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Golden Age of Ireland

Golden Age of Ireland

The Golden Age of Ireland coincided with the Dark Ages elsewhere in Europe. The Dark Ages refer to the early medieval period of European history from fall of the Roman Empire to the rise of Charlemagne. During this period, learning, scholarship, and culture disappeared from the European continent. Not much is known about this time period in continental Europe, other than the fighting and plundering, as dozens of roaming barbarian hordes (Goths, Huns, Vandals, Franks, etc.) competed for land and riches. This was a "period of defeat, migration and conquest known as the Völkerwanderung - the 'Wandering of the Peoples'."

However, in Ireland, learning, arts, and the documentation of Western civilization continued to flourish during this period. Hence, Ireland did not experience the Dark Ages. In fact, Ireland became the repository of great artisic and literary creativity that made Irish scholars the most revered in history. Monasteries were established where the great heritage of Western civilization -- from the Greek and Roman classics to Jewish and Christian works -- would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and women as monks and scribes who laboriously preserved the West's written treasury.

With the return of stability in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning. Thus, the Irish not only were conservers of civilization, but became shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on Western culture.