Imágenes de página

time; they desired to be, indeed, that which they were named to be; they were far from colourable dealing or dissembling; erred they in anything, it was through simplicity, not through lewdness, much - Jess of wilful obstinacy. As for wealth, and those worldly things, they so highly contemned them, that they did not only seek for, but also refused the same, though they were offered unto them descended by inheritance.'

The same author says of the same people: “In very late times, such as gave themselves to religion there, did mortifie their flesh even to a miracle, by watching, praying, and fasting.' And again he says: · The Scottish monks in Ireland and Brittain highly excelled for their holiness and learning, and sent out whole flocks of most devout men into all parts of Europe, who were the first founders of Luxen Abbey in Burgundy, of Roby Abbey in Italy, of Witsburg Abbey in Frankland, of St. Gallus in Switzerland, of Malmesbury, Lindisfern, and many other monasteries in Brittain.'

Ireland was also full of riches. Both gold and silver mines were discovered in very early times, from which were made a profusion of golden chains, worn by the princes and champions; gold rings, silver shields, &c. &c.; besides numerous utensils, dedicated to religious purposes, all made of purest gold and silver. There were also cases made for relics and for books, of the same costly metals; and, together with their internal riches, the Irish gathered in much spoil from foreign countries, and by extensive trade with France, Spain, &c.

Cornelius Tacitus, in his Life of Agricola, mentions Ireland in reference to Great Britain : “Melias

aditus portusque per commercia et negotiatores cogniti ;' which signifies, that the ports and barbours were better known by commerce and merchants than those of Britain.

When the Danes had possession of the country, they demanded an ounce of gold yearly for every Irish nose,

which tax by the Irish was called Vinge Oir. After all that those foreigners plundered them of, in King Henry the Second's reign, Ireland still abounded with gold. As was said by Gerald of Wales: • Aurem quoque quo abundat insula.' And Hadrianus Junius : • In Ireland are found veins of

pure silver

• Et puri argenti venas, quas terra refossis,
Visceribus manes imos viscura recludit.'

Authentic Irish history is dated from the building of the palace of Emania, by King Kimboath. Its site was near to that of the city of Armagh. The princes of Ulster kept their court at this splendid palace, who from the period of its erection were called the kings of Emania. It was the residence of the knights of the Red Branch, celebrated in the songs of the bards and sennacbies for their feats in a war between Connaught and Ulster of seven years' duration. One of these far-famed heroes, named Cuchullin, received the order of knighthood when only seven years old. At this time, in Ireland, it was no uncommon occurrence to confer the order of knighthood at this early age.

There are numerous remains of ancient raths, or bill-fortresses, which must have been the dwellingplaces of the old Irish chiefs before the erection of cities.

These raths were constructed on some rising ground, of earth and hurdles, and were surrounded by a rampart.

There are many caverns and subterranean passages, which it is supposed were once the habitations of men. Many of these are divided into apartments, and lined with large flag-stones, comprising the walls, roofs, and floors. I have been all through one of these, at a place called Kavanagh-Garva-Gap, near the Forkhill mountains.

The regal palaces of Tara and Emania must have been of a different structure; but of their architectural merits little can be said in the oblivion which rests upon them.

The Irish wore a sort of petticoat called a fullin. Little, however, is known of their ancient habiliments ; but numerous curious and costly ornaments, of the purest gold and silver, elaborately wrought, have been dug up in fields and bogs, where they must have lain for ages. Golden instruments, without alloy, have also been found, and are supposed to have been used in religious ceremonies.

Many swords and warlike weapons have been discovered, made of a mixed metal, chiefly copper, admitting of a very high polish, and of a temper to carry a sharp edge.

What makes these brazen swords such a valuable remnant to the Irish antiquarian is, they serve to corroborate the opinion that the Phenicians once had footing in this kingdom.' Campbell's Philosoph. Survey of the South of Ireland.

1 Ancient earthen works or mounds on the Curragh of Kildare. The larger rath might have been the dwelling-place of the chieftains, the smaller entrenchments their burial-place. In Ptolemy's Geography a number of ancient Irish cities are mentioned, some of them he calls illustrious.

One circumstance as to the swords seems to be decisive: they are as exactly and as minutely, to every apparent mark, the same with the swords of Sir W. Hamilton's collection, now in the British Museum, as if they came out of the same armoury. The former found in the field of Cannæ are said to be Carthaginian; these, therefore, by parity of reasoning, may likewise be said to have been of the same people.' Governor Pownal's Account of some Irish Antiquities to the Society of Antiquarians, 1774.

“Those among them, who study ornament, observes Solinus, in speaking of the warlike weapons of the ancient Irish,' are in the habit of adorning the hilts of their swords with the teeth of sea animals, which they burnish to the whiteness of ivory; for the chief glory of these people lies in their arms.'

That Ireland was peopled by a colony of ancient Spaniards is a generally received opinion. There are many circumstances which corroborate the truth of the ancient records in this statement, and the Irish cbaracter still partakes of that which the Universal History gives of the ancient Spaniards. “A brave, free, noble, and hospitable nation; possessed of all the virtues of the old Celts, and inheriting fewer of their vices than any other of their descendants.'

In Sir Isaac Newton's Chronology (Dublin edit.) a colony of Spaniards is mentioned, by the name of Scots or Scythians, settled in Ireland in the fourth age of the world.

In the accounts of the native Fileas, nearly the same record is transmitted to us.

The ancient philosophers or learned men of Ire

land were called Fileas. These men, in their several departments, took in all the subjects of poetry, and became not only the directors of the public taste, but also of manners. The Irish monarchs were ever attended by their Fileas, Bards, and Croteries, both in court and camp, from whom they received information, advice, and entertainment. A saying of one of these is transmitted to us. Teig Mac Darg, a Filea in the household of O'Brien of Thomond, reminded his patron of his own importance, or rather that of his profession: Though it be every man's duty to possess the ear of his sovereign with useful truths, yet it is more particularly the duty of the Filea, for to such alone it is that princes lend an ear.'

The account which these Fileas have left on record, of the earliest inhabitants of Ireland, is as follows:

1. The Iberian Scots, bordering originally on the Euxine sea, were expelled their country; and, after various adventures, settled ultimately in Spain.

2. “Kinea Scuit (the Scots) and the posterity of Eber Scot (Iberian Scythians) were a colony of Spaniards, who settled in Ireland about a thousand years before Christ. Vide Newton Chronol. Dublin Edit.

3. “The ancient Iberian Scots learned the use of letters from a celebrated Phenius, from whom they took the name of Phenii, or Phenicians. Strab. lib. 3. Univ. Hist. vol. xviii. p. 382.

4. “ Niul, Bile, Sru, Asru, Tat and Ogarnan, were mighty in Egypt, and several other countries.' Newton Chron. passim.

1 Musicians.

« AnteriorContinuar »