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Six Millennia - The History of the Gael


REVIEW by Kris Gies, University of Guelph - IRSS 31 (2006)

Robert Bruce MacColla MacNial MacIntyre, Six Millennia, the History of the Gael: The Irish and the Scots Highlanders, Markham, ON: Stewart Publishing and Printing, 2005. $34.99/USD, 206 pp. ISBN 1-894183-70-3.

As the author Robert Bruce shows, the practice of constructing and preserving clan histories is a phenomenon that is often concomitant with one’s very Scottishness. A compelling case in point is his Six Millennia, the History of the Gael: the Irish and the Scots Highlanders. According to Bruce, in revealing this history, it is hoped that an ‘ancient treasure’, a rich tradition of oral accounts and stories, will be preserved for posterity. Furthermore, in doing so, he intends to refute many enduring, yet inaccurate perceptions surrounding Gaelic culture. It is suggested by the author that modern, formal historical research has inadequately treated this issue, and that more traditional methods as conveyed in his work will provide a more ‘authentic’ account of Gaeldom’s early history. In the author’s words: ‘While I cannot speak for all of the ancient and great Clans of the Celts I do know most precisely what my own ancestors, the Eremonian (a branch of Gaeldom originating in Northern Ireland) Royal Line of The Gael, believed, protected, and passed down, at the highest cost.’ (p. 42)

Bruce’s introduction provides a historic overview of the Gaelic/Celtic peoples of Continental Europe and the Western Isles. This section begins with a treatment of the Druid Order who were more than mere genealogists, but rather ‘the “glue” which held Celtic society together.’ (p. 27) He continues by discussing, among other topics, Celtic origin beliefs, clan organization, spirituality, legal practice (also known as Cain or the Brehon Laws), dress and weaponry, and the power of the ‘spoken word.’

Following this concise introduction to Celtic culture is ‘a translation of the oral history of the Royal Eremonian line of the Gael race.’ (p.15) This account begins with a traditional account of the creation of the world and proceeds in retelling the history of the Gaels from their origins with Noah of the Old Testament, through the ‘Eremonian line of High Kings and its major derivative braches within Ireland, the Highlands of Scotland, and the Hebrides,’ up to Somerled, the ‘Lord of the Isles.’ (p.16) Within this history, a variety of issues are addressed, including Druidic belief, Gaeldom’s conversion to Christianity, and the importance of male bloodlines. The epilogue is devoted to answering the main questions posed in Bruce’s foreword, such as the origins of man, the Druidic/Gaelic name for God, and the source of Druidic wisdom.

Although supplemented by translated works such as Lebhor Ceud Toisech (The Book of First Beginnings) and Lebhor Gabalal Eirinn (The Book of the Taking of Eirinn), the bulk of Bruce’s work is derived from oral tradition, yet written in a highly formalized, antiquated style. Yet, this should not dissuade interested readers, as it is this style that helps make Bruce’s work more convincing, matching the traditional, oral accounts from which it is derived. Furthermore, Six Millennia serves as a modern-day example of the manufacturing of family histories, as Bruce’s retelling of Gaelic biblical roots follows the practice of Highland clans centuries prior.1 Lastly, the book’s appendices - a full translation of The Book of First Beginnings, as well as a brief genealogical and historical interpretation of clan coats of arms - offer deeper insight into much material discussed by the author.

While readers who are expecting a formal historical study may find themselves disappointed by the informal, deeply religious nature of Bruce’s work, this does not mean that Six Millennia should be avoided altogether. The tone, imagery and language employed by the author amount to a modern, written retelling of traditional Gaelic oral history. Within this compilation is a rich array of material that has been carefully preserved by Bruce and his ancestors; it is in such preservation that the true value of this work lay.

Six Millennia
The History of the Gael
The Irish and Scots Highlanders

Auther : Robert Bruce MacColla MacNial MacIntyre

pp. 204

Illustrated

Hardback full glossy colour


Have thoroughly enjoyed reading such a well written, well researched historic account of the story of the origin of the race of the Gael and thus the Scot. I remain deeply moved by the depth of sincerity of belief of the author in his work. That he is a Gael with a difference. There can be no mistake!

To tackle such a project without some uncanny insight into the real origin of the Gael, defies explanation by normal standards. And to compress such detailed history into 204 pages staggers belief.

As one who has naturally researched my Gaelic roots over a period of some 45 years, and my Native Gaelic speaking fathers before me, I recognise most if not all of the facts quoted within the explicit text. With few exceptions, I give his work first class merit in clearly present phraseology and clarity of meaning. With certain reservations, I personally recommend it as a foundation for all those serious students of the Gael seeking a special and vary rare insight into the truth of our past, our ancestors, and the Royal Blood Line of the Gael.

Such a book is long overdue. I predict that it will effectively counter most of the Gaelic/Celtic antagonism that has passed for Scottish history ever since the Norman Invasion in c1066. I warmly welcome it on our Library Shelves!

Ranald Alasdair MacDonald of Keppoch
Chief of the Honourable Clan Ranald of Lochaber
Mac Mhic Raonuill

Dun Eideann

Visit the Six Millenia of the Gael by Bruce MacIntyre web site


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