Medieval Ireland is often described as a backward-looking nation in which change only came about as a result of foreign invasions. By examining the wealth of under-explored evidence available, Downham challenges this popular notion and demonstrates what a culturally rich and diverse place medieval Ireland was. Starting in the fifth century, when St Patrick arrived on the island, and ending in the fifteenth century, with the efforts of the English government to defend the lands which it ruled directly around Dublin by building great ditches, this up-to-date and accessible survey charts the internal changes in the region. Chapters dispute the idea of an archaic society in a wide-range of areas, with a particular focus on land-use, economy, society, religion, politics and culture. This concise and accessible overview offers a fresh perspective on Ireland in the Middle Ages and overthrows many enduring stereotypes.