Ireland's Other History
Publication Date: November 2012
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FROM THE UNCERTAIN first dawn of human presence on the island, to the defeat of the old Gaelic order at Kinsale in 1602, Hector McDonnell chronicles the lost origins of Ireland's otherness. This scholarly take on Ireland¹s past derives from our prehistoric connections deep within Europe, the Mediterranean and beyond, a unique set of circumstances that gave early Irish culture its distinctive character and style. Here we learn how the arrival via Spain of Bronze Age metalworkers from the Middle East affected the peculiar nature of the Irish language; or how some of our most remarkable monuments, Newgrange included, may owe their existence to ecological catastrophes volcanic eruptions, meteor impacts or nearencounters with comets. As later raids on a weakened Romanized Britain brought back goods and slaves (including St Patrick), a new religion, Christianity, became interwoven with rich ancient traditions and native beliefs.
The coming of the Vikings, who founded the first towns and local kingdoms, succeeded in enriching rather than destroying Ireland's cultural mix. This pattern was repeated with the arrival of the Normans, which culminated in the battle of Kinsale, shaping a nation that remains radically distinct and different to the world outside its shores.
A lifetime of historical exploration brings together Hector McDonnell¹s several passions. His drawings are as illuminating and expressive as the ideas he narrates, and will awaken readers to the extraordinariness of Ireland's past.
HECTOR McDONNELL is one of Ireland's leading artists, exhibiting in New York and Hong Kong, as well as in Ireland, England, Germany and France, with museum retrospectives in Belfast and Darmstadt. He has illustrated several books of Irish ballads, most notably Ireland¹s Other Poetry and the prizewinning The Night Before Larry Was Stretched. His original passion, however, was for history and archaeology, ignited by an excavation on the island of Kythera in Greece, sketching reconstructions of decorated Minoan pottery on site. He has since published several books of drawings and etchings, including A Journey to Tsaparang and A Chinese Journey.
He is also author of The Wild Geese of the Antrim MacDonnells (1996), and an illustrated series, The Holy Hills and Sacred Places of Ireland, The Irish Round Towers and St Patrick. Ireland's Other History was conceived soon after Lilliput's publication of Ireland¹s Other Poetry in 2007.