San Francisco Book Review

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SF BR Gives ClanDonnell 4 1/2 Stars
ClanDonnell is "a treasure trove of information" and "tells Ireland's history through a unique lens".

Click to download: 77_SFClanDonnellbookreview_1429.pdf

San Francisco Book Review will publish its review of ClanDonnell in the April issue. Here is the review or, click the pdf above. Or, read it here:

"David McDonnell tells Ireland’s history through a unique lens, tracing the history of the original Clan Donnell (Donald in Scotland) and offshoot clans (McDonnells, McDonalds, O’Donnells, etc.) that dominated the Hebrides Islands, Highland Scotland, and much of Ireland, until the English subjugated the island in the 17th century.

McDonnell has a story-teller’s voice, though his richly textured and layered 900-plus-page book is factual. Familiar historic figures star in this story, but the author shows a Donnell, a Donald, or a McDonnell on the scene at every turn, including ‘The Troubles’ of the 1900s. It’s a mesmerizing book that feels like a personal journey through Ireland’s history.

In the Clan Era, there was much travel between Scotland and what was Ireland at that time: not a nation, but an amalgam of small kingdoms headed by clan leaders chosen by their clan members and associated clans. The McDonnell clan was predominant in the north but migrated south as well. ‘Redshanks’ and ‘Gallowglass warriors’ (well-trained Scots mercenaries loyal to McDonnell clan in Northern Ireland) could be rented out to other clans in both places, which gave the McDonnells more power and land for their clans. (The English were terrified of these warriors.)

Early Scots who immigrated assimilated easily into the Irish clans. Viking invasions of the 8th and 10th centuries also assimilated into Celtic clans. The Celtic clan culture worked for more than a thousand years, and author McDonnell raises a good question: Who really is Irish? Ireland was invaded over centuries by many different groups - all of whom wove themselves into the culture and became part of the Ireland we know today."

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