For easy digestion, the story of the island is told in a series of 240 short documentaries - starting with the Ice Age and the arrival of the first humans through to the outbreak of the Second World War.
©2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
The tone is good, the narration charming, the repetive "This is a short history of Ireland in 240 episodes" every 5 - 15 minutes is highly annoying. The small episodes chop up the content a bit too much for my taste, but I suppose that's a consequence of it being presented via radio.
All of that would take it to a 4 for me, but the distressing part is that the history is mostly about who fought against whom. The oral history of Ireland is covered in the first 5 - 10 minutes; early and pre-conquest Celtic art isn't mentioned at all; the difference in belief, clerical requirements, status of monestaries and abbies, and relationship to the elite families prior to the take-over by the Latin rite is barely mentioned; the impact of Celtic/Gaelic concepts of kinship on the shape of society; the society, culture, and politics of pre-conquest Ireland is hardly mentioned; and, at least through the coverage of Cromwell's activities, there's precious little of even a mention of day-to-day life, even within the elites.
The later part of the presentation may give more attention to culture and society, but the first half (as far as I got) is almost completely battles and massacres.
The reading of the material is well done. The information is fun and given in a very friendly manner that would appeal to just about anyone with a history of Celtic culture.
The only negative I have is that the bedanged thing stops every 20 minutes or so and gives a long (and after 244 times) very tiresome lead in that this is A Short History of Ireland in 244 parts by the BBC or something along those lines. It gets super-old!
Still, it is a good read. We listened to it during a carpool last month with kids from 10 to adults and everyone enjoyed it.
...hearing the phrase, "This is a short history of Ireland in 240 episodes" 240 times will drive most people insane. I made it up to about 40 before giving up. This was doubly frustrating as the content was enjoyable and informative. Surely these "links" could have been expunged before turning a radio series in to an audiobook.
...in 240 episodes just like it says. This history is told in an informative, entertaining and very well presented documentary format. By documentary format, it brings a nice mix of theatrical presentation with a succinct storytelling style. The music and background sounds do not overpower the story, they add a pleasant sense of style and/or "feel" for the mood of the times being presented.
It does not attempt to present the history in textbook form. Given that it is trying to provide an overview of Irish history from the Ice Age to the start of World War II, I was not sure what to expect. BBC Radio Ulster has given us an admirably detailed while still broad in scope history of Ireland. What I got may not be all inclusive, but I'm happy with the investment.
Short and often too brief of an overview however, it does span 12,000 years so what can one expect? The story line or events are enough to give you the idea of time and events and it does wet the appetite to seek further into the depth of events.
My biggest problem with this book was, it constantly interrupted every 5 min. or so with annoying announcements by saying "this audio BBC twelve thousand years of the history of Ireland - episode 1, then 2 etc. ." 240 times throughout the whole book, by the end of the book you just can't wait to throw it away.
You would think they would of had the sense to break it up by chapters every 45 - 60 minutes but every few minutes is crazy.
I would not recommend this book based mainly on the annoying interruptions.
"detailed, thorough, educational and Sweet" is the English translation of my title. This 21 hour reading by numerous presenters tells a fascinating tale of the Irish. 'tis very enlightening. This presentation includes readings, musical inserts, and recreations of period speeches. In 65 years, I have never known a people who suffered so long and so resilient. The peoples of Ireland have suffered the barbary of vikings, indescribable religious persecution and governmental over rule.
This is a great education and a statement of man's inhumanity to fellow men.
The information in this audiobook is excellent - well presented - BUT there is a really irritating chapter system (240 episodes in fact) each of which is introduced VERY ANNOYING.....needs to be edited so that it flows from one chapter to the next without interruption
I'm afraid I'm unable to comment on the content of the book as my attempt at listening was marred for me by the background music.I couldn't concentrate on the spoken word at all. Very disappointing. Unfortunatley, I didn't listen to a preview before buying. I'll learn ....
Unfortunately this audio book is just a history text being read in charming Irish accents. It is dry as dust and carries no reference to the oral histories of Ireland. I am very disappointed. I should have listened to more than the first few lines before I bought it.
Enjoy travel books especially Ireland and British Isles, also history and classic or historic settings mystery books.
The combination of voice actors alternating narration made this a much more than interesting history to listen to. In addition, the short-ish and titled chapters (each 5- 10 minutes long), and the occasional background music and sound effects enhance the narration. Although "A Short History of Ireland" is a misnomer as it runs over 22 hours it is always interesting. I listened to this an hour a day walking my dog over the month preceding a trip to Ireland and it was a perfect preamble for pre-trip prepping on the political, military, and cultural history of the country.
Hearing about Georg Frederick Handel's debut of his "Messiah" in Dublin in 1742 was fascinating and it was delivered with clips of the music in the background. Great history!
Handel's "Messiah", the Flight of the Earls, the failed efforts of Spain and France to support Ireland vs. English domination, many more.
Cromwell and Famine times are very well explained and particularly sad, but mostly the whole book was filled with fascinating history that illuminated rather than hit emotional highs and lows.
The two flaws are that it ends at World War II so the post-war "Troubles" and peace-making efforts are not covered, and, it is divided into 240 chapters (it apparently was made for BBC Ulster radio for one chapter a day to run on radio), each chapter of which is introduced with a repetitive "This is a short history of Ireland in 240 chapters." I appreciated the different chapters, each covering a theme in 5 - 10 minutes and with an explanatory title, but repeating "This is a short history of Ireland in 240 chapters" over and over is annoying. Luckily, the chapterization on my downloaded version stopped at about chapter 200, so the rest of the way there were no more chapters or repeats of that phrase.Overall, this is a wonderful and comprehensive history of Ireland (albeit only up until the mid-20th century), brilliantly narrated, and I highly recommend it. Back from Ireland I am re-listening to it and enjoying and learning from it again.
This is well worth the time to listen to, it is well narrated, with a touch of artistic licence. My only gripe is; it is 240 episodes, and you are told so 240 times! yes 240 times, why? well it takes approximately 9 seconds to tell you, X 240 = 2160 seconds=36 wasted minutes which is why I did not give it a full and deserved 5 stars.
"Not only for the Irish"
For those like me who did not know much about Ireland's history this is a fascinating and revealing account that works well as an audio book.The five minute episodes are skilfully constructed and almost always contain some striking incidents and memorable characters . Occasionally the sound effects, atmospheric music or foreign accents are overdone, but generally each episode is most enjoyable to hear. The grand set pieces receive good treatment -Cromwell in Ireland, the rebellion of 1798, the great famine, Parnell- but there are also fascinating, less familiar topics: a Spaniard's account of Elizabethan Ireland, details of the Irish linen industry, the first performance of Messiah in Dublin,and many others. Sometimes perhaps colourful detail takes the place of sustained historical analysis but I'm sure that listening to these programmes will lead many to read more about what is a striking and turbulent history, and a story of which both English and Irish people should be aware. It is understandable but still disappointing that the history stops at the Second World War and so does not deal with the more recent past.
"Knowledge and entertainment"
I loved this audiobook. I was about to pay a rare visit to Ireland late last summer and decided I would bone up on the history of the island, as I only knew scanty bits about the rich mythology, Cromwell, O'Connell, the famine, 1916 and the like. I chose this audiobook, originally a BBC Northern Ireland series as far as I can ascertain, which I found fascinating in the detail it provides, enlightening in the scope and range of the topics covered, laudible for the excellent characterisation of the main 'players', praiseworthy for the entertaining presentation of the whole sweep of history and informative in the knowledge I have gained about the Emerald Isle. It puts the current situation in Ireland, north and south, into perspective, and I am now happy to look at some of the specific areas covered in more detail as a result of listening to this lenghthy but highly recommended audiobook.
"Not a bad introduction"
This long audiobook provides a reasonably comprehensive account of the development of Irish history up to the commencement of the Second World War. The fact that it was produced by BBC Northern Ireland has ensured that excessive emphasis is given to the Ulster experience through the centuries, yet none of what it includes is gratuitous or included solely on the basis of its northern credentials. Having said this, there are individuals and events from outside of Ulster whose impact on Irish history is greater than this production would lead you to believe; at times the geography, rather than the history, has exerted a disproportionate influence on the content.
The variety of narrators are generally easy to listen to, yet, unforgivably really, some of the pronunciation of Irish placenames, words, etc. is quite poor, requiring the listener to rewind at spots to deconstruct the multisyllabic mess and rebuild the word themselves.
Obviously a massive undertaking, this is quite a good attempt to condense Irish history into a twenty-seven hour lesson.
"Brilliant survey of Irish history"
I have studied some Irish history, but the early periods were less familiar and I found this particularly fascinating. I liked the balance between political and social history, giving a good balanced overview of Irish society. Inevitably, parts of this were very painful to hear, including the Potato famine, the many injustices over the 800+ years of English/British domination and the Troubles. Given that difficult history I thought it was handled a pretty balanced way. I thought the narration and sound effects were mostly well done though I do wish the introductory lines to each segment had been edited out. That did get annoying, but didn't really detract from an impressive production.
"a short history of ireland"
This is taken straight from short radio programmes with the result that it stops and starts very frequently. If these bits could have been taken out it would have been a fascinating listen but they ended up annoying me so much that I never finished it which is a pity as there was a lot of interesting information in it.
Entertaining and informative. Bite size snippets to dip into and out of at will
"Turn it off!!"
I was unable to listen more than three minutes. Why not just narrate the story rather than attempting to jazz it up with ludicrous sound effects? No doubt content is fine - maybe good - but I'll never know.
Hate the broken format... I should have heeded the reviews already left by purchasers!
This is a totally fascinating audio book. I've learned so much about Ireland and it's interaction with Scotland (where I come from), England and other nations. I can't imagine learning so much from reading a book. The narrators have done a marvellous job of bringing the stories to life. The background sound effects aren't overwhelming but rather, along with the songs, help to bring the whole thing together. I wish history lessons had been this interesting at school. I did get a bit fed up listening to EVERY one of the 240 episodes being introduced by the same wee speech though. Can we have more history like this though please?
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