Book Review: Kingdom Overthrown: Ireland and the Battle for Europe, 1688-1691

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by Gerard Fitzgibbon

Stillorgan, Ire.: New Island Books / Portland, Or.: International Specialized Book Services, 2015. Pp. iv, 426. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. . $27.99. ISBN: 1848404751

The So-Called “Glorious Revolution” and the Extinction of Irish Liberties

This work gives us a different take on the story of the fall of James II and the final extinction of Irish Catholic liberties by the English Protestants, a tale most often told tidily by the winners.

Irish journalist Fitzgibbon has a lively style. The book naturally concentrates on the events of 1688-1691, the period known in Ireland as the “Williamite War” during which the Protestant William of Orange usurped the English throne from the Catholic James II. But Fitzgibbon actually begins his tale with a good deal of background, using about a third of his text to review the history of Ireland from the first English invasion centuries earlier to the eve of the “Glorious Revolution” as the war is known in England.

Fitzgibbon liberally seasons his account with observations, comments, and references to events from all of Irish history, down to the war for independence and on to the present. While doing so, Fitzgibbon also gives us many little profiles of some of the more prominent actors, including several kings, and a goodly number of soldiers and politicians, such as Patrick Sarsfield, Baron Glinkel, and the Earl of Tyreconnel.

There are some good battle pieces in the book, and a particularly grim account of the Battle of Aughrim (July 22, 1691), the bloodiest day in Irish history, with combined Jacobite and Williamite dead totaling some 7,000. Nor does Fitzgibbon hesitate to visit the atrocities by both side, the genocidal policies of the invaders, and the convoluted international background against which these events unfolded, as part of the “Nine Years’ War” that engulfed much of Europe .

This is an excellent work for anyone interested in learning something about the fate of Ireland in the seventeenth century.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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