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Verse 6. 1. 18 and 14.
Was sung in Tara's psaltery. The pride of the Irish in ancestry was so great, that one of the O'Neals being told that Barrett of Castlemone had been there only 400 years, he replied, -that he hated the clown as if he had come there but yesterday.
Tara was the place of assemblage and feasting of the petty princes of Ireland. Very splendid and fabulous descriptions are given by the Irish historians of the pomp and luxury of those meetings. The psaltery of Tara was the grand national register of Ireland. The grand epoch of political eminence in the early history of the Irish is the reign of their great and favourite monarch Ollan Fodlah, who reigned, according to Keating, about 950 years before the Christian era. Under him was instituted the great Fes at Tara, which it is pretended was a triennial convention of the states, or a parliament; the members of which were the Druids, and other learned men, who represented the people in that assembly. Very minute accounts are given by Irish annalists of the magnificence and order of these entertainments; from which, if credible, we might collect the earliest traces of heraldry that occur history. To preserve order and regularity in the great number and variety of the members who met on such occasions, the Irish historians inform us that when the banquet was ready to be served up, the shield-bearers of the princes, and other members of the convention, delivered in their shields and targets, which were readily distinguished by the coats of arms emblazoned upon them. These were arranged by the grand marshal and principal herald, and hung upon the walls on the right side of the table; and upon entering the apartments, each member took his seat under his respective shield or target, without the slightest disturbance. The concluding days of the meeting, it is allowed by the Irish antiquarians, were spent in very free excess of conviviality ; but the first six, they say, were devoted to the examination and settlement of the annals of the kingdom. These were publicly rehearsed. When they had passed the appro
bation of the assembly they were transcribed into the authentic chronicles of the nation, which was called the Register, or Psalter, of Tara.
Col. Valency gives a translation of an old Irish fragment, found in Trinity College, Dublin, in which the palace of the above assembly is thus described, as it existed in the reign of Cormac.
“ In the reign of Cormac, the Palace of Tara was nine hundred seet square; the diameter of the surrounding rath seven dice or casts of a dart; it contained one hundred and fifty apartments ; one hundred and.filiy dormitories, or sleeping rooms for guards, and sixty men in each: the height was twenty-seven cubits; there were one hundred and fifty common drinking horns, twelve doors, and one thousand guests daily, besides princes, orators, and men of science, engravers of gold and silver, carvers, modellers, and nobles. The srish description of the banqueting-hall is thus translated: twelve stalls or divisions in each wing; sixteen attendants on each side, and two to each table; one hun dred guests in all."
Verse 7. 1. 3. Ye fought the English of the pale. he Englisł pale generally meant Louth in Ulster, and Meath, Dublin, and Kildare in Leinster.-Moli seaux's History of Ireland.
Verse 7. l. 4. And stemmed De Bourgo's chivalry. The house of O'Connor had a right to boast of their victories over the English. It was a chief of the O'Connor race who gave a check to the English Champion, De Courcey, so famous for his personal strength, and for cleaving a helmet at one blow of his sword, in the presence of the kings of France and England, when the French champion declined the combat with him. Though ultimately conquered by the English under Ile Bourgo, the O'Connors had also humbled the pride ou that name on a memorable occasion: viz. when Walter De Bourgo, an ancestor of that De Bourgo who won the battle of Athunree, had become so insolent as to make excessive demands upon the territories of Connaught, and to bid defiance to all the rights and proper.
ties reserved by the Irish chiess. Eath O'Connor, a near descendant of the famous Cathal, surnamed of the Bloody Hand, rose against the usurper, and defeated the English so severely, that their general died of chagrin after the battle.
Verse 7. 1. 7.
Or Beal-fires for your jubilee. The month of May is to this day called Mi Beal tiennie, i. e. the month of Beal's fire, in the original language of Ireland. These fires were lighted on the summits of mountains (the Irish antiquaries zäy) in honous of the sun: and are supposed, by those conjecturing gentlernen, to prove the origin of the Irish from some nation who worshipped Baal or Belus. Many hills in Ireland still retain the name of Cnoc Greine, i. e. the hill of the sun; and on all are to be seen the ruins of druidical altars.
Verse 3.1. 11. And play my clarshech by thy side. The clarshech, or harp, the principal musical instrument of the Hibernian bards, does not appear to be of Irish origin, nor indigenous to any of the British Islands.— The Britons undoubtedly were not acquainted with it during the residence of the Romans in their country, as in all their coins, on which musical instru. ments are represented, we see only the Roman lyre, and not the British teylin or harp.
Verse 9. l. 3. And saw at dawn the lofty bawn. Daingean is a Celtic word expressing a close fast place and afterwards a fort.—This the English called a Bawn, from the Teutonic barcen, to construct and secure with branches of trees. The Daingean was the primitive Celtic fortification; which was made by digging a ditch, throwing up a rampart, and on the latter fixing stakes, which were interlaced with boughs of trees.An extempore defence used by all nations, and particularly by the Romans.
Non te fossa patens
Objectu sudium coronat agger. In this manner the first English adventurers secured
their posts at Ferns and Idrone. When king Dennod entered Ossory, he found that Donald its tossarch had plashed a pace, i. e. made large and deep trenches with hedges upon them. Four hundred years afterwards, the Irish had the same mode of defence. Within half a mile of the entrance of the Moiry, the English found that pace by which they were to pass, being naturally one of the most difficult passages in Ireland, fortified with good art and admirable industry. The enemy having raised from mountain to mountain, from wood to wood, and from bog to bog, traverses with huge and high flankers of great stones, mingled with turf and staked down on both sides, with pallisades wattled. Plashing from the Franco-gallic Plesser, is to entwine, and is equivalent to the Teutonic bawen.-Ledwick's Antiquities of Ireland.
Verse 13. l. 16.
To speak the malison of Heaven. If the wrath which I have ascribed to the heroine of this little piece should seem to exhibit her character as too unnaturally stript of patriotic and domestic affections, I must beg leave to plead the authority of Corneille in the representation of a similar passion: I allude to the denunciation of Camille in the tragedy of Horace. When Horace, accompanied by a soldier bearing the three swords of the Curiatii, meets his sister, and invites her to congratulate him on bis victory, she expresses only her grief, which he attributes at first only to her feelings for the loss of her two brothers; but when she bursts forth into reproaches against him as the murderer of her lover, the last of the Curiatii, he exclaims “ O Ciel, qui vit jamais une pareille rage, Crois tu donc que je suis insensible a l'outrage Que je souffre en mon sang ce mortel deshonneur: A ime, Aime cette mort qui fait notre bonheur, Et présere du moins au souvenir d'un homme Ce que doit ta naissance aux intérêts de Rome.”
At the mention of Rome, Camille breaks out into this apostrophe :
« Rome, l'unique objet de mon ressentiment !
Verse 14. I. 5.
And go to Athunree, I criedIn the reign of Edward the second, the Irish presented to Pope John the Twenty-second, a memorial of their sufferings under the English, of which the language exhibits all the strength of despair.—“Ever since the English (say they) first appeared upon our coasts, they entered our territories under a certain specious pretence of charity, and external hypocritical show of religion. endeavouring at the same time, by every artifice malice could suggest, to extirpate us root and branch, and without any other right than that of the strongest, they have so far succeeded by base fraudulence and cunning, that they have forced us to quit our fair and ample habita. tions and inheritances, and to take refuge like wild beasts in the mountains, the woods, and the morasses of the country;
;-nor even can the caverns and dens protect us against their insatiable avarice. They pursue us even into these frightful abodes; endeavouring to dispossess us of the wild uncultivated rocks, and arrogate to themselves the property of every place on which we can stamp the figure of our feet."
The greatest effort ever made by the ancient Irish to regain their native independence was made at the time