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at a much earlier period, -not more than a century, probably, from the time of their first outbreak from their own hills; as, before the end of the sixth age, they had already possessed themselves both of Wales and of Cornwall, and established a colony, apparently by conquest, in the province of Armoric Gaul.
Much more might be added in corroboration of this view of the origin of the Welsh, but that already, perhaps, I have dwelt somewhat more profusely upon it than may seem to be justified by the immediate object I had in view, which was, by inquiring into the most probable history of the Pictish people of Britain, to gain some clue to that of their fellow Scythians, the Scoti of Ireland; as well as some insight into the race and origin of those Cruithene, or Painted Men, who, about the same period, took up their abode in a part of the province of Ulster. With respect to the Scoti, the probability of their having been a Scandinavian people* is considerably strengthened by the weight of evidence and authority which pronounces the picts to have been a colony from the same quarter, as their joint history is thus rendered concurrent and consistent; and it seems naturally to have followed from the success of the former in gaining possession of Ireland, that others of the adventurous rovers of the North should try their fortunes in the same region. Of that detachment of Pictish adventurers which fixed their quarters, as we have said, in the North of Ireland, there will occur occasions to take some notice, in the course of the following pages. I shall here only remark that, by their intermixture with the primitive inhabitants of the country, they were doubtless the means of engrafting on the native tongue those words of Cimbric origin which, notwithstanding the radical difference between the two languages, has given to the Irish and the Welsh so imposing an appearance of affinity.t
HISTORY OF IRELAND FROM THE LANDING OF THE SCOTI COLONY TO THE ARRIVAL
OF ST. PATRICK.
In commencing his history of the Milesian or Scotic monarchs, by far the most trustworthy of the Irish annalists informs us, "that all the records of the Scots, before the time of King Kimbaoth, are uncertian."! This monarch, who, according to the senachies, was the seventy-fifth King of Ireland, and the fifty-seventh of the Milesian dynasty, flourished, as we learn from the same authorities, about 300 years before Christ: but the learned Dr. O'Connor, by whom the lists of the ancient kings have been examined with a degree of zeal and patience worthy of a far better task, has shown that, according to the regal lists of the senachies themselves, the reign of Kimbaoth cannot be carried back to a remoter date than 200 years before our era. The reader who has attended, however, to the facts adduced in the foregoing pages, proving how groundless are the claims to a remote antiquity which have been advanced for the Scotic or Milesian colony, will, I doubt not, be of opinion that a scheme of chronology which supposes the fifty-sixth monarch of the Scotic dynasty to have existed 200 or 300 years before the birth of Christ, may be got rid of with a much less expenditure of learning and labour than it has cost Dr. O'Connor, and other such zealots in the cause of antiquity, to establish and sup
* Bishop Stillingfleet declares strongly in favour of the opinion that the Picts were from the same parts" as the Scots; but interprets Bede's words rather too favourably for his purpose, when he represents him as saying that "on being carried by a tempest to Ireland, they found their Gentem Scotorum, i. e. (adds the bishop) their countrymen, the Scythians.”. Among the most convincing indications of their having been kindred tribes, are those deduced by Buchanan, from their facility of intercourse on first meeting, their mutual confidence and intermarriages, and the ansicable neighbourhood of their settlement afterwards in North Britain. “ Facile majores Pictorum Scotis fuisse conciliatos puto, atque ab eisdem, ut traditur, adjutos, ut homines cognatos, ejusdem fere linguæ nec dissimilium rituum."-Hist. Scot. lib. ii. 27.
The amount of this resemblance between the two languages appears to be, after all, but trifling. "There is," says Mr. Roberts, the intelligent Welsh scholar, already quoted," about one word in fifteen similar, but rarely the same, in sound and signification, in both languages. In the first nine columns of the Irish Dic. tionary, printed by Lhuyd in his Archæologia, there are 400 words, of which I have not been able to discover more than twenty, in common to both languages, nor have I succeeded better in several trials. Moreover, the grammatical structure, as to the declension and construction, are radically different.” – Chronicle of the Kings of Britain.
A learned German glossologist, Adelung, is also to be numbered among those who consider the Welsh tongue to be a descendant from that of the Belgæ, and not from that of the Celtæ.
Tigernach.--" Omnia monumenta Scotorum usque Cimbaoth incerta erant." For some account of this annalist, who died A. D. 1088, see Ware's Writers.- Rer. Hibern. Scrip. tom. ii. &c. &c.
Without entering at present, however, into any farther examination of the chronological reckonings and regal lists of the antiquaries, or pointing out how far, in spite of the extravagant dates assigned to them, the reality the events themselves may be relied upon, I shall proceed to lay before the reader a sketch of the history of Pagan Ireland, from the time of the landing of the Scotic colony, to the great epoch of the con. version of the Irish to Christianity by St. Patrick. Into any of those details of war and bloodshed which forni so large a portion of our annals, Pagan as well as Christian, I shall not think it necessary to enter; while, of the civil transactions, my object will be to select principally those which appear to be most sanctioned by the general consent of tradition, and afford, at least, pictures of manners, even where they may be thought questionable as records of fact.
A decisive victory over the Tuatha-de-Danaan, the former possessors of the country, having transferred the sovereignty to Heber and Heremon, the sons of the Spanish king, Milesius, these two brothers divided the kingdom between them; and while Leinster and Munster were, it is said, the portion assigned to Heber, the younger brother, Here. mon, had for his share the provinces of Ulster and Connaught. There was also a third brother, Amergin, whom they appointed Arch-Bard, or presiding minister over the respective departinents of Law,* Poetry, Philosophy, and Religion. In the divided sovereignty thus exercised by the family, may be observed the rudiments of that system of government which prevailed so long among their successors; while, in the office of the Arch-Bard we trace the origin of those metrical legislators and chroniclers who took so prominent a part in public affairs under all the Scotic princes.
In another respect, it must be owned, the commencement of the Milesian monarchy was marked strongly by the features which bul too much characterized its whole course. A beautiful valley, which lay in the territories of Heremon, had been, for some time, a subject of dispute between the two brothers;t and their differences at length kindling into animosity, led to a battle between them on the plains of Geisiol, where Heber lost his life, leaving Heremon sole possessor of the kingdom. Even the peaceful profession of the Arch-Poet Amergin did not exempt him from the effects of the discord thus early at work; as, in a subsequent battle, this third son of Milesius fell also a victim to his brother Heremon's sword. I
To the reign of Heremon, the Bardic historians refer the first coming of the people called Picts into these regions. Landing upon the eastern coast of Ireland, they proposed to establish themselves on the island; but the natives, not deeming such a settlement expedient, informed them of other islands, on the north-east, which were uninhabited, and where they might fix their abode. To this suggestion the Picts readily assented, but first desired that some of the Milesian women might be permitted to accompany them; pledging themselves solemnly that, should they become masters of that country they were about to invade, the sovereignty should be ever after vested in the descendants of the female line. This request having been granted, the Pictish chiefs, accompanied
Amergin was the Brehon of the colony, and was also a poet and philosopher."-O'Reilly on the Brehon Laus.
† The particulars of this quarrel are thus stated by Keating:--"The occasion of the dispute was the possession of three of the most delightful valleys in the whole island. Two of these lay in the division of Heber Fionn, and he received the profits of themi; but his wife, being a woman of great pride and ambition, envied the wife of Heremon the enjoyment of one of those delightful valleys, and, therefore, persuaded her husband to demand the valley of Heremon; and, upon a refusal, to gain possession of it by the sword; for she passionately vowed she never would be satisfied till she was called the Queen of the three most fruitful Valleys in the island."
There are still extant three poems attributed to this bard, one of them said to have been written by him while he was coasting on the shores of Ireland. This latter poem the reader will find, together with a brief outline of its meaning, in Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy, vol. ii. notes. “There still remain," says the enthu: siastic editor, “after a lapse of nearly three thousand years, fragments of these ancient bards (Amergin and Lugad, the son of lih.) some of which will be found included in the following pages, with proofs of their authenticity."- Preface.
The following is ihe account given of the supposed poems of Amergin by the learned editor of the Trans actions of the Iberno-Celtic Society -" These compositions are written in the Bearla Feini, and accompanied with an interlined gloss, without which they would be unintelligible to modern Irish scholars. The gloss itself requires much study to understand it perfectly, as thc language is obsolete, and must in many places be read from bottom to top."
§ This matrimonial compact of the Picts is thus, in a spirit far worse than absurd, misrepresented by O'Halloran:-“They, at the same time, requested wives from Heremon, engaging, in the most solemn manner, that not only then, but for ever after, if they or their successors should have issnie by a British, and again by an Irish woman, that the issue of this last only should be capable of succeeding to the inheritance ! and which law continued in force to the days of Venerable Bede, i. c. about 2000 years! a mark of such striking distinction that it cannot be paralleled in the history of any other nation under the sun!"-Vol. ji. chap. 4.
This policy of deducing the royal succession through the female line, not through the male, was always retained by ihe Picts.
by their Milesian wives, set sail for the islands bordering on Scotland, and there esta. blished their settlement.
Passing over the immediate successors of Heremon, we meet with but little that is remarkable till we arrive at the reign of the idolater Tighernmas, who, while offering sacrifice, at a great popular convention, to the monstrous idol, Crom-Cruach, was, together with the vast multitude around him, miraculously destroyed. During the reign of this king, gold is said to have been, for the first time, worked in Ireland; a mine of that metal having been discovered in the woods to the east of the river Liffey.*
In the reign of Achy, who was the immediate successor of Tighernmas, a singular law was enacted, regulating the exact number of colours by which the garments of the different classes of society were to be distinguished.t Plebeians and soldiers were, by this ordinance, to wear but a single colour; military officers of any inferior rank, two; commanders of battalions, three; the keepers of houses of hospitality,four; the nobility and military knights, five; and ihe Bards and Ollamhs, who were distinguished for learning, six, being but one colour less than the number worn by the reigning princes themselves. These regulations are curious; not only as showing the high station allotted to learning and talent, among the qualifications for distinction, but as presenting a coincidence rather remarkable with that custom of patriarchal times, which made a garment of many colours the appropriate dress of kings' daughters and princes.
For a long period, indeed, most of the Eastern nations retained both the practice of dividing the people into different castes and professions, and also, as appears from the regulations of Giamschid, King of Persia,ll this custom distinguishing the different classes by appropriate dresses. From the party.coloured garments worn by the ancient Scots, or Irish, is derived the national fashion of the plaid, still prevailing among their descendants in Scotland.
Among the numerous kings that, in this dim period of Irish history, pass like shadows before our eyes, the Royal Sage, Ollamh Fodhla, T is almost the only one who, from the strong light of tradition thrown round him, stands out as a being of historical substance and truth. It would serve to illustrate the nature and extent of the evidence with which the world is sometines satisfied, to collect together the various celebrated names which are received as authentic on the strength of tradition alone ;** and few, perhaps, could claim a more virtual title to this privilege than the great legislator of the ancient Irish, Ollamh Fodbla. In considering the credit, however, that may safely be attached to the accoun:s of this celebrated personage, we must dismiss wholly from our minds the extravagant antiquity assigned to himft by the seanachies; and as it has been shown that the date of the dynasty itself
, of which he was so distinguished an ornament, cannot, at the utmost, be removed farther back than the second century before our era, whatever his fame may thus lose in antiquity it will be found to gain in probability; since, as we shall see when I come to treat of the credibility of the Irish annals, the epoch of this monarch, if not within the line to which authentic history extends, is, at least, not very far beyond it.
Some of the most useful institutions of Ollamh Fodhla are said to have but a short time survived himself. But the act which rendered his reign an important era in legislation was the establishment of the Great Fes, or Triennial Convention at Tara, an approach so far to representative government that, in these periodical assemblies, the leading per. sons of the three orders of whom the political community consisted,—that is to say, the Monarch, the Druids or Ollamhs, and the Plebeians, --were convened for the purpose of passing such laws and regulations as the public good seemed to require. * In the presence of these assemblies, too, the different records of the kingdom were examined ; whatever materials for national history the provincial annals supplied, were here sifted and epitomized, and the result entered in the great national Register called the Psalter of Tara.+
*" At Fothart,” says Simon, "near the river Liffey, in the county of Wicklow, where gold, silver, copper, lead, and iron, have of late years been found out."-Simon on Irish Coins.
† A similar fancy for party.coloured dresses existed among the Celts of Gaul; and Diodorus describes that people as wearing garments Howered with all varieties of colour-χρωμασι παντοδαπους διανθισμενους. Lib. 5. The part of their dress which they called braccæ, or breeches, was so named from its being plaided ; the word brac signifying in Celtic any thing speckled or party-coloured. The historian Tacitus, in describing Cæcina as dressed in the Gaulish fashion, represents him with breeches, or trowsers, and plaid mantle :“Versicolore sago, braccas, tegmen barbarum indutus."—Hist lih. ii. cap. 20.
1 An order of men appointed by the state, and endowed with lands, for the purpose of keeping constantly open house, and giving entertainment to all travellers in proportion to their rank. These officers are fre. quently mentioned in the Brehon laws; and, among other enactments respecting them, it is specified that each Bruigh shall keep in his house, for the amusement of travellers, Taibhle Fioch-thoille, or chess. boards.
ệ Thus, Jacob made Joseph a coat of many colours, (Gen. xxxvii. 3.;) and Tamar (2 Sam. xiii. 18.)" had a garment of divers colours, for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled."
| Saadi veut aussi, que ce prince ait non seulement divisé les hommes en plusieures élats et professions, mais qu'il les ait encore distingués par des habits et par des coiffures différentes.”—D'Herbelot.
1 Pronounced Ollav Folla. This quiescence of many of the consonants in our Irish names, render them far more agreeable to the ear than to ihe eye. Thus, the formidable name of Tigernach, our great annalist, is softened, in pronunciation, into Tierna.
**. Among the most signal instances, perhaps, is that of the poet Orpheus, who, notwithstanding the decidedly.expressed opinion both of Aristotle and Cicero, that no such poei ever existed, still continues, and will of course for ever continue, to be regarded as a real historical personage
# In fixing the period of this monarch's reign, chronologers have been widely at variance. While some place it no less than 1316 years before the Christian era, (l'hady Roddy, M88.) Plowden makes it 950 years, (Hist. Review. prelim. chap ) O'Flaherty between 700 and 800, and the author of the Dissertations, &c. about 600. (&cct 4.)
In a like manner, according to the historian Ctesias, who drew his own materials professedly from such sources, it was enjoined to the Persians, by an express law, that they should write down the annals of their country in the royal archives. In Ireland this practice of chronicling events continued to be observed to a late period; and not only at the courts of the different Kings, but even in the family of every inferior chieftain, a Seanachie, or historian, formed always a regular part of the domestic establishment. To this recording spirit, kept alive, as it was, in Christian times, by a succession of monastic chroniclers, we owe all those various volumes of Psalters and Annals with which the ancient literature of Ireland abounds.
The policy which Herodotus tells us was adopted among the Egyptians and the Lacedemonians, of rendering employments and offices hereditary in families, was also, from the time of Ollamh Fodhla down to a very recent period, the established usage in Ire. land. This strange custom formed one of the contrivances of that ancient stationary system, which has been the means of keeping the people of the East and their institutions so little changed through all time. The same principle which led the Egyptians to prohibit their sculptors and painters from innovating, even with a view to improvement, on the ancient models transmitted to them, prompted them also to ordain, as the Irish did after them, that the descendants of a physician, for instance, or an artificer, should continue physicians and artificers through all succeeding generations. Not only in their early adoption of this truly Eastern rule, but in the constancy with which, to this day, they have continued, through all changes of time, to adhere to most of their ancient characteristics and usages, the Irish have proved themselves in so far worthy of their oriental descent, and but too faithful inheritors of the same stationary principle.
Among the important offices transmitted hereditarily in Ireland, were those of heralds, practitioners in physic, bards, and musicians. To the professors of these arts Ollamh Fodhla assigned lands for their use; and also instituted a school of general instruction at Tara, which became afterwards celebrated under the name of the Mur-ollam-ham, or College of the Learned.
A long series of Kings, with scarcely a single event worthy of commemoration, fills up the interval between the reign of this monarch and the building of the palace of Emanie by King Kimboath: an event forming, as we have seen, a prominent era in the Irish annals, and from which Tigernach dates the dawn of authentic history. This splendid palace of the princes of Ulster, who were from thenceforward called Kings of Emania, had in its neighbourhood the mansion appropriated to celebrated Knights of the Red Branch, so triumphantly sung by the bards, and commemorated by the seanachies.
If the Bardic historians, in describing the glory and magnificence of some of these
So represented by those zealous antiquaries O'Flaherty. O'Connor, &c.; but it will be shown presently that, like the Coloni of the Franks and the Ceorls of the Anglo-Saxons, the plebeians, under the ancient Irish government, were wholly excluded from political power. | Keating speaks of this authentic Register of the Nation as extant in his time; but O'Connor says,
" there is good reason to believe that no considerable part of it escaped the devastations of the Norman war.” The following is all that the industrious Bishop Nicholson could learn of it: “What is now become of this Royal Monument is hard to tell; for some of our moderns affirm that they have lately seen it, while others as con. fidently maintain that it has not appeared for some centuries last past."--Historic Library, chap. ii.) Parts of thai collection of Irish Records, called the Psalter of Cashel, wbich was compiled in the tenth century, are supposed to have been transcribed from the ancient Psalter of Tara.
What is remarkable," says Smith in his History of Cork, “ of this last family of the O'Cullinans, in, that it was never known without one or more physicians in it; which is remarked by Camden; insomuch, that when a person is given over, they have a saying in Irish, · Even an O'Cullinan cannot cure him.' Which profession still continues in the family." (Book i. chap. 1.) An attempt has been made by Rollin, and not unplausibly, to justify this hereditary system." By this means," he says, " men became more able and expert in employments which they had always been trained up to from their infancy; and every man adding his own experience to that of his ancestors, was more capable of rising to perfection in his particular art. Besides, this wholesome institution, established anciently through the Egyptian nation, extinguished all irregular ambition," &c. (Manners and Customs of the Egyptians.) Herodotus, however, in the concluding sentence of the following passage, has laid open quietly the inherent absurdity of such a system. “ In one instance, the Lacedæmonians observe the usage of Egypt: their heralds, musicians, and cooks, follow the profession of their fathers. The son of a herald is, of course, a herald, and the same of the other two professions. If any man has a louder voice than the son of a herald, it signifies nothing." -Lib. 6.
reigns, have shown no ordinary powers of flourish and exaggeration, it is to be hoped, for the credit of human nature, that they have also far outstripped the truth in their accounts of the discord, treachery, and bloodshed by which almost every one of these brief paroxysms of sovereignty was disgraced. Out of some two-and-thirty kings who are said to have reigned during the interval between Ollamh Fodhla and the royal builder of Emania, not more than three are represented as having died a natural death, and the great majority of the remainder fell by the hands of their
successors.* Though the building of the royal palace of Emania was assumed as a technical epoch by the chronologers, the accession of Hugony the Great, as he was called, proved, in a political point of view, an era still more remarkable; as, by his influence with the assembled States at Tara, he succeeded in annulling the Pentarchy; and moreover prevailed on the four provincial kings to surrender their right of succession in favour of his family, exacting from them a solemn oath, “ by all things visible and invisible,"'t not to accept of a supreme monarch from any other line. For the Pentarchal government this monarch substituted a division of the kingdom into twenty-five districts, or dynasties; thus ridding himself of the rivalry of provincial royalty, and at the same time, widening the basis of the monarchical or rather aristocratical power. The abjuration of their right of succession, which had been extorted from the minor kings, was, as might be expected, revoked on the first opportunity that offered ; but the system of government established in place of the Pentarchy, was continued down nearly to the commencement of our era, when, under the monarch Achy Fedloch, it was rescinded, and the ancient form restored.
After the reign of Hugony, there succeeds another long sterile interval, extending, according to the Bardic chronology, through a space of more than three hundred years, during which, with the exception of King Labhra's,ß return from Gaul at the head of a Gaulish colony-an event to which allusion has already been made-not a single public transaction is recorded worthy of notice; the names of the kings, as usual, succeeding each other at fearfully short intervals; and, in general, their accession and murder being the only events of their brief career recorded.
In the reign of Conary the Great, which coincides with the commencement of the Christian era, the name dwelt upon, with most interest, by the chroniclers, is that of the young hero Cuchullin, whose death, in the full flush and glory of his 2. career, took place, according to these authorities, in the second year of Christ. With the face of this Irish warrior modern readers have been made acquainted by that splendid tissue of fiction and forgery iinposed upon the world as the Poems of Ossian, where, in one of those lights of anachronism not unfrequent in that work, he is confronted with the bard and hero, Oisin, who did not flourish till the middle of the third century. The exploits of Cuchullin, Conal Cearnach, and other Heroes of the Red Branch, in the memorable Seven Years' War between Connaught and Ulster,ll are among those themes on which the old chroniclers and bardic historians most delight to dwell. The circumstance recorded of the young Cuchullin by these annalists, that, when only seven years old, he was invested with Knighthood, might have been regarded as one of the marvels of traditionary story, had we not direct evidence, in a fact mentioned by Froissart, that, so late as the time of that chronicler, the practice of knighting
• The language in which O'Flaherty and O'Halloran relate some of these events is but too well suited to their subject. * Lugad Luagny, the son of the King Inatmar," says O'Flaherty, "cut Bresal's throat, and gol the crown."--(Part iii. chap. 41.) “ His reign," says O'Halloran, of another monarch, “lasted but five years, when the sword of his successor cut his way through him to the Irish throne.”—(Vol. ii. chap. 7.)
+ Annal. IV. Magist.-In these annals, Ugony The Great, is styled " King of Hibernia and all Western Europe, as far as the Tuscan sea."
According to the view taken by some writers of this change, the principle of the Pentarchal government was therein preserved, as Ugony retained the division of the country into five provinces, and in each esla. blished a Pentarchy.
§ In the accounts of the reign of this monarch, as given by Keating and others, are introduced two ro. mantic stories, resembling (one of them) the fabulous adventure of Richard Cæur de Lion and Blondel; and the other, the story of Midas's ears, and the miraculous revealment of his secret. In the weak and verboga work of Dr. Warner, (Hist. of Ireland, vol i. book 3.) the reader will find these stories diluted through some half dozen pages.
This celebrated septennial war bears, in Irish history, the name of the Tain.bo-Cuailgne, or the Spoils of the Cattle at Cuailgne; one of the chief causes of its origin having been the seizure of an immense quan. tity of cattle by the troops of Maud, the Queen of Connaught, at Cuailgne, in the county of Louth. The march of her army on this expedition, commanded by Fergus, the dethroned King of Ulster—the splendour of the queen herself, seated in an open chariot, with her Asion, or crown of gold, on her head--the names of the Chainpions of the Red Branch, who bravely encountered her mighty force--all these circumstances are found detailed in the stories and romances respecting this memorable invasion; and from soine of these fictions, it appears, Macpherson derived the ground-work of his poems of Fingal and Temora. See Mr. O'Connor's Dissertation on ihc History of Scotland, where (in speaking of these poeins) it is said, “They are evidently founded on the romances and vulgar stories of the Tan.bo-Cualgney war, and those of the Fiana Ereann."