Irish History For Dummies
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More About This Title Irish History For Dummies


From Norman invaders, religious wars—and the struggle for independence—the fascinating, turbulent history of a tortured nation and its gifted people

When Shakespeare referred to England as a "jewel set in a silver sea," he could just as well have been speaking of Ireland. Not only has its luminous green landscape been the backdrop for bloody Catholic/Protestant conflict and a devastating famine, Ireland's great voices—like Joyce and Yeats—are now indelibly part of world literature. In Irish History For Dummies, readers will not only get a bird's-eye view of key historical events (Ten Turning Points) but, also, a detailed, chapter-by-chapter timeline of Irish history beginning with the first Stone Age farmers to the recent rise and fall of the Celtic tiger economy.

In the informal, friendly For Dummies style, the book details historic highs like building an Irish Free State in the 1920s—and devastating lows (including the Troubles in the '60s and '70s), as well as key figures (like MP Charles Parnell and President Eamon de Valera) central to the cause of Irish nationalism. The book also details historic artifacts, offbeat places, and little-known facts key to the life of Ireland past and present.

  • Includes Ten Major Documents—including the Confession of St. Patrick, The Book of Kells, the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, and Ulysses
  • Lists Ten Things the Irish Have Given the World—including Irish coffee, U.S. Presidents, the submarine, shorthand writing, and the hypodermic syringe
  • Details Ten Great Irish Places to Visit—including Cobh, Irish National Stud and Museum, Giants Causeway, and Derry
  • Includes an online cheat sheet that gives readers a robust and expanded quick reference guide to relevant dates and historical figures
  • Includes a Who's Who in Irish History section on

With a light-hearted touch, this informative guide sheds light on how this ancient land has survived wars, invasions, uprisings, and emigration to forge a unique nation, renowned the world over for its superb literature, music, and indomitable spirit.


Mike Cronin, PhD, is the Academic Director at the Centre for Irish Programmes, Boston College, Dublin. Mike has taught history to university students for close to 20 years, and he has written five books on Irish history.


Introduction 1

Part I: The Snakes Leave Ireland 9

Chapter 1: No Man Is an Ireland 11

Chapter 2: The First People Arrive 21

Chapter 3: The Early Irish Kings 35

Chapter 4: Snakes Alive! Christianity Comes to Ireland 45

Part II: The Normans Are Coming! The Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries 63

Chapter 5: The Vikings Arrive First 65

Chapter 6: Irish vs Norman Invaders But Who’s in Charge? 79

Chapter 7: Boy Meets Gael: The Norman-Irish Alliance 93

Part III: The Invading English Kings: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries 109

Chapter 8: The Scottish-Irish Rebellion and Its Aftermath 111

Chapter 9: From Richard II to Henry IV: More Turmoil in Ireland 127

Chapter 10: Family Feuds I: The Wars of the Roses 139

Part IV: Religious Wars and Family Feuds: The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries 155

Chapter 11: Popes Versus Archbishops: The Reformation and Ireland 157

Chapter 12: Religious Roundabouts and Irish Rebellion 169

Chapter 13: James I and the Plantations; Charles I and Chaos 185

Chapter 14: Family Feuds II and III: The English Civil War, then William and James 201

Part V: Catholic and Protestant: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries 217

Chapter 15: Going Irish? Grattan’s Parliament and Wolfe Tone’s Rebellion 219

Chapter 16: Going British: The Act of Union 231

Chapter 17: Three Strikes for Irish Independence: O’Connell, Davis, and Mitchel 247

Chapter 18: The Great Hunger and the Land War 263

Chapter 19: The Fight Over Home Rule 283

Part VI: Divided in Two: Life from the 1880s 299

Chapter 20: Balls and Books in Irish: The Cultural Revival 301

Chapter 21: Fighting Against Britain: The Revolution 315

Chapter 22: One Land, Two Systems: Partition 329

Chapter 23: Troubles Begin Again And Maybe Finish 347

Part VII: The Part of Tens 369

Chapter 24: Ten Top Turning Points 371

Chapter 25: Ten Major Documents 375

Chapter 26: Ten Things the Irish Have Given the World 379

Chapter 27: Ten Great Irish Places to Visit 385

Chapter 28: Ten Irish People Who Should Be Better Known 391

Index 397