Dr Liam Irwin peer-reviewed proofs of the forthcoming book.
I enjoyed reading your work on the Desmonds. I was most impressed by the amount of reading and research you have done and the information gathered on this long tailed and long lived dynasty. You have an excellent account of the context for each one both locally, in Ireland, England and in Europe which is very impressive.
In terms of comments which might be helpful, I think you need to bear in mind who your potential readers will be. Clearly you hope to aim at a general rather than a very specialist academic market and in that regard I think there are places where you need to explain things more clearly and more fully for people who will not have a detailed knowledge of the period. As an example, Lambert Simnel appears out of nowhere and I do not think most people would understand what was involved – so a short explanation would help. Equally the 1534 rebellion section is too short [I know it is not central to the Desmonds but even so, a slightly longer and clearer account would be in order – surrendering the sword of state needs to be explained for example]. It is difficult, I know, to integrate the local with events in England and especially in Europe and you do this very well but again in places, I think it would lead to confusion in the reader’s mind – unless it was explained a bit more. I appreciate that this is a fine balance and that you cannot lose sight of the central theme of the Desmonds but as there is often not that much information available about the local scene in any case then I think it would be worth while giving more information – in any case it is quite fascinating to see how aware of and involved in European affairs they were at various times. This is something most Irish people are unaware of and your work would be very valuable in that regard.
So perhaps if you read back through it and try to think about those who might need greater explanation in places, it would make the work more accessible.
On the general historical content, I think it is excellent and I see nothing to query [or complain about!]. Personally I have a hang-up about anyone saying Henry VIII wanted a Divorce [as you know and say, it was an annullment] but as every major historian uses the term ‘divorce’ I cannot object to you doing so! One point perhaps, the Normans came to help McMurrough get back his kingdom not to avenge the abduction of Dervorgilla [after all it was McM who had abducted HER!]. You might also explain always where places are e.g. Pallis, set of McCarthy Mór, and be consistent with names – Gearoid Mór and not Garret Mór.
Again, my congratulations on your excellent work,
All the best,