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In the library of Farmleigh House in Dublin is Queen Elizabeth I’s Irish Primer. Probably from the 1560s, it was written at the Queen’s command, and in the light of her desire to spread the Reformation to the Irish people, for most of whom Irish – not English – was a first language. You can see the Farmleigh primer at the excellent Irish Script On Screen website. The preface argues that it will be crucial for the English to learn Irish if they are to effect real change on the island.

Perhaps the most haunted castle in Ireland is Leap Castle. More than 400 years ago, in 1532, brother turned against brother to shed blood. One was a warrior who rushed into the chapel and used his sword to slay the priest who was his brother. The priest fell across the altar and died. The chapel is known as Bloody Chapel since that time. The dungeon in the castle is called an oubliette. Prisoners pushed into the oubliette fell eight feet onto spikes coming up from the floor.