Giraldus Cambrensis's twelfth century The History of the Conquest of Ireland immortalized the Irish Queen Dervorgilla as the woman who 'took advantage of the absence of her husband, and allowed herself to be ravished, not against her will. . . For as Mark Anthony and Troy are witnesses, almost all the greatest evils in the world have arisen from women.' Blamed for the conquest of Ireland, the story of Dervorgilla and her abductor Diarmuid Mac Murrough would echo throughout literature by figures as varied as U.S. President John Quincy Adams and James Joyce, whose citizen in Ulysses would identify the two twelfth century figures as 'the cause of all our misfortunes.'
Medieval Invasions in Modern Irish Literature offers the first book-length treatment of the literary return to and reinterpretation of this twelfth century history by twentieth century Irish writers. The set of modern Irish writers explored in this book – W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, James Joyce, Sean O'Faoláin, Micheál Mac Liammóir, Brendan Behan and Jamie O'Neill among other writers less known and outside of Ireland – returned to and reinterpreted this medieval history, using it to disrupt the received historical narrative, to reframe a range of present conflicts and to invite alternate conceptions of the modern nation.