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Story of Ireland: In Search of a New National Memory [Hardcover]

Neil Hegarty , Fergal Keane
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 16.64 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

28 April 2011

The history of Ireland has traditionally focused on the localized struggles of religious conflict, territoriality and the fight for Home Rule. But from the early Catholic missions into Europe to the embrace of the euro, the real story of Ireland has played out on the larger international stage.

Story of Ireland presents this new take on Irish history, challenging the narrative that has been told for generations and drawing fresh conclusions about the way the Irish have lived. Revisiting the major turning points in Irish history, Neil Hegarty re-examines the accepted stories, challenging long-held myths and looking not only at the dynamics of what happened in Ireland, but also at the role of events abroad. How did Europe's 16th century religious wars inform the incredible violence inflicted on the Irish by the Elizabethans? What was the impact of the French and American revolutions on the Irish nationalist movement? What were the consequences of Ireland's policy of neutrality during the Second World War? Story of Ireland sets out to answer these questions and more, rejecting the introspection that has often characterized Irish history.

Accompanying a landmark series coproduced by the BBC and RTE, and with an introduction by series presenter, Fergal Keane, Story of Ireland is an epic account of Ireland's history for an entire new generation.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; 1st Edition edition (28 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846079683
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846079689
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neil Hegarty was born in Derry in Northern Ireland. He studied English at Trinity College Dublin, receiving his PhD in 1998 - and has since written short fiction, non-fiction, radio drama and journalism. His books include Dublin: A View from the Ground, a cultural history of the Irish capital over a thousand years; Story of Ireland, written to accompany the groundbreaking BBC-RTE television history of the same name; and most recently The Secret History of our Streets, written to accompany a major BBC season of programming on London. His radio play The Story of Peggy Mountain was shortlisted for RTE's PJ O'Connor Award; and he has recently been commissioned by the Wellcome Trust to write a radio drama exploring the ethics and human dilemmas surrounding the developing field of genetics. Neil lives in Dublin; and his web site is

Product Description


Praise for "The Story of Ireland """ "A prime starter kit. Author Neil Hegarty artfully encapsulates this land of saints and scholars from 433 BC to 2010."--"Boston Globe" "A fresh recasting of Irish history...A finely researched and timely celebration of Ireland's turbulent history and conservative people." --"Publishers Weekly " "A balanced overview of the history of Ireland...Hegarty highlights the complexities underlying Ireland's ongoing conflicts...Recommended for general readers seeking a thourough, nonpartisan guide to...the history of"--"Booklist " "A most impressive sweep through the preceding centuries ...An engrossing and highly readable account of the sweep of Irish history."--"The Irish Sunday Independent " "A new view of history...Everyone should read this."--"Evening Herald" (UK) "An engaging, entertaining, and accessible history...Captures the complex state of a nation."--"RTEGuide" (UK) "Hegarty's book is an admirably even-handed one, and though ... it may be generations before a 'new national memory' replaces the ingrained chronicle of repression and reprisal, we should be grateful for such an intelligent attempt to hasten it."--"Tablet "(UK)

Book Description

An ambitious new one-volume history of Ireland, published to coincide with a landmark series on the BBC presented by Fergal Keane

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Neil Hegarty provides a fresh look at well-trod ground in an engaging and often humorous style. It's impressive that he spans Ireland's history from geological formation to the current financial crisis in a little over 300 pages. While this necessitates skimming the surface of some topics, there's plenty here that may surprise even the dedicated Irish history reader. Although written to accompany the BBC/RTE series, I like the book far better and found it much more informative.

Fergal Keane's intro is dry and seems a bit disconnected from the book's meaty content. I found this also was true in his narration of the accompanying BBC series. There's too much Fergal's personal Ireland for my taste.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Overview 2 May 2011
As a history student who has ploughed through many books on Irish history in the course of research, I would say this is a rare, perhaps unique, example of a text that gives you a comprehensive sense of the main currents of Irish history, while still being entertaining to read and easily digestible. Neil Hegarty's style is light and accomplished, making you feel that you are in the company of a writer who not only has the central developments of each major phase of this story at his fingertips, but who is also able to offer reliable, well considered, yet pithy, sometimes witty judgments on the significance of key events and historical actors. A central insight and achievement of this book is the way in which it reveals the simultaneous operation of several different processes and influences in the main phases of Irish history: the divisions within the island itself, and the impact of international forces and transformations. This history forges a new path in offering a way of approaching the 'Irish story' that is not dominated by the teleological account of the progress towards national independence in the Republic, proving at the same time that the complexities of Irish history need not be confined to the intricacies (or the partisanship) of scholarly debate, but can be a fun adventure for the ordinary reader. An ideal introduction to Ireland's past for anyone who has little knowledge of it, and a pleasurable new illumination of familiar territory for those who have some.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent overview of Irish history 8 May 2011
This book is indeed "The Story of Ireland". Hegarty tells the story in a fluid and accessible way and with wry humour. His command of the material is obvious but he doesn't feel the need to show off his expertise, rather he invites us to share his enjoyment as he takes us through the journey from the 5th century to the present day. This is an excellent overview of Irish history. For anyone new to the subject it is an ideal introduction and to those with some knowledge it will bring some new insights.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for general knowledge. 27 July 2012
Having seen the associated TV series fronted by Feargal Keane, which did a sterling job of reviewing (and in some cases re-evaluating) strands in Irish history, I was interested in getting this book; in the main, it works very well - the style is very digestible without skimping on essential details, although I, like another reviewer, felt that the 20th century was not dealt with in the same detail as previous periods. Tim Pat Coogan's book, "Ireland in the 20th Century", has in this respect a more focussed aspect, although clearly written with a nationalist sympathy/angle.

This caveat apart, the book to my mind serves as an essential and up to date primer for those needing an overview of Irish history - it presents a balanced argument about the plusses and minuses of the various connections with Britain, but does not shirk from criticism where this is warranted. It serves well as a guide for both Irish and British readers and would help to offset that old cliché, "The Irish never forget their history, the British never remember theirs"...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good one volume history of Ireland 21 April 2012
By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER
Neil Hegarty takes us through the key events in the development of Ireland, both North and South of the border, from its geological formation to the present. Given that this is achieved in just 326 pages the content is a little light in places. For example although written in 2011, the events of the last 50 years or so are covered in just 20 pages, and those who want to learn more of the political and social changes which have taken place, as well as the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger economy will need to supplement their reading elsewhere.

Nonetheless, this is a highly readable and informative history, which explains the key events in what feels to be an even handed and unbiased manner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative 2 Sep 2011
By Peter
I realised from the TV series how ignorant I was of Irish history so decided to buy a book and this had high ratings on Amazon. The book has certainly taught me a great deal and appears to be even-handed. However, I found the early chapters a little turgid and, as a whole, I feel the book lacks insight and analysis. After the expectation, it was a disappointment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but.. 5 Aug 2011
By Rob04
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Coming from Mayo people who came to Scotland in the 1920's, I really enjoyed the book. The earlier histories are well documented and very interesting to read but the book really disappoints in the 20th Century material: particularly in the sorely abject lack of any much criticism of Eamon De Valera (avoiding the London treaty talks and sending Collins to be the 'fall guy', his proactive political role in the Civil War that followed, the political 'balance' of neutrality during WWII and the acceptance and encouragement of Irish emigration throughout much of the 20th Century). Authors such as Tim Pat Coogan provide a powerful counterpoint critique of de Valera's Ireland and while I didn't expect these views to be endorsed by this author, this section falls well short of any hard analysis of one of Ireland's major figureheads during the 20th Century.

A very interesting and enjoyable read, perfect for a skim of the times but falls short in modern age.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars True history
I really enjoyed the TV series that accompanied this and the book is even better than I anticipated. Read more
Published 3 months ago by A. Gunn
5.0 out of 5 stars great buy
Excellent book with super history of Ireland. A must for all those interested in Ireland and her people. Great condition.
Published 6 months ago by Blueangel
5.0 out of 5 stars skippy
This book attempts the telling of Ireland's turbulent history over the centuries. It is not an easy voyage reading the story but perhaps puts into some perspective the troubles... Read more
Published on 30 July 2011 by skippy
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of Ireland
Pretty good - but did it really emphasise the full horror of the Irish experience? Not quite revisionist, but perhaps a teeny touch of whitewash - perhaps to prepare the ground... Read more
Published on 17 July 2011 by Daibhi O Cathain
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Reading
I concur with the plaudits already given by other reviewers. This is certainly the book for anyone interested in an overview of Irish history and who has not already researched... Read more
Published on 16 July 2011 by smiley494
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh take on Irish history
In the Story of Ireland Neil Hegarty achieves that rare balance of a highly engaging read and well researched rich, historical content. Read more
Published on 9 May 2011 by darcy tudor
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
''I found this book immensely enjoyable. Being an Irishman living in England I sometimes forget about where my roots are to the point of forgetting my history. Read more
Published on 29 April 2011 by S. faloon
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