Bookworm

Published in Issue 5 (September/October 2015), Reviews, Volume 23

Emer Purcell, Paul MacCotter,
Julianne Nyhan and John Sheehan (eds), Clerics, kings and Vikings: essays on medieval Ireland in honour of
Donnchadh Ó Corráin (Four Courts Press, €60 hb, 584pp, ISBN 97871846824951).

Howard B. Clarke and Ruth Johnson (eds), The Vikings in Ireland and beyond: before and after the Battle of Clontarf (Four Courts Press, €40 hb, 564pp, ISBN 9781846822797).

Margaret Murphy and Matthew Stout (eds), Agriculture and settlement in Ireland (Four Courts Press, €50 hb, 256pp, ISBN 9781846825071).

John Cunningham and Niall Ó Ciosáin (eds), Culture and society in Ireland since 1750: essays in honour of Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh (Lilliput Press, €45 hb, 448pp, ISBN 9781843516385).

Offaly Heritage, Volume 8 (2015) (Offaly, €25 hb, 284pp, ISBN 9781909822047).

David Toms, Soccer in Munster: a social history, 1877–1937 (Cork University Press, €39 hb, 274pp, ISBN 978178205128).

Conor Curran, The development of sport in Donegal, 1880–1935 (Cork University Press, €39 hb, 334pp, ISBN 97871782051206).

Steven G. Ellis, Defending English ground: war and peace in Meath and Northumberland, 1460–1542 (Oxford University Press, £60 hb, 210pp, ISBN 9780199696291).

Edited collections of academic essays can struggle to find a wide readership. The standard of Irish scholarship is, however, attested to by the impressive quality and scale of a series of recently published multi-authored volumes. The collections highlighted this month reflect their indispensable role at the forefront of academic scholarship. Four Courts Press, in particular, have been in the vanguard in this regard and have published three outstanding volumes this year.

Clerics, kings and Vikings: essays on medieval Ireland in honour of
Donnchadh Ó Corráin, edited by Emer Purcell, Paul MacCotter, Julianne Nyhan and John Sheehan, features 44 contributions from leading scholars working at the forefront of Irish medieval studies. Including essays on topics as diverse as hagiography, genealogy, literature and archaeology, this volume represents a phenomenal achievement in medieval Irish scholarship and will be consulted by scholars on a range of topics for years to come.

The Vikings in Ireland and beyond: before and after the Battle of Clontarf, edited by Howard B. Clarke and Ruth Johnson, originated in a symposium held in 2011 and was supported by Dublin City Council. The volume includes 28 contributions examining the context and impact of the Battle of Clontarf. Wonderfully produced and including an impressive array of colour plates, the volume represents a remarkable achievement and scholarship of the highest standard. Authoritative and readable, it features essays by leading scholars in Viking studies from across Europe.
Agriculture and settlement in Ireland is edited by Margaret Murphy and Matthew Stout and is published in association with the Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement and the Agricultural History Society of Ireland. Containing eight essays examining such diverse topics as the spread of Neolithic pastoralism, the medieval focus on tillage and the agricultural revolution of the

eighteenth century, the book demonstrates that academic scholarship can still be lively and readable.
Culture and society in Ireland since 1750: essays in honour of Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh is edited by John Cunningham and Niall Ó Ciosáin and published by Lilliput Press. With 23 contributions from former students and academic peers at NUI Galway, it offers a magnificent tribute to one of Ireland’s most admired teachers, historians and public intellectuals. Including essays in both English and Irish, and featuring topics ranging from language and literature to social and political identity and popular culture and religion, this volume reflects the key themes of Professor Ó Tuathaigh’s distinguished career.

Local history groups are producing edited volumes of an increasingly sophisticated standard. Offaly Heritage Vol. 8 (2015) is produced by the Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society and includes eighteen contributions, along with a series of reviews and short notices. The volume engages with a range of topics, with a number of helpful chapters exploring sources for the history of the county in the early modern
period.

The study of sport in Ireland has developed in leaps and bounds over recent years as the academic community has finally overcome its disinterest in engaging with popular sporting pastimes as a subject worthy of serious study. Sports history as a distinct field of research continues to grow and it can no longer be denied that the study of the development and emergence of modern sports reveals much about the social and cultural milieu from which they emerged.

Cork University Press have been leading the charge in Irish sports history and have produced two important volumes. Soccer in Munster: a social history, 1877–1937 by David Toms explores the history of soccer in Munster over a 60-year period from 1877 to 1937. Toms explores the social roots of the sport and argues that soccer should not be regarded as simply a ‘garrison game’ at the turn of the century but enjoyed popular appeal in urban centres such as Limerick, Waterford and Cork.

The development of sport in Don-egal, 1880–1935 by Conor Curran explores the north-west during the formative decades in the emergence of modern Irish sport. Curran argues that Gaelic football did not become properly established in Donegal until the 1920s, and also looks at the historic failure of hurling to progress in the county. This study examines the social background of players and administrators in both Gaelic games and the traditional minority sports, including cricket, hockey and rugby.

Finally, the distinguished professor of early modern Ireland, Steven Ellis, has recently published Defending English ground: war and peace in Meath and Northumberland, 1460–1542 with Oxford University Press. This study assesses traditional arrangements for defending English territory, the impact of the frontier on border society, and the role of topography and settlement in shaping the character of the march and border. It will be compulsory reading for students of the period in both English and Irish universities.

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