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Ireland’s Other History

By: Hector McDonnell

Publication Date: November 2012

(3 customer reviews)


Ireland’s Other History by Hector McDonnell


This ‘vastly entertaining and informative book’ (Irish Catholic) is being re-issued in a paperback edition, enhanced with new drawings and additional material by the author.

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 near encounters with comets. As later raids on weakened Romanised 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 Ireland’s 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 IrelandThe Irish Round Towers and St PatrickIreland’s Other History was conceived soon after Lilliput’s publication of Ireland’s Other Poetry in 2007. Read more.

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3 reviews for Ireland’s Other History

  1. Lilliput Press

    “About half of the book is about preceltic Ireland. It is very readable, well referenced and has decent illustrations. If I had one wish, it would be for more (and it has at least 10) ancient maps depicting where items were found, and where groups lived.” DAVID C FUNK

  2. Lilliput Press

    “I really learnt a lot from this book. The clear and concise descriptions of Irelands early history is excellent and I would even recommend this book for schools, as a reader friendly introduction to the prehistory and history of Ireland. The rather lovely drawings by Hector McDonnell add greatly to the text. This book would also be a great gift to give to friends who are interested in how our society was formed.”

  3. Lilliput Press

    “A beautiful adventure in text and drawings -exciting, mysterious, and a rare glimpse of a civilization in its earliest growth on to its dramatic flowering. A study in scholarship and art that becomes poetry in word and image.” CHAS LONGFORD

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Weight 0.5 kg
Publication Date

November 2012


Paperback, 214pp