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Thursday, April 23, 2015

In Search of the Irish Past - Part 5

Last year my 18th book, The White Devil of Dublin, was released. Writing the book required research into Dublin's history, as part of the plot takes place as the Viking occupation of Dublin was coming to an end, on the cusp of the Norman invasion.

The main character is called Hvitr Bard, which translates to The White Devil, because he is an albino Viking that is both feared and reviled. Prior to the Viking invasion of Ireland, Dublin (or Duiblinn as it was called) was a very small Christian settlement. Duiblinn is translated to The Black Pool, which in turn gets its name from a nearby tidal pool that appears very dark. Around 841, the Vikings came down the Irish Sea between England and Ireland; not only did they raid villages but they also made a permanent settlement at Duiblinn.

The Vikings ruled Duiblinn for roughly three hundred years. In my book I referred to them as Ostmen, which is how the Vikings referred to themselves.

Though we think of them today as pillaging nomads, the Norsemen actually are credited for much of the growth of Duiblinn and by the year 1171, a Norse king, Ascall mac Ragnaill, ruled the city. He and his regime had also established alliances with Scotland. It was in that year that King Dermot MacMurrough of Leinster, along with an army comprised of Norman mercenaries, invaded Ireland in full force.

In the fighting that led up to the capture of Duiblinn, mac Ragnaill fled to the Scottish Highlands and his Viking followers had the difficult choice of fighting the Normans without their leader, fleeing Ireland to avoid torture, imprisonment or death, or moving westward past the River Shannon.

After the Norman invasion, Dublin became heavily populated with people from England and Wales. This was the start of an uneasy conflict between England and Ireland that, in some pockets, still exists today. Over the past thousand years, there have been countless Irish attempts to run the settlers out of their territory and return the entire island to native Irish control.

In a future blog, I'll have more about the history of the Pagans, the Catholic conversions and the Protestant decree under King Henry VIII. In my book, The White Devil of Dublin, I allude to the fact that if Hvitr Bard, The White Devil, were to remain in Ireland under the Normans (provided they did not kill him), he would be forced to renounce his Norse gods and submit entirely to the Catholic faith. Since his Norse gods had existed in his culture far longer than the Christian - Catholic faith, he was not of a mind to do this. But in reality, many Vikings did convert.

Dublin today is the capital of the Republic of Ireland, which gained its independence from England in 1922 and officially became known as the Republic of Ireland in 1949. It was split from roughly 1/6 of the island in the 1922 Anglo-Irish Treaty; that region is now known as Northern Ireland and it is a part of the United Kingdom, still falling under British rule. The reasons for the split will be covered in a later blog but it had its origins in religion and immigrant versus native domination.

Today, Dublin has approximately 4.6 million inhabitants (including the metro area surrounding it), which accounts for most of Ireland's population. However, Galway, on the western side of the island, has been quickly expanding and is considered the fastest-growing city in all of Europe.

From the tiny village of Christian settlers to a city home to the Viking rulers with a bustling port to the capital city of Ireland, Dublin has had quite a history.

I have plans to continue writing about Dublin's history as my second series, the Ryan O'Clery Mystery Series, features Dublin-born Ryan O'Clery. In both The Tempest Murders and The White Devil of Dublin, Ryan's Irish history intermingles with his life in the present-day - and often leads to murder.

Buy The Tempest Murders from amazon by following this link, or The White Devil of Dublin by following this link.