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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
III. The Coming of Gaeldom


folklore are a record of those distant times. They recall a time when vastly different peoples wandered the forests and plains of Europe, and might chance to meet each other only occasionally over thousands of years. In such chance meetings, it might well seem to the people involved that they had come face to face with either giants or leprechauns, depending upon their perspective.

For instance, a group from the open steppe, on coming to a forested region and encountering the men who dwelt there, might well find it "magical" the way such a forest people, especially if relatively small in stature, were able to seemingly disappear as they beat fast tracks into nooks and crannies familiar only to them. Similarly, the leader of a remnant Neanderthal group living, let us say, in forested northern mountains, might well be the origin of the legendary "king of the mountain trolls," and folklore about the elopement of a young prince with the troll king’s daughter may well be a record of the very intermixing which guaranteed the disappearance of such separate groups.

In any event, the spreading branches of Indo-European society came to dominate Europe. The lndo-Europeans successfully imposed their languages on the peoples they conquered, and this process brought about the emergence of specific racio-cultural hybrids as the forerunners of the national groups of today.

The Germans (Germanic and Scandinavian tribes) and the Celts were the most closely related of the Indo-European peoples. The ancestors of the Celts emerged on the European scene about 2800 years ago, and lived in tribal kingdoms that spread eventually across Europe east to west, while their Germanic cousins lived above them in the forests of the far north and beyond, to the regions bordering the Baltic Sea. To the south, in the regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea, during the centuries surrounding the time of Christ, came the blossoming of Latin and classical civilization, the result, ultimately, of early Indo-European contact with the east. The Romans had gradually extended their empire northwards at the expense of the Celts, and reached what became their northern boundary during the first century A.D. In the North it was difficult for the Romans to tell who was Germanic and who was Celtic, and as a result they often mistook one group for the other as distinctions generally faded along that hyperborean frontier.

Having reached what was to be its northern limits, the Roman Empire was doomed. Its condition was terminal the moment it stopped advancing, for the economy of the Empire was parasitic and artificial; it fed on expansion. Without the acquisition of new territory by conquest, it had only itself to feed upon, and it was therefore destined to rot from within of its own growing corruption. The end came gradually and painfully during tthe fourth and fifth centuries. The continental Celts were long since Romanized, and it was left to the Germanic tribes to deliver the coup de grace that ended an era (Davis 23—33).

The Pax Romana was at an end, and the Germanic tribes were in the


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