Military history

Wars of the Irish Kings: A Thousand Years of Struggle, from the Age of Myth through the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I

Wars of the Irish Kings: A Thousand Years of Struggle, from the Age of Myth through the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I

For the first thousand years of its history, Ireland was shaped by its wars. Beginning with the legends of ancient battles and warriors, Wars of the Irish Kings moves through a time when history and storytelling were equally prized, into the age when history was as much propaganda as fact. This remarkable book tells of tribal battles, foreign invasions, Viking raids, family feuds, wars between rival Irish kingdoms, and wars of rebellion against the English. While the battles formed the legends of the land, it was the people fighting the battles—Cuchulain, Finn MacCool, Brian Boru, Robert the Bruce, Elizabeth I, and Hugh O’Donnell—who shaped the destiny and identity of the Irish nation.

This is the real story of how Ireland came to be, told through eyewitness accounts from a thousand years of struggle, brought together for the first time in one volume. It’s a surprisingly immediate and stunning portrait of an all-but-forgotten time that forged the Ireland of today.

INTRODUCTION: NOTHING BUT TROUBLE

Part I. MYTHICAL WARS AND WARRIORS

Introduction

The Second Battle of Moytura

The Cattle Raid of Cooley: Cuchulain

The Palace of the Quicken Trees: Finn MacCool

The Frenzy of Sweeney

Part II. KINGS AND BATTLES

Introduction

Brief Sketches of Three Irish Kings by Geoffrey Keating

The Annals of the Four Masters: Ninth- and Tenth-Century Entries

Part III. THE VIKINGS

Introduction

The War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill: The Early Viking Raids

The Freeing of Cellachain, King of Munster

Part IV. BRIAN BORU AND THE BATTLE OF CLONTARF

Introduction

Njal’s Saga: A Viking Account

The War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill: An Irish Account

Part V. THE NORMAN INVASION

Introduction

The Normans Arrive, 1169 by Gerald of Wales

The Song of Dermot and the Earl: Another Version of the Invasion

Henry II Comes to Ireland by Gerald of Wales

Part VI. JOHN DE COURCY AND THE CONQUEST OF ULSTER

Introduction

The Book of Howth: The Northern Conquest Begins, 1177

Part VII. THE SCOTS

Introduction

Edward Bruce Invades Ireland by John Barbour

Ireland During the Bruce Invasion From Holinshed’s Chronicles of Ireland

Part VIII. WARFARE IN THE KINGDOM OF THOMOND

Introduction

The Triumphs of Thurlough: The Battle of Dysert O’Dea by John mac Rory MacGrath

Part IX. THE BATTLE OF AXE HILL

Introduction

The Book of Howth: Battle of Knockdoe

Part X. HUGH O’NEILL TRIUMPHANT

Introduction

The Annals of the Four Masters: The Battles of Clontibret and Yellow Ford

O’Neill’s Victories by Philip O’Sullivan Beare

The Papers of Sir John Harington: Essex and Elizabeth

Part XI. THE BATTLE OF KINSALE

Introduction

The Annals of the Four Masters: O’Donnell and O’Neill Head South to Kinsale

An Englishman’s Siege and Battle Diary by Fynes Moryson

The Annals of the Four Masters: The Battle of Kinsale, An Irish View

AFTERWORD: THE FLIGHT OF THE EARLS

GLOSSARY OF COMMON IRISH WORDS USED IN PLACE-NAMES

A GUIDE TO PRONUNCIATION

SOURCES