9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Viking, Saxon, and Early Christian Irish cultures

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9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Postby Loch Raptor on Mon Aug 03, 2009 5:31 pm

hi there. i'm in the middle of a massive search for information concerning ireland during the 8th, 9th, and maybe 10th century. specifically Northern Ui Niall, around the location of Loch Foyle. my research is for a fantasy fiction novel. i'm hoping to find information regarding all aspects of life and culture at the time so that i may properly flesh out the setting of my novel. i need to find possible village or ringfort locations, possible family names of the area, understand military and farmer/herder ways of life, understand the politics and wars between Cenel Eoghain and Cenel Conaill, and, if i'm lucky, find good tidbits about the druids and fairies and fairy monsters, and their interactions w/the sweeping rise of Christianity.

it's been, to say the least, frustrating. after months of searching online and in local libraries (during free time stolen from my everyday life, lol), i'm just now beginning to find useful information. most of what i find is vague and useless, incomplete and useless, conflicting w/other sources and useless, or just plain-old hard-to-read jibberish and useless.

i've just discovered your particular forum, and although it seems it is geared towards live re-enactments of historical Ireland, it is still a valuable resource of historical information. i am wondering if anyone can present me with some good information through lots of question/answer sessions, or even just help me locate good sources of info that i can study from on my own?
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Re: 9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Postby the_power on Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:23 pm

I'd strongly recommend starting with the "Early Irish Law" series of books. They are simply wonderful, and would give you a pithy overview of Irish society, values, beliefs, flora and fauna. The books are certainly not as dry as you could imagine; "Early Irish Farming" goes through society structure & food, "Early Irish Law" gives a shorter all-round idea of irish society, and "Early Irish Satire" is an enormously entertaining book that gives a great idea of what people thought were insulting or hilarious.

Stout's "The Irish Ringfort" is not nearly as entertaining as the Irish Law series, though he does mention that "the area as a whole was relatively sparely settled with ringforts despite the Mourne and Foyle river valleys being floored with acid brown earth soils and wide agricultural capabilities". Seems to be that any people living in that area would be considered frontiers-people by the rest of Ireland, living far from "civilisation", despite being on the coast on a reasonably busy sea-lane.

I don't have good references for Eoghain vs. Conaill history (though Early Irish Farming could provide many examples of why people might have disputes), I'm afraid. The Annals may have dry "what happened in this year" references, but it's pretty sparse. I've a feeling that because of the isolation, there may not have been many large monastaries, so there would have been few locals interested in what happened.

I'd love to chat about this with you via email, if you want. I've often dreamed of writing a decent historic-fantasy book, but I'm way too lazy to start typing. Alas, Stephen Erikson seems to be the only guy writing decent fantasy these days, as the rest of it seems written for teenagers. So, anything I can do to change that...

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Re: 9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Postby brendan on Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:59 pm

The early Irish law series are exceptional as a starting point on the culture - or at least its boundaries as defined by law. Lots of good stuff about inter group relations etc. If you want to have it convincing you will need to be clear about the role and nature of kingship etc and the attitude towards people not of the kin group.
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If you are looking to get lost in researching stuff for a bit then Oxbow books have a strong collection of historic topics - have a look in the Early Christian Ireland section. A quick check should give huge levels of detail.

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Re: 9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Postby claimhteoir on Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:44 pm

I definately agree about Early Irish Law and Early Irish Farming. As for info on the political goings on with the Northern Uí Né�l, I'd say there'd be some good stuff in Francis J. Byrne's "Irish Kings and High-Kings".

T.M. Charles-Edwards' "Early Christian Ireland" would probably also have some good stuff. There is a limited preview for that on Google Books...
http://books.google.ie/books?id=dElJqqy ... ll&f=false
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Re: 9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Postby noodle on Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:24 am

Kim McKone's Pagan Past and Christian Present in Early Irish Literature has some useful stuff too. Admittedly he is very much a linguist, but it's worth looking at nonetheless.

The Early Irish Law series is nothing short of awesome, you will get so much out of those three books. Basically, everything that has been mentioned here already.
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Re: 9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Postby Loch Raptor on Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:28 pm

fantastic! thank you folks. this is definitely a good solid step in the right direction.

now i'll have to locate these books. i live 1 hour out of Boston MA. i wonder if the Boston Public Library might have some of these? as for 'spending time in research', well, as is the way of storytelling, i'll have read quite a bit in research, taken pages of notes, and then will probably use only key snippets of detail from those notes to breathe life and imagery into the tale. yet still, i'm hoping to not have to wallow through a hundred books to get what i need. the more concentrated pool of data, the better.

yes, i'd be very happy to chat via email w/anyone interested in exchanging ideas and info on the topic. the more insight i can get, the better. seeing as i've no prior experience wIirish history, i may have bitten off more than i can chew. but alas, ireland seems like much more fun a setting than my own backyard :) i'll just have to give myself a crash-course in the subject.
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Re: 9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Postby noodle on Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:15 pm

Even if Boston Public doesn't have them, interlibrary loans can be well worth investigating.
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Re: 9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Postby Loch Raptor on Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:24 pm

noodle wrote:Even if Boston Public doesn't have them, interlibrary loans can be well worth investigating.



right, i'd be investigating through their online catalog, and have access to any branch library items as well. i check my local library, but didn't see anything specifically labeled "early irish law", so the next step is to register w/Boston Public
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Re: 9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Postby Aislinn on Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:31 am

Further endorsing the the Early Irish series, here are the ISBNs from the publishers website: http://www.celt.dias.ie/publications/cat/cat_f.html

A Guide to Early Irish Law by Fergus Kelly
1988 (repr. 1991, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2005). xxiv + 358 pp., pll. (vol. III)
Euro35
ISBN 0 901282 95 2
A general account of legal practice in the seventh and eighth centuries with discussion of social background and later 'brehon' families

Early Irish Farming by Fergus Kelly
1997 (repr. 1998). xvii + 751 pp., 9 plates, 22 figures (vol. IV)
Euro35
ISBN 1 85500 180 2
A study based mainly on the law-texts of the seventh and eighth centuries AD

Early Irish Satire by Roisin McLaughlin
2008. xi + 300 pp.
Euro35
ISBN 978 1 85500 207 4

Fergus Kelly's profile on the site lists a number of articles that may be of interest: http://www.celt.dias.ie/english/staff/fkelly.html
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Re: 9th c. ireland: research references, books or online

Postby Freebeard on Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:07 pm

Try the newish "A New History of ireland: Vol. 1". Its a large book full of historical things about Ireland. I cannot remember the editor, possibly Dáibhí� �óinín, �t the book is available on a few bookselling websites and shops. Very good.
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(you are farting like an irishman)
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