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In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English
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In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  535 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
This engaging book traces the history, archaeology, and legends of ancient Ireland from 9000 B.C., when nomadic hunter-gatherers appeared in Ireland at the end of the last Ice Age to 1167 A.D., when a Norman invasion brought the country under control of the English crown for the first time. So much of what people today accept as ancient Irish history Celtic invaders from E ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 11th 2003 by Ivan R. Dee Publisher (first published October 1st 2002)
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Jul 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
This work provides lots of information. I learned quite a bit about the kind of Catholicism that initially flourished in Ireland. The Irish became Catholic but kept married priests. Abbots, not bishops, ruled the Irish church. As one of the only Catholic countries not conquered by Rome, it preserved Western culture. Irish monks preserved, studied and copied many Greek and Latin manuscripts. Irish priests, trained in Irish monasteries, were sought after all over Europe during Medieval times. But ...more
Tim Gannon
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it
It deals with the history of Ireland from neolithic times to the coming of the English. I am primarily Irish in heritage. I was curious to learn about the people and see if I could note any influence of my cultural past in the paths that I have chosen across my life. Plus I wanted to read what was available on the history of Druids. Apparently this book was written based on current knowledge of some notable Irish archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians who appeared to go to great lengths ...more
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Could not put it down. Factual, written by artcheologlists. We are ordering one to keep in our collection.
Tim Martin
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, reviewed
_In Search of Ancient Ireland_ by Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton is a well-written and thorough tour of Irish history from Neolithic times following the last Ice Age up into the 12th century.

Chapter one looked at the first Irish people. The chapter began with the authors touring the Irish countryside examining eskers, long gravel ridges left behind by retreating glaciers, features that once served as elevated roads relatively free of vegetation, useful to Ireland's first arrivals. Although there
Max Nemtsov
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Хороший поп-очерк по истории Ирландии до начала известного периода, прекрасный телевизионный текст — видеоряда, правда, ему, конечно очень не хватает, но мы над этим работаем.
И реплика в сторону, как обычно: насколько все же уебищна, как становится окончательно ясно (не то чтоб это было непонятно и раньше, но тут как-то поражает с особой силой), была система преподавания истории в наших замечательных советских школах, с этой ее схоластикой классового подхода и ярлыками «исторического материализм
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting history

I read this in preparation for a vacation in Ireland. It's not a page turner but it is very interesting and gave great context to what I saw in my visit. Ireland is deeply rich in culture and heritage, and this book gave me a lot of color during my visit. Still, you really have to be there to wrap your head around the megalithic tomb at Newgrange and the impact of the Vikings on Dublin. Definitely worth the read if you're a history geek.
Mark McTague
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although the first two chapters were a bit dry to me simply because the amount of data from neolithic times is sparse, the narrative gets quite interesting from the arrival of Christianity ( 5th century A.D.) through the invasion of the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century, where the book ends. In between are numerous fascinating details about Ireland and the Irish that don't appear in the popular understanding today. To wit, St. Patrick wasn't the only or even the first evangelist to bring Christi ...more
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was a really interesting introduction into Irish history, it perused through centuries and gave a great overview of the major political, historic, religious and economic shifts taking place in the country, and how those happenings have been perceived through history and how they are understood today. The pages I earmarked as incredibly interesting were about the "honor price" (a value given to a person based upon their occupation), and the section about Brian Boru, the first politicall ...more
Sally Atwell Williams
The two authors of this book, Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton take the reader on a journey of the origins of the Irish from neolithic times to the coming of the English. The time period is 8000BC with the arrival of the hunter-gathers in the northern parts of Ireland to 1167 when Dermot MacMurrough goes to Ireland to seek the help of King Henry II in regaining his kingship. When the Anglo-Normans arrived, they never left.
Around 432 AD, Christianity arrived in Ireland with the appearance of St. Pa
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: celtic-history
In Search of Ancient Ireland is a book designed around a PBS Series. The authors decided to write the book because there have been many new discoveries made in the last 100 years about the history and pre-history of Ireland. These discoveries have been made in the fields of archeology and vernacular records. I think also, that the increased interest in anything Celtic is another reason this book and series were made.

The book deals with the history of Ireland before the 12th century CE, which is
Jenny T
Sep 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, read-in-2010
The Good: The authors' anecdotes from modern-day visits to ancient sites in Ireland really brought a personal touch to what might have been dry otherwise. Their passion for antiquity and for pointing out humorous quirks of various historical 'characters' (e.g. a particular king at Cashel, who went around raiding a nearby monastery and was rumored to have been poked in the rear by the staff of said monastery's angered patron Saint Ciaran, and henceforth died of the flux.) Common misconceptions ab ...more
Dec 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
For someone who is only removed genealogically from Ireland by three generations I often find myself feeling ignorant of much of Ireland's history. I know the typical events - the potatoe famine that decimated the population, St. Patrick's Christianizing the country, and th Book of Kells' illumination - but I was unaware of many of the more subtle historical themes. Unlike much of Europe, Ireland never developed a tradition of inherited high-kingship (instead opting for smaller regional tribes l ...more
M. Apple
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
A companion to the PBS series, this book is filled with an enormous number of historical details about Irish civilization, some surprising and some well-known. Unfortunately, the book is in great New of a strong editorial hand. It reads like a first draft of a graduate thesis, has too many short sections and subheading, and lacks a final summary chapter which would bring the book to a satisfactory conclusion. At several points historical figures are reintroduced -- a technique which fits a TV pr ...more
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, read-2013
I should have paid more attention, because I didn't realize this was a PBS tie-in and I would have liked something a bit more scholarly. No complaints aside from that, because it did provide the thorough background and context for early Irish history and was written in an enjoyable, storytelling-yet-factually-accountable style that worked for me. Although there were no footnotes, I still have plenty of sources to further explore.

And between this and the ordination book a few reads ago, I now hav
May 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
As far as readability this book was great. Very engaging style, but that is about it. No sources and footnotes to check and much of this disagrees with other theories on this time of Irish history with no mention of that alternate hypotheses. There is a great deal of repetition between chapters in many cases. I did learn a few things I didn't know, but because of some of the things I know have contradictory explanations I am not sure I really learned anything at all. Easy to read probably too ea ...more
Dec 31, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this over a couple of months and enjoyed it. Fascinating to know that Ireland has ancient stone circles and tombs older than Stonehenge. Also that there was no Celtic invasion, just gradual assimilation with previous Irish population. Great stories about early Irish saints, such as Patrick and Brendan the Navigator. Irish monasteries centers of scholarship and books during Europe's dark ages. And poets highly valued in ancient Ireland. A spirited and independent culture lost when England ...more
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
As a history buff and one especially interested in my own Celtic history, I've always had an affinity for the history of Ireland. This book does not disappoint. It is well written, and very approachable for the history layman. It covers Ireland from the Neolithic through the English invasion, the history of the development of the High-King and of the Irish Church and monasticism. One will find that Irish monasteries were not like the European monasteries usually envisioned.
Gene Cummins
Aug 06, 2013 rated it liked it
This book filled in some of the gaps in my knowledge of early Irish history. It was very interesting, especially in tying together some of the loose ends from Caesar's histories and some of the Celtic lore. Of course a relatively short volume of work attempting to cover thousands of years of time can't read like an exciting novel, but it was nevertheless enjoyable.
Sarah Allen
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I. Chose this book because I've read books on the history of England and Scotland and both books preferred to the interaction throughout ancient times with Ireland. This book starts thousands of years ago and ends in the 12th century when the Normans invade. It gives a very rich picture of the original Irish culture. Highly recommended.
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A history of Ireland from 9000 B.C. to A.D. 1167, when England overran Ireland, probably to their everlasting regret. I enjoyed the earlier part of the book about the Neolithic period, but I'm not much of a fan of medieval history.

Very readable, though. I enjoyed it.
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
It was a very good... overview and primer. Perfect starting point for someone who doesn't want to get too academic but wants a through introduction to Irish Pre-history and early Christian history in Western Europe, or early Irish Pagan beliefs and practices.
Timothy Donovan
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
awesome read to learn how the people of Ireland originated. a lot of folklore mixed in as well to possibly account for missing periods. good jumping off point if you want a quick read on the originations of the Irish people up until the English invasion
Mar 09, 2014 rated it liked it
The first half was really engaging, focused on the people and their traditions and their lives. The second half focused on kings and their battles for control. The first half was more of what I was looking for.
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was really looking forward to this book, so it's a major disappointment. It's disjointed, repetitive and inconsistent. I realize the book is based on the PBS show, so I'm going to check out YouTube and see if the show is any better. What a disappointment.
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Learned a lot about Ireland and the Irish that was new to me.
Kevin Buckley
Jan 10, 2012 marked it as to-read
Caught some of this subject on a recent tv show -- decided it sounded pretty interesting - we'll see...not my normal type of read
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent overview of the information currently available.
May 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference, history
Love it History spectrum of Ireland, love the way it is written, it makes it relaxing yet interesting to read
Mar 10, 2014 rated it liked it
quite enjoyed it but am not overkeen on history books. Glad I read it all the same - very interesting to get history of Ireland without the current political situation being the topic!
Carol Lerch
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was good but ended before the "troubles", which I wanted to learn about. It was slow going at times.
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“Chemical properties in the peat stop anything from rotting, so bogs are the "bank vaults" of Irish history, protecting whatever is put in them. A bog-cutter recently described finding a slab of butter, still edible after more than a hundred years.” 0 likes
“God got angry at humanity for daring to build a tower to reach heaven. He made everyone speak different languages so no one understood anyone else. But this Irishman went around and talked to all the different people—unfortunately the story doesn't say how he did this—but he and his colleagues took the best bits of all the newly created languages and put them back together to create Irish. The inference is, 'We should write in Irish because it's made up of all the best bits of language created by God at the Tower of Babel. It's really the original language, so they must be speaking Irish in heaven.” 0 likes
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