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From Megaliths to Metals: essays in honour of George Eogan, eds, H. Roche, E. Grogan, J. Bradley, J. Coles & B. Raftery
Oxford, Oxbow Books, 2004, 263pp. ISBN 1 84217 151 8 (£45)

The name George Eogan is not only synonymous with Irish Prehistory but also with charm and bon homie. Through his influential teaching, George prepared numerous students, not only products of UCD, for their future employment in the fields of Irish, British and European archaeology and many of them fondly pay tribute to their teacher, colleague and friend in this book of wide-ranging essays reflecting the scope and interests of ‘the man’.

Despite the title, the volume starts in the Mesolithic with articles by McCormick and Delaney and Woodman. Le Roux heads the (short) megalithic section and the rest of the volume is devoted to articles on a comprehensive list of subjects on Irish Prehistory (with emphasis on the Bronze Age). The volume ends well into the historic period with articles on Ardmore Cathedral (Manning), the High Cross of Kells (King) and an interesting bio-philosophical piece on Adolf Mahr’s influence on Sean O’Riordain (Wallace). Beyond Ireland, articles focus on France (le Roux, Cunliffe), England (Champion, Bradley & Ford), Central Europe (Schauer, Jockenhövel, Bouzek), Iberia (Burgess & O’Connor, Almagro-Gorbea) and Scandinavia (Coles): these truly reflect the wide-ranging interests of the recipient. As with many Festschriften, articles in this volume are extremely varied and range from the specific (e.g. Pit 119 at Rathgall – Raftery; gold beads from Tumna – Cahill) to the much more wide-ranging (e.g. Middle Bronze Age Burial traditions – Grogan; origins of the Early Bronze Age in central Europe – Jockenhovel) with many more falling in between. This is not a criticism but rather it is a format gives the book charm and a wide appeal to all readers from the specialist to the interested laity.

I find reviewing Festschriften very difficult not least because the articles are all written by recipient’s friends and colleagues and are written with genuine fondness. Some may have been written hastily while others are more considered. The articles in this volume certainly vary in their academic merit however it would be ungracious to the recipient to pick out any particular authors for either praise or criticism. The value of the book must be in the judgement of the recipient rather than a reviewer and, of course peer citation will ultimately prove the book’s worth. Furthermore, in a wide-ranging volume such as this, readers with different specialisms will, naturally, prefer different articles. This should not be interpreted as negativity. This volume certainly deserves to be on the bookshelves of all who claim an interest in Irish prehistory and I know that George was thrilled to receive it.

Alex Gibson
University of Bradford

Review Submitted: July 2005

The views expressed in this review are not necessarily those of the Society or the Reviews Editor.

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