The Earls of Desmond, The Rise and Fall of a Munster Lordship,
by Gerald O’Carroll
Due to be published in June 2013. Cost. 15. euros (paperback)
Few today can imagine the power and influence of the earls of Desmond over Munster in late medieval and early modern times, from their arrival with other Norman knights in County Limerick about the year 1200, though the centuries of their expanding rule, to their humiliating subjugation under Elizabeth 1 in the final quarter of the sixteenth century. The noble house of Desmond continues to provide “a literary mine to delve in for romantic episodes and daring feats of arms”. Piecing together the story of the Desmond earls has been the work of many years: the loss of archives, visual art, books and monuments, in consequence of the wars, has been incalculable. If the Desmond earls had survived, and if they had retained their castles and estates, then Munster would have avoided the “dark cloud … which for so many years overwhelmed our country in the seventeenth century”. So wrote the old Co. Limerick antiquarian James Grene Barry over a hundred years ago. This is the book that brings the story of the Desmond earls and their lordship alive for a new readership – in Munster and beyond.