Sharing Book Reviews

My thanks to Sally Cronin for featuring Strongbow’s Wife on her blog, along with an excellent review. For anyone that’s interested, there are two ways in which the Strongbow story connects with Archbishop Becket. Both he and Henry II were close friends with the Bristol merchant Aoife’s father first turned to for help in regaining his kingdom. And, once Beckett had been murdered in Canterbury Henry felt the need to atone. His mission to Ireland, suggested by the Pope some years earlier probably seemed like a good way of doing so.   via Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update … Continue reading Sharing Book Reviews

Another Connection Between Ireland and the Marcher Lords

Another entry in the Historical Ragbag’s Advent Calendar of Medieval Ruins involving Strongbow and his cohorts. I remember spending a few delightful days in Dunbrody, at a country house hotel run by one of Ireland’s ‘celebrity’ chefs. There’s a small brewery there, too, and I occasionally drink a glass of the excellent pale ale produced there. Not that any of that has anything to do with medieval history or Strongbow! Enjoy the article. The more I read about Irish history the more I understand the fraught relationship between the neighbouring islands. I do think it’s important, for English people especially, … Continue reading Another Connection Between Ireland and the Marcher Lords

More Strongbow Connections

The Historical Ragbag blog’s Advent Calendar of Medieval Religious Institutions today features another place with great significance in the history of Ireland and Strongbow’s presence there. His wife’s uncle, (St.) Laurence O’Toole, was Abbot at Glendalough, installed there by her father, before becoming Archbishop of Dublin. I first visited Glendalough when working on a month long assignment in Dublin in the spring of 1970. I’ve been there several times since coming to live in Ireland and it is without doubt one of the most beautiful and magical places you could ever visit. via Advent Calendar of Medieval Religious Institutions: December … Continue reading More Strongbow Connections

The Legacy of Strongbow’s Son-in-Law

Today’s entry in the Historical Ragbag’s Advent calendar is another from County Wexford. The storm referred to in the article also led to the construction of a light house on Hook Head. Legend has it that a monk maintained bonfires there to warn mariners of the hazardous rocks below. Marshal funded the construction of a lighthouse, a round tower with 2 metre thick walls that contain a spiral staircase leading to the light source at the top. If you are ever in Ireland it is well worth a visit. via Advent Calendar of Medieval Religious Institutions: December 11th: Tintern Parva Continue reading The Legacy of Strongbow’s Son-in-Law

The Birth Place of Strongbow’s Wife

This series of Advent posts about medieval buildings is proving very interesting with lots of places worth visiting, some of which I have visited myself at various times. Today’s features the Abbey founded by Strongbow’s father-in-law. The tab ‘Hereford and Ireland History’ on the menu above will take you to lots of background material to the story, and under ‘Publications’ you will find a link to my book ‘Strongbow’s Wife’ which tells what happened in the years following his arrival. via Advent Calendar of medieval Religious institutions: December 10th: St Mary’s Abbey Ferns. Continue reading The Birth Place of Strongbow’s Wife

The Exercise of Power

Ireland’s role in establishing the British Parliament’s supremacy over the executive. It was the English civil war, a brutal affair that lasted, on and off, for six years and pitched brother against brother and father against son, that established the supremacy of parliament. And it began with the trial of a man who had the temerity to threaten to raise a mostly Catholic army of Irish men to assist King Charles in his campaign against Scottish protestants. And Ireland was to suffer some of the worst horrors perpetrated during the course of the war. Thomas Wentworth had been appointed as … Continue reading The Exercise of Power

Home – what does it mean to you?

This post was suggested by The Writing Reader’s prompt #1753, the first line of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Last night I dreamed I was back in Urishay, a small community of farms and cottages in the hills above the Golden Valley, close to the Black Mountains that mark the border between England and Wales. I was a babe in arms when I first arrived there with my mother and grandmother. It was to be my home for the next 14 years. Our cottage had thick walls of local stone. A stream ran in a deep ravine with two waterfalls behind … Continue reading Home – what does it mean to you?

History: atozchallenge

When I was fourteen I was faced with a choice. I had to decide which 8 subjects I was going to study over the next two years leading to the GCE ‘O’ level examination. For those who are not familiar with the school leaving examinations in Britain in the 1950s, the initials stand for General Certificate of Education, Ordinary level. This exam was taken by a relatively small proportion of 16 year-olds. An even smaller proportion continued for a further two years and took ‘A’ (for advanced) level GCEs in 2 or 3 subjects leading either to university or a … Continue reading History: atozchallenge

Warrior Women of Ireland

Lot’s of heroic Irish women here. When I was researching for Strongbow’s Wife I could find very little information. As Ali says below, so much was written up or re-written to fit the victor’s and the church’s view of events. I know some believe that, after Strongbow’s death, Aiofe became a warrior woman, fighting his  cause. I prefer to think that, as an Irish woman, she deplored what her father had unleashed on Ireland and chose, instead, to look for ways to achieve a peaceful outcome. Maybe that’s just the pacifist in me. What do you think? Continue reading Warrior Women of Ireland

The Search for Peace: Strongbow’s Wife extract

Following Strongbow’s death, Aoife was given the dowerage of Striguil Castle and estate. Her children were in the custody of King Henry at the Tower of London. On arrival at Striguil she would have discovered a great deal of hostility from native Welsh towards her husband’s fellow Normans. The immediate cause of Welsh anger was the massacre that took place at Abergavenny Castle the previous Christmas. In my fictional version she is horrified by accounts of the event and decides to travel to Hereford in order to remonstrate with the wife and mother-in-law of the man responsible. En-route she seeks … Continue reading The Search for Peace: Strongbow’s Wife extract