Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland

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In this lively, engaging chronicle, best-selling author and storyteller Malachy McCourt delivers his own unique perspective on Irish history. As entertaining as he is informative, McCourt presents the sinners and saints of his homeland in an effort to understand Ireland through centuries of invasion, oppression, and suffering. Here is a sweeping account of the Irish, from the age of the Tuatha de Danann to the Viking Invasion, through An Gorta Mor (The Great Famine) to the British occupation, to the modern strife...
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In this lively, engaging chronicle, best-selling author and storyteller Malachy McCourt delivers his own unique perspective on Irish history. As entertaining as he is informative, McCourt presents the sinners and saints of his homeland in an effort to understand Ireland through centuries of invasion, oppression, and suffering. Here is a sweeping account of the Irish, from the age of the Tuatha de Danann to the Viking Invasion, through An Gorta Mor (The Great Famine) to the British occupation, to the modern strife and struggle for independence -- with startling insights into how the Irish national character took shape. McCourt shows how scandals undermine the efforts of honest leaders on all sides, and how resentment grew so deeply entrenched. He explores the controversial relationship between Charles Parnell and Kitty O'Shea, and its actual role in the nationalist hero's downfall. He takes you into the private lives of Daniel O'Connell, Bobby Sands, Gerry Adams, and other players in the drama and tragedy -- and he makes you understand the milieu that produced them. Ireland has made a contribution to literature, diplomacy, and popular music not remotely matched by countries many times Ireland's size. In this volume, McCourt unveils a new take on the fiction, poetry, drama, and music that are Ireland's best-known export. Here are James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, and Bono as you have never seen or understood them before. Readers of this unparalleled history of the Emerald Isle will come back to where they are and get to know the place for the first time.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
McCourt (A Monk Swimming) breaks down Ireland's history into 16 sections and, through biographical vignettes, uses famous Irish men and woman to define each epoch. For example, he explores ancient Ireland by profiling the three most prominent Irish saints: Patrick, Brigid and Columcille. Each brief, colloquial sketch provides not only historical background but also colorful conjectures. Moving through history, readers encounter Brian Bor , the Irish king credited with expelling the Vikings and unifying Ireland; Strongbow, who led the Norman invasion of Ireland; and Hugh O'Neill, who battled Elizabeth for Irish freedom before succumbing in the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. Modern Ireland is represented by the likes of Theobald Wolfe Tone, a member of the (Presbyterian) United Irishmen, who led the unsuccessful revolution of 1798; and Daniel O'Connell, the Liberator, who brought religious freedom to Ireland's Catholics. Of course, modern revolutionary Ireland is represented by Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera, and there are also looks at writers W.B. Yeats and Samuel Beckett. McCourt takes us up to the present with portraits of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and rock star Bono. Interesting for the neophyte, this volume will be old news for the veteran reader of Irish history. Agent, Laurie Liss at Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct.) Forecast: A $25,000 marketing campaign will include a 10-city author tour, 30-city radio satellite tour and a 50,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Egads, another History of Ireland? McCourt (Singing My Him Song) discusses roughly 50 Irish legends and personalities that, taken together, could be considered a history of Ireland. The title states precisely what the reader will find; this is not a scholarly work. Beginning with Cuchulainn, wading into politics and the Troubles, and finishing with Bono, the text reads like a transcript of an evening's chat at Malachy's bar. His tales flow smoothly and quickly, most just a few pages long, mixing a brief retelling of the known history with personal anecdotes. There are some odd gaps: e.g., why does McCourt discuss Maude Gonne but ignore Constance Markiewicz? McCourt acknowledges such questions but makes no attempt to respond. He finds something good to say about all his subjects, so one may guess that among the missing are those who strained his sense of hospitality. This is a very readable and entertaining book for public collections that have McCourt's other books, shelved with them, not under Irish History.-Robert Moore, Bristol-Myers Squibb Medical Imaging, N. Billerica, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A celebrity-driven, dumbed-down, whirlwind tour of Hibernian history. History is about social movements, about catastrophe and conflict, about accidents, about misperceptions and misunderstandings. It's about power. McCourt (Singing My Him Song, 2000, etc.), brother of fellow nostalgia-monger Frank McCourt, knows this, but he puts on the blarney at the outset: "To anyone who knows me, it's no secret that I was never much for the formal schooling when I was a young fellow, paying scant attention when I did happen to attend, remembering little, and leaving it off completely at the ripe old age of thirteen." Q.E.D. What follows are textbook-glossing sketches on such matters as the Cattle Raid of Cooley, the Flight of the Earls (which McCourt sensibly proposes be rechristened "The Escape of the Earls"), and the recent Troubles, some rendered with only a passing command of the facts. (The word "bride," for example, does not come from the name of St. Brigid. It's pleasant to think that without the Irish there would be no such civilizing touches as marriage, but that's Thomas Cahill's territory.) These sketches hinge on individual personalities-Hugh O'Neill, Wolfe Tone, the inevitable James Joyce-whom McCourt approaches with reverential awe. The results are not helpful. Of one writer we learn, for instance: "Samuel Beckett was a fascinating man, who gave the world a great body of work." Of Bernadette Devlin, surely one of the more controversial figures in recent Irish history: "As a young university student, she turned to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for inspiration. In future years some young person, perhaps, will turn to her in the same way." Over U2 he swoons: "Passionate and thoughtful, theband brought intelligence back to rock-and-roll after what seemed like decades where stupidity in popular music was the norm." And so on, all in the manner of an enthusiastic village explainer-helpful if you're a village, otherwise not. Cliffs Notes for a barstool chat. Anyone with an inkling of the subject, though, will know that there are shelves full of better sources. First printing of 50,000; $25,000 ad/promo; author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606710371
  • Publisher: Persius Book Group
  • Publication date: 12/20/2011
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 234,407
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

County Limerick native Malachy McCourt is the authority to tell the history of Ireland. He has written several books, including the best-selling A Monk Swimming, Singing My Him Song, Danny Boy, Voices of Ireland, and The Claddagh Ring. Complementing his literary work, McCourt is also a skilled actor. He appeared in the television series Oz and in feature films such as The Bonfire of the Vanities. He lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Ireland Before Patrick
Chapter I Peig Sayers: A Modern Look at an Ancient World 9
Chapter II Cuchulainn, Fionn mac Cumaill, and Deirdre 13
The Land of Saints and Scholars
Chapter III Patrick: From Slave Boy to Patron Saint 26
Chapter IV Brigid: "The Mary of the Gael" 32
Chapter V Columcille: The Dove of the Church 35
The Viking Invasion and the High Kings of Ireland
Chapter VI The Vikings and Brian Boru 45
Chapter VII High Kings and High Villains--Turlough O'Connor, Rory O'Connor, and Dermot MacMurrough 56
The Norman Invasion to Henry VIII: 1169-1537
Chapter VIII "Strongbow"--Richard de Clare 68
Chapter IX The Earls of Kildare--Gerrold Mor, Gerrold Og, and Silken Thomas 76
The Tudor Conquest and the Fall of the Gaelic World
Chapter X Hugh O'Neill, the Battle of Kinsale, and the Escape of the Earls 102
Chapter XI Grace O'Malley--Granuaile 118
The Seventeenth Century: Destruction, Chaos, and Loss
Chapter XII Rory O'More and Owen Roe O'Neill 133
Chapter XIII A Short Biography of an Odious Gatecrasher of Irish History 145
Chapter XIV Patrick Sarsfield, the Wild Geese, and the Penal Laws 146
Chapter XV Oliver Plunkett 156
The Great Patriots
Chapter XVI Wolfe Tone 163
Chapter XVII Robert Emmet 177
Chapter XVIII Daniel O'Connell 181
Ireland after the Great Hunger
Chapter XIX Charles Stewart Parnell: The Uncrowned King of Ireland 194
Chapter XX Michael Davitt 209
Chapter XXI Douglas Hyde 214
A Terrible Beauty is Born: Proclaiming the Republic
Chapter XXII Maud Gonne 225
Chapter XXIII Padraig Pearse 240
Chapter XXIV James Connolly 248
A Century of Irish Voices
Chapter XXV William Butler Yeats 262
Chapter XXVI James Joyce 272
Chapter XXVII Samuel Beckett 282
Birth Pangs of a New Nation
Chapter XXVIII Michael Collins 291
Chapter XXIX Eamon de Valera 304
Ireland in the Modern World
Chapter XXX Jack Lynch 315
Chapter XXXI Conor Cruise O'Brien 322
Chapter XXXII F. H. Boland 327
People of Passion
Chapter XXXIII Bernadette Devlin 331
Chapter XXXIV Bobby Sands 337
People of Peace
Chapter XXXV Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams 347
A Chance for Reconciliation
Chapter XXXVI John Hume 353
Chapter XXXVII David Trimble 360
Chapter XXXVIII Gerry Adams 364
The Celtic Tiger and the New Ireland
Chapter XXXIX Mary Robinson and Bertie Ahern 371
Chapter XL Bono 379
Epilogue 386
List of Works 387
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A great, quick primer on Irish history

    Malachy writes in such a manner to keep you turning the pages. If you want a quick history lesson on the Irish people and the Island that is Ireland. A group of us are planning a trip to Ireland this summer and the historical storyline will help to understand what the Irish have gone through prior to gaining their independence. If you like Irish history in doses you are able to absorb then this is the book for you.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    Malachy McCourt is an amazing writer - full of the knowledge and humor of Ireland. This book is well worth reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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