There are two main primary sources for the story of the Norman expedition to Ireland, both roughly contemporaneous. The first is Giraldus Cambrensis The Conquest of Ireland and the second is The Song of Dermot and the Earl. Both are accessible via the internet. Giraldus, or Gerald of Wales, visited Ireland twice in the 1180s. Several of his relatives participated in the first and subsequent expeditions in support of Dermot. I used the translation of his Conquest available as a pdf from www.yorku.ca/inpar/conquest_ireland.pdf.
The Song is believed either to have been written by Dermot’s secretary Maurice O’Regan or to have been told to the anonymous author by O’Regan. It was translated with extensive notes by Godard Henry Orpen in 1892. A copy of this translation is available to researchers via University College Cork’s CELT electronic texts library: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/F250001-001/index.html
The following books draw heavily on both:
- Nicholas (Nicky) Furlong: Diarmait King of Leinster, Mercier Press 2006, also available for Kindle.
- James Lydon: The Making of Ireland, Routledge, 1998 and The Lordship of Ireland in the Middle Ages, Four Courts Press, 2003 (New edition, first pub. Gill and Macmillan 1972)
- Sean Duffy: Ireland in the Middle Ages, Gill & Macmillan, 1997
- A.J.Otway-Ruthven: A History of Medieval Ireland, Barnes & Noble, 1993 (first pub. Routledge, 1968, rev. 1979)
The next book is useful for identifying the relationship between the names of medieval territories used in these accounts and present day counties and parishes. It also provides a comparison between the apportionment of land holdings before and after the arrival of the Normans:
Paul MacCotter: Medieval Ireland: Territorial, Political and Economic Divisions; Four Courts Press, 2008.
Furlong is a journalist, playwright, novelist, historian and organist whose love of Wexford is apparent in everything he does. http://www.nicholasfurlong.com/index.htm
Lydon is former Lecky Professor of Modern History, Trinity College, Dublin and Fellow Emeritus, Trinity College Dublin. Born 1928, ret’d 1993.
Duffy is Professor of History at Trinity College and has researched “the history of the English colony in medieval Ireland [and] relations with Wales”. http://people.tcd.ie/sduffy
The late Annette Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven was also Lecky Professor of History at Trinity College, Dublin, a post she held for 27 years to be followed by James Lydon.
MacCotter, formerly a senior fellow in the Department of Archeology, UCC , now describes himself as an ”independent scholar, professional genealogist and professional academic” http://www.paulmaccotter.com/about/
Simon Schama, in volume 1 of his History of the British Isles, published some years ago alongside a BBC TV series of the same name, provides a fascinating study of the Angevin kings in a chapter entitled Sovereignty Unbounded.
A later BBC series, made in conjunction with the Irish state broadcaster RTE in 2011, also has an excellent accompanying book. Written by Neil Hegarty, with an introduction by Fergal Keane who presented the TV series, The Story of Ireland:In Search of a New National Memory is an extremely accessible account of the key events in the creation of modern Ireland. Chapter 3, The Lordship of Ireland covers the Norman invasion and occupation.
An alternative view
Medieval Ireland: The Enduring Tradition by the German Michael Richter was published in German in 1983, translated into English by Brian Stone and Adrian Keogh and published in English in 1987 by Gill & Macmillan. As its author admits in his preface to the English edition, it presents “an alternative view of Irish history in the Middle Ages.” Prior to the book’s publication Richter had spent many years in both Wales and Ireland where he taught for twelve years at University College Dublin. Chapters 9 and 10 deal with the period covered by the articles on this website.
The Illustrated Archaeology of Ireland edited by Michael Ryan, Keeper of Irish Antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland contains a number of essays dealing with the medieval period. Published in 1991 by Town House and Country House in Dublin, the book provides a detailed examination of artefacts dating from as early as the Stone Age through the seventeenth century. Of particular relevance to the subject matter of this website are articles about the Anglo-Norman influence on architecture, town layout and pottery.
A much longer list
The writer of historical fiction, Elizabeth Chadwick, has on her website an extensive list of books and other reference material for students of the period.
Other useful websites
Finn Dwyer’s wonderful Irish History Podcast
http://thefreelancehistorywriter.com/ (Susan Abernethy)
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