ORPEN, Goddard Henry. Ireland Under the Normans, 1169-1216.


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ORPEN, Goddard Henry. Ireland Under the Normans, 1169-1216. With maps and genealogical tables of the De Burghs (Burkes/Bourkes), FitzGeralds of Desmond, Fitzmaurice of Lixnaw, Carews, Somerled, MacCarthys. Four volumes. Oxford: Clarendon, 1968. Second edition. Demy octavo. pp. (1) 400, (2) 363, (3) 314, (4) 343. Blue buckram, titled in gilt. Previous owner’s signature on front endpaper. A very good set in frayed dust jackets. Scarce. [TVR 5D]

The Normans were invited to come to Ireland by Dermot MacMurrogh, known ever afterwards as Diarmuid-na-nGall (of the Foreigners/English). He was a man of great strength, brave and fierce. His whole life was a litany of violence, cruelty and villainy. In 1135 he took the abbess of Kildare from her convent and forced her to marry one of his followers. When the towns people tried to prevent this sacrilege, he killed 170 of them. In 1152 after the battle of Moanmore he carried off Dervorgilla (she did not object!), the wife of Ternan O’Ruairc, Prince of Breifne, while O’Ruairc himself was away from his stronghold. In May, 1169, a party of soldiers, under Robert Fitzstephen, landed at Cuan an Bhainbh (Bannow Bay) in Wexford. “This was the beginning of Erin’s evil”, said an old historian. Also with Fitzstephen were Maurice de Prendergast, Maurice Fitzgerald and Raymond Fitzgerald (better known as Raymond le Gros), with a force of 100 knights, 600 archers and 1,300 common soldiers. Wexford surrendered and the following year Strongbow (Richard de Clare-Earl of Pembroke) embarked from Wales with a force of 3,000. On arrival near Waterford he was joined by Dermot and the other Normans. Waterford was sacked with great numbers of the inhabitants slaughtered. After the fight, and while the streets still ran red with the blood of the citizens, Strongbow and Eva (Dermot’s daughter) were married in fulfilment of Dermot’s promise. Unlike later colonisation, the Normans married Irish wives and before long became ‘Hibernis Ipsis Hiberniores - More Irish than the Irish themselves’. My ancestors the Burkes/Bourkes of Connaught were the first to become Hibernicised. They changed their name from de Burgh (in Latin - de Burgo) to MacLiam (from William de Burgh the first of his name in Ireland), the Annalists wrote it ‘a Búrc’. They, along with the other great Norman families, the Fitzgeralds, Butlers, Powers, Costellos, Fitzmaurices, Nugents, Flemings, Plunketts, Prendergasts, de Lacys, de Courceys, Savages, Dillons, Walshs, Cusacks etc. adopted the native tongue, customs and dress of the Gael.


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