Cover image for Ireland's treasures : 5000 years of artistic expression
Ireland's treasures : 5000 years of artistic expression
Harbison, Peter.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
[Westport, Conn.] : Hugh Lauter Levin Associates ; [Berkeley, Calif.] : Distributed by Publishers Group West, [2004]

Physical Description:
320 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 37 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA920 .H37 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



The treasures of Ireland are legendary. The physical beauty of the land itself is well documented, and the creations of its inhabitants are extraordinary. This lavish book focuses on Irish cultural history as expressed through her artists and artisans -- everything from ancient portal dolmens to the Book of Kells, from stone towers to medieval high crosses and soaring monasteries. Fortresses and castles and other architectural splendours are explored, along with early gold creations, masterful paintings, and stunning stained glass windows. In a variety of media including stonework, metalwork, handwork, architecture, and painting, Ireland's artists and craftspeople tell a provocative story of a land deeply rooted in tradition. This coffee-table book tours Ireland's rich cultural history with memorable stops at every imaginable venue.

Author Notes

Peter Harbison is a professor of archaeology.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Harbison (archaeology, Royal Hibernian Acad.) has produced a visually appealing book that reflects his editorial work for the Irish Tourist Board. Who would not want to make a trip to Ireland after seeing these prehistoric stone monuments, medieval church ruins, high crosses, round towers, and mansions all framed so beautifully within their landscapes? The book is similar in scope to Irish Art and Architecture (1978; reprint, 1993. o.p.), which Harbison coauthored with Homan Potterton and Jeanne Sheehy. While the two works each include more than 300 photographs and cover similar subject matter, the new book's larger size and greater use of color photography make a stronger impact, with close-up images of items such as the Tara Brooch showing exquisite detail. The chronological chapters are similar, with this text adding work from the last 25 years and more about women artists. The new volume, however, lacks a bibliography, which may lessen its value to academic libraries. Harbison's expert discussions on the arts-including illuminated manuscripts, metalwork, textiles, painting, and more-place Ireland's artistic expression within the complex social, religious, and political trends of 5000 years. This is a desirable purchase, especially for public libraries.-Anne Marie Lane, Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Ireland's Treasures is best suited to readers seeking historical breadth, resplendent photography, and a descriptive approach to the topic. There are no footnotes, nor is there a bibliography to direct readers to the more scholarly texts archeologist Harbison likely consulted. Another potentially useful feature that has been left out of the book is a map; the author is scrupulous about stating the location of each of his "treasures," yet the reader who is unfamiliar with Ireland's geography is left without a contextualized sense of place. Harbison's aim, as stated in the "Introduction," is to place Irish art, architecture, and material culture on a par with Irish literature in the public imagination. The strategy he employs is one that privileges aesthetics and canonical status, creating a book that reads more like a travel guide than an art historical study. Thus one can find picturesque photographs of the moon rising over a dolmen and extensive description of the Book of Kells, for example. Yet Harbison also devotes a chapter to lesser-known, late medieval architectural monuments and the Celtic Revival movement (which prominently featured women stained glass artists), lending depth to this otherwise broadly generalized work. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers. K. Rhodes Hollins University