Imagining Ireland’s Pasts: Pioneering and comprehensive exploration of Irish history

Book review: Nicholas Canny’s sophisticated critique presents the story of the Irish people

This remarkable scholarly study is eloquent testimony to Nicholas Canny’s inspirational passion for and commitment to Early Modern Irish History. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This remarkable scholarly study is eloquent testimony to Nicholas Canny’s inspirational passion for and commitment to Early Modern Irish History. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The fundamental problem that has confounded historians of Ireland in every century since the 16th has been to define what is, or might become, an Irish nation. Despite producing an array of competing and conflicting narratives, historians have failed to reach consensus on what ought to be the theme of any grand narrative for Ireland’s history.

Nicholas Canny’s aptly titled Imagining Ireland’s Pasts: Early Modern Ireland Through the Centuries offers a pioneering and comprehensive exploration of how, over four centuries shaped by ethnic, cultural and political considerations, these narratives have represented and distorted the history of this contentious period.

The Irish Times
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