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Notes on the Early History of Scotland
Ancient Ireland


Having shown that Ireland cannot be identified with the Hibernia of the ancients from a geographical point of view, it will now be necessary to prove that lreland was such a barbarous and uncivilised country in the early ages that it is not likely to have been the sacred isle peopled by the Hiberni, or the training school for such a race of men as the early Scots are always represented to have been. Of course, if credit were to be given to forged saints’ lives, marvellous legends, and interpolated passages in the ancient annalists, the following glowing picture of the condition of Ireland previous to the twelfth century might be accepted as truthful.

According to what is affirmed to be ancient native legends, Ireland was in remote times peopled by tribes called, Firbolgs, and Tuath de Danan; and these are said to have been subdued by Milesians or Gaels, who ultimately acquired supreme power in the island. In the fourth century, it is said, Ireland became known as Scotia, andl her inhabitants, under the appellation of Scoti, joining arms with the Picts, proved themselves formidable enemies by their successful attacks upon the Roman province of Britain. These expeditions are said to have continued and extended to the coasts of Gaul till the time of Laogaire MacNeill, monarch of Ireland (439 AD.), in whose reign St Patrick converted the natives to Christianity. Palladius is by some authorities said to have preceded Patrick in this mission field; but the latter, notwithstanding, is credited with the largest share of the work. According to one edition of Nennius’ History of the Britons, St Patrick founded 365 churches, and consecrated the same number of bishops in Ireland. He also ordained 300 presbyters there; and converted 1200 persons in one province of that country. In one day he baptised seven kings. And, more wonderful still, he gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, cast out devils, and raised nine persons from the dead. Extensive monasteries, we are likewise told, were founded in the island in the sixth century, in which religion and learning were zealously cultivated. From these establishments large numbers of missionaries went in succeeding ages to convert the still pagan countries of Europe to Christianity. Their ascetic habits greatly impressed the people with whom they came in contact. Many learned men, especially priests, from England and the Continent, went to Ireland in these times to receive instruction or to lead a hermit’s life for the sake of the heavenly kingdom, according to passages in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History and other early English annalists. To this period also has been ascribed the origin of the peculiar style of artornamentation, specimens of which are still extant in the illuminated manuscripts in the library of Trinity College, Dublin.

If all or even part of these fictions could be proved to be true, there might be some reason for believing this to be the isle peopled by the Hiberni of the fifth century. But let us see what recent research and archaeology have done to dispel the fond illusion. In a future treatise archeological evidence will be produced to show that the art-ornamentation more likely originated in Scotland than in Ireland; and proofs have already been brought forward to show that the passages in the early English annalists relating to Ireland before the tenth century are fabricated. Meanwhile let us try to ascertain when the Irish legends were first heard of, and what character they bear. Before the Reformation Ireland had few native histories. The annals of Tighernac, Innisfallen, and Ulster, there are many reasons for believing, are in reality Scottish records, at least in their earlier portions. Where not interpolated, for even Irish writers like Reeves allow that two of these annals have been tampered with in this respect, their Hihernia and Eren or Erin evidently refer to Scotland. That they do not concern Ireland is shown by the silence of Clyn, regarding the events which they record as having taken place in Hibernia and Eren previous to the eleventh century. Clyn’s annals of Ireland are considered to be the earliest extant authentic history compiled by an inhabitant of the country. He was a Franciscan friar in the convent of Kilkenny, and lived about the middle of the fourteenth century. His chronicles, so far as Ireland is concerned, only begin about the twelfth century, Pembridge, a writer who lived at the latter end of the fourteenth century, compiled Annales Hiberniae, probably on the basis of Clyn’s. They begin with the year 1162 and end with the year 1370. He appears to have considered this period to have embraced all that was certainly known of Irish History.

The Annales Hiberniae of James Grace, of Kilkenny, are conjectured to have been written between the years 1537 and 1539, but the evidence in favour of this point is not conclusive, and they might have been compiled about the time of the Reformation in Scotland. They begin with the year 1074 and end, so far as the general history of the country is concerned, with the year 1370. From 1162 to 1370 they agree in substance with Pembridge’s. A short abstract of the early legendary history of Ireland is given in a few introductory paragraphs, in which the following occurs: "In those times (before Milesius came to Ireland) Hiberniae had the name of Scotia, and the inhabitants were called Scoti ; their language was called Gaelic, from a certain Geledus. After this, four sons of Milesius came to Ireland, of whom the two oldest, HIiber and Herernon, divided the country into two parts. From this Hiber, the country, which was before called Scotia Major, received the name of Hibernia."

This, then, is the earliest notice of these legends found in the native annals. But Clyn, as well as Grace, lived in Kilkenny. Is it likely that the latter had better opportunities of becoming acquainted with the early history of his native countiy than the former? Let us see. There is very little known about Grace. Clyn, we are told, was a Franciscan friar in the convent of Kilkenny. The Franciscans were "men of the loftiest minds and most generous tempers and in the fourteenth century, when the fervour of religious enthusiasm was in some degree diminished, there were still to be found in these Orders the most profound theologians and the most subtle speculative philosophers. Among these the Irish Franciscans maintained a proud and honourable position.’’ Clyn would therefore be in a position to know all that was worth recording about the early history of Ireland; and yet he takes no notice of its ever having been called Scotia or its people Scots. All the legends composed for the purpose of identifying Ireland with the Scotia of the 10th and preceding centuries were probably not written till the period of, or after, the Reformation in Scotland, as they first appear in the pages of an Irish historian about that time. This is rendered more certain by Clyn’s silence regarding them, and it furnishes a sufficient reason for his never referring to them; but it may not be out of place to qnote the words of the editor of Clyn’s works as to the reason why he overlooked these not unimportant materials for a historian :-

"Like most of the Anglo-Irish chroniclers, Clyn passes over in ignorance or contempt the legends, whether poetical, mythical, or enigmatical, with which the Irish seanachies filled up the vestibule of Irish history, thronging its gates with forms of strange aspect, elusive of the grasp. Yet even these legends, as we find them in Dowling and the native annalists, are worthy of record. Although not true in themselves, it is true that they were once believed; and although they may not constitute the history of the times to which they are assigned, they form at least important elements of the character of the times in which they were received. But it is not likely that legends, so widely propagated and so fondly cherished, had no foundation in fact that they were altogether poetical fictions, or moral and Political fables and myths. It is more reasonable to conjecture that they were the forms of historical narrative used by one people, which, falling into the hands of another people of different language, and of other habits of thought and turns of expression, were understood by them in a sense which they were not intended to bear, and in which they were not used by their authors. We would look upon these strange and portentious narratives as the hieroglyphic records of forgotten but substantial history."

The remarks of two modern Scottish historians on the Irish legends will be given in another treatise, where an attempt will be made to show that as far as there is any truth in these legends they refer to Scotland.

Clyn was acquainted with Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, as he makes several quotations from it ; and yet he omits all notice of the connection of the Scots with Ireland, which forms so prominent a feature of that work. Like everything else, however, relating to the early history of Ireland, Clyn’s Annals are not free from interpolations, or rather false information. The reason for this is said to be that when the Pope granted permission to Henry II., King of England, to conquer Ireland, means were taken to show that the island had belonged to the Roman Church from an early period ; and all the native history till the time of the Reformation in Scotland appears to have been written with this end in view. Therefore, instead of Palladius being sent to the Scots, as other writers, including Bede, say he was, he is represented in Clyn’s Annals as having gone to Hiberniam. He also speaks of Patrick’s mission to Hiberniam, by which, of course, he means Ireland. But it is remarkable that he says nothing of the illustrious Columba, who is alleged to have been born and brought up in Ireland nor of Adamnan’s celebrated life of that saint; nor of the important reformation regarding the observance of Easter effected in Ireland by Adamnan. In fact, he takes no notice of any of the numerous early saints alleged to he Irish, whose names linger in many places in Scotland, and whose acts are briefly recorded in the Aberdeen Breviary, while he faithfully records the deaths of Martin, Benedict, Beda, Isidore, and Dunstan. He even mentions the presumed early name of his country, Hibernia, before the year 1139, only in connection with Palladius and Patricius. He speaks of Scotiam and the Scots, but not until the time of Bruce, whose invasion of Ireland he notices at some length.

A few sentences of Pinkerton’s, an ardent advocate of the Ireland-Scotia theory, regarding early Irish literature, may be interesting; and as he contrasts it with the Icelandic literature of the same period, his notice is apposite to the subject in hand:-

"The tales of the Welsh and Scottish forgers had an influence on the whole history of Europe; those of the Irish never had nor can have any effect, being wholly contemptible, even to imagination. Bishop Nicholson, in his Irish Historical Library, has most facetiously attempted to bring the Irish fables into a similar point of view with the Icelandic. . . . The Gothic tales are often ingenious, always vigorous, sometimes sublime. Even the wildest of them, has always strong marks of thought, of sense..... The Irish legends are in all points the reverse. . . . Let anyone read the northern sagas, and he will find manly judgment and fine imagination, while the Irish tales are quite destitute of these qualities. The Scandinavians, we know, had letters, and yet their antiquaries build not on this; the Irish, we know, had none till converted by Patrick, and yet their writers are forced, as one absurdity includes another, to build their fairy mansion upon tho use of. letters among a people marked by the Greek and Roman writers as utterly savage."

It is strange to find Pinkerton giving credit to the mission of St Patrick to Ireland. One of his reasons for rejecting the Millesian legend, relating to the colonisation of Ireland with Scots, is that "Bede never heard a word of it;" and yet he believes that St Patrick, who is likewise totally ignored by that writer, converted the Irish to Christianity in the fifth century, and taught them the use of letters.

Another writer, Gordon, [History of Ireland, vol i p. 19] thus refers to the earliest records of the Irish: "The accounts of the Irish concerning the transactions of their country previous to the fifth century of the Christian era, though sufficiently copious, are of so romantic or fabulous a complexion, as to afford no certain light, and leave us to conjecture by extraneous aids. They are in great part manifest forgeries, fabricated, after the introduction of Christianity among the Irish, by monks and othcr such dreamers." Regarding St Patrick, Gordon [Ibid, vol. i p. 290] says:-

"The stories related of this apostle, whatever dates are severally affixed to them, are doubtless legendary tales, or theological romances, fabricated four centuries after his imaginary existence. He is mentioned in no writing of authentic date anterior to the ninth century, a period replete with forged saints’ lives ; while, besides the persuasive silence of other documents, he is quite unnoticed by Beda, Cogitosus, Adamnan, and Cummian, ecclesiastic writers of the intermediate time, who could not have omitted the name of so great a missionary if it had ever reached them."

It will be seen afterwards that a St Patrick appears in connection with Iceland in the ninth century. Had St Patrick been sent to Ireland by the Roman pontiff, it is remarkable that Bede, who is said to have been furnished with materials for his work by those who had liberty to examine the archives of his Church, has never alluded to this circumstance; and it is impossible to believe that such gigantic missionary labours as those attributed to St Patrick were carried through in one of the British isles, under the auspices of the Church of which he is said to have been a priest, while not even an allusion to them is to be found in Bede’s work.

Burton [History of Scotland, Second Edition, vol i. p. 69, note] says: "The tenor of the archaeological inquities regarding this saint, must indeed be rather alarming to those simple-minded members of the old church who would be content to take him with implicit faith from the Bollandists and Butler. A second St Patiick has been brought up, and now a third, with a vision of others; and the evidence for the existence of all by no means strengthens the belief that there ever was one."

Commenting on the accounts of Palladius’ and Patrick’s missions to the Irish, Dr Skene questions their veracity thus:-

If this be so, if it be true that the mission of Palladius effected nothing, and came to an end, either by his martyrdom or flight within a year, and that Patrick’s mission, which succeeded it, was followed by the conversion of the whole island, it seems strange that nothing should have been known on the continent at the time of this great event, and that it should be noticed by no contemporary anthor. Not a single writer prior to the eighth century mentions it. . . . Columbanus and the other missionaries from Ireland who followed him, seem to have told their foreign disciples nothing about him, and in the writings of the former, which have been preserved—in his letters to the Pope and Gaulish clergy, and in his sermons to his monks—the name of Patrick, the great founder of his church, never appears."

There is good evidence for believing that a saint of the name of Patrick or Palladius flourished in Scotland in the fifth century; and it is generally granted that the legendary St Patrick or Palladius of the Irish was born in Scotland, brought up by the Scots, and died in Scotland. In a future treatise more will be said about the Scottish saint.

Having seen that little reliance can be placed upon the ancient native legends, and lives of St Patrick, let us now examine the testimony of the first trustworthy writer who speaks of the character and condition of the Irish, and see if it bears out the statements made by Irish writers regarding the prevalence of Christianity and learning in Ireland after St Patrick’s supposed advent. One of the most reliable of the earliest historians of Ireland, though even his work presents the appearance of having been interpolated, as he retails many of her legends as history, is Giraldus Cambrensis, a writer of the twelfth century. He had spent some time in the island and had evidently visited many places in it, but the account he gives of its condition then is in marked contrast to the condition of Iceland at the same period. He says: "Although they are richly endowed with the gifts of nature, their want of civilization, shown both in their dress and mental culture, makes them a barbarous people." [Topograhy of Ireland, Distict. III., chap. x.] "The Irish are a rude people, subsisting on the produce of their cattle only, and being themselves like beasts—a people that has not departed from the primitive habits of pastoral life." [Ibid] The faith having been planted in the island from the time of St Patrick, so many ages ago, and propagated ever since, it is wonderful that this nation should remain to this day so ignorant of the rudiments of Christianity. It is indeed a most filthy race, a race more ignorant than all other nations of the first principles of the faith." [Topograhy of Ireland, Distict. III., chap. xix.]

It had become the accepted belief in Giraldus’ time that Ireland was converted by St Patrick. This was accomplished by circulating forged lives of him among the learned men of the time, who were not numerous in those days.

Regarding the government and manners of the Irish previous to the seventh aentury, Gordon says : " We can only form a judgment of these from the state in which we find that people after their adoption of Christianity, and of this we can form, consistently with truth, no favourable representation."

Other circumstances combine with the uncivilised state of the Irish in the twelfth century to show the improbability of any extensive evangelisation or literary culture having reached that People previously. Where Christianity has penetrated, and where even a shallow civilisation exists, there is generally to be found money circulating. It is a striking fact, however, that before the ninth century, when numbers of the Icelanders and Scots probably settled in Ireland, the Irish had not minted any coins of their own, while the neighbouring people of Britain had from about the time of Christ’s birth minted a large number. And although the Romans, Franks, and Anglo-Saxons, after their conquests of France and England, had made very considerable coinages in those countries, we do not even find in Ireland any trace of the coins of these neighbouring people being brought over the sea in any considerable quantity before the period mentioned. Yet in other countries where the minting of coins also came late into use—as, for instance, in the Scandinavian north—so great a quantity of older foreign coins, together with all sorts of foreign valuables, is continually dug up as to show that even at a very early period active connections of trade must have existed beween the Northmen and the more southern nations. Neither Phoenician nor Celtic coins are known to have been found in Ireland, and discoveries even of Roman and the more ancient Anglo Saxon coins are very rare." It is manifest from these circumstances that previously to the settlement of the Northmen or Scots in Ireland, the Irish did not carry on any trade worth speaking of, if they carried on any, and that they had very little intercourse with the rest of Europe. That the Northmen may almost be said to have created Irish trade, is evident from the fact that the Scandinavian kings in Ireland were the first who caused coins to be minted there, "Of the coins current in Ireland in the last half of the eleventh, and in the whole of the twelfth century, pretty large quantities have been dug up, both in and out of Ireland, and particularly in the neighbonring Isle of Man."

In the splendid manuscript of the Gospels called the Book of Kells, preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, there are transcribed several Irish charters, which are said to be sufficient to connect it with the monastery of Kells. This is doubtful. The charters are allowed to be "some centuries" later in date than the book itself; and "the handwriting of these documents, as they are now found" there, "is not coeval with the persons whose names are mentioned in them.... The period at which they were transcribed into this book may be conjectured from the character of the writings and contractions, which would appear to belong to the latter part of the twelfth ceatury." This is quite possible; but may not these charters have beeu forged, or at least tampered with, for the purpose of connecting this manuscript of the Gospels with Kells? When the archaeological evidence comes to be dealt with, a pretty strong case will be made out in favour of this manuscript having been penned in some place in north-eastern Scotland, perhaps Dunkeld. The name of this town is spelt in ancient official documents Dun-kell. It is associated with Columba, and so is the Book of Kells. "The other extant charters made in Ireland at the same period (the latter part of the twelfth century) are very few indeed, and are all in the Latin language. How early the ancient Irish began to commit their contracts and covenants to writing has not yet been determined." After referring to copies of the wills of a king of Ireland who died in the year 128, and a Breton who lived in the first century, it is added:—" But without insisting on the authenticity of these productions, we may clearly infer from some entries in the Book of Armagh that deeds of contract and even of sale of lands were committed to writing from the earliest ages of Christianity in Ireland."

"Of the time exactly when, and of the persons by whom, the inhabitants of Ireland first received the illumination of the Gospel, we cannot find more certain information than when, and by whom, the people of Britain, or of any other country in Europe, were first enlightened by its communication. . . Whoever were the happy instruments in the planting of Christianity in Ireland, their progress appears to have been slow in the conversion of the natives. So lately as the end of the sixth century paganism subsisted, perhaps predominated in this country." [Gordon's History of Ireland, vol i. pp. 28 and 29.]

The writer just quoted believes it to be very probable that Christian rites were first introduced to the Western Island by the British clergy who fled from the south of Scotland to Ireland to escape the fury of the Saxon pagans, the conquerors of their country. [Ibid., p. 29]

"While the Saxons were prevailing in Britain several assemblages of the natives quitted their paternal soil, and established themselves in Armorica. Their new settlemeats were named Llydaw. Llydaw is said to be little else than a synonym for Armorica, both implying the sea coast. The author of the Life of Gildas says: ‘In Armoricam quondam Galliae regionem tune autem a Britannis a quibus possidebatur Letavia dicebatur.’ —Bouquet III., 449. The manuscript Vita Cadoci says: ‘Provincia quondam Armorica, deinde Littau, nunc Britannia minor vocatur. ‘—Cotton Library Vesp. A. 14, p. 32..... When Gildas followed his countrymen to Llydaw, he passed a solitary life in a place called Houath.—Acta Sanct. 2 Jan., p. 954." [Turner's History Anglo-Saxons, vol ii. pp. 212 and 213 and notes]]

Turner takes Llydaw and Armorica in these passages to be intended for Brittany on the continent; but they more likely refer to Ethelwerd’s Bretannis, [Above, pp. 12 and 13]] and Ptolemy’s Britania Minor,[Gibson's Camden, vol ii. p. 323] that is, Ireland. Besides, Howth is the name of a place near Dublin, and it is on the sea coast. This then may foreshadow the time when Christianity was planted in Ireland. In all likelihood it received an accession of strength from the "early emigrants from the Scandinavian regions;" who had settled there in the ninth century. These may have been some of the Papae or Christian priests who were being expelled from Iceland at that period. The numbers of the Christian ministers in Ireland may also have been augmented at the same time by ecclesiastics from the east of Scotland. This district was frequently and mercilessly ravaged by the Danes then. The monasteries especially suffered to a large extent from their depredations. The large number of sculptured monuments peculiar to this locality prove that it was enlightened by the Christian religion at a very early period. Some at least of the monks or presbyters were driven from this region by the Danes to seek refuge in Ireland; and it was possibly at this time that they carried the illuminated manuscripts of the Gospels with them, as will be more fully shown in future treatises. We may allow that Christian missionaries from all these quarters reached Ireland before the twelfth century, without believing that the Christian rites were adopted by more than a fraction of the population.

Gordon [History of Ireland, vol. i. p. 53] says the first attempt of the Roman pontiff to subjugate the church of Ireland was made in the year 1127, when Gilbert, bishop of Limerick, an Ostman or Norwegian, who had written a book in favour of the Roman ritual, received the commission of legate from His Holiness. This attempt does not seem to have been successful, and the labours of Malachy, archbishop of Armagh, who died in 1148 in striving to subject his country to the spiritual dominion of Rome, also resulted in failure. In the year 1152 the Pope’s aim was attained; and the spiritual supremacy of the Roman pontiff was then for the first time formally acknowledged in Ireland by means of his legate Cardinal Papiron. Four years afterwards, Henry II, king of England, wishing to invade Ireland, made application to the Pope for power to do so. Glad of an opportunity to augment the papal power, and to reduce the Irish completely under the Roman Church, a bull was given to the English king, together with a ring, the token of his investiture as rightful sovereign of the country. The bull not only authorised Henry to render himself master of Ireland, it called upon him to eradicate irreligion and immorality from among its inhabitants; and in saying this the Pope bears witness with the other writers already quoted that the state of Ireland at that period was not what was to be expected of a Christian country. Although the real object of the English king’s invasion was not accomplished, the ostensible one, the spiritual subjection of Ireland to the See of Rome, was crowned with such marked success, that the majority of the people have ever since, through all revolutions, faithfully adhered to the Roman Catholic faith.

With regard to the means by which the papal claims upon Ireland were supported, the following extracts may throw some light on the subject.

Dr James Usher, archbishop of Axniagh, says

"Master Campion informs us that ‘when Ireland first received Christendom they gave themselves into the jurisdiction, both spiritual and temporal, of the See of Rome.’ But herein he speaks without book; of the spiritual jurisdiction untruly, of the temporal absurdly. For it cannot be shewed out of any monument of antiquity that the Bishop of Rome ever sent any of his legates to exercise spiritual jurisdiction here (much less any of his deputies to exercise jurisdiction temporal) before Gillebertus, who was the first legate appointed by the Apostolic See over all Ireland, says one that lived in his own time, even Bernard himself, in the life of Malachias. He informs us that ‘from the beginning unto this time, the Metropolitan See of Armagh wanted the use of the Pall.’ With whom the author of the annals of Mailros fully accords, noting that, in the year 1151, Pope Eugenius, the same to whom Bernard wrote his book De Considaratione, by his legate, John Papiron, transmitted four Palls into Ireland, whither a Pall before had never been brought." [Religion Anciently professed by the Irish and British, chap. viii.]

"For the Pope’s direct dominion over Ireland, two titles are brought forth, beside those covenants of King John, mentioned by Allen, which he that hath any understanding in our state knoweth to be clearly void and worth nothing. The one is taken from a special grant, supposed to be made by the inhabitents of the country at the time of their conversion unto Christianity; the othor from a right which the Pope challenges unto himself over all islands in general. The former of these was devised of late by an Italian in the reign of King Henry the Eighth; the latter was found out in the days of King Henry the Second ; before whose time not one footstep appears in all antiquity of any claim that the Bishop of Rome could make to the dominion of Ireland; no, not in the Pope’s own records, which have been curiously searched by Nicolaus Arragonius, and other ministers of his, who have purposely written of the particulars of his temporal estate. The Italian of whom I speak is Pollydore Virgil, he who composed the book De Inventoribus Rerurn, or of the first inventors of things, among whom he himself may challenge a place for this invention, if the inventors of lies be admitted to have any room in that company. This man being sent over by the Pope into England for the collection of his Peter-pence, undertook the writing of the history of that nation; wherein he forgot not by the way to do the best service he could to his lord who had employed him there. There he tells an idle tale; how the Irish being moved to accept Henry the Second for their king, ‘did deny that this could be done otherwise than by the bishop of Rome’s authority, because (forsooth) that from the very beginning, after they had received the Christian religion, they had yielded themselves and all that they had into his power. And they constantly affirmed (says this fabler) that they had no other lord besides the Pope, of which they also yet brag.’ For confutation of which dream we need not have recourse to our own Chronicles; the Bull of Adrian the Fourth, wherein he gives liberty to Henry the Second to enter upon Ireland, sufficiently discovers the vanity thereof. For, he there shewing what right the Church of Rome pretended unto Ireland, makes no mention at all of this, which had been the fairest and clearest title that could be alleged if any such had been then existent in renem natura, but is fain to fly unto a far-fetched interest, which he says the Church of Rome hath unto all Christian islands. ‘Truly,’ says he to the King, ‘there is no doubt but that all islands unto which Christ, the Son of Righteousness, has shined, and which have received the instructions of the Christian faith, do pertain to the right of St Peter, and the holy Church of Rome, which your nobleness also acknowledges.’ If you would further understand the ground of this strange claim whereby all Christian islands at a clap are challenged to be parcels of St Peter’s patrimony; you shall have it from Johannes Sarisbariensis, who was most inward with Pope Adrian, and obtained from him this very grant of which we are now speaking. ‘At my request (says he) he granted Ireland to the illustrious king of England, Henry the Second, and gave it to be possessed by right of inheritance, as his own letters testify unto this day. For all islands of ancient right are said to belong to the Church of Rome by the donation of Constantine, who founded and endowed the same.’ But you will see what a goodly title here is in the meantime. First the donation of Constantine has been long since discovered to he a notorious forgery, and is rejected by all men of judgment as a senseless fiction," &c. [Religion Anciently professed by the Irish and British, chap. xi.]

This may suffice to show that the Roman Church did not obtain supremacy in Ireland till the twelfth century; and it was towards the latter end of that century that the name Hibernia was first applied to the country in authentic records.

Whether the discovery of America (? Armorica) in the tenth century by the Icelanders was an accomplished fact is still a matter of doubt; and as the two sagas which more minutely detail the countries visited, and time incidents connected with the discovery, were not brought to light till the seventeenth century, the attempt to shift Great Ireland and Vinland to America may be but a part of the scheme planned to darken and obscure the early history of Britain and Iceland. There are said to be fictitious sagas, which are easily distinguished from the genuine ones by the marvellous incidents with which they abound; and those referred to above will be fouud to partake of this character. It is significant also to find that the discovery of Great Ireland by the Icelanders, corresponds in point of time with the period when Ethelwerd, the English annalist, says that Ireland was first called by that name. The statements of the Northern writers and the English historian fit together well in this respect; and, leaving America out of the question, they serve to explain and corroborate each other.

The following passage, regarding Great Ireland, or Hvitramannaland, as it was also called, occurs in an old Icelandic geographical treatise : "To the south of inhahited Greenlandare wild anddesert tracts of ice-covered mountains; then comes the land of the Scraellings, beyond this Markland, and then Vinland the good. Next to this, and somewhat behind, lies Albania, that is to say, Hvitramannaland, Whitemansland, whither vessels formerly sailed from Ireland. It was there that several Irishmen and Icelanders recognised Ari, the son of Mar, and Katla of Reykjanes, of whom there had not been for a long time any tidings, and whom the natives of the country had made their chief." The Landnamabok also states that Ari Masson was driven by a tempest to Hvitramannaland, and detained and baptised there. [Mallet’s Northern Antiquities, p. 264, Bohn’s Edition.] "It would appear that the Northmen received their account of Hvitramannaland, which was also called Irland it Mikla—Great Ireland—from Limerick traders, and that vessels had sailed there, previous to the discovery of Vinland. These circumstances, and the mention made of Ari’s baptism, have led some writers to suppose that there was an Irish colony established on the coast of America south of Massachusetts in the ninth or tenth century; but the statements transmitted to us are obviously too vague to possess any historical vahie." The eight chapters of King Olaf Trygvveson’s saga, giving an account of the presumed discovery of America, are clearly shown to be an interpolation by Laing in his translation of the Heimskringla. [Vol. i. Prelimiciary Dissertation, p. 156, and vol. iii. p. 343.]

Gronland was the name of a district in Norway, and has before now been mistaken for Greenland. Markland was a name of Denmark; [Chambers’ Encyclopaedia, article Normans,] and Vinland may have been the early Icelandic name of England or Spain. Albania or Scotland would be behind England to an Icelander, and possibly Ireland may have been the Great Ireland of the Icelanders.

The passages quoted above (page 46) regarding Armorica, seem to imply that it was at one time a name given to Ireland; and possibly this may have been the America of the authentic Icelandic sagas.

It will be seen that these notices identify Albania and Great Ireland, but if the former is intended for Scotland, there must be some confusion in the transcripts, as all the evidence available proves that Ireland and Albania were never synonymous names for one countiy. Possibly the tampering with the passages to make them point to America may have given rise to this confusion. But if Great Ireland be the ancient Icelandic designation of Ireland, it is quite possible that the Icelanders received a description of it from Limerick traders, and that their vessels had touched frequently at that port before Vinland, which may be intended for Spain or England, was made known to them. This, at least, is certain, that Great Ireland was discovered in the tenth century, and Ethelwerd says Ireland was then first so called.

As bearing immediately upon the subject at issue, it will not be out of place to give here the testimony of one of the most eminent of recent writers on ancient Irish history regarding the earliest colonists of Ireland, and the names Scot and Scotia not being known in that country. In Todd’s Irish version of the Historia Britonum of Nennius, additional notes, No. VI., it is said: "There is no probability, and a want of distinct testiinony, even legendary, that Ireland ever received any considerable body of settlers, but direct from Britain." The Gaidhil or Scoti are mentioned as one of the three classes of early colonists, and it is affirmed that "into this prevalent colony the whole nation resolved itself."  Then we are told "that the Scots, after various peregrinations, went from Pictland or Albany in North Britain to Spain, and thence over to Ireland," but it is immediately afterwards explained that the whole mention of Spain in the legend containing that information is etymological.

These conclusions are undoubtedly sound, and taking them for a basis, a general idea of how the early colinisation of Ireland probably proceeded may be laid before the reader. It is not improbable, from proximity of situation, that some Basques from Spain may have settled in the south of Ireland at a very early period, as hinted at by Geoffrey of Monmouth and Giraldus Cambrensis, though there is no reliable testimony to corroborate their hints. But it is very likely that a considerable Celtic colony would settle in Ireland at the time of the Roman invasion of Britain. Whether these are the Firbolgs of Irish legends it is perhaps impossible now to determine. Again at the Saxon invasion of Britain, which commenced in the south of Scotland, numerous Ceits were driven from that district, many of whom would in all likelihood settle in Ireland. It was in that part of the country that the Damnonii were located, and there is little doubt but that a goodly number of them were among the emigrants, but whether these represented the legendary Irish colony of the Tuath de Danan cannot now be easily ascertained. These two bodies of colonists were in all probability mainly composed of British Celts or Welsh, as they are now called. The next colony which settled in Ireland from Britain, however, was in all likelihood largely made up of Gaidhil. This exodus took place in the ninth century, when the Norwegians or Danes, or both, ravaged eastem Scotland north of the Firth of Forth so frequently and so mercilessly that the inhabitants would be glad to seek refuge in another country. Along with the Gaelic Celts or Picts who then settled in Ireland there would be a number of Scots. The archaeological evidence bears out this supposition. It was evidently at this period that Ireland received an infusion of Scottish Christian priests, who carried with them their books, bells, and croziers, and introduccd the art of monumental sculpture; but contact with foreign influences soon sapped its purity and strength, and sowed the seeds of its decadence. The colony which settled in Ireland at this time is called Gaidhill or Scoti, on the presumption that these were only different names for the same people, but this is an erroneous conclusion. A Gaidhill was only a Scot in the same sense in which a Highlander who only speaks Gaelic is a Scot. They are Scots because they are born in Scotland, but they are not Scots in the full meaning of that term, in that neither the one nor the other of them used the Scottish dialect. It is therefore quite true, as Dr Todd says, that the colony of Gaidhil may have been the largest body of .settlers who reached Ireland at one time, for the Irish language is more akin to the Gaelic dialect than to any other. We are only dealing with prehistoric times at present, it needs to be remembered. About the end of the ninth century it is possible that Ireland may have received a few settlers from Iceland, when the Norwegians took possession of that island and drove the original inhabitants out of it. It is questionable whether a Danish invasion of Ireland took place in the ninth century as is often alleged. That a Danish invasion of’ Scotland or ancient Eyryn did take place then there is satisfactory evidence to prove ; and it appears as if several detached incidents of it were seized hold of by the Irish to fill up the empty pages of their ancient history.

With reference to the word Scot, Dr Todd, in the same note, just quoted, supposes it to be derived from Scuite, a wanderer or rover, and this supposition is thought to be supported by the fact that the Scots are first mentioned as inhabitants of Britain. He then adds: "This supposition squares admirably with the observation in Ogygia III., 72, that although the Irish called their Gaidhelian people Scots, no such territorial epithet as Scotia or Scotland was known in their language, for they had not that name in regard of their land, but of renouncing their land." Unfortunately all this theorising is thrown away, though it is suggestive to bring it forward here, for another note in the same work, No. XXI., informs us that since the former note was printed, "I have learned that the gloss scuite, a wanderer, is not found elsewhere, and that suspicion therefore arises of dictionaries having been interpolated with a view to that very purpose for which I have applied them." This is a remarkable admission; and it serves to show how wide and deep the mine had been laid which obscured and perverted the ancient history of Scotland.

Further on in the note last quoted we find the following:-

"If it (Scoti) were an ancient name of the Irish for themselves, unknown to foreigners until they had improved their acquaintance with Ireland, but then adopted by them generally (as foreigners know the names German or Allernand, but have to learn the name Deutsch), it follows that the name is vernavular among the Irish people. But such, I believe, it neither is nor ever was. Unwritten discourse does not so style them, nor does that of the Celts of Britain. Then as to writers, their date is late in Ireland, and their manner of using the word perhaps unsatisfactory. They almost all possessed some Latin learning, and a Gaelicised adoption of the Latin word Scotus may prove no more than is proved by Tigernach’s plain Latin Monumenta Sotorum."

Passing a few sentences which do not concern the present subject, we read as follows: "I have observed that Scoti was the name of the Scoti in their own language; and I have also observed that it neither is, nor ever was, to our knowledge, the name of the Gaidhill or Irish nation in their own discourse, and can scarce be said to have established itself in their writings, always excepting such as treat of the Scythian mythus. Here is something to explain if not reconcile." Notwithstanding this it is remarkable to find the author of these remarks overlooking the only feasible explanation of them, which is that the word Scot was never applied to natives of Ireland, and the word Scotia was never used as a name of Ireland. And yet when we think how much false information has been penned on the subject, it is not to be wondered at that even such an acute writer should still feel himself hampered by some meshes of the net.

After trying to furnish an explanation, in the belief that Scot and Irishman, and Scotia and Ireland were once synonymous terms, the conclusion Dr Todd arrives at is this: "Thus it would seem as if Irishmen were not Scoti, but expeditions of Irish warriors and pirates were." We are then told that the first instance known of the territorial phrase Scotia, is in Isidore of Seville’s works; but Dr Todd had previously said that Isidoro asserts that Scotus was a word in their own language, and we have seen that it was not a word of’ the Irish tongue, so that Isidore’s Scotus and Scotia must refer to some other people and country than the Irish and Ireland.


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