The Rebels of Ireland: The Dublin Saga - By Edward Rutherfurd Page 0,1
the land: by converting the island’s Celtic name (Eriu) into their own tongue, the Nordic name Ire-land was born. The Vikings also transformed Dubh Linn’s name into Dyflin, which became the richest port in all of Ireland. This merging of Scandinavian and Celtic cultures is brought to life in The Princes of Ireland through the story of Harold and Caoilinn. He is a Dyflin shipbuilder who follows ancient Norse gods, and whose ancestors were among the bravest Norwegian warriors. She is a beautiful and spirited descendant of Conall, and she cannot imagine marrying a man who is not a Christian.
They live during a time when the High Kingship of Ireland is in dispute. In 999, the great King Brian Boru launched a military campaign to unite Ireland under his command. In the novel, he gains a loyal follower in Harold. Yet Brian’s kingship of Ireland is opposed: many of his fellow Irishmen are against him. Caoilinn hates him.
Fourteen years after Brian Boru’s rise to power, the recently widowed Harold and Caoilinn begin a tender courtship, but it falls apart when she learns of Harold’s allegiance to King Brian. The reign of Brian ends when he is slain by Viking invaders during the historic Battle of Clontarf. Though Brian Boru decisively won the battle, staving off further Viking raids, his death made it a Pyrrhic victory for the Irish. In the ensuing peace, Harold the Norseman and Caoilinn the Celt put their differences aside and wed happily.
In 1167, a century after the Norman conquest of England, King Henry II sets the stage for the annexation of Ireland by England. King Henry himself belongs to the Plantagenet dynasty from Anjou, in France. Henry allows one of his magnates—the clever, calculating Strongbow—to carve out English settlements in Ireland. Rutherfurd captures this turbulent transition by introducing a young Welsh soldier of Flemish descent named Peter FitzDavid, who sails to Ireland with Strongbow.
Peter befriends a Dublin family descended from Caoilinn. The patriarch is a married priest with children (practices not uncommon for a priest in the Celtic Irish Church). Peter is intrigued by Conn’s attractive daughter, Fionnuala. She doesn’t hesitate in sparking a brief affair with the well-mannered soldier from England. Their trysts end after Strongbow asks Peter to recruit her as a spy and Fionnuala unwittingly provides information leading to a humiliating defeat for the High King, one of many blows lying in store for the Irish at the hands of a powerful new master.
In 1171, King Henry travels to Ireland personally, accompanied by 4,500 troops, for the purpose of reminding Strongbow that no matter how many victories he scores, he must always submit to the king. After the English victories in Ireland, the Pope sends a letter of congratulation to King Henry, commending him for his military triumphs in subduing the Irish. The Pope makes it clear to Irish clergymen that their kinsmen have won no favor with Rome. In the ensuing years, the king rewards his English invaders with copious amounts of Irish property. Peter is eventually granted ownership of Fionnuala’s family estate in reward for two decades of loyal service to the crown. In a scene depicting the anguish of these transactions, Fionnuala demands that Peter allow her brother to continue living on the land that has been in their family for hundreds of years. Peter is unmoved, and agrees to let her brother remain only if he pays timely rent. Now married to an O’Byrne, she warns Peter that her children may one day come down from the hills and seize the land that is rightfully theirs.
By 1370, the English in the Dublin region are living in a state of constant friction with the Irish in the hinterland. Rutherfurd illustrates this in a suspenseful vignette involving the tiny but strategically located fishing village of Dalkey. Nearby, the Justiciar in Dublin has installed John Walsh’s family at the ancient castle of Carrickmines to create another English stronghold against Irish resistance. Rumor spreads that the O’Byrnes are planning a raid on Carrickmines. The warning travels to the Justiciar, who convenes a group of advisors that includes Walsh as well as Doyle of Dublin, who made a fortune in the wine trade. Doyle proposes that Carrickmines be fortified with troops, including the only squadron stationed at Dalkey, to set a trap for the O’Byrnes. In reality, Doyle has secretly plotted to create this diversion. While a staged, minor scuffle ensues at Carrickmines, Dalkey is left unattended. This gives Doyle, the descendant of Danish