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In Search of Ancient Ireland
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IN SEARCH OF ANCIENT IRELAND explores events and stories from 2000 B.C., when Stone Age farmers built some of Europe's largest and most spectacular Neolithic monuments, to 1167 A.D., when invading Normans seized Ireland for England's king. Archaeological evidence helps document a wealth of Celtic myths and legends, preserved in oral form and first recorded on paper, much embellished, by 9th-century Christian monks.
- Full-length bonus film: 'Over Ireland'
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I'm not sure if PBS was just trying to make something as fast as they could and get their own opinions out there, but this is more like a 12yr old's project. Lots of great pictures, some good information. But, it's so all over the place and random that I couldn't follow most of what they were trying to convey - which appears to be based on their own opinions - IE what PBS wants you to think.
As others have said, they don't talk about any of the dialects that were important to the whole European region during this time period.
They seem to be more interested in trashing the Catholic religion and anyone associated with it.
Jumping all over the time spectrum was so common that I couldn't ever come close to building a timeline.
One other thing that bothered me is they give a contradictory opinion to what Over Ireland video states on one of the cliff top forts/structures.
The History of Scotland DVD series from the BBC totally spoiled me. BBC they are not. PBS needs to stick to travel, cooking and kids shows.
The only reason I gave it 3 stars was they had some cool location shoots.
Firstly, I have to praise the cinematography and the breathtaking footage of Ireland's natural beauty. The landscape the viewer sees throughout this DVD is simply marvelous.
The DVD begins with the earliest people and the scant evidence of their culture. Monoliths, stone circles and stone tombs show that Ireland's people were in contact with cultures in Britain and the continent and shared a pan-European culture to some extent. The video covers the early sagas and myths and there is some debate of whether they are the shadowy remembrance of a distant past or more recent invention.
The viewer is introduced to brief discussions of the religions and music of Ireland's early inhabitants as well as the dominance of "Celtic" culture with its highly abstract artwork and decoration. I was surprised by the dearth of discussion of Druids and the, in my mind, odd claims that rejected the idea of a Celtic invasion of Ireland. The historian who scoffed at even the idea that Celtic people invaded and subjugated Ireland claimed that people simply adopted the Celtic language and customs over time. To me, this is silly. Most Irish today speak English because Ireland was invaded by an English-speaking warrior-elite who brought English-speaking colonists with them and forced the native Irish to speak the language of the invader.
The DVD did a fine job of showing the far reaching influence of Christianity and the contributions of Ireland's Christians. It begins with a discussion of St. Patrick, a Briton who had been captured and enslaved by Irish brigands who escaped and returned to the land of his bondage to spread Christianity. There is an all-to-brief glance at the Book of Kells as well as the effects of Irish scholarship on the larger Christian community.
The Viking influence on Ireland is explored as we learn of the founding of Dublin by Norse traders and warriors. The Vikings would have great impact on Ireland for centuries. It also leads into the armed conflicts both against the invading Norse and the internecine fighting that was common. Brian Boru comes across as the uniter of Ireland he was.
This is a well made and very entertaining DVD that certainly exceeds the standard we expect from a PBS production. I am not Irish, but I greatly enjoyed the journey to finding ancient Ireland. This is a good DVD and I recommend it with five stars.