Read: How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe by Thomas Cahill
Drinking: Earl Gray Classic, Fortnum & Mason
Cahill traces the story of Ireland from the end of the Roman empire, and the semi-mythological leaders of the island, through the Dark Ages until Europe began to emerge into the Medieval period. Using stories, myths, St. Augustine and St. Patrick, he describes how the Roman empire fell to the Germanic “barbarians” and how the Irish became Christian.
The book also tells the stories of Irish monks. We can learn much about their lives through illuminated manuscripts – first made by them – and through the secular scraps they left behind as well. Finally, the story concludes when the monks began traveling to mainland Europe and re-spreading the Gospels as they interpreted them.
The book didn’t necessarily change my mind about the subject, but rather opened me to a part of European and Christian history that has long been obscured – they’re called the Dark Ages for a reason, after all. Like in Cahill’s Gifts of the Jews, the narrative focuses on how a relatively small population influenced the course of history and the modern world as we know it.
How the Irish Saved Civilization is an engaging, easy to read book that will challenge your ideas about, well, ideas and where they come from.