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The Ireland Story

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Books on Pre-1600 Ireland

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General Irish History - Before 1600 - 1600 to 1969 - The 'Troubles' - Maps - Discovery Maps - Other Books

* Essential Title *

Pre-Christian Ireland

Pre-Christian Ireland: From the First Settlers to the Early Celts
By Peter Harbinson; Paperback; 1995; Thames & Hudson; ISBN: 0500278091; 208 pages.

An excellent and well illustrated walk through the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Celtic periods of Irish history with lavish descriptions of the archaeology and artefacts that has led to the conclusions that we have made. Detailed discussions of the various historical monuments around Ireland.

Exploring Newgrange
By Liam Mac Uistin; Hardback; 2000; O'Brien Pr; ISBN: 0862786002; 112 pages.

Liam Mac Uistin is an author and playwright who specialises in pre-Christian Ireland. In this book he looks at Newgrange, one of the most awesome and enigmatic Stone Age constructions in western Europe. At 5000 years old, it is older than the Egyptian Pyramids. But despite the extensive archaeological excavations at Newgrange and other Megaliths, the answers to key questions remain elusive. In this book, the author tackles these fundamental questions: who built it? why was it built? what does it mean? An excellent read.

Ancient Ireland: Life Before the Celts
By Laurence Flanagan. Amazon.com: Hardback; 1999; Palgrave; ISBN: 0312218818; 288 pp. Amazon.co.uk: Hardback; 2000; Gill and Macmillian; ISBN: 0717124339; 270 pp.

The Mesolithic and Neolithic Stone Ages and the Bronze Age formed by far the longest part of Ireland's human history, spanning over 7000 years. This book takes a detailed look at this formative period of history, using archaeology and other evidence to reconstruct a picture of who these pre-Celtic Irish people were. A fascinating glimpse at a prehistoric people who can only speak through the archaeology they left behind.

Celtic Britain and Ireland: Art and Society
By Lloyd Laing, Jennifer Liang; Amazon.com: Hardback; 1995; Palgrave; ISBN: 0312126131; 224 pages. Amazon.co.uk: Hardback; 1995; Herbert Press; ISBN: 1871569753; 223 pages.

Far from being an isolated people, the Celts whose culture infused Ireland and Britain during the Iron Age were influenced by Romans and Vikings, as well as the previous Bronze Age occupants. This book discusses the rich art of the Celts, as well as their technology, society and spirituality. Drawing upon archaeological sources, the Liangs paints an intimate portrait of an amazing people. Well up-to-date, this book is well illustrated with some of the most exquisite Celtic treasures found in the British Isles.

Pagan Celtic Ireland: The Enigma of the Irish Iron Age
By Barry Raftery; Paperback; 1998; Thames and Hudson; ISBN: 0500279837; 240 pages.

The two sources we have to understand Celtic Ireland is the archaeological evidence and the great myths. This book tackles the key question: how well do these two sources tally? In addition, Barry Rafftery examines in detail the people, their inventions in terms of transport and metalwork, and their religious beliefs. He then goes on to examine how Celtic Ireland was influenced by the Roman occupation of Britain. Finally, the books looks in detail at the ongoing debate of whether or not the arrival of the Celts was an invasion or a diffusion.

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Wood Quay: The Clash over Dublin's Viking Past
By Thomas Farel Heffernan; 1988; University of Texas Press; ISBN: 0292790422; 155 pages.

In the 1970s, while digging foundations for a huge office complex at Wood Quay in central Dublin, construction workers were stunned to find the virtually complete remains of an ancient settlement. The settlement turned out to be the remains of the old Viking city of Dublin and had lain there for 1100 years. Complete houses and parts of the city wall were unearthed. However, zealous developers constantly agitated to allow construction to resume. This is the story of the eight-year fight to keep the machinery away from Wood Quay and to let the archaeologists uncover what was one of the most significant finds of Irish history. Eventually, the bulldozers did move in, but not before substantial knowledge was gained.

How the Irish Saved Civilisation

How the Irish Saved Civilisation: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe
By Thomas Cahill; Paperback; 1996; Doubleday Books; ISBN: 0385418493; 246 pages.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire, much of northern Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages, so called because little or no records survive from that period. This period lasted for roughly 400 years, from the 5th to the 9th century, during which time the Barbarians, Goths and Vandals ravaged the continent. However, in Ireland, the "Land of Saints and Scholars", monks and scribes preserved Christianity and learning. Following the slow return of law and order to Europe, the Celtic monks were instrumental in spreading civilisation and Christianity back into the rest of Europe. This book is an exploration of this proud period of Irish history and the part that the  people of ancient and medieval Ireland played in the rise of Western civilisation.

* Essential Title *

(Amazon.com version. Click for Amazon.co.uk cover)

The Catholics of Ulster: A History
By Marianne Elliot; Amazon.com version: Hardback; 2001; Basic Books; ISBN: 046501903X; 650 pages. Amazon.co.uk version: Hardback; 2000; Allen Lane The Penguin Press; ISBN: 0713994649; 688 pages.

Described as "one of the most distinguished" books on Irish history in recent years (Bardon), Marianne Elliot, herself an Ulster Catholic, explores her people, a family that has always been somewhat apart from the rest of Ireland. The book peels away layers of myth and legend to reveal the reality behind the people who, by virtue of their location, have been the minority in a majority Protestant state for the past 80 years. Ms Elliot explores their complex history from the plantation to the present day. This is a book that is both brutal and triumphant. A much anticipated, provocative and critically acclaimed book.

* Essential Title *

Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape
Editors: FHA Aalen, K Whelan; Hardback; Univ of Toronto Pr / Cork Univ Press; ISBN: 0802042945; 352 pages.

This stunning and under-recognised book charts the dynamics of all parts of rural Ireland from the ravages of the Ice Age, through the Neolithic and Celtic periods, the Normans, the Plantation through to modern developments. At all stages, it is made abundantly clear how the Irish landscape is intertwined with human history and many chapters are devoted to the churches, castles and houses that characterise rural Ireland. As well as an invaluable reference book, this will give hours of enjoyment for the browser. In their balanced, but not detached, account the editors have put together an intimate portrayal of the Irish rural landscape that deserves to sit proudly on the shelf of anyone who loves Ireland.

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