New book charts Archduke Ferdinand’s visit to Kinsale

Des O’Sullivan tells a tale of bad weather in Kinsale that left a legacy.

THE havoc created by winds and rain in Ireland in latter weeks is nothing new. The wind has always resulted in the unexpected in Ireland. In 1518, it blew the Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand and a royal retinue of about 400 people, en route from Spain to the Low Countries, into Kinsale.

One of the party, Laurent Vital, recorded the four-day visit in his diary.

Smitten, he wrote important descriptions of the clothing, hairstyles, weapons, pilgrimages, customs, music and manners of the Irish in a warm manner. He was particularly impressed by the almost topless, though virtuous, women he encountered, (this was a June storm).

A new book by UCC historian Hiram Morgan: Ireland 1518, Archduke Ferdinand’s Visit to Kinsale and the Durer Connection, recounts the visit.

In it Morgan postulates that Vital’s description of Irishmen, their dress and weapons, is almost certainly the source for a famous 1521 drawing of Irish gallowglasses by Albrecht Durer, and argues that reference to soldiers and peasants in Durer’s title reflects Vital’s labelling.

In a preface to the book Crawford Gallery director Peter Murray refers to Vital’s diary as an overlooked but valuable narrative ... “where the Continental meets the insular, and where cultures mingle and comment on each other”. The diary, written in Old French, was translated by Morgan’s wife Dorothy Convery.


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