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One of those captured slaves helped to convert the Irish to Christianity - the Romano-British Saint Patrick in the mid-fifth century AD.

Thanks to that, and isolated from the chaos that swept Britain during the Anglo-Saxon invasion, Ireland was able to develop its own rich and prominent Christian culture.

The tomb points towards Knocknarea, said to be the burial place of Queen Medb (Maeve) of Connacht, one of the major figures in the Irish saga, Tain Bo Cualnge.

Knowth in County Meath is one of Ireland's most ancient and mysterious sites.

Ireland / Erin The earliest settlers arrived in Ireland around 9500 BC, following the slow Ice Age thaw and a gradual process of rehabitation of the British Isles.

Remnants of their presence are still scattered across the island.

At various points in its early medieval history, from the eighth or ninth centuries onwards, Ireland was nominally united under the high kings (ard ri) and, but for many incursions by Danes, Normans and the Norman-dominated English, Ireland might have developed into a fully unified single kingdom in the same way as England had in the tenth century.Then in the late fourth century, Niall of the Nine Hostages apparently dominated much of Ireland.His offspring, the U Neill, used a descent system to describe themselves, and this appears to have been adopted by most of the island.The last holdout may have been the Fir Domnann (the Dumnonii Men), possibly one of several British tribes who saw fragments of their number move to Ireland.Coverage here of the Irish tribes therefore is a snapshot, figuratively taken by Ptolemy.

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