The Irish Book of Death and Flying Ships
From the Chronicles of Ancient Ireland. Moments of History S.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
This historical curiosity fits into no particular genre but will not fail to confound and amaze. The idea behind the Moments of History series is that each book presents historic official papers which have not previously been available in a popular form. The immediacy of reading these papers in their original form, without the 'filter' effect of presentation by a historian or an archivist, renders them instantly fascinating - especially when the subject matter is as offbeat as these extracts from a 'Table of cosmical phenomena, epizootics, famines and pestilences in Ireland' included in the 1851 Census of Ireland. The events described start from hundreds of years before Christ, and although the archaic language may make us smile, it sparks images of happenings so strange and inexplicable that they almost belong in a science-fiction novel. Take, for example, AD 745- 'Dragons were seen in the sky' - closely followed by AD 748: 'Ships, with their sailors, were seen in the air over Clonmacnoise in Donnell MacMurrough's reign. Snow of unusual depth, so that almost all of the cattle of the whole of Ireland were destroyed; and afterwards the world was parched with unusual dryness.' We are introduced to a world in which the sea froze between Ireland and Scotland, so that men could walk from one to the other; to rivers of fishes which burst forth from mountaintops, and other generally terrible phenomena. In AD 690, for example: 'It rained a shower of blood in Leinster this year. Butter was then also turned into lumps of gore and blood.' In case the reader needs some relief from this catalogue of doom and gloom, Tim Coates has interspersed the text with some of the most beautiful photographs of the magical Irish landscape that you are ever likely to see. An unexpected gem. (Kirkus UK)