This captivating book of Irish history and civilization is without a doubt, not your usual humdrum historical account of names, dates and battles. It is written in plain language for people of all ages. There is an enormous amount of information packed into a fairly short book. According to one review, “it’s Irish history without the boring bits.” The book recounts Ireland’s numerous struggles for independence, equality, and justice, while giving due credit to the generosity and ingenuity, intellect and perseverance of many outstanding Irish people, for history is about the people. Right? Read about Irish men and women like Nellie Cashman who, after emigrating to America, led an Arctic Expedition to save snowed in silver miners or Captain Moonlight who actually was more than one person.
The first part of the book lists unusual facts, often dispelling common misconceptions about the Irish. Included is colorful and scintillating Irish (or I should say “brilliant”) slang, scientific discoveries, trivia notes such as ‘how beer saved Ireland’ and English words derived from the Irish language.
While we cannot neglect the appalling realization summed up in the immortal words of Patrick Pearse “They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace,” neither can we ignore personal achievements by the Irish people. History is neither all bad nor all good.
In this, the 2nd Edition of 100 Things You Didn’t Know About Ireland, the book has nearly doubled. The Bonus portion of the book, with over 50 more facts, is less social and harsher history. Some of it will make you proud. Some of it will tear at your heart strings but the truth is the truth and it had to be said. To leave this part out is to do an injustice to the Irish men and women who sacrificed for a better Ireland and for future generations. There can be no history at all without the cold hard truth that for centuries as a conquered nation, Ireland did not own her own country. This portion of the book shows how Ireland survived, person by person after years of poverty, starvation, eviction, and neglect by the British government. Numerous facts prove the irresponsibility of England toward Ireland throughout her history; it can best be summed up by the Irish writer and painter, George Russell (AE) and the words he wrote after the Lockout of 1913, when thousands of poorly paid and exploited Irish men and women lost their jobs all over Dublin. “You determined deliberately, in cold anger, to starve out one-third of the population of this city, to break the manhood of the men by the sight of the suffering of their wives, and the hunger of their children.” Inside the book is also a special section with facts specifically about the Great Famine. As it says in the book, “read this part at your own risk.” Some of it will test your sensibilities.
The book is simple, without long-winded flowery language. The goal is to give the reader a mini course in Irish history and entertain at the same time.
“History, but without the boring bits!”
Five Star Review on Amazon By Lesley H
My great grandma was from County Mayo in Ireland, and I have always felt an affinity with, and had a real interest in the country. With a few hours to spare over the recent bank holiday weekend, I stumbled across this book and I decided that it was time to find out more about Ireland. To be honest, I find most history books to be a little daunting, so this book appealed to me as it is divided into small nuggets of information that are far easier to digest.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book opens with the author’s personal account of her Irish ancestry; this made for very enjoyable reading and led in nicely to the more historical information. The facts and figures, when they came, were nicely laid out and easy to read. I found out an awful lot of things about Ireland that I didn’t know previously; the book is extremely well researched.
Anyone with an interest in Ireland would find this book very enjoyable. In particular, I think it would make perfect holiday reading if you are actually planning a trip to this beautiful, and very interesting, country.
About the Author
Brighid O’Sullivan grew up in Western Massachusetts, a product of her very Irish great grandmother in an area with the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in America, Holyoke, Massachusetts. This great grandmother, also named Brighid, told stories to her grandmother who told stories to her father who told stories to anyone who would listen. At her father’s knee she heard of the “good” leprechauns that were his guardian angels. She would later find out these so-called leprechauns were “Americanized” for real Irish leprechauns were anything but helpful. Like her father before her, Brighid has written for newspapers and magazines, namely History Magazine, History Channel magazine, her local paper and she’s written 3 books, all Irish. When she is not writing she enjoys entertaining her three grandchildren who are about as cuddly as Irish sheep and exploring the wilds of Ireland especially the pristine magical strands and dangerous cliff-tops. She is a member of Irish American Culture Society Institute and knows more about Irish history and travel than anyone in her home town of Victor New York. She lives with her very supportive husband, often a grand child or two plus the neighbors on occasion and three gold-fish.