The Wandering Irish in Europe is the first book to portray the role of the Irish in European culture and history in a cogent, comprehensive, and systematic way. In one sense, this story begins in 591 A.D., when the Irish monk Columbanus and his followers traveled to France, where they ultimately founded monasteries at Annegray, Luxeuil, Fontaine, Breganz, and Bobbio and helped set the stage for the Carolingian Renaissance. In a real sense, however, it was the Celtic heritage of the early Irish emigres--which survived the Roman conquest and the barbarian invasions--that made the Irish so sought after and influential among the courts of Europe. Messrs. Culligan and Cherici examine the Celtic heritage at considerable length at the outset of the volume before turning their attention to the other principal variable that influenced the Irish exodus, the English repression of the Irish in the late Middle Ages and again in the 1600s. Many of these Irish, who possessed a variety of skills, would enter the mainstream of a number of European societies, some of them becoming leaders in their respective fields. The authors devote separate chapters to the areas of Europe where the Irish had the most effect, which are roughly equivalent to the present-day nations of France, Spain, Portugal, and Austria, as well as discuss the Irish influence upon Eastern and Central Europe and the Papal States.
Assembled after fifteen years of study in primary and secondary sources here and abroad and featuring interviews with descendants of Irish emigres and others in the know, The Wandering Irish in Europe fills an important gap in our knowledge of a great people and their impact beyond their borders.