It began suddenly in 1991, the tenth anniversary
year of our first trip to Afghanistan when our nine-year-old daughter
Alissa awoke, having dreamed of my deceased father.
Accompanied by a strange man and wearing a peculiar bell bottomed plaid suit and a funny matching hat, the man claimed to be a friend of my father and when my daughter questioned his age he laughed and told her he was eight hundred years old.
Over the years I had heard many tales of the Fitzgerald family and their eight-hundred year old conquest of Ireland under the Earl of Pembroke, Strongbow. I also knew that my branch of the family was somehow connected to them.
But the coming of Alissas dream seemed an omen I couldn't ignore and I immediately set out to find whether this mysterious visitor might be a connection I was looking for.
We started by combing the library for clues and within days Liz had managed to find a hundred-year-old copy of Cambrensis' account hidden in the Boston Public Library. As a prelate educated in the finest schools on the continent and private tutor to Henry II's son Prince John, Geraldus Cambrensis - as he was known - provided a unique vantage on the controversial invasion, recording and nuancing an already intriguing story with his own back-channel knowledge and inside information hot from the English court.
But as a Fitzgerald, grandson of Gerald of Windsor and the famous Nesta, a Tudor Princess whose lineage traced back to the mythical Celtic court of Arthur - Cambrensis offered much more than the usual scribes-eye view.
What Cambrensis offered was "prophecy" on the future of his boss, King Henry II, his own family, the Fitzgeralds and the fate of the "West" at the end of this millennium. He had gone to the great trouble of finding the only original copy of the legendary Merlin's prophecies because "the rough and unvarnished simplicity of the older idiom was the only true friend of truth, and he had used his dreams and visions to guide him to where that truth was hidden.
It was a powerful document and reading it was like gazing into a crystal whose facets reflected not only a mystical view of history, but my own family's role in it.
It was all there, the dream, the visions, the predictions recorded by one of the most acknowledged voices of the twelfth century in a language so contemporary it read like it had been written yesterday. Just as I had done in Afghanistan, I recognized Cambrensis' desire to chronicle an historical event and identified with the difficulty of what he was trying to reveal.
I also saw in his account the slow and steady mystical awakening that changed him from being a strict Catholic prelate into a Merlin-like prophet and I sensed in that something important for me.
He understood that there were essential meanings missing from our understanding of history and our place in it, meanings that Western thought had filtered out. He understood that whether pagan or Christian, there were secrets to our simultaneous existence in other realms of reality and that only by listening to our dreams could we fully understand what was in store for us. Cambrensis had intended to put them all in a separate book and call it the "Prophetic history of Ireland." But in the end he had suppressed them, fearing that "the prophecies must wait until the right time has arrived.
When I read those words, written by candlelight on a piece of parchment eight hundred years before my time, a voice called out to me that the "right time" was now. I believed that somehow, the eight hundred year old visitor to my daughter's dream was a messenger. But I had no idea at the time what that message was, or in the end, the sacrifices it would require of me to find it. But so, I began.
Continue to Page 3 of the Preface