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


isolation and self-sufficiency. Both the saga evidence and Gaelic folk-tradition attest to the existence of such far-flung Gaelic settlements, as does the archeological record, and such places are mentioned repeatedly in the sagas.

It is interesting also that the tribalism of the Native Americans in the eastern part of North America was quite similar in many respects to that of Gaeldom, and maintained its independence for about as long (the Ulster Scottish or Scotch-Irish immigrants who settled the territory west of the Appalachians had practiced the techniques of fortifying their farms against hostile tribes during their tenure as settlers in Northern Ireland around 1600). Indications of early contact between the North American Indians and the IndoEuropeans are further suggested by the physical anthropology of the former. Their pre—Columbian physical remains have even been described as being less Oriental and more relatively European the more easterly their provenance (Fell, Bronze Age America, 84—97). Rousseau’s admiration of the "noble savage," seen in this light, may well be a kind of subconscious invective against Europe’s own loss of innocence, as the Native Americans themselves may well have been more closely related (and not just in spirit) than previously realized to Europe’s own primordial Indo-European self.

Turning from Native American analogues to European ones, I would point out that the supposed mystical Celtic consciousness is really a kind of tendency to superstition characteristic of the early Anglo-Saxons as well, and probably was a shared trait of Indo-European culture. In fact, much of the barbarous, superstitious and tribal aspects of Gaelic society are mirrored in Anglo-Saxon literature (Beowulf). These early German cousins appear to have been every bit as ethereal as the Celts, and just as intuitive and sensitive to nuance. The German tribes, originally inhabiting the harsh wilderness of the far North, never had quite the rash, wide-open society enjoyed by their fiery Celtic cousins to the south. In the British Isles, however, proximity, access and considerable compatibility existed between the Gaels and the Anglo-Saxons well into the Middle Ages. Differences here did not really emerge until after the Norman invasion of England, though the machinery was set in motion by the division between the Celtic and English church at the beginning of the medieval period.

Gaeldom was often characterized, especially by the post—Norman English, as barbarous. Yet it was Gaelic scholars who were largely responsible for initiating and sustaining the learned missionary activity which ultimately raised Europe out of the Dark Ages (ca. 500—1000) and resulted in her conversion to Christianity. Such scholars carried on a long tradition of Celtic philosophy, which was famous since ancient times, having been admired by the classical world in the days before the fall of the Celtic kingdoms of Europe. The Celts have always been famous for their love of freedom, wit, and fighting spirit, and these traits are all aptly reflected in the Gaelic psyche. Also important to the Celtic mind is a sense of honor and fairness, and stories of the inherent


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