Medieval Ireland: The Enduring Tradition
Irish history has traditionally been described either in isolation or in the manner in which it was influenced by outside forces, especially by England. This book strikes a different balance. First, the time span covered is longer then usual, and more attention is being paid to the early medieval centuries than to the later period. Whether the twelfth century marked a turning point in Irish history, as is normally taken for granted, is questioned here. Secondly, less emphasis is placed in this book on the political or military history of Ireland than on general social and cultural aspects. As a result, a new interpretation of medieval Ireland emerges, one in which social and cultural norms inherited from pre-historic times are seen to survive right through the Middle Ages. They gave Irish society a stability and inherent strength unparalleled in Europe. Christianity came in as an additional, enriching factor.
"Medieval Ireland: The Enduring Tradition" is an overview of Irish society from the coming of Christianity in the fourth century to the Reformation in the sixteenth. Such a broad survey reveals features otherwise not easily detected. For all the complexity of political developments, Irish society remained basically stable and managed to withstand the onslaught of both the Vikings and the English. The inherent strength of Ireland consisted in the cultural heritage from pre-historic times which remained influential throughout the centuries discussed here.