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gille liath (US of K)

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Gaelic and Gaelicised Ireland in the Middle Ages (History of Ireland)
Gaelic and Gaelicised Ireland in the Middle Ages (History of Ireland)
by K. W. Nicholls
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars it's what there is, 12 Sept. 2015
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Kenneth Nicholls says in his bibliography that there were *no* good general works for him to draw on. With the fact things don't seem to have changed much in the 40 years since, and that general histories of Ireland skip over the period to get to the Tudor conquest - bearing all that in mind, this is a solid enough background book about medieval Ireland. The main message is that, despite the arrival of the Anglo-Normans, the country in that period largely remained a traditional Celtic society carrying on very much as it had for the previous thousand years - still based on the sept or clan, still lacking any effective national authority, and even retaining permissive Celtic marriage customs in defiance of European norms. So great was its conservatism that, for example, the Irish never adopted the Normans' battle-winning weapon, the couched lance. Nevertheless Gaelic Ireland showed itself resilient culturally and militarily, and by the sixteenth century had pretty much absorbed the invaders and undone England's efforts at control (Nicholls deserves extra points for resisting that well-worn phrase, 'more Irish than the Irish'). Just in time for Queen Elizabeth I to take the stage.

The book doesn't really tell you the 'story' of Ireland over that period, it doesn't it say much about artistic culture which is (surely) one of the main things people will be interested in, nor can it be described as a right riveting read. It could also do with some illustrations. But it's what there is - I think you'd be lucky to find anything better.


My Bonnie Gallowa
My Bonnie Gallowa
Price: £7.49

2.0 out of 5 stars gang oot oer the hills tae gallowa', 10 Sept. 2015
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This review is from: My Bonnie Gallowa (MP3 Download)
Galloway: an evocative name and a beautiful area. It's under-represented in traditional song, despite the number of successful singers who have emerged from the region in recent years, and even if you include Burns and other songs of Dumfriesshire. Even so, the small repertoire includes some scorchers like Gallowa Hills and Annie Laurie; but they are not done any favours by the performances and arrangements here. The singing isn't quite club style, but going that way; the music mostly either ceilidh band or pub-synth. Being polite, it's not the best.


Beastly Body Experiments (Horrible Science Handbooks)
Beastly Body Experiments (Horrible Science Handbooks)
by Nick Arnold
Edition: Paperback

1.0 out of 5 stars brainless and pointless, 9 Sept. 2015
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Horrible History is rubbish, but I hoped its facetious, ew-factor style might work better with science. It doesn't. Irritating writing style aside (and I accept that some kids might like it), the 'experiments' are rubbish: what does making a 'shrunken head' out of an apple teach you about the body? And while I'm on the subject, why do all hands-on activities for kids now qualify as 'scientific experiments' (though the 'shrunken head' could just as easily be billed as art)? I guess because some parents/schools will buy anything with 'science' in the title.

They also require a host of everyday household items, none of which I have in the house; but that might not be their fault.


Ancient Ireland
Ancient Ireland
by Nick Constable
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars tourist history, 8 Sept. 2015
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This review is from: Ancient Ireland (Hardcover)
It's basically photos of churches and castles - nice enough if you like that sort of thing, but not always that helpful historically - spun together with a text by a journalist from Devon. There's no bibliography, and I certainly wouldn't rely on it as history (if you ask me, the 2001 review looks suspect).


A Pocket History of Gaelic Culture (Pocket Books)
A Pocket History of Gaelic Culture (Pocket Books)
by Alan Titley
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars 'the symbol is the compliment that the actual pays to the ideal...', 4 Sept. 2015
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An odd little book, this. More a history of the Irish language than of Gaelic culture, in style it lurches between pub-conversational and poncy academic, and inexplicably includes a 14-page poem about Scotland in rhyming couplets. It's okay - the type of book you might read while waiting for the boat/plane home - but somehow it gives me a sense of being no wiser than I was before.

There are holes I could pick in it. Titley deeply disapproves of the language, either in Ireland or Scotland being, called 'Gaelic' (although that's precisely what it is called *in* Gaelic). It's ironic that political correctness requires us to identify it as (notionally) the language of Ireland - but in English. As for the Scots, they are never going to call it 'Scottish'; having done their best to stamp out their original native language, they are busy trying to substantiate the idea that by saying 'cannae' and 'Scooby's' they speak something called 'Scots' which is completely different from English. Inconsistently, since he regards Scottish Gaelic as merely a dialect of Irish, Titley seems inclined to agree with them.

It ends on the customary note of optimism, based on the emergence of 'new dialects' among learners (Bearlachas, Jailic, take your pick). But if Irish becomes purely a language of urban middle-class w*nkers, what's the point of it? Slan is beannacht le buaireamh an tsaoil...


Fruit Of The Loom Men's SS003M T-Shirt, Blue (Navy), Large
Fruit Of The Loom Men's SS003M T-Shirt, Blue (Navy), Large
Offered by COOZO
Price: £2.56

1.0 out of 5 stars Not cotton, 1 Sept. 2015
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There's no way this is 100% cotton. Feels more like 50% polyester.


Mens Dunlop Black Wellies Wellington Welly Rain Boots Size 11
Mens Dunlop Black Wellies Wellington Welly Rain Boots Size 11
Offered by Footwear Sensation
Price: £8.89

3.0 out of 5 stars getting smaller, 30 Aug. 2015
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I bought my first pair of these 2 years ago, so they lasted well - but the new pair, nominally the same size, are a good half centimetre shorter in the sole and a bit on the snug side. Are peoples' feet getting smaller in Portugal, where they are made?


Chi Kung: Cultivating Personal Energy (Health Essentials)
Chi Kung: Cultivating Personal Energy (Health Essentials)
by James MacRitchie
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars give this a miss, 29 Aug. 2015
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I bought this because it was mentioned favourably by Wong Kiew Kit; but it confirms me in my belief that, when looking for books about esoteric Asian arts, it's best to stick to those written by Asian people - not Scousers based in Boulder, Colorado. I don't believe MacRitchie has any deep understanding of the subject, or practices it proficiently; and I think Wong mentioned it only because it supports his contention that Tai Chi isn't bad for your knees.


Everyday Life in Byzantium
Everyday Life in Byzantium
by Tamara T. Rice
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars decent summary, 27 Aug. 2015
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Though not exactly what the title suggests - it was originally part of a series - and a little cavalier about details, this is a straightforward and helpful summary of Byzantine culture. Like the John Julius Norwich books, it is Byzantium seen mostly through its art and literature; unlike them, it is not a mere litany of court scandals. It is reasonably well illustrated: yes, there are photos, but mainly with line drawings copied from original art works.

I would say it is pitched at about upper secondary school level (or, I guess, at someone writing a Kindle novel about the period who doesn't want to waste too much time on research). I have to give it 3 stars, having given Steven Runciman's 'Byzantine Civilisation' 4: it would be absurd to give them the same rating. Runciman's book, though it lacks illustrations, is superior in most respects to this and the best I have come across on the subject.


Celtic Harp
Celtic Harp
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £14.97

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 'Pardon Saint Fiakr' - is that a legal request or just a social one?, 26 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Celtic Harp (Audio CD)
There aren't many good 'Celtic' harp albums, are there? They're either too fancy and jazzy or, like this one, faceless, anonymous and only very dubiously Celtic. I was a bit misled by the American review, which I think must be for a completely different item - this one isn't from a reputable lot like SayDisc, sadly. Judging from the arrangement credits - because there is no booklet info whatsoever - this was put together from the work of various French musicians and has never been nearer the British Isles than Cherbourg. The tunes include some Scottish and Irish, but also Spanish, French and Japanese (well, we're all Celts these days I suppose). The playing isn't bad, it's just all a bit bland and pointless. Still at 37 minutes it's mercifully short.

ETA Amazon have also posted this review on the page for the Saydisc album - the confusion is obviously theirs. So if you're looking at that page - this is not a review of it!


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