Medieval Ireland: The Enduring Tradition is an overview of Irish society from the coming of Christianity in the fourth century to the Reformation in the sixteenth. Such a broad survey reveals features otherwise not easily detected. For all the complexity of political developments, Irish society remained basically stable and managed to withstand the onslaught of both the Vikings and the English. The inherent strength of Ireland consisted in the cultural heritage from prehistoric times, which remained influential throughout the centuries discussed here. Irish history has traditionally been described either in isolation or in the manner in which it was influenced by outside forces, especially by England. This book strikes a different balance. First, the time span covered is longer than usual, and more attention is paid to the early medieval centuries than to the later period. Secondly, less emphasis is placed in this book on the political or military history of Ireland than on general social and cultural aspects. As a result, a more mature interpretation of medieval Ireland emerges, one in which social and cultural norms inherited from prehistoric times are seen to survive right through the Middle Ages.