Wars of the Irish Kings: A Thousand Years of Struggle, from the Age of Myth through the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I [NOOK Book]

Overview

For the first thousand years of its history, Ireland was shaped by its monasteries and its wars. The artistic flourishing of the monasteries has received a good deal of attention, but the violent and varied wars have in recent years gone unremembered. In Wars of the Irish Kings, David Willis McCullough has turned back to the earliest accounts of these struggles to present a rich tapestry of Ireland's fight for its identity.

Beginning with the...
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Wars of the Irish Kings: A Thousand Years of Struggle, from the Age of Myth through the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I

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Overview

For the first thousand years of its history, Ireland was shaped by its monasteries and its wars. The artistic flourishing of the monasteries has received a good deal of attention, but the violent and varied wars have in recent years gone unremembered. In Wars of the Irish Kings, David Willis McCullough has turned back to the earliest accounts of these struggles to present a rich tapestry of Ireland's fight for its identity.

Beginning with the legends of ancient wars and warriors, moving through a time when history and storytelling were not separate crafts, into a time when history was as much propaganda as fact, Wars of the Irish Kings tells of tribal battles, foreign invasions, Viking raids, family feuds, wars between rival Irish kingdoms, and wars of rebellion against the English.

This collection is peopled with familiar names: Cuchulain, Finn MacCool, Brian Boru, Mad King Sweeney, Strongbow, Edward and Robert Bruce, Queen Elizabeth I and Lord Essex, Hugh O'Donnell, and Hugh O'Neill.

Battles formed the legends and history of the land: the Da Dannan meet the Fir Bolgs near Sligo, Brian Boru faces the Vikings at Clontarf in Dublin Bay, High King Rory O'Connor confronts the English invaders near Waterford, O'Briens battle the English (and other O'Briens) at Dysert O'Dea near Limerick, guns are carried for the first time in battle at Knockdoe near Galway, the Bruces from Scotland and their Irish allies overwhelm the English at Connor in Ulster, and Hugh O'Neill ambushes General Bagenal near Armagh. The book ends near Cork in 1601 when the English defeat O'Neill and his Spanish allies at Kinsale.

Common people as well as kings appear in these pages. A foot soldier in the early days of gunpowder accidentally sets off a disastrous explosion, a harper's disembodied head is sent by error to the king of England, who displays it as that of the king of Ireland, and a Welsh camp follower named Alice is given the job of executing Irish captives during the English invasion.

The sources for these stories and many more range from ancient manuscripts telling of mythical battles to a seventeenth-century siege diary. There are excerpts from such Irish literary masterpieces as The Cattle Raid of Cooley (The Tain), the monumental Annals of the Four Masters, passages from Gerald of Wales's account of the English conquest in the twelfth century, pages from an Icelandic saga, and even a blistering letter from Queen Elizabeth I to her inept commander in Ireland ("You do but piece up a hollow peace . . . ").

The result is a surprisingly immediate and stunning portrait of an all-but-forgotten time that forged the Ireland to come.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A fascinating mixture of mythology and actual historical events. . . . Lovers of Irish and medieval literature will relish this book.”—Booklist
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307434739
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/12/2010
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 262,786
  • File size: 10 MB

Meet the Author

David Willis McCullough’s most recent book is a historical anthology, Chronicles of the Barbarians: Firsthand Accounts of Pillage and Conquest from the Ancient World to the Fall of Constantinople. He is also the author of Brooklyn . . . And How It Got That Way, an informal social history, and the mystery novels Think on Death and Point No-Point. He lives with his wife, Frances, in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    By Lifthrasir; Bookmaster

    By Lifthrasir; Bookmaster
    I bleed green (except on tuesdays when i bleed orange). I am a total Celtist. I live and breath Ireland and its celtic cousins. Therefore, I am obviously a tad biast.
    But honesly, for any Tolkien fans, fantasy fans, history nerd, mythology geeks and the sea of Riordan worshippers, this is a good book. A bit thick, just like Homers Odyssey, but the richness of Celtic folklore and myth always astounds me.
    I love this book. If you are one of the people listed above (im nearly all of them, but i dont worship riordan, i just like his stuff), you should buy it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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