seculsion--it is a vibrant center that permeates all aspects of Irish community. McCaffrey's sections on the Viking invasions are told with a freshness, especially as she examines the logistics of these sea & inlet operations. If want the next best thing to visiting these magical places & to become well versed in Irish history up to 1171, this is the book for you. Highest rating! (When's the sequel?)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.