Eyewitness to Irish History

Written by Peter Berresford Ellis
Review by Lisa Ann Verge

The preeminent Celtic scholar, Peter Berresford Ellis—who also writes the Sister Fidelma series as Peter Tremayne—has gathered 1500 years of original source material for this compact book about Irish history.

Starting with excerpts from The Book of the Invasions of Ireland, Ellis cherry-picks the best accounts from a variety of sources to illustrate the impact of major events on the people of Ireland. These eyewitness accounts offer unexpected insights: Of particular interest to this reader was the successful English assassin network of the early 17th century, whose task it was to hunt down and poison the leaders of the Wild Geese. A reader who knows only a little about Irish history might find the author’s brief annotations insufficient connective tissue for a complete historical understanding, but a more serious scholar will rejoice, since many of the excerpts come from sources difficult to access and translate.

Reading this book is like pawing through the research notes of a scholar who has spent a lifetime among vellum, parchment, and microfiche. Thank you, Mr. Ellis, for sharing your treasure.