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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Book launch: Medieval and Monastic Derry

The city of Derry is one of the oldest continuously documented places in Ireland and now a new book, Medieval and monastic Derry: sixth century to 1600, by Brian Lacey, offers the first comprehensive study of its wealth of medieval history.

Commissioned as a contribution to the 2013 UK City of Culture celebrations and funded in part by the Holywell Trust through its City Walls Heritage Project, an educational initiative encouraging people to engage with the city’s historic walls, this highly anticipated book will be launched at the Tower Museum on Thursday 28 November (invitation only).

The author Brian Lacey, the founder of Derry City Council’s Museum and Heritage Service, said that his work re-examines a number of previous studies in order to strengthen and reinforce current historical interpretations.

'The turbulent history of the city has been well documented, complete with legends, theories and battles. The book re-examines the turbulent periods in history of the city from its origination as a monastery founded, according to legend, by St Columba, to the capture in the late sixth century by Cenél Conail through to the twelfth century. The book focuses on the harnessing of the Columban legend, especially under the reign of the Mac Lochlainn kings in the 1100s when the city became an influential and significant political and cultural hub as well as a major pilgrimage destination. The defeat of the Mac Lochlainn kings brought about a corresponding decline in the city's life.'

Lacey says that 1600 is very significant in the city’s history because, with the arrival of the English, it saw the end of its Gaelic identity. 'In this book I have emphasized the changing fortunes of Derry by examining the contexts of contemporary secular politics throughout medieval times.'

For more information about the launch evening, contact Archivist Bernadette Walsh by email or phone 028 7136 5151, extension 8251.

The 176-page hardback is published by Four Courts Press, ISBN: 978-1-84682-383-1. Web price: €22.45.