A New History of Ireland


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In this review I will be discussing a whole series made up of 9 volumes called A New History of Ireland. Some of the volumes will be out of order because they are actually a companion to one of the other volumes. The series covers Irish history from prehistoric times to 1984.

Volume I (Prehistoric and Early Ireland): The aim of this volume is to survey Irish history from the first settlement (around 7000 BCE) to the Anglo-Norman invasion. This happens to be the longest period of Irish history. This period is divided into pre-and post-Patrician eras mainly because with Patrick came the written word. The four themes discussed in this volume are:

  1. The antiquity and thoroughness of the process by which land was cleared and given a shape designed for human needs, as well as the fluctuations in the extent and intensity of agriculture.
  2. The origins of Celtic Ireland.
  3. The organization of the Church AD 650 – to 1150.
  4. The relationship of the political order to the landscape

This volume is edited by Dáibhí Ó Cróinín. First published in 2005 then reprinted in 2008.

**Some of these chapters were written in the 1960s and 1970s, and so they reflect the direction of research rather than the lates research.

Volume II Medieval Ireland 1169 – 1534): The period discussed in this volume starts with the coming of the Normans and it ends with the rebellion of 1534. Basically, two nations and their interactions that form the complex history of Ireland.

**This is a very interesting volume that sets the stage for the history that is yet to come, and REALLY begins to explain the struggles that are coming.

This volume is edited by Art Cosgrove. First published in 1987 then reprinted in 1993 and 2008.

Volume III Early Modern Ireland 1534 – 1691: This volume actually came out before volumes I and II. In this volume we see the English completely taking over Ireland. The period discussed in this volume starts with the unsuccessful rebellion of Thomas Fitzgerald in 1534 and ends with the Treaty of Limerick in 1691. This volume also discusses the Irish language, literature, the Irish abroad and even the English language in early modern Ireland.

This volume is edited by T.W. Moody, F.X. Martin, and F.J. Byrne. First published in 1976 then reprinted in 1987, 1993, 2009, 2012. 

Volume IV Eighteenth-century Ireland (1691 – 1800): This volume discusses a well marked period in Irish history that starts with the Treaty of Limerick and ends with the parliamentary union. This was the period where the protestant minority reached its height in the political, economic and social arena. This volume also discusses Irish language and literature, Irish literature in English, the visual arts and music. It also has a chapter on the migrations to the continent of Europe.

This volume is edited by T.W. Moody, and W.E. Vaughan. First published in 1986 then reprinted in 2009.

Volume V Ireland Under the Union (1801 – 1870): This volume discusses the first part of Ireland under the Union.  The Union was enforced on January 1st, 1801 but by the end of 1870 there were a lot of things that undermined it.  These include the Land Act of 1870, the Church act of 1869, and the foundation of the Home Government Association. This was the period of direct rule by Britain of Ireland.

This volume is edited by W.E. Vaughan. First published in 1989 then reprinted in 2010.

Volume VI Ireland Under the Union (1870 – 1921): This volume discusses the second part of Ireland under the Union. It completes the coverage of Ireland under the Union.  This is one of the more interesting volumes to me.  I heard a lot of stories and read a lot of books on this period, but none of the stories have actually explained it as well as this volume.

This volume is edited by W.E. Vaughan. First published in 1989 then reprinted in 2010, 2012.

Volume VII Ireland (1920 – 1984): This volume  gives an outline of the division of Ireland and the eventual birth of the Irish Republic. It also gives us a comprehensive at the political developments in the north and the south.  It also gives us chapters on the economy, literature in English and Irish, the Irish language, the visual arts, emigration and immigration, and the history of women.

This volume is edited by J.R. Hill. First published in 2003 and reprinted in 2010.

Volume VIII (A Chronology of Irish History to 1976 – A Companion to Irish History, Part I):  The chronology here encompasses all of the volumes.  The editors attempted to give us a chart of events in the history of Ireland from the earliest times to 1976.  It aimed to cover all of the social spectrum but of course politics has a major part of this chronology. The book is divided into phases that correspond to the volumes of the New History of Ireland.  Every entry is based on either a primary source or a reliable secondary one. This as far as I know was never done before and if it was, it was not done to this extent.

**If you don’t get any of the other volumes get this one.

This volume is edited by T.W. Moody, F.X. Martin, and F.J. Byrne. First published in 1989 then reprinted in 2011.

Volume IX Maps, Genealogies, Lists – A Companion to Irish History, Part II: This volume is amazing.  Full of interesting information that you probably won’t get all in one place.  For any researcher this is a treasure trove.

**If you don’t get any of the other volumes get this one.

This volume is edited by T.W. Moody, F.X. Martin, and F.J. Byrne. First published in 1989 then reprinted in 2011.

MY VERDICTED: I think you need to pick and choose which volumes you want to get depending on the subject matter you are interested in, for me all of them were relevant.  If you want my advice and have a limited budget I suggest you get the last two volumes and read the rest in the library. 

I loved the series and see myself going back to it time and again when conducting research (with some cross referencing for updated ideas and such of course).

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