The Rebels of Ireland: The Dublin Saga - By Edward Rutherfurd


I AM GRATEFUL to the following, whose kind cooperation and professionalism were at all times of the greatest assistance: the director and staff of the National Library of Ireland; the director and curatorial staff of the National Museum of Ireland; the librarian and staff of Trinity College Library; the management and staff of the Office of Public Works at Dublin Castle.

I gratefully acknowledge permission to quote the Orange Toast from Personal Sketches and Recollections, published by Ashfield Press.

Special thanks are due to Sarah Gearty, of the Royal Irish Academy, for kindly preparing maps, and to Mrs. Heidi Boshoff, without whose astounding proficiency in the typing of the manuscript this book could not have been completed.

I owe a large debt of gratitude to the following, whose help, guidance, and technical advice were invaluable during this project: Joseph Byrne, author of War and Peace, the Survival of the Talbots of Malahide; Dr. Declan Downey, lecturer at the School of History, University College, Dublin; Professor Colm Lennon, Department of Modern History, National University of Ireland, Maynooth; James McGuire, editor of the Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of Irish Biography. I am grateful for having a chance to read in its entirety the unpublished thesis of Maighread M. B. Ni Mhurchadha, Contending Neighbours: Society in Fingal 1603–60.

But above all, I am indebted to three scholars without whose guidance, patience, and encouragement this project could not have been completed. Between them they have read and helped me revise this manuscript. Any errors that remain are mine alone. I thank Dr. Raymond Gillespie, senior lecturer in the Department of Modern History, National University of Ireland, Maynooth; Dr. James Kelly, of St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra; and Dr. T. P. O’Neill of University College, Dublin.

Finally, as always, I thank my agent, Gill Coleridge, without whom I should be entirely lost, and I thank my wonderful editors, Oliver Johnson at Century and William Thomas at Doubleday, whose exemplary thoroughness and creative responses to problems have so hugely improved this manuscript.


THE PRINCES OF IRELAND follows the destinies of six fictional Irish families:

The O’Byrnes, who spring from the union of Conall, descendant of a High King of Ireland, and Deirdre, daughter of a local chieftain at the time of Saint Patrick.

The MacGowans, pre-Celtic craftsmen and merchants.

The Harolds and the Doyles, both Viking families who become farmers and merchants.

The Walshes, Flemish knights originally, who settle in Wales before crossing to Ireland at the time of Strongbow’s Anglo-Norman invasion in the twelfth century.

And the Tidy family, craftsmen and small local officials, who arrive to try their luck in medieval Ireland.

The Princes of Ireland, the first book in Edward Rutherfurd’s magnificent Dublin Saga, swept the reader through more than a thousand years of Irish history, telling Ireland’s story through the adventures and fates of several Irish families, whose stories continue in this volume.

The Saga opens in A.D. 430, with the stirring and tragic tale of Conall, nephew of the High King at Tara, and his fierce love for the beautiful Deirdre. When the High King chooses Deirdre as a second wife, the lovers flee. They live a blissful year in hiding, but there comes an inevitable reckoning. Conall frees Deirdre from her obligation to the High King, but at the cost of his life: in an ancient druidic ritual, he agrees to sacrifice himself to save his love and heal the land from strife. Here we see pagan Ireland in all its mythic glory, a land of warriors and ecstatic festivals, where clan warfare is kept in check by the wiles of the High King while druids augur the fate of the people.

Twenty years later Deirdre is living in the small settlement of Dubh Linn with her son, Morna. He bears a striking resemblance to Conall, his father. A group of horsemen arrive, led by a greying man whom Deirdre recognizes as one of the druids who presided over Conall’s sacrifice. But the druid has changed—he is now a follower of Patrick, a man who preaches a strange new religion that honors only one god and rejects the practice of human sacrifice. In the person of Saint Patrick, Rutherfurd shows how the saint’s genius and humanity converted the people of Ireland to the Christian religion.

The cataclysm that transformed Celtic Ireland came in the ninth century, with the Viking invasions. Arriving in fearsome longboats, the Vikings were famous as plunderers of monasteries. But many of these invaders chose to stay in Ireland, setting up fertile farmsteads and burgeoning ports. They also created an enduring place name for