Eason Exclusive: Fierce Appetites by Elizabeth Boyle

From medieval historian Elizabeth Boyle comes a captivating new book exploring the human experience across Irish history and legend. Here at easons.com, we are thrilled to share an exclusive piece from Elizabeth in which she shares with us her personal introduction to the book.

Fierce Appetites by Elizabeth Boyle


Can the past help us to make sense of the present? In 2020, I experienced a transformational year: aside from the shared experience of the coronavirus pandemic, I was forced to reflect on my life and the lives of those around me following a series of events including the death of my father, the end of a relationship, and my fortieth birthday.

As a historian of medieval Ireland, my job is to teach, research and write about the history of Ireland and its neighbours from the fifth to the twelfth centuries. This gives me a deep perspective on human experience and I drew on this in order to try to make sense of the events which I had lived through.

From familiar characters from medieval Ireland’s rich literature, such as Cú Chulainn and Medb (‘Queen Maeve’), to much less well-known strands of medieval Irish history and culture, I explore aspects of history that help us to shed light on modern life.

My experiences of grief, addiction, motherhood, and passion sent me digging into medieval poetry, archaeology and saga narratives for wisdom and consolation. But I suggest that the societies of the past were as complicated as our own, and that there is just as much hope and inspiration to be found around us today.

Fierce Appetites is my exploration of life, of history, and of different kinds of love: a love of learning, a love of pleasure, and above all a love for the communities and chosen families in which we live.