When my American friends ask about my current book, the conversation usually goes like this:
- Friend: What’s your next book going to be about?
- Me: I’m writing about my father’s family in Ireland.
- Friend: Silence. Then either: That sounds interesting or Why are you writing about Ireland?
- Where do they live now? Or: Isn’t that where you went on your (recent) trip?
- Me: It’s about my ancestors who lived in Ireland and were among one of the prominent families in southern Ireland for around 800 years.
- Friend: Really?! How did you find that out?
- Me: Are you on (one of the popular ancestry sites)?
- Friend: Either: Yes, but I just gave up when I couldn’t find the persons I was looking for. Or: No, but I’d like to when I can find the time.
Usually I then ask them if they’ve visited Ireland yet to gauge my comments and forge ahead with my recent trip (which you can read about in the previous blogs) and what I’ve learned in my months-long research.
Here are some of the most fascinating facts and myths I’ve discovered thus far:
Other than the ancient countries in the Middle East referred to as the “cradle of civilization,” Ireland has the largest collections of ancient artifacts and monastic settlements.
- On the end of a peninsula in southern Ireland is the excavated remains of a Mesolithic campsite dated to around 4500 B.C. This was before farm animals arrived in Ireland.
- There are more than 120 stone circles in the southwest of Ireland dating back to 2400-2000 B.C. These were used for worship.
- Lough Leane in County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland is where the Bronze Age began. Rosa Island was the first place copper was mined in Ireland.
- More gold made between 1000-800 B.C. was found in Ireland than anywhere else in Europe. It is believed to have come from Central Europe.
If this small bit of information has piqued your interest in ancient Ireland, here are some of the books I’ve read on this fascinating subject.
Moffat, Alistair. The Sea Kingdoms; The History of Celtic Britain and Ireland. Edinburgh, Birlinn Limited, 2008. Reprinted 2017. (Copyright) Harper Collins.
Moody, T.W. and Martin, F.X. The Course of Irish History. Cork, Ireland: Mercer Press, 1967. Rev. Ed. 2001.