In Search of Ancient Ireland

Ireland’s ancient history comes alive in In Search of Ancient Ireland – a three-part documentary series spanning Ireland’s centuries between 3,000 BC to 1170 AD.

Episode 1: Heroes

Episode 1 begins with examining the arrival of neolithic farmers, around 4000 B.C.

Within 500 years (about a millennium before Egyptians built pyramids), they’d begun building elaborate mound tombs. And Ireland literally enjoyed a “golden age” around 800 B.C. That all actually happened, archaeologists and historians assert.

But what stories from that time probably didn’t? The documentary series argues that the legendary battles between Cu Chullain and Queen Maeve, and the Celtic invasion were just that – legends.

Episode 2: Saints

Episode 2 looks at the influx of a new religion; that of Christianity.

Once it spread to Ireland it becomes the de-facto faith and makes it “the intellectual heart of Europe,” narrator Gerard McSorley argues.

Ireland’s first saint: Patrick, a Briton who arrived in the 5th century. He wasn’t the first missionary but he was the first to leave writings behind.

In fact, “the church brought reading and writing to Ireland,” says McSorley.” And Irish monks such as Sts. Columba and Columbanus carried the flame of learning abroad in the darkest days of the Dark Ages. “Irish scholars and theologians,” McSorley notes, “were essential to the rebuilding of Western civilization.”

Episode 3: Warlords

The third and last episode traces Irish history from the end of the 8th century through the 12th, a period bookended by foreign invaders.

First: the Vikings. Their raiders were brutal, but Vikings were also interested in commerce, and they established Ireland’s first towns, most notably Dublin.

Brian Boru unified the country at the beginning of the 11th century, but the unity died with him in 1014. Unifying Ireland a century and a half later: England’s Norman kings.

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In Search of Ancient Ireland
  • Info
  • Release date2002
  • Full runtime2 hours 42 minutes
  • Directed byLeo Eatonr
  • Narrated byGerard McSorley
  • Production CompaniesCafe Productions Ltd., Educational Broadcasting Corporation, Little Bird Productions, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Thirteen / WNET WNET, Channel 13 New York