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Ireland's Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  56 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Ireland's Immortals tells the story of one of the world's great mythologies. The first account of the gods of Irish myth to take in the whole sweep of Irish literature in both the nation's languages, the book describes how Ireland's pagan divinities were transformed into literary characters in the medieval Christian era--and how they were recast again during the Celtic Rev ...more
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by Princeton University Press
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4.38  · 
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 ·  56 ratings  ·  14 reviews


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Finn Longman
10/11/16: Despite some confusion about release dates, just ordered this from Book Depository. My dissertation supervisor / Old Irish teacher wrote it, and it covers a fairly similar ground to aspects of my dissertation, so I felt I had to buy it! Also because Mark is funny, and he promised us in today's lecture that the book contains the word "sexcapades" with regards to the Dagda. What's not to love? May take me forever to read even once it's arrived because it's HUGE, but eventually I'll actua ...more
ArwendeLuhtiene
3-3.5/5
*Warning - Lengthy review coming xD!*

This is an interesting take on the evolution of the figures of the deities of Irish mythology, from the literary works of the Medieval Christian times to the Celtic Revival of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, up to the present, also briefly commenting on their influence on 20th Century epic fantasy works (Tolkien makes an appearance and I agree with the author that there is an interesting analogy between the Tuatha Dé Danann/people of the Sidhe
...more
Laura
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
In Parnell Square, in the centre of Dublin, there is an emblem of the strong interconnection between Irish mythology and national politics. The Garden of Remembrance, created to commemorate those who died in the pursuit of independence for Ireland, features a large sculpture of the children of Lir, designed by Oisín Kelly. As it is often the case with the Irish myths also in literature, the story of the children converted into swans by their jealous stepmother functions as a symbol. It was chose ...more
Dr. Andrew Higgins
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Due to two recent excellent explorations of Irish mythology - first Dr. Dimitra Fimi's brilliant course for Signum University 'Celtic Myth in Children's Literature' (www.signumuniversity.org) and secondly her newly published must read monograph Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children's Literature Idealization, Identify and Ideology from Palgrave (www.dimitrafimi.com) I have become very interested in Irish mythology and language; even to the point of trying to 'make an assault' on the bewildering gr ...more
Shashi Martynova
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish-studies
Absolutely brilliant. I'd give 10 stars if I could. Possibly THE book to start personal Irish studies, for any amateur. Immense work, fantastic scope of knowledge and literary sources for further investigation.
Joseph F.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So! You think you are an aficionado in Celtic mythology; an expert on the Irish gods. Well, think again. I thought I knew a thing or two on the subject, but this scholarly dense book taught me so much of what I knew through the years to be wrong.
In the first half, Williams gives us a very detailed understanding of the gods based on the early literature. Although even with this grand literature, the gods are always rather vague: they are never fully fleshed gods that we get in other mythologies,
...more
Renée
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is divided into 2 parts i.e. the 1st part covering the Irish 'gods' in pre-1500 literary sources and the 2nd part covering the literary sources dated for the most part after 1850. I was very much interested in the 1st part, the second I read because I forced myself to, I really could not care less about Madama Blavatsky, theosophism and esotheric blah. The author too is clearly critical, which was a relief, but I just would have liked more part 1. Besides I have an unexpainable aversio ...more
Everett Trechter
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think it should be clear that this is more a history of the literary treatment of what are sort-of considered the Irish gods, since reading the blurb here on goodreads might be a little misleading. I'd recommend having a basic familiarity with some of the concepts, characters, and major stories before jumping into this book, but having that, it's a really fascinating read. A little dense, but very full of information, written with an approachable joviality that gets you through the dry bits, a ...more
Andy
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adf
This book covers an interesting topic. It isn't comprehensive, though Williams is very up front about that. His writing style is engaging and flows very well, despite the highly academic topic. Williams is very informative. It's disappointing that so much of pre-Christian Ireland has been tainted by later Christian and Romantic writers, but clarifying this issue is still a beneficial endeavor.
Kris
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such an interesting book! This book is well written and does a great job of looking at Irish gods and goddesses through the lens of literature, form the early medieval manuscripts to the 21st century.
Maya
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Please read my review at Celtic Scholar's Reviews and Opinions
David Melbie
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Mythology
Recommended to David by: Library pick
Well. Just when I think that I know enough about a subject, along comes a book like this one to prove me wrong. Thanks to Mark Williams, I am now better informed on this fascinating topic. Unequalled by any other western culture for Its vast amount of literature on the subject of local myths, Williams points out that Irish myth is pretty much cut out of whole cloth. Well-researched and well-written, I recommend this book to all scholars of myth. You will not regret it.
Patrick
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an extensive history of the Irish gods in literature, from the early Middle Ages up to the present day. As a layman, it is the most comprehensive book I have come across on the subject. Unfortunately, we have no contemporary accounts of pre-Christian religion in Ireland, so most everything we know has been filtered through Christian monks, who were not interested in the religious aspects of Irish mythology or, generally, in providing any kind of encyclopedic account of the pantheon. Rath ...more
Bruce Macfarlane
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For those of us who brought up on irish mythology in the 60s and 70s this book is essential reading. Like Dumville who challenged the Arthurian writers, Williams points out, quite simply, that our knowledge of irish mythology is through the pen of those who could write. i.e. the Christian Monks. And thus what we see of the stories is through the eyes of those monks. Rarely from those who weren't. Sadly we cannot cross the event horizon to see the people described in those stories. But we are fre ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. For children's author (including adaptations of Sherlock Holmes stories) see Mark Williams and for clinical psychology professor writing on mindfulness, depression, etc. see Mark Williams