Erin's Blood Royal: the Noble Gaelic Dynasties of Ireland

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9780312230494: Erin's Blood Royal: the Noble Gaelic Dynasties of Ireland

Very few of the Gaelic aristocracy survive today, most being eradicated during the Tudor Wars of Conquest under Henry VIII, who asked them to exchange their titles for English earldoms. Only nineteen families maintain their ancient titles, still recognised by the modern Irish state. Peter Berresford Ellis tells the story of their history, their struggle for survival and their present-day lives. A great book by one of the foremost experts on the Celts.

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Review:

In time long past, little corners of Ireland were ruled by chiefs, kings, earls, and other nobles whose ancient dominion came to an end with the Tudor conquests of the 1500s. But, writes author Peter Ellis, the royal bloodlines continued to flow in faraway lands, the forgotten victims of "the ruthless colonial policy of an unsympathetic alien power."

With the Flight of the Wild Geese, when many nobles abandoned the island, the hereditary aristocracy of Ireland lost power and, with time, was forgotten at home. Today, emerging from exile in places like Austria and Asturias, claimants to long-abandoned titles are now popping up everywhere, and the Irish government has been obliging some of them with "courtesy recognition"--an anachronism, many Irish object, in a democratic era. Surveying the surviving nobility, Ellis examines their claims and, in the process, addresses what he rightly calls "a much-neglected area of Irish history": the blue-blood past of the MacGillycuddys, Maguires, O'Brien's, and other storied families. Heraldry buffs, royalty watchers, and claimants to long-lost thrones will find much of interest in Ellis's wanderings through the island's unhappy history. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Peter Berresford Ellis is a pre-eminent Celtic scholar. He received an Irish Post award in recognition of his work on Celtic history, and he was chairman of the Celtic League from 1988 to 1990.

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