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Title: Ireland, Historic and Picturesque
Author: Johnston, Charles, 1867-1931
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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IRELAND

HISTORIC AND PICTURESQUE

BY

CHARLES JOHNSTON

ILLUSTRATED

1902



CONTENTS.

I. VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE.

II. THE GREAT STONE MONUMENTS.

III. THE CROMLECH BUILDERS.

IV. THE DE DANAANS.

V. EMAIN OF MACA.

VI. CUCULAIN THE HERO.

VII. FIND AND OSSIN.

VIII. THE MESSENGER OF THE NEW WAY.

IX. THE SAINTS AND SCHOLARS.

X. THE RAIDS OF THE NORTHMEN.

XI. THE PASSING OF THE NORSEMEN.

XII. THE NORMANS.

XIII. THE TRIUMPH OF FEUDALISM.

XIV. THE JACOBITE WARS.

XV. CONCLUSION.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

Photogravures made by A.W. ELSON & Co.


PEEP HOLE, BLARNEY CASTLE
IN THE DARGLE, CO. WICKLOW
MUCKROSS ABBEY, KILLARNEY
BRANDY ISLAND, GLENGARRIFF
SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN, GLENGARRIFF
RIVER ERNE, BELLEEK
WHITE ROCKS, PORTRUSH
POWERSCOURT WATERFALL, CO. WICKLOW
HONEYCOMB, GIANT'S CAUSEWAY
GRAY MAN'S PATH, FAIR HEAD
COLLEEN BAWN CAVES, KILLARNEY
RUINS ON SCATTERY ISLAND
VALLEY OF GLENDALOUGH AND RUINS OF THE SEVEN
  CHURCHES
ANCIENT CROSS, GLENDALOUGH
ROUND TOWER, ANTRIM
GIANT'S HEAD AND DUNLUCE CASTLE, CO. ANTRIM
ROCK CASHEL, RUINS OF OLD CATHEDRAL, KING CORMAC'S
  CHAPEL AND ROUND TOWER
DUNLUCE CASTLE
MELLIFONT ABBEY, CO. LOUTH
HOLY CROSS ABBEY, CO. TIPPERARY
DONEGAL CASTLE
TULLYMORE PARK, CO. DOWN
THOMOND BRIDGE, LIMERICK
SALMON FISHERY, GALWAY
O'CONNELL'S STATUE, DUBLIN



IRELAND.

I.

VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE.

Here is an image by which you may call up and remember the natural form
and appearance of Ireland:

Think of the sea gradually rising around her coasts, until the waters,
deepened everywhere by a hundred fathoms, close in upon the land. Of all
Ireland there will now remain visible above the waves only two great
armies of islands, facing each other obliquely across a channel of open
sea. These two armies of islands will lie in ordered ranks, their lines
stretching from northeast to southwest; they will be equal in size, each
two hundred miles along the front, and seventy miles from front to rear.
And the open sea between, which divides the two armies, will measure
seventy miles across.

Not an island of these two armies, as they lie thus obliquely facing
each other, will rise as high as three thousand feet; only the captains
among them will exceed a thousand; nor will there be great variety in
their forms. All the islands, whether north or south, will have gently
rounded backs, clothed in pastures nearly to the crest, with garments of
purple heather lying under the sky upon their ridges. Yet for all this
roundness of outline there will be, towards the Atlantic end of either
army, a growing sternness of aspect, a more sombre ruggedness in the
outline of the hills, with cliffs and steep ravines setting their brows
frowning against the deep.

Hold in mind the image of these two obliquely ranged archipelagoes,
their length thrice their breadth, seaming the blue of the sea, and
garmented in dark green and purple under the sunshine; and, thinking of
them thus, picture to yourself a new rising of the land, a new
withdrawal of the waters, the waves falling and ever falling, till all
the hills come forth again, and the salt tides roll and ripple away from
the valleys, leaving their faces for the winds to dry; let this go on
till the land once more takes its familiar form, and you will easily
call up the visible image of the whole.

As you stand in the midst of the land, where first lay the channel of
open sea, you will have, on your northern horizon, the beginning of a
world of purple-outlined hills, outliers of the northern mountain
region, which covers the upper third of the island. On all sides about
you, from the eastern sea to the western ocean, you will have the great
central plain, dappled with lakes and ribbed with silver rivers, another
third of the island. Then once more, to the south, you will have a
region of hills, the last third of Ireland, in size just equal to the
northern mountains or the central plain.

The lines of the northern hills begin with the basalt buttresses of
Antrim and the granite ribs of Down, and pass through northern Ulster
and Connacht to the headlands of Mayo and Galway. Their rear is held by
the Donegal ranges, keeping guard against the blackness of the
northern seas.

The plain opens from the verge of these hills; the waters that gather on
its pleasant pastures and fat fields, or among the green moss tracts of
its lowlands, flow eastward by the Boyne or southwestward by the Shannon
to the sea.

Then with the granite mountains of Dublin and Wicklow begin the southern
hills, stretching through south Leinster and Munster to the red
sandstone ridges of Cork and Kerry, our last vantage-ground against
the Atlantic.

Finally, encircling all, is the perpetual presence of the sea, with its
foaming, thunderous life or its days of dreamy peace; around the silver
sands or furrowed cliffs that gird the island our white waves rush
forever, murmuring the music of eternity.

Such is this land of Eiré, very old, yet full of perpetual youth; a
thousand times darkened by sorrow, yet with a heart of living gladness;
too often visited by evil and pale death, yet welling ever up in
unconquerable life,--the youth and life and gladness that thrill through
earth and air and sky, when the whole world grows beautiful in the front
of Spring.

For with us Spring is like the making of a new world in the dawn of
time. Under the warm wind's caressing breath the grass comes forth upon
the meadows and the hills, chasing dun Winter away. Every field is newly
vestured in young corn or the olive greenness of wheat; the smell of the
earth is full of sweetness. White daisies and yellow dandelions star all
our pastures; and on the green ruggedness of every hillside, or along
the shadowed banks of every river and every silver stream, amid velvet
mosses and fringes of new-born ferns, in a million nooks and crannies
throughout all the land, are strewn dark violets; and wreaths of yellow
primroses with crimped green leaves pour forth a remote and divine
fragrance; above them, the larches are dainty with new greenery and rosy
tassels, and the young leaves of beech and oak quiver with fresh life.

Still the benignance of Spring pours down upon us from the sky, till the
darkening fields are hemmed in between barriers of white hawthorn, heavy
with nectar, and twined with creamy honeysuckle, the finger-tips of
every blossom coral-red. The living blue above throbs with the tremulous
song of innumerable larks; the measured chant of cuckoos awakens the
woods; and through the thickets a whole world's gladness sings itself
forth from the throat of thrush and blackbird. Through the whole land
between the four seas benediction is everywhere; blue-bells and the rosy
fingers of heath deck the mountain-tops, where the grouse are crooning
to each other among the whins; down the hillsides into every valley pour
gladness and greenness and song; there are flowers everywhere, even to
the very verge of the whispering sea. There, among the gray bent-spikes
and brackens on the sandhills, primroses weave their yellow wreaths; and
little pansies, golden and blue and purple, marshal their weird eyes
against the spears of dark blue hyacinths, till the rich tribute of
wild thyme makes peace between them.

The blue sky overhead, with its flocks of sunlit clouds, softly bends
over the gentle bosom of the earth. A living spirit throbs everywhere,
palpable, audible, full of sweetness and sadness immeasurable--sadness
that is only a more secret joy.

Then the day grows weary, making way for the magic of evening and the
oncoming dark with its mystery. The tree-stems redden with the sunset;
there is a chill sigh in the wind; the leaves turn before it, burnished
against the purple sky. As the gloom rises up out of the earth, bands of
dark red gather on the horizon, seaming the clear bronze of the sky,
that passes upward into olive-color, merging in dark blue overhead. The
sun swings down behind the hills, and purple darkness comes down out of
the sky; the red fades from the tree-stems, the cloud-colors die away;
the whole world glimmers with the fading whiteness of twilight. Silence
gathers itself together out of the dark, deepened, not broken, by the
hushing of the wind among the beech-leaves, or the startled cluck of a
blackbird, or a wood-pigeon's soft murmur, as it dreams in the
silver fir.

Under the brown wings of the dark, the night throbs with mystic
presences; the hills glimmer with an inward life; whispering voices
hurry through the air. Another and magical land awakes in the dark, full
of a living restlessness; sleepless as the ever-moving sea. Everywhere
through the night-shrouded woods, the shadowy trees seem to interrupt
their secret whispers till you are gone past. There is no sense of
loneliness anywhere, but rather a host of teeming lives on every hand,
palpable though hidden, remote from us though touching our lives,
calling to us through the gloom with wordless voices, inviting us to
enter and share with them the mystical life of this miraculous earth,
great mother of us all, The dark is full of watching eyes.

Summer with us is but a brighter Spring, as our Winter only prolongs the
sadness of Autumn. So our year has but two moods, a gay one and a sad
one. Yet each tinges the other--the mists of Autumn veiling the gleam of
Spring--Spring smiling through the grief of Autumn. When the sad mood
comes, stripping the trees of their leaves, and the fields of their
greenness, white mists veil the hills and brood among the fading
valleys. A shiver runs through the air, and the cold branches are
starred with tears. A poignant grief is over the land, an almost
desolation,--full of unspoken sorrow, tongue-tied with unuttered
complaint. All the world is lost and forlorn, without hope or respite.
Everything is given up to the dirges of the moaning seas, the white
shrouds of weeping mist. Wander forth upon the uplands and among the
lonely hills and rock-seamed sides of the mountains, and you will find
the same sadness everywhere: a grieving world under a grieving sky.
Quiet desolation hides among the hills, tears tremble on every brown
grass-blade, white mists of melancholy shut out the lower world.

Whoever has not felt the poignant sadness of the leafless days has never
known the real Ireland; the sadness that is present, though veiled, in
the green bravery of Spring, and under the songs of Summer. Nor have
they ever known the real Ireland who have not divined beneath that
poignant sadness a heart of joy, deep and perpetual, made only keener by
that sad outward show.

Here in our visible life is a whisper and hint of our life invisible; of
the secret that runs through and interprets so much of our history. For
very much of our nation's life has been like the sadness of those autumn
days,--a tale of torn leaves, of broken branches, of tears everywhere.
Tragedy upon tragedy has filled our land with woe and sorrow, and, as
men count success, we have failed of it, and received only misery and
deprivation. He has never known the true Ireland who does not feel that
woe. Yet, more, he knows not the real Ireland who cannot feel within
that woe the heart of power and joy,--the strong life outlasting darkest
night,--the soul that throbs incessantly under all the calamities of the
visible world, throughout the long tragedy of our history.

This is our secret: the life that is in sorrow as in joy; the power that
is not more in success than in failure--the one soul whose moods these
are, who uses equally life and death.

For the tale of our life is mainly tragedy. And we may outline now the
manner in which that tale will be told. We shall have, first, a long,
dim dawn,--mysterious peoples of the hidden past coming together to our
land from the outlying darkness. A first period, which has left abundant
and imperishable traces everywhere among our hills and valleys, writing
a large history in massive stone, yet a history which, even now, is dim
as the dawn it belongs to. What can be called forth from that Archaic
Darkness, in the backward and abysm of Time, we shall try to evoke;
drawing the outlines of a people who, with large energies in our visible
world, toiled yet more for the world invisible; a people uniform through
the whole land and beyond it, along many neighboring shores; a people
everywhere building; looking back into a long past; looking forward
through the mists of the future. A people commemorating the past in a
form that should outlast the future. A people undertaking great
enterprises for mysterious ends; whose works are everywhere among us, to
this day, imperishable in giant stone; yet a people whose purposes are
mysterious to us, whose very name and tongue are quite unknown. Their
works still live all around us in Ireland, spread evenly through the
four provinces, a world of the vanished past enduring among us into the
present; and, so mightily did these old builders work, and with such
large simplicity, that what they built will surely outlast every
handiwork of our own day, and endure through numberless to-morrows,
bridging the morning and evening twilight of our race.

After this Archaic Dawn we shall find a mingling of four races in
Ireland, coming together from widely separated homes, unless one of the
four be the descendant of the archaic race, as well it may be. From the
surging together of these four races we shall see, in almost
pre-historic times, the growth of a well-knit polity; firm
principalities founded, strong battles fought, a lasting foundation of
law. In this Second Epoch, every thing that in the first was dim and
vague grows firm in outline and defined. Names, places, persons,--we
know them all as if they were of to-day. This is the age which flowered
in the heroic days of Emain of Maca, Emain 'neath the beech-trees, the
citadel of northeastern Ireland. Here we shall find the court of Fergus
mac Roeg, a man too valiant, too passionate, too generous to rule
altogether wisely; his star darkened by the gloomy genius of Concobar
his stepson, the evil lover of ill-fated Deirdré. Cuculain, too, the
war-loving son of Sualtam, shall rise again,--in whom one part of our
national genius finds its perfect flower. We shall hear the thunder of
his chariot, at the Battle of the Headland of the Kings, when Meave the
winsome and crafty queen of Connacht comes against him, holding in
silken chains of her tresses the valiant spirit of Fergus. The whole
life of that heroic epoch, still writ large upon the face of the land,
shall come forth clear and definite; we shall stand by the threshold of
Cuculain's dwelling, and move among the banquet-halls of Emain of Maca.
We shall look upon the hills and valleys that Meave and Deirdré looked
on, and hear the clash of spear and shield at the Ford of the
river,--and this even though we must go back two thousand years.

To this will follow a Third Epoch, where another side of Ireland's
genius will write itself in epic all across the land, with songs for
every hillside, and stories for every vale and grove. Here our more
passionate and poetic force will break forth in the lives of Find, son
of Cumal, the lord of warriors; in his son Ossin, most famous bard of
the western lands, and Ossin's son Oscar, before whose might even the
fiends and sprites cowered back dismayed. As the epoch of Cuculain shows
us our valor finding its apotheosis, so shall we find in Find and Ossin
and Oscar the perfect flower of our genius for story and song; for
romantic life and fine insight into nature; for keen wit and gentler
humor. The love of nature, the passion for visible beauty, and chiefly
the visible beauty of our land, will here show itself clearly,--a sense
of nature not merely sensuous, but thrilling with hidden and mystic
life. We shall find such perfection in this more emotional and poetic
side of Irish character as will leave little for coming ages to add. In
these two early epochs we shall see the perfecting of the natural man;
the moulding of rounded, gracious and harmonious lives, inspired with
valor and the love of beauty and song.

Did our human destiny stop there, with the perfect life of individual
men and women, we might well say that these two epochs of Ireland
contain it all; that our whole race could go no further. For no man
lived more valiant than Cuculain, more generous than Fergus, more full
of the fire of song than Ossin, son of Find. Nor amongst women were any
sadder than Deirdré and Grania; craftier than Meave, more winsome than
Nessa the mother of Concobar. Perfected flowers of human life all of
them,--if that be all of human life. So, were this all, we might well
consent that with the death of Oscar our roll of history might close;
there is nothing to add that the natural man could add.

But where the perfecting of the natural man ends, our truer human life
begins--the life of our ever-living soul. The natural man seeks victory;
he seeks wealth and possessions and happiness; the love of women, and
the loyalty of followers. But the natural man trembles in the face of
defeat, of sorrow, of subjection; the natural man cannot raise the
black veil of death.

Therefore for the whole world and for our land there was needed another
epoch, a far more difficult lesson,--one so remote from what had been of
old, that even now we only begin to understand it. To the Ireland that
had seen the valor of Cuculain, that had watched the wars of Fergus,--to
the Ireland that listened to the deeds of Find and the songs of
Ossin,--came the Evangel of Galilee, the darkest yet brightest message
ever brought to the children of earth. If we rightly read that Evangel,
it brought the doom of the natural man, and his supersession by the man
immortal; it brought the death of our personal perfecting and pride, and
the rising from the dead of the common soul, whereby a man sees another
self in his neighbor; sees all alike in the one Divine.

Of this one Divine, wherein we all live and live forever, pain is no
less the minister than pleasure; nay, pain is more its minister, since
pleasure has already given its message to the natural man. Of that one
Divine, sorrow and desolation are the messengers, alike with joy and
gladness; even more than joy and gladness, for the natural man has
tasted these. Of that one Divine, black and mysterious death is the
servant, not less than bright life; and life we had learned of old in
the sunshine.

[Illustration: In the Dargle, Co. Wicklow]

There came, therefore, to Ireland, as to a land cherished for enduring
purposes, first the gentler side, and then the sterner, of the Galilean
message. First, the epoch almost idyllic which followed after the
mission of Patrick; the epoch of learning and teaching the simpler
phrases of the Word. Churches and schools rose everywhere, taking the
place of fort and embattled camp. Chants went up at morning and at
evening, with the incense of prayer, and heaven seemed descended upon
earth. Our land, which had stood so high in the ranks of valor and
romance, now rose not less eminent for piety and fervid zeal, sending
forth messengers and ministers of the glad news to the heathen lands of
northern and central Europe, and planting refuges of religion within
their savage bounds. Beauty came forth in stone and missal, answering to
the beauty of life it was inspired by; and here, if anywhere upon earth
through a score of centuries, was realized the ideal of that prayer for
the kingdom, as in heaven, so on earth. Here, again, we have most ample
memorials scattered all abroad throughout the land; we can call up the
whole epoch, and make it stand visible before us, visiting every shrine
and sacred place of that saintly time, seeing, with inner eyes, the
footsteps of those who followed that path, first traced out by the
shores of Gennesaret.

Once more, if the kingdom come upon earth were all of the message, we
might halt here; for here forgiveness and gentle charity performed their
perfect work, and learning was present with wise counsel to guide
willing feet in the way. Yet this is not all; nor, if we rightly
understand that darkest yet brightest message, are we or is mankind
destined for such an earthly paradise; our kingdom is not of this world.
Here was another happiness, another success; yet not in that happiness
nor in that success was hid the secret; it lay far deeper. Therefore we
find that morning with its sunshine rudely clouded over, its promise
swept away in the black darkness of storms. Something more than holy
living remained to be learned; there remained the mystery of failure and
death--that death which is the doorway to our real life. Therefore upon
our shores broke wave after wave of invasion, storm after storm of
cruelest oppression and degradation. In the very dust was our race
ground down, destitute, afflicted, tormented, according to prophecy and
promise. Nor was that the end. Every bitterness that the heart of man
can conceive, that the heart of man can inflict, that the heart of man
can endure, was poured into our cup, and we drained it to the dregs. Of
that saddest yet most potent time we shall record enough to show not
only what befell through our age of darkness, but also, so far as may
be, what miraculous intent underlay it, what promise the darkness
covered, of our future light; what golden rays of dawn were hidden in
our gloom.

Finally, from all our fiery trials we shall see the genius of our land
emerge, tried indeed by fire, yet having gained fire's purity; we shall
see that genius beginning, as yet with halting speech, to utter its most
marvelous secret of the soul of man. We shall try at least to gain clear
sight of our great destiny, and thereby of the like destiny of
universal man.

For we cannot doubt that what we have passed through, all men and all
nations either have passed through already, or are to pass through in
the time to come. There is but one divine law, one everlasting purpose
and destiny for us all. And if we see other nations now entering that
time of triumph which passed for us so long ago, that perfecting of the
natural man, with his valor and his song, we shall with fear and
reverence remember that before them also lie the dark centuries of fiery
trial; the long night of affliction, the vigils of humiliation and
suffering. The one Divine has not yet laid aside the cup that holds the
bitter draught,--the drinking of which comes ever before the final gift
of the waters of life. What we passed through, they shall pass through
also; what we suffered, they too shall suffer. Well will it be with them
if, like us, they survive the fierce trial, and rise from the fire
immortal, born again through sacrifice.

Therefore I see in Ireland a miraculous and divine history, a life and
destiny invisible, lying hid within her visible life. Like that
throbbing presence of the night which whispers along the hills, this
diviner whisper, this more miraculous and occult power, lurks in our
apparent life. From the very gray of her morning, the children of
Ireland were preoccupied with the invisible world; it was so in the
darkest hours of our oppression and desolation; driven from this world,
we took refuge in that; it was not the kingdom of heaven upon earth, but
the children of earth seeking a refuge in heaven. So the same note rings
and echoes through all our history; we live in the invisible world. If
I rightly understand our mission and our destiny, it is this: To restore
to other men the sense of that invisible; that world of our immortality;
as of old our race went forth carrying the Galilean Evangel. We shall
first learn, and then teach, that not with wealth can the soul of man be
satisfied; that our enduring interest is not here but there, in the
unseen, the hidden, the immortal, for whose purposes exist all the
visible beauties of the world. If this be our mission and our purpose,
well may our fair mysterious land deserve her name: Inis Fail, the Isle
of Destiny.



II.

THE GREAT STONE MONUMENTS.

Westward from Sligo--Town of the River of Shells--a tongue of land runs
toward the sea between two long bays. Where the two bays join their
waters, a mountain rises precipitous, its gray limestone rocks soaring
sheer upwards, rugged and formidable. Within the shadow of the mountain
is hidden a wonderful glen--a long tunnel between cliffs, densely arched
over with trees and fringed with ferns; even at midday full of a green
gloom. It is a fitting gateway to the beauty and mystery of
the mountain.

Slowly climbing by stony ways, the path reaches the summit, a rock table
crowned with a pyramid of loose boulders, heaped up in olden days as a
memorial of golden-haired Maeve. From the dead queen's pyramid a view of
surpassing grandeur and beauty opens over sea and land, mingled valley
and hill. The Atlantic stretches in illimitable blue, curved round the
rim of the sky, a darker mirror of the blue above. It is full of
throbbing silence and peace. Across blue fields of ocean, and facing
the noonday brightness of the sun, rise the tremendous cliffs of Slieve
League, gleaming with splendid colors through the shimmering air; broad
bands of amber and orange barred with deeper red; the blue weaves
beneath them and the green of the uplands above.

The vast amber wall rises out of the ocean, and passes eastward in a
golden band till it merges in the Donegal highlands with their
immeasurable blue. Sweeping round a wide bay, the land drawls nearer
again, the far-away blue darkening to purple, and then to green and
brown. The sky is cut by the outlines of the Leitrim and Sligo hills, a
row of rounded peaks against the blue, growing paler and more
translucent in the southern distance.

Under the sun, there is a white glinting of lakes away across the plain,
where brown and purple are blended with green in broad spaces of
mingling color. To the west the ground rises again into hills crowded
behind each other, sombre masses, for ages called the Mountains of
Storms. Far beyond them, vague as blue cloud-wreaths in the blue, are
the hills that guard our western ocean. From their sunset-verges the
land draws near again, in the long range of the Mayo cliffs,--fierce
walls of rock that bar the fiercer ocean from a wild world of
storm-swept uplands. The cliffs gradually lessen, and their colors grow
clearer, till they sink at last toward the sand-banks of Ballysadare,
divided from us only by a channel of shallow sea.

The whole colored circle of sea and land, of moor and mountain, is full
of the silence of intense and mighty power. The ocean is tremulous with
the breath of life. The mountains, in their stately beauty, rise like
immortals in the clear azure. The signs of our present works are dwarfed
to insignificance.

Everywhere within that wide world of hill and plain, and hardly less
ancient than the hills themselves, are strewn memorials of another world
that has vanished, sole survivors of a long-hidden past. A wordless
history is written there, in giant circles of stone and cromlechs of
piled blocks, so old that in a land of most venerable tradition their
very legend has vanished away.

Close under us lies Carrowmore, with its labyrinth of cromlechs and
stone circles, a very city of dead years. There is something
awe-inspiring in the mere massiveness of these piled and ordered stones,
the visible boundaries of invisible thoughts; that awe is deepened by
the feeling of the tremendous power lavished in bringing them here,
setting them up in their ordered groups, and piling the crowns of the
cromlechs on other only less gigantic stones; awe gives place to
overwhelming mystery when we can find no kinship to our own thoughts and
aims in their stately grouping. We are in presence of archaic purposes
recorded in a massive labyrinth, purposes darkly hidden from us in
the unknown.

There are circles of huge boulders ranged at equal distances, firmly set
upright in the earth. They loom vast, like beads of a giant necklace on
the velvet grass. There are cromlechs set alone--a single huge boulder
borne aloft in the air on three others of hardly less weight. There are
cromlechs set in the midst of titanic circles of stone, with lesser
boulders guarding the cromlechs closer at hand. There are circles beside
circles rising in their grayness, with the grass and heather carpeting
their aisles. There they rest in silence, with the mountain as their
companion, and, beyond the mountain, the ever-murmuring sea.

Thus they have kept their watch through long dark ages. When sunrise
reddens them, their shadows stretch westward in bars of darkness over
the burnished grass. From morning to midday the shadows shrink, ever
hiding from the sun; an army of wraiths, sprite-like able to grow
gigantic or draw together into mere blots of darkness. When day
declines, the shadows come forth again, joining ghostly hands from stone
to stone, from circle to circle, under the sunset sky, and merging at
last into the universal realm of night. Thus they weave their web,
inexorable as tireless Time.

There are more than threescore of these circles at Carrowmore, under
Knocknarea. Yet Carrowmore is only one among many memorials of dead
years within our horizon. At Abbey-quarter, within the town-limits of
Sligo itself, there is another great ring of boulders, the past and the
present mingling together. On the northern coast, across the Bay of
Sligo, where the headland of Streedagh juts forth into the sea, there is
another giant necklace of gray blocks ranged upon the moor. Farther
along the shore, where Bundoran marks the boundary of Donegal, a
cromlech and a stone circle rise among the sand-banks. All have the same
rugged and enduring massiveness, all are wrapped in the same mystery.

Eastward from Sligo, Lough Gill lies like a mirror framed in hills,
wreathed with dark green woods. On a hill-top north of the lake, in the
Deer-park, is a monument of quite other character--a great oblong
marked by pillared stones, like an open temple. At three points huge
stones are laid across from pillar to pillar. The whole enclosure was
doubtless so barred in days of old, a temple of open arches crowning the
summit of the hill. The great ruin by the lake keeps its secret well.

Another ring of giant stones rests on a hillside across the lake, under
the Cairn hill, with its pyramid crown. All these are within easy view
from our first vantage-point on Knocknarea, yet they are but the
outposts of an army which spreads everywhere throughout the land. They
are as common in wild and inaccessible places as on the open plain. Some
rise in lonely islands off the coast; others on the summits of
mountains; yet others in the midst of tilled fields. They bear no
relation at all to the land as it is to-day. The very dispersion of
these great stone monuments, scattered equally among places familiar or
wild, speaks of a remote past--a past when all places were alike wild,
or all alike familiar.

Where the gale-swept moors of Achill Island rise up toward the slope of
Slievemore Mountain, there are stone circles and cromlechs like the
circles of Carrowmore. The wild storms of the Atlantic rush past them,
and the breakers roar under their cliffs. The moorland round the
towering mountain is stained with ochre and iron under a carpet of
heather rough as the ocean winds.

Away to the south from Slievemore the horizon is broken by an army of
mountains, beginning with the Twelve Peaks of Connemara. Eastward of
these hills are spread the great Galway lakes; eastward of these a wide
expanse of plain. This is the famous Moytura of traditional history,
whose story we shall presently tell. Ages ago a decisive battle was
fought there; but ages before the battle, if we are not greatly misled,
the stone circles of the plain were already there. Tradition says that
these circles numbered seven in the beginning, but only two
remain unbroken.

Between Galway Bay and the wide estuary of the Shannon spread the
moorlands of Clare, bleak under Atlantic gales, with never a tree for
miles inward from the sea. Like a watch-tower above the moorlands stand.
Slieve Callan, the crown of the mountain abruptly shorn. Under the
shoulder of the great hill, with the rolling moorlands all about it,
stands a solitary cromlech; formed of huge flat stones, it was at first
a roomy chamber shut in on all four sides, and roofed by a single
enormous block; the ends have fallen, so that it is now an open tunnel
formed of three huge stones.

The coast runs southward from the Shannon to the strand of Tralee, the
frontier of the southern mountain world, where four ranges of red
sandstone thrust themselves forth towards the ocean, with long fiords
running inland between them. On a summit of the first of these red
ranges, Caherconree above Tralee strand, there is a stone circle,
massive, gigantic, dwelling in utter solitude.

We have recorded a few only out of many of these great stone monuments
strewn along our Atlantic coast, whether on moor or cliff or remote
mountain-top.

There are others as notable everywhere in the central plain, the
limestone world of lakes and rivers. On a green hill-crest overlooking
the network of inlets of Upper Erne there is a circle greater than any
we have recorded. The stones are very massive, some of them twice the
height of a tall man. To one who stands within the ring these huge
blocks of stone shut out the world; they loom large against the sky,
full of unspoken secrets like the Sphinx. Within this mighty ring the
circle of Stonehenge might be set, leaving a broad road all round it on
the grass.

From Fermanagh, where this huge circle is, we gain our best clue to the
age of all these monuments, everywhere so much like each other in their
massive form and dimensions, everywhere so like in their utter mystery.
Round the lakes of Erne there are wide expanses of peat, dug as fuel for
centuries, and in many places as much as twelve feet deep, on a bed of
clay, the waste of old glaciers. Though formed with incredible slowness,
this whole mass of peat has grown since some of the great stone
monuments were built; if we can tell the time thus taken for its growth
we know at least the nearer limit of the time that divides us from
their builders.

Like a tree, the peat has its time of growth and its time of rest.
Spring covers it with green, winter sees it brown and dead. Thus thin
layers are spread over it, a layer for a year, and it steadily gains in
thickness with the passing of the years. The deeper levels are buried
and pressed down, slowly growing firm and rigid, but still keeping the
marks of the layers that make them up. It is like a dry ocean gradually
submerging the land. Gathering round the great stone circles as they
stand on the clay, this black sea has risen slowly but surely, till at
last it has covered them with its dark waves, and they rest in the
quiet depths, with a green foam of spring freshness far above
their heads.

At Killee and Breagho, near Enniskillen, the peat has once more been cut
away, restoring some of these great stones to the light. If we count the
layers and measure the thickness of the peat, we can tell how many years
are represented by its growth. We can, therefore, tell that the great
stone circle, which the first growth of peat found already there, must
be at least as old, and may be indefinitely older. By careful count it
is found that one foot of black peat is made up of eight hundred layers;
eight hundred summers and eight hundred winters went to the building of
it. One foot of black peat, therefore, will measure the time from before
the founding of Rome or the First Olympiad to the beginning of our era.
Another foot will bring us to the crowning of Charlemagne. Yet another,
to the death of Shakespeare and Cervantes. Since then, only a few inches
have been added. Here is a chronometer worthy of our great cromlechs and
stone circles.

Some of these, as we saw, rest on the clay, with a sea of peat twelve
feet deep around and above them. Every foot of the peat stands for eight
centuries. Since the peat began to form, eight or ten thousand years
have passed, and when that vast period began, the great monuments of
stone were already there. How long they had stood in their silence
before our chronometer began to run we cannot even guess.

At Cavancarragh, on the shoulder of Toppid Mountain, some four miles
from Enniskillen, there is one of these circles; a ring of huge stone
boulders with equal spaces between stone and stone. A four-fold avenue
of great blocks stretches away from it along the shoulder of the hill,
ending quite abruptly at the edge of a ravine, the steep channel of a
torrent. It looks as if the river, gradually undermining the hillside,
had cut the avenue in halves, so that the ravine seems later in date
than the stones. But that we cannot be quite sure of. This, however, we
do certainly know: that since the avenue of boulders and the circle of
huge red stones were ranged in order, a covering of peat in some parts
twelve feet thick has grown around and above them, hiding them at last
altogether from the day. In places the peat has been cut away again,
leaving the stones once more open to the light, standing, as they always
stood, on the surface of the clay.

Here again we get the same measurement. At eight hundred annual layers
to the foot, and with twelve feet of peat, we have nine thousand six
hundred years,--not for the age of the stone circles, but for that part
of their age which we are able to measure. For we know not how long they
were there before the peat began to grow. It may have been a few years;
it may have been a period as great or even greater than the ten thousand
years we are able to measure.

The peat gradually displaced an early forest of giant oaks. Their stems
are still there, standing rooted in the older clay. Where they once
stood no trees now grow. The whole face of the land has changed. Some
great change of climate must lie behind this vanishing of vast forests,
this gradual growth of peat-covered moors. A dry climate must have
changed to one much damper; heat must have changed to cold, warm winds
to chilly storms. In the southern promontories, among red sandstone
hills, still linger survivors of that more genial clime--groves of
arbutus that speak of Greece or Sicily; ferns, as at Killarney, found
elsewhere only in the south, in Portugal, or the Canary Islands.

[Illustration: Muckross Abbey, Killarney.]

On the southwestern horizon from Toppid Mountain, when the sky is clear
after rain, you can trace the outline of the Curlew hills, our
southern limit of view from Knocknarea. Up to the foot of the hills
spreads a level country of pastures dappled with lakes, broken into a
thousand fantastic inlets by the wasting of the limestone rock. The
daisies are the stars in that green sky. Just beyond the young stream of
the Shannon, where it links Lough Garra to Lough Key, there is a lonely
cromlech, whose tremendous crown was once upheld by five massive
pillars. There is a kindred wildness and mystery in the cromlech and the
lonely hills.

Southward again of this, where the town of Lough Rea takes its name from
the Gray Lake, stands a high hill crowned by a cromlech, with an
encircling earthwork. It marks a green ring of sacred ground alone upon
the hill-top, shut off from all the world, and with the mysterious
monument of piled stones in its centre; here, as always, one huge block
upheld in the air by only lesser blocks. The Gray Lake itself, under
this strange sentry on the hill, was in long-passed ages a little
Venice; houses built on piles lined its shores, set far enough out into
the lake for safety, ever ready to ward off attack from the land. This
miniature Venice of Lough Rea is the type of a whole epoch of turbulent
tribal war, when homes were everywhere clustered within the defence of
the waters, with stores laid up to last the rigors of a siege.

The contrast between the insecurity and peril of the old lake dwellings
and the present safety of the town, open on all sides, unguarded and
free from fear, is very marked. But not less complete is the contrast
between the ancient hamlet, thus hidden for security amid the waters,
and the great cromlech, looming black against the sky on the hill's
summit, exposed to the wildness of the winds, utterly unguarded, yet
resting there in lonely serenity.

A little farther south, Lough Gur lies like a white mirror among the
rolling pasture-lands of Limerick, set amongst low hills. On the lake's
shore is another metropolis of the dead, worthy to compare with
Carrowmore on the Sligo headland. Some of the circles here are not
formed of single stones set at some distance from each other, but of a
continuous wall of great blocks crowded edge to edge. They are like
round temples open to the sky, and within one of these unbroken rings is
a lesser ring like an inner shrine. All round the lake there are like
memorials--if we can call memorials these mighty groups of stone, which
only remind us how much we have forgotten. There are huge circles of
blocks either set close together or with an equal space dividing boulder
from boulder; some of the giant circles are grouped together in twos and
threes, others are isolated; one has its centre marked by a single
enormous block, while another like block stands farther off in lonely
vastness. Here also stands a chambered cromlech of four huge flat blocks
roofed over like the cromlech under Slieve Callan across the
Shannon mouth.

The southern horizon from Lough Gur is broken by the hills of red
sandstone rising around Glanworth. Beside the stream, a tributary of the
Blackwater, a huge red cromlech rises over the greenness of the meadows
like a belated mammoth in its uncouth might. To the southwest, under the
red hills that guard Killarney on the south, the Sullane River flows
towards the Lee. On its bank is another cromlech of red sandstone
blocks, twin-brother to the Glanworth pile. Beyond it the road passes
towards the sunset through mountain-shadowed glens, coming out at last
where Kenmare River opens into a splendid fiord towards the Atlantic
Ocean. At Kenmare, in a vale of perfect beauty green with groves of
arbutus and fringed with thickets of fuchsia, stands a great stone
circle, the last we shall record to the south. Like all the rest, it
speaks of tremendous power, of unworldly and mysterious ends.

The very antiquity of these huge stone circles suggests an affinity with
the revolving years. And here, perhaps, we may find a clue to their
building. They may have been destined to record great Time itself, great
Time that circles forever through the circling years. There is first the
year to be recorded, with its revolving days; white winter gleaming into
spring; summer reddening and fading to autumn. Returning winter tells
that the year has gone full circle; the sun among the stars gives the
definite measure of the days. A ring of thirty-six great boulders, set
ten paces apart, would give the measure of the year in days; and of
circles like this there are more than one.

In this endless ring of days the moon is the measurer, marking the hours
and weeks upon the blue belt of night studded with golden stars. Moving
stealthily among the stars, the moon presently changes her place by a
distance equal to her own breadth; we call the time this takes an hour.
From her rising to her setting, she gains her own breadth twelve times;
therefore, the night and the day are divided each into twelve hours.
Meanwhile she grows from crescent to full disk, to wane again to a
sickle of light, and presently to lose herself in darkness at new moon.
From full moon to full moon, or from one new moon to another, the
nearest even measure is thirty days; a circle of thirty stones would
record this, as the larger circle of thirty-six recorded the solar year.
In three years there are thrice twelve full moons, with one added; a
ring of thirty-seven stones representing this would show the simplest
relation between sun and moon.

The moon, as we saw, stealthily glides among the fixed stars, gaining
her own width every hour. Passing thus along the mid belt of the sphere,
she makes the complete circuit in twenty-seven days, returning to the
same point among the stars, or, if it should so happen, to the same
star, within that time. Because the earth has meanwhile moved forward,
the moon needs three days more to overtake it and gain the same relative
position towards earth and sun, thus growing full again, not after
twenty-seven, but after thirty days. Circles of twenty-seven and thirty
days would stand for these lunar epochs, and would, for those who
understood them, further bear testimony to the earth's movement in its
own great path around the sun. Thus would rings of varying numbers mark
the measures of time; and not these only, but the great sweep of orbs
engendering them, the triumphal march of the spheres through pathless
ether. The life of our own world would thus be shown bound up with the
lives of others in ceaseless, ever-widening circles, that lead us to the
Infinite, the Eternal.

All the cromlechs and circles we have thus far recorded are in the
western half of our land; there are as many, as worthy of note, in the
eastern half. But as before we can only pick out a few. One of these
crowns the volcanic peak of Brandon Hill, in Kilkenny, dividing the
valleys of the Barrow and Nore. From the mountain-top you can trace the
silver lines of the rivers coming together to the south, and flowing
onward to the widening inlet of Wexford harbor, where they mingle with
the waters of the River Suir. On the summit of Brandon Hill stands a
great stone circle, a ring of huge basalt blocks dominating the rich
valleys and the surrounding plain.

In Glen Druid of the Dublin hills is a cromlech whose granite crown
weighs seventy tons. Not far off is the Mount Venus cromlech, the
covering block of which is even more titanic; it is a single stone
eighty tons in weight. Near Killternan village, a short distance off, is
yet another cromlech whose top-most boulder exceeds both of these,
weighing not less than ninety tons. Yet vast as all these are, they are
outstripped by the cromlech of Howth, whose upper block is twenty feet
square and eight feet thick, a single enormous boulder one hundred tons
in weight. This huge stone was borne in the air upon twelve massive
pillars of quartz, seven feet above the ground, so that a man of average
height standing on the ground and reaching upward could just touch the
under surface of the block with his finger-tips. Even a tall man
standing on the shoulders of another as tall would quite fail to touch
the upper edge of the stone. If we give this marvelous monument the same
age as the Fermanagh circles, as we well may, this raising of a single
boulder of one hundred tons, and balancing it in the air on the crest of
massive pillars may give us some insight into the engineering skill of
the men of ten thousand years ago.

Across the central plain from Howth Head the first break is the range of
Loughcrew hills. Here are great stone circles in numbers, not standing
alone like so many others, but encompassing still stranger monuments;
chambered pyramids of boulders, to which we shall later return. They
are lesser models of the three great pyramids of Brugh on the Boyne,
where the river sweeps southward in a long curve, half-encircling a
headland of holy ground.

From near Howth to the Boyne and north of it, the coast is low and flat;
sandhills matted with bent-grass and starred with red thyme and tiny
pansies, yellow and purple and blue. Low tide carries the sea almost to
the horizon, across a vast wilderness of dripping sand where the gulls
chatter as they wade among the pools. Where the shore rises again
towards the Carlingford Mountains, another cromlech stands under the
shadow of granite hills.

A long fiord with wooded walls divides the Carlingford range from the
mountains of Mourne. The great dark range thrusts itself forth against
the sea in somber beauty, overhanging the wide strand of Dundrum Bay.
The lesser bay, across whose bar the sea moans under the storm-winds, is
dominated by the hill of Rudraige, named in honor of a hero of old days;
but under the shadow of the hill stands a more ancient monument, that
was gray with age before the race of Rudraige was born. On five pillars
of massive stone is upreared a sixth, of huge and formidable bulk, and
carrying even to us in our day a sense of mystery and might. The potent
atmosphere of a hidden past still breathes from it, whispering of
vanished years, vanished races, vanished secrets of the prime.

There are two circles of enormous stones on the tongue of land between
Dundrum Bay and Strangford, both very perfect and marked each in its own
way from among the rest. The first, at Legamaddy, has every huge boulder
still in place. There is a lesser ring of stones within the first
circle, with many outliers, of enormous size, dotted among the fields.
It looks as if a herd of huge animals of the early world had come
together in a circle for the night, the young being kept for safety
within their ring, while others, grazing longer or wandering farther
from the rest, were approaching the main herd. But nightfall coming upon
them with dire magic turned them all to stone; and there they remain,
sentient, yet motionless, awaiting the day of their release. By fancies
like this we may convey the feeling of mystery breathing from them.

On the hill-top of Slieve-na-griddle is another circle of the same
enormous boulders. A cromlech is piled in the midst of it, and an avenue
of stones leads up to the circle. Its form is that of many circles with
enclosed cromlechs at Carrowmore, though in these the avenue is missing.
The thought that underlies them is the same, though they are separated
by the whole width of the land; a single cult with a single ideal
prompted the erection of both.

At Drumbo, on the east bank of the Lagan before it reaches Belfast
Lough, there is a massive cromlech surrounded by a wide ring of earth
piled up high enough to cut off the sacred space within from all view of
the outer world. Like the earthwork round the cromlech of Lough Rea, it
marks the boundary of a great nature temple, open to the sky but shut
off from mankind. Even now its very atmosphere breathes reverence.

At Finvoy, in northern Antrim, among the meadows of the Bann, there is a
cromlech within a great stone circle like that on Slieve-na-griddle in
Down, and like many of the Carrowmore rings. The Black Lion cromlech in
Cavan is encircled with a like ring of boulders, and another cromlech
not far off rivals some of the largest in the immense size of its
crowning block.

Three cromlechs in the same limestone plain add something to the mystery
that overhangs all the rest. The first, at Lennan in Monaghan, is marked
with a curious cryptic design, suggesting a clue, yet yielding none.
There is a like script on the cromlech at Castlederg in Tyrone, if
indeed the markings were ever the record of some thought to be
remembered, and not mere ornament. The chambered cromlech of Lisbellaw
in Fermanagh has like markings; they are too similar to be quite
independent, yet almost too simple to contain a recorded thought.

We come once more to Donegal. On the hill-top of Beltaney, near Raphoe,
there is a very massive circle formed of sixty-seven huge blocks. Here
again the Stonehenge ring might be set up within the Irish circle,
leaving an avenue eight paces wide all round it. The sacred fire was
formerly kindled here to mark the birth of Spring. The name of the old
festival of Beltane still lingers on the hill. At Culdaff in north
Donegal, at the end of the Inishowen peninsula, stands another great
stone circle, with which we must close our survey of these titanic
monuments.

We have mentioned a few only among many; yet enough to show their
presence everywhere throughout the land, in the valleys or on mountain
summits, in the midst of pastures or on lonely and rugged isles. One
group, as we have seen, cannot be younger than ten thousand years, and
may be far older. The others may be well coeval. Their magnitude, their
ordered ranks, their universal presence, are a startling revelation of
the material powers of the men of that remote age; they are a testimony,
not less wonderful, of the moral force which dedicated so much power to
ideal ends. Finally, they are a monument to remind us how little we yet
know of the real history of our race.



III.

THE CROMLECH BUILDERS.

In every district of Ireland, therefore, there remain these tremendous
and solemn survivors of a mighty past. The cromlechs, with their
enormous masses upheld in the air, rising among the fertile fields or
daisy-dotted pastures; the great circles of standing stones, starred
everywhere, in the valleys or upon the uplands, along the rough sides of
heather-covered hills. They have everywhere the same aspect of august
mystery, the same brooding presence, like sentinels of another world. It
is impossible not to feel their overshadowing majesty. Everywhere they
follow the same designs in large simplicity; inspired by the same
purpose, and with the same tireless might overcoming the tremendous
obstacles of their erection; they are devoted everywhere not to material
and earthly ends, but to the ideal purposes of the invisible and
everlasting, linked with the hidden life of those who pass away from us
through the gates of death.

Can we find any clue to the builders of these grand and enduring
memorials, the conditions of their building, the age of our land to
which they belong? If we wisely use the abundant knowledge of the past
already in our possession, there is good reason to believe we can,
establishing much with entire certainty and divining more.

The standing stones and cromlechs, as we know, are everywhere spread
over Ireland, so that it is probable that throughout the whole country
one is never out of sight of one of these solemn monuments. Their
uniform and universal presence shows, therefore, a uniform race dwelling
everywhere within the four seas, a universal stability and order,
allowing such great and enduring works to be undertaken and completed.
We must believe, too, that the builders of these giant stone monuments
were dominant throughout the land, possessing entire power over the
labor of thousands everywhere; and even then the raising of these
titanic masses is almost miraculous.

But the history of the standing stones and cromlechs is not a page of
Irish history only, nor can we limit to our own isle the presence of
their builders, the conditions of dominion and order under which alone
they could have been raised. We shall gain our first trustworthy clue
by tracing the limits of the larger territory, beyond our island, where
these same gray memorials are found.

[Illustration: Brandy Island, Glengarriff.]

The limits of the region in which alone we find these piles and circles
of enormous stones are clearly and sharply defined, though this region
itself is of immense and imposing extent. It is divided naturally into
two provinces, both starting from a point somewhere in the neighborhood
of Gibraltar or Mount Atlas, and spreading thence over a territory of
hundreds of miles.

The southern cromlech province, beginning at the Strait of Gibraltar,
extends eastward along the African coast past Algiers to the headland of
Tunis, where Carthage stood, at a date far later than the age of
cromlechs. Were it not for the flaming southern sun, the scorched sands,
the palms, the shimmering torrid air, we might believe these Algerian
megaliths belonged to our own land, so perfect is the resemblance, so
uniform the design, so identical the inspiration. The same huge
boulders, oblong or egg-shaped, formidable, impressive, are raised aloft
on massive supporting stones; there are the same circles of stones
hardly less gigantic, with the same mysterious faces, the same silent
solemnity. Following this line, we find them again in Minorca, Sardinia
and Malta; everywhere under warm blue skies, in lands of olives and
trailing vines, with the peacock-blue of the Mediterranean waves
twinkling beneath them. Northward from Minorca, but still in our
southern cromlech province, we find them in southeastern Spain, in the
region of New Carthage, but far older than the oldest trace of that
ancient city. In lesser numbers they follow the Spanish coast up towards
the Ebro, through vinelands and lands of figs, everywhere under summer
skies. This province, therefore, our southern cromlech province, covers
most of the western Mediterranean; it does not cover, nor even approach,
Italy or Greece or Egypt, the historic Mediterranean lands. We must look
for its origin in the opposite direction--towards Gibraltar, the Pillars
of Hercules.

From the same point, the Pillars of Hercules, begins our second or
northern cromlech region, even larger and more extensive than the first,
though hardly richer in titanic memorials. From Gibraltar, the cromlech
region passes northward, covering Portugal and western Spain; indeed, it
probably merges in the other province to the eastward, the two including
all Spain between them. From northern Spain, turning the flank of the
giant Pyrenees at Fontarrabia, the cromlech region goes northward and
ever northward, along the Atlantic coast of France, spreading eastward
also through the central provinces, covering the mountains of the Côte
d'Or and the Cevennes, but nowhere entering north Italy or Germany,
which limit France to the east. There is a tremendous culmination of the
huge stone monuments on the capes and headlands of Brittany, where
France thrusts herself forward against the Atlantic, centring in Carnac,
the metropolis of a bygone world. Nowhere are there greater riches of
titanic stone, in circles, in cromlechs, in ranged avenues like huge
frozen armies or ordered hosts of sleeping elephants. From Brittany we
pass to Ireland, whose wealth, inherited from dead ages, we have already
inventoried, and Britain, where the same monuments reappear. More
numerous to the south and west, they yet spread all over Britain,
including remote northern Scotland and the Western Isles. Finally, there
is a streamer stretching still northeastward, to Norway and some of the
Baltic Islands.

We are, therefore, confronted with the visible and enduring evidence of
a mighty people, spreading in two main directions from the Pillars of
Hercules--eastward through Gibraltar Strait to sunny Algeria, to
southern Spain and the Mediterranean isles; and northward, along the
stormy shores of the Atlantic, from within sight of Africa almost to the
Arctic Circle, across Spain, Portugal, France, Ireland, Britain, and the
lands of the Baltic and the North Sea. Throughout this vast territory
there must have been a common people, a common purpose and inspiration,
a common striving towards the hidden world; there must have been long
ages of order, of power, of peace, during which men's hearts could
conceive and their hands execute memorials so vast, so evidently meant
to endure to a far distant future, so clearly destined to ideal ends.
There must have been a great spiritual purpose, a living belief in the
invisible world, and a large practical power over natural forces, before
these huge monuments could be erected. Some of the stones upheld in the
air in the Irish cromlechs weigh eighty or ninety or a hundred tons. If
we estimate that a well-built man can lift two hundred pounds, it would
demand the simultaneous work of a thousand men to erect them; and it is
at least difficult to see how the effort of a thousand men could
be applied.

We are led, therefore, by evidence of the solidest material reality to
see this great empire on the Atlantic and along the western
Mediterranean; this Atlantean land of the cromlech-builders, as we may
call it, for want of a better name. As the thought and purpose of its
inhabitants are uniform throughout its whole vast extent, we are led to
see in them a single homogeneous race, working without rivals, without
obstacles, without contests, for they seem everywhere to have been free
to choose what sites they would for their gigantic structures. And we
are irresistibly led to believe that these conditions must have endured
throughout a vast extent of time, for no nation which does not look back
to a distant past will plan for a distant future. The spiritual sweep
and view of the cromlech-builders are, therefore, as great as the extent
of their territory. This mysterious people must have had a life as
wonderful as that of Greece or Rome or Egypt, whose territories we find
them everywhere approaching, but nowhere invading.

What we now know of the past history of our race is so vast, so
incredibly enormous, that we have ample space for such a territory, so
widespread, so enduring, as we have seen demanded by the position of the
cromlechs and standing stones; more than that, so overwhelming are the
distances in the dark backward and abysm of time, to which we must now
carry the dawn of human history, that the time needed for the building
of the cromlechs may seem quite recent and insignificant, in view of the
mightier past, stretching back through geologic ages. The nineteenth
century may well be called the age of resurrection, when long-forgotten
epochs of man were born again into our knowledge. We can carry back that
knowledge now to the early Miocene period, to which belong the human
relics found by the Abbé Bourgeois on the uplands of Thenay, in central
France; and no one believes that the early Miocene age can be as recent
as a million years ago. A vast space separates the Thenay relics from
the later traces of man found in Pliocene sands with the bones of the
archaic meridional elephant,--at a date when the German ocean was a
forest, full of southern trees and huge beasts now long since departed
from the earth. A period hardly less vast must separate these from the
close of the glacial age, when man roamed the plains of Europe, and
sketched the herds of mammoths as they cropped the leaves. That huge
beast, too, has long since departed into the abyss; but man the artist,
who recorded the massive outline, the huge bossed forehead, the
formidable bulk of the shaggy arctic elephant, engraved in firm lines on
a fragment of its tusk,--man still remains. Man was present when
rhinoceros and elephant were as common in Britain as they are to-day in
Southern India or Borneo; when the hippopotamus was as much at home in
the waters of the Thames as in the Nile and Niger; when huge bears like
the grizzly of the Rockies, cave-lions and sabre-toothed tigers lurked
in Devon caverns or chased the bison over the hills of Kent. Yet this
epoch of huge and ferocious monsters, following upon the Age of Ice, is
a recent chapter of the great epic of man; there lies far more behind
it, beyond the Age of Ice to the immensely distant Pliocene; beyond this
as far as the early Miocene; beyond this, again, how much further we
know not, towards the beginningless beginning, the infinite.

We are, therefore, face to face with an ordered series of almost
boundless ages, geologic epochs of human history succeeding each other
in majestic procession, as the face of our island was now tropical, now
arctic; as the seas swelled up and covered the hills, or the bottom of
the deep drove back the ocean and became dry land, an unbroken
continent. The wild dreams of romance never approached the splendid
outlines of this certain history.

There are dim outlines of man throughout all these ages, but only at a
comparatively recent date have we traditions and evidence pointing to
still surviving races. At a period of only a few thousand years ago, we
begin to catch glimpses of a northern race whom the old Greeks and
Romans called Hyperboreans or Far-Northerners; a race wild and little
skilled in the arts of life; a race of small stature, slight, dusky,
with piercing eyes, low brows, and of forbidding face. This race was
scattered over lands far north of the Mediterranean, dwelling in caves
and dens of the earth, and lingering on unchanged from the days of
mammoth and cave-bear. We have slight but definite knowledge of this
very ancient race--enough to show us that its peculiar type lingers to
this day in a few remote islands on the Galway and Kerry coast, mingled
with many later races. This type we find described in old Gaelic records
as the Firbolgs, a race weak and furtive, dusky and keen-eyed, subjected
by later races of greater force. Yet from this race, as if to show the
inherent and equal power of the soul, came holy saints and mighty
warriors; to the old race of the Firbolgs belong Saint Mansuy, apostle
of Belgium, and Roderick O'Conor, the last king of united Ireland. In
gloomy mountain glens and lonely ocean islands still it lingers,
unvanquished, tenacious, obscurely working out its secret destiny.

This slight and low-browed race, of dark or sallow visage, and with
black crisp hair, this Hyperborean people, is the oldest we can gain a
clear view of in our island's history; but we know nothing of its
extension or powers which would warrant us in believing that this was
the race which built the cromlechs. Greek and Roman tradition, in this
only corroborating the actual traces we ourselves possess of these old
races, tells us of another people many thousand years ago overrunning
and dominating the Firbolgs; a race of taller stature, of handsome
features, though also dark, but with softer black hair, not crisp and
tufted like the hair of the dwarfish earlier race. Of this second
conquering race, tall and handsome, we have abundant traces, gathered
from many lands where they dwelt; bodies preserved by art or nature, in
caverns or sepulchres of stone; ornaments, pottery, works decorative and
useful, and covering several thousand years in succession. But better
than this, we have present, through nearly every land where we know of
them in the past, a living remnant of this ancient race, like it in
every particular of stature, form, complexion and visage, identical in
character and temper, tendency and type of mind.

In Ireland we find this tall, dark race over all the west of the island,
but most numerous in Kerry, Clare, Galway and Mayo; in those regions
where, we know, the older population was least disturbed. In remote
villages among the mountains, reached by bridle-paths between
heath-covered hills; in the settlements of fishermen, under some cliff
or in the sheltered nook of one of our great western bays; or among the
lonely, little visited Atlantic islands, this dark, handsome race, with
its black hair, dark-brown eyes, sallow skin and high forehead, still
holds its own, as a second layer above the remnant of the far more
ancient Firbolg Hyperboreans. We find the same race also among the
Donegal highlands, here and there in the central plain or in the south,
and nowhere entirely missing among the varied races towards the
eastern sea.

[Illustration: Sugar Loaf Mountain, Glengarriff.]

But it is by no means in Ireland only that this tall, dark, western race
is found. It is numerously represented in the nearest extension of the
continent, among the headlands and bays and isles of Brittany--a land so
like our own western seaboard, with its wild Atlantic storms.
Following the ocean southward, we find the same race extending to the
Loire, the Garonne, the Pyrenees; stretching somewhat inland also, but
clinging everywhere to the Atlantic, as we also saw it cling in Ireland.
In earlier centuries, long before our era opened, we find this same race
spread far to the east,--as far, almost, as the German and Italian
frontier,--so that at one time it held almost complete possession of
France. South of the Pyrenees we find it once more; dominant in
Portugal, less strongly represented in Spain, yet still supplying a
considerable part of the population of the whole peninsula, as it does
in Ireland at the present day. But it does not stop with Spain, or even
Europe. We find the same race again in the Guanches of the Canary
islands, off the African coast; and, stranger still, we find mummies of
this race, of great antiquity, in the cave-tombs of Teneriffe. Further,
we have ample evidence of its presence, until displaced by Moorish
invaders, all along northern Africa as far as Tunis; and we come across
it again amongst the living races in the Mediterranean isles, in
Sardinia, Sicily and Southern Italy. Finally, the Tuaregs of the Central
Sahara belong to the same type. Everywhere the same tall, dark race,
handsome, imaginative; with a quite definite form of head, of brow, of
eyes; a well-marked character of visage, complexion, and texture
of hair.

Thus far the southern extension of this, our second Irish race; we may
look for a moment at its distribution in the north. Across the shallow
sea which separates us from Britain we find the same race, clinging
always to the Atlantic seaboard. It dominates south Wales, where its
presence was remarked and commented on by the invading Romans. It is
present elsewhere through the Welsh mountains, and much more sparsely
over the east of England; but we have ample evidence that at one time
this tall, dark race held the whole of England in undisputed possession,
except, perhaps, for a remnant of the Hyperborean dwarfs. In the west of
Scotland, and especially in the Western Isles, it is once more numerous;
and we find offshoots of the same race in the dark-haired
Norwegians,--still holding to the seaboard of the Atlantic.

Such is the distribution of this once dominant but now dwindled race,
which has gradually descended from the summit of power as ancient Rome
descended, as Greece descended, or Assyria or Egypt. But we can look
back with certainty to a time when this race, and this race only, held
complete possession of all the lands we have mentioned, in north or
south, in Europe or northern Africa; holding everywhere to the Atlantic
coast, or, as in the Mediterranean isles, evidently pressing inward from
the Atlantic, past the Pillars of Hercules, through the Strait of
Gibraltar.

It is evident at once that the territory of this race corresponds
exactly, throughout many countries, with the territory of the cromlechs
and standing stones; where we find the one, as in Ireland, Brittany,
Spain, we find the other; where the one is absent, as in Germany, or
northern Italy or Greece, the other is likewise absent. The identity is
complete. We are justified, therefore, in giving the same provisional
name to both, and calling them Atlantean, from their evident origin not
far from Atlas, and their everywhere clinging to the Atlantic coast. We
can find traces of no other race which at all closely fulfills the
necessary conditions of uniform and undisputed extension, through a long
epoch, over the whole cromlech region--the only conditions under which
we can conceive of the erection of these gigantic monuments, or of the
long established and universally extended spiritual conditions which
make possible such vast ideal enterprises.

In this race, therefore, which we have called Atlantean, we find the
conditions fulfilled; of this race, and of no other, we still find a
lingering remnant in each of the cromlech countries; and we hardly find
a trace of this race, either now or in the past, in the lands which have
no cromlechs or standing stones.

We have already seen that the standing stones of Cavancarragh, four
miles from Fermanagh, were, within the memory of men still living or of
their fathers, buried under ten or twelve feet of peat, which had
evidently formed there after their erection. We have here a natural
chronometer; for we know the rate at which peat forms, and we can,
therefore, assign a certain age to a given depth. We have given one mode
of reckoning already; we find it corroborated by another. In the Somme
valley, in northern France, we have a Nature's timepiece; in the peat,
at different levels, are relics of the Roman age; of the Gaulish age
which preceded it; and, far deeper, of pre-historic races, like our
Atlanteans, who preceded the Gauls. The date of the Roman remains we
know accurately; and from this standard we find that the peat grows
regularly some three centimeters a century, or a foot in a
thousand years.

On the mountain side, as at Cavancarragh, the growth is likely to be
slower than in a river valley; yet we may take the same rate, a foot a
thousand years, and we shall have, for this great stone circle, an
antiquity of ten or twelve thousand years at least. This assumes that
the peat began to form as soon as the monument was completed; but the
contrary may be the case; centuries may have intervened.

We may, however, take this as a provisional date, and say that our
cromlech epoch, the epoch of the Atlantean builders, from Algeria to
Ireland, from Ireland to the Baltic, is ten or twelve thousand years
ago; extending, perhaps, much further back in the past, and in certain
regions coming much further down towards the present, but having a
period of twelve thousand years ago as its central date. It happens that
we have traditions of a great dispersion from the very centre we have
been led to fix, the neighborhood of Atlas or Gibraltar, and that to
this dispersion tradition has given a date over eleven thousand years
ago; but to this side of the subject we cannot more fully allude; it
would take us too far afield.

We have gone far enough to make it tolerably certain, first, that these
great and wonderful monuments were built when uniform conditions of
order, uniform religious beliefs and aspirations, and a uniform mastery
over natural forces extended throughout a vast region spreading
northward and eastward from Mount Atlas or Gibraltar; we have seen,
next, that these conditions were furnished when a well-defined race,
whom we have called Atlantean, was spread as the dominant element over
this whole region; and, finally, we have seen reason to fix on a period
some eleven or twelve thousand years ago as the central period of that
domination, though it may have begun, and probably did begin, many
centuries earlier. The distribution of the cromlechs is certain; the
distribution of the race is certain; the age of one characteristic group
of the monuments is certain. Further than this we need not go.

When we try to form a clearer image of the life of this tall archaic
race of cromlech-builders, we can divine very much to fill the picture.
We note, to begin with, that not only do they always hold to the
Atlantic ocean as something kindred and familiar, but that they are
found everywhere in islands at such distances from the nearest coasts as
would demand a certain seamanship for their arrival. This is true of
their presence in Malta, Minorca, Sardinia; it is even more true of
Ireland, the Western Isles of Scotland, the Norwegian Isles; all of
which are surrounded by stormy and treacherous seas, where wrecks are
very common even in our day. We must believe that our tail, dark
invaders were a race of seamen, thoroughly skilled in the dangerous
navigation of these dark seas; Caesar marveled at, and imitated, the
ship-building of the natives of Brittany in his day; we equally admire
the prowess of their sons, the Breton fishermen, in our own times. We
find, too, that in the western districts and ocean islands of our own
Ireland the tall, dark race often follows the sea, showing the same
hereditary skill and daring; a skill which certainly marked the first
invaders of that race, or they would never have reached our island at
all. We are the more justified in seeing, in these dark
cromlech-builders, the Fomorians of old Gaelic tradition, who came up
out of the sea and subjugated the Firbolgs.

Even to those familiar with the geological record of man it is
sufficiently startling to find that the Firbolgs, the early dwarfish
race of Hyperboreans, in all probability were ignorant of boats; that
they almost certainly came to our island dry-shod, as they had come
earlier to Britain, migrating over unbroken spaces of land to what
afterwards became the isle of Erin; for this race we find everywhere
associated with the mammoth--on the continent, in Britain, in our own
island--and the mammoths certainly never came over in ships. Needless to
say, there is abundant geological evidence as well, to show our former
union with continental Europe,--though of course at a time immensely
more remote than ten or twelve thousand years ago.

We are, therefore, led to identify our Atlantean race of hardy seamen
with the Fomorians who came up out of the sea and found the furtive
Firbolgs in possession of our island; and to this race, the Fomorians of
the sea, we credit the building of cromlechs and standing stones, not
only among ourselves, but in Norway, in Britain, in Brittany, in Spain,
in Africa.

We shall presently pick up the thread of tradition, as we find it in
Ireland, and try to follow the doings and life of the Fomorian invaders;
but in the meantime we may try to gain some insight into the most
mysterious and enduring of their works. The cromlechs which have been
excavated in many cases are found to contain the funereal urns of a
people who burned their dead. It does not follow that their first and
only use was as tombs; but if we think of them as tombs only, we must
the more marvel at the faith of the builders, and their firm belief in
the reality and overwhelming import of the other world which we enter at
death. For of dwellings for the living, of fortresses or storehouses, of
defences against the foes who later invaded them, we find few traces;
nothing at all to compare with their massive mausoleums. The other
world, for them, was a far weightier concern than this, and to the
purposes of that world, as they conceived it, all their energies were
directed. We can hardly doubt that, like other races who pay extreme
reverence to the dead, their inner vision beheld these departed ones
still around them and among them, forming with them a single race, a
single family, a single life. This world was for them only the threshold
of the other, the place of preparation. To that other their thoughts all
turned, for that other they raised these titanic buildings. The solemn
masses and simple grandeur of the cromlechs fitly symbolize the mood of
reverence in which they drew near to the sublime world of the hidden;
the awe with which their handiwork affirmed how greatly that world
outweighs this. At these houses of the dead they were joined in spirit
and communion with those who had passed away; once more united with
their fathers and their fathers' fathers, from the dim beginning of
their race. The air, for them, was full of spirits. Only the dead
truly lived.

The circles of standing stones are also devoted to ideal ends. Though
the men who set them up could have built not less wonderful forts or
dwellings of stone, we find none of these; nor has any worldly purpose
ever been assigned to the stone circles. Yet there seems to be a very
simple interpretation of their symbology; the circle, through all
antiquity, stood for the circling year, which ever returns to its point
of departure, spring repeating spring, summer answering to summer,
winter with its icy winds only the return of former winters: the
circling year and its landmarks, whether four seasons, or twelve months,
or twenty-seven lunar mansions, through one of which the wandering moon
passes in a day. We should thus have circles of twelve or twenty-seven
stones, or four outlying stones at equal distances, for the four
seasons, the regents of the year. By counting the stones in each circle
we can tell to which division of the year they belonged, whether the
solar months or the lunar mansions.

But with all ancient nations the cycle of the year was only the symbol
of the spiritual cycle of the soul, the path of birth and death. We
must remember that even for ourselves the same symbolism holds: in the
winter we celebrate the Incarnation; in spring, the Crucifixion; in
summer, the birth of the beloved disciple; in autumn, the day of All
Souls, the feast of the dead. Thus for us, too, the succeeding seasons
only symbolize the stages of a spiritual life, the august procession
of the soul.

We cannot think it was otherwise with a people who lived and built so
majestically for the hidden world; these great stone circles symbolized
for them, we must believe, the circling life of the soul, the cycle of
necessity, with the door of liberation to the home of the blest, who
have reached perfect freedom and go no more out. We may picture in
imagination their solemn celebrations; priests robed, perhaps, in the
mingled green and purple of their hills, passing within the circle,
chanting some archaic hymn of the Divine.



IV.

THE DE DANAANS.

In the dim days of Fomorian and Firbolg, and for ages after, Erin was a
land of forests, full of wild cattle and deer and wolves. The central
plain was altogether hidden under green clouds of oak-woods, full of
long, mysterious alleys, dimpled with sunny glades, echoing in spring
and summer to the songs of innumerable birds. Everywhere through the
wide and gloomy forests were the blue mirrors of lakes, starred with
shaggy islands, the hanging hills descending verdant to the water's
edge. Silver rivers spread their network among the woods, and the lakes
and the quiet reaches of the rivers teemed with trout and salmon. The
hilly lands to the north and south showed purple under the sky from
among their forests, oak mingling with pine; and the four seas beat
around our island with their white fringe of hovering gulls. Over all,
the arch of the blue, clearer and less clouded then than now. A pleasant
land, full of gladness and mystery.

We can but obscurely image to ourselves the thoughts and deeds of the
earliest dwellers in our island. We know that they were skilled in many
arts of peace and inured to the shock of war. The sky spread above them
as over us, and all around them was the green gloom of the forests, the
whiteness of lakes and rivers, the rough purple of the heather. The
great happenings of life, childhood and age and death, were for them
what they are for us, yet their blood flowed warmer than ours. Browned
by wind and sun, wet by the rain and the early dew of the morning, they
delighted in the vigor of the prime. Their love for kindred, for their
friends and lovers, was as ours; and when friends and kindred passed
into the darkness, they still kept touch with their souls in the
invisible Beyond.

[Illustration: River Erne, Belleek.]

The vision of our days is darkened by too much poring over earthly
things; but the men of old, like many of our simpler races now, looked
confidently and with intent faith across the threshold. For them the
dead did not depart--hidden but from their eyes, while very near to
their souls. Those in the beyond were still linked to those on earth;
all together made one undivided life, neither in the visible world alone
nor in the hidden world alone, but in both; each according to their
destinies and duties. The men of old were immeasurably strong in this
sense of immortality--a sense based not on faith but on knowledge; on a
living touch with those who had gone before. They knew both over-world
and under-world, because they held their souls open to the knowledge of
both, and did not set their hearts on earthly things alone. A strong
life close to the life of the natural world, a death that was no
separation, the same human hearts as ours,--further we need not go in
imagining that far-off time.

A third people was presently added to these two, at an epoch fixed by
tradition some four thousand years ago. A vivid picture of their coming
has been handed down to us, and this picture we shall reproduce, as many
circumstances and particulars of our knowledge drawn from other sources
concur to show that our old legend is near to the truth, both in time
and happenings.

The name these newcomers bore was Tuata De Danaan, the De Danaan tribes;
they were golden-haired and full of knowledge, and their coming was
heavy with destiny for the dark races of Fomor and Firbolg. Even to-day,
mysterious whispers of the De Danaans linger among the remote valleys
and hillsides of our island, and truth is hidden in every legend of
their deeds. They have borne a constant repute for magical knowledge,
and the first tradition of their coming not only echoes that repute, but
shows how first they came by it.

The De Danaans came from the north; from what land, we shall presently
inquire. They landed somewhere on the northeast coast of our island,
says the tradition; the coast of Antrim was doubtless the place of their
arrival, and we have our choice between Larne and the estuary of the
Foyle. All between, lofty cliffs face a dark and angry sea, where no one
not familiar with the coast would willingly approach; their later course
in the island makes it very probable that they came to the Foyle.

There, still within sight of the Caledonian isles and headlands hovering
in blue shadows over the sea, they entered, where the sun rose over long
silver sands and hills of chalk, with a grim headland on the west
towering up into sombre mountains. Once within the strait, they had a
wide expanse of quiet waters on all sides, running deep among the rugged
hills, and receiving at its further end the river Foyle, tempting them
further and further with their ships. Up the Foyle went the De Danaan
fleet, among the oak-woods, the deer gazing wide-eyed at them from dark
caverns of shadow, the wolves peering after them in the night. Then,
when their ships would serve them no further, they landed, and, to set
the seal on their coming, burned their boats, casting in their lot with
the fate of their new home. Still following the streams of the Foyle,
for rivers were the only pathways through the darkness of the woods,
they came to the Lakes of Erne, then, as now, beautiful with innumerable
islands, and draped with curtains of forest. Beyond Erne, they fixed
their first settlement at Mag Rein, the Plain of the Headland, within
the bounds of what afterwards was Leitrim; and at this camp their legend
takes up the tale.

It would seem that the Fomorians were then gathered further to the west,
as well as in the northern isles. The Firbolgs had their central
stronghold at Douin Cain, the Beautiful Eminence, which, tradition tells
us, later bore the name of Tara. The chief among their chiefs was
Eocaid, son of Ere, remembered as the last ruler of the Firbolgs. Every
man of them was a hunter, used to spear and shield, and the skins of
deer and the shaggy hides of wolves were their garments; their dwellings
were built of well-fitted oak. To the chief, Eocaid, Erc's son, came
rumor of the strangers near the Lakes of Erne; their ships, burned at
their debarking, were not there to tell of the manner of their coming,
and the De Danaans themselves bruited it abroad that they had come
hither by magic, borne upon the wings of the wind. The chiefs of Tara
gathered together, within their fort of earth crowned with a stockade,
and took counsel how to meet this new adventure. After long consultation
they chose one from among them, Sreng by name, a man of uncommon
strength, a warrior tried and proven, who should go westward to find out
more of the De Danaans.

Doubtless taking certain chosen companions with him, Sreng, the man of
valor from among the Firbolgs, set forth on his quest. As in all
forest-covered countries, the only pathways lay along the river-banks,
or, in times of drought, through the sand or pebbles of their beds.
Where the woods pressed closest upon the streams, the path wound from
one bank to the other, crossing by fords or stepping-stones, or by a
bridge of tree-trunks. So went Sreng, careful and keen-eyed, up the
stream of the Blackwater, and thence to the Erne, and so drew near to
the Plain of the Headland, where was the De Danaan camp. They, too, had
word of his coming from their scouts and hunters, and sent forth Breas,
one among their bravest, to meet the envoy.

They sighted each other and halted, each setting his shield in the
earth, peering at his adversary above its rim. Then, reassured, they
came together, and Breas first spoke to Sreng. After the first words
they fell, warrior-like, to examining each other's weapons; Sreng saw
that the two spears of Breas the De Danaan were thin, slender and long,
and sharp-pointed, while his own were heavy, thick and point-less, but
sharply rounded.

Here we have a note of reality, for spears of these two types are well
known to us; those of Sreng were chisel-shaped, round-edged, socketed
celts; the De Danaan lances were long and slender, like our spears.
There are two materials also--a beautiful golden bronze, shining and
gleaming in the sunlight, and a darker, ruddier metal, dull and heavy;
and these darker spears have sockets for greatly thicker hafts. Both
also carried swords, made, very likely, the one of golden, the other of
dull, copper-colored bronze.

Then, putting these pleasant things aside, they turned to weightier
matters, and Breas made a proposal for the De Danaan men. The island was
large, the forests wide and full of game, the waters sweet and
well-stocked with fish. Might they not share it between them, and join
hands to keep out all future comers? Sreng could give no final answer;
he could only put the matter before the Firbolg chiefs; so, exchanging
spears in sign of friendship and for a token between them, they returned
each to his own camp.

Sreng of the Firbolgs retraced his path some four-score miles among the
central forests, and came to the Beautiful Eminence, where the Firbolgs
had their settlement. Eocaid, Erc's son, their chieftain, called the
lesser chiefs around him, and Sreng made full report of what he had seen
and heard. The Firbolgs, pressed on by their fate, decided to refuse all
terms with the De Danaans, but to give them battle, and drive them from
the island. So they made ready, each man seeing to the straps of his
shield, the burnishing of his thick sword and heavy spear. Eyes gleamed
out beneath lowering brows all about the dwellings of Tara, and hot
words were muttered of the coming fight. The dark faces of the Firbolgs
were full of wrath.

Breas, returning to the camp of the Tuata De Danaan, gave such account
of the fierceness and strength of Sreng, and the weight and sturdiness
of his weapons, that the hearts of the golden-haired newcomers misgave
them, and they drew away westward to the strip of land that lies between
the lakes of Corrib and Mask. There, tradition tells us, they made an
encampment upon the hill of Belgadan, near the stream that flows through
caverns beneath the rocks from the northern to the southern lake. From
their hill-top they had clear view of the plain stretching eastward,
across which the Firbolg warriors must come; to the right hand and to
the left were spread the great white waters of the lakes, stretching far
away to the northern and southern verge of the sky. Islands dotted the
lakes, and trees mirrored themselves in the waters. Behind them, to the
westward, rose a square-topped mountain, crowned by a clear tarn; and,
behind that, tier upon tier of hills, stretching dark and sombre along
Lough Mask to the north, and spreading westward to the twelve crystal
hills of Connemara.

Across the plain to the east, then called the Plain of Nia, but
thereafter Mag Tuiread or Moytura, the Plain of the Pillars, lay the
forests, and thence issued forth the hosts of the Firbolgs, encamping on
the eastern verge of the open space. Nuada, the De Danaan king, once
more sought a peaceful issue to their meeting, but Erc's son Eocaid
refused all terms, and it was plain to all that they must fight.

It was midsummer. The air was warm about them, the lake-shores and the
plain clothed in green of many gently blended shades. The sun shone down
upon them, and the lakes mirrored the clear blue above. From their hill
of encampment descended the De Danaans, with their long slender spears
gleaming like bright gold, their swords of golden bronze firmly grasped,
their left hands griping the thong of their shields. Golden-haired, with
flowing tresses, they descended to the fight; what stately battle-song
they chanted, what Powers they called on for a blessing, we cannot tell;
nor in what terms the dark-browed Firbolgs answered them as they
approached across the plain. All that day did the hosts surge together,
spear launched against spear, and bronze sword clashing against shield;
all that day and for three days more, and then the fate of the Firbolgs
was decided. Great and dire was the slaughter of them, so that Erc's son
Eocaid saw that all was lost. Withdrawing with a hundred of his own men
about him, Eocaid was seeking water to quench his thirst, for the heat
of the battle was upon him, when he was pursued by a greater band of
the De Danaans, under the three sons of Nemed, one of their chieftains.

Eocaid and his bodyguard fled before Nemed's sons, making their way
northeastward along the Moy river, under the shadow of the Mountains of
Storms, now wrongly named Ox Mountains. They came at last to the great
strand called Traig Eotaile, but now Ballysadare, the Cataract of the
Oaks,--where the descending river is cloven into white terraces by the
rocks, and the sea, retreating at low tide, leaves a world of wet sand
glinting under the moonlight. At the very sea's margin a great battle
was fought between the last king of the Firbolgs with his men, and the
De Danaans under Nemed's sons; so relentless was the fight along the
tideways that few remained to tell of it, for Erc's son Eocaid fell, but
Nemed's three sons fell likewise, The three De Danaan brothers were
buried at the western end of the strand, and the place was called The
Gravestones of the Sons of Nemed, in their memory. The son of Erc was
buried on the strand, where the waves lap along the shore, and his cairn
of Traig Eotaile still stands by the water-side, last resting-place of
the last ruler of the Firbolgs.

Meanwhile the fighting had gone on at Mag Tuiread by the lakes, till
but three hundred of the Firbolgs were left, with Sreng, the fierce
fighter, at their head. Sreng had gained enduring fame by meeting Nuada,
the De Danaan king, in combat, and smiting him so that he clove the
shield-rim and cut down deep into Nuada's shoulder, disabling him
utterly from the battle. Seeing themselves quite outnumbered, therefore,
the survivors of the Firbolgs with Sreng demanded single combat with De
Danaan champions, but the victors offered them worthy terms of peace.
The Firbolgs were to hold in lordship and freedom whichever they might
choose of the five provinces; the conquerors were to have the rest.

Sreng looked around among his band of survivors,--a little band, though
of great valor,--and he remembered the hosts of his people that had
entered the battle three days before, but now lay strewn upon the plain;
and thinking that they had done enough for valor he accepted the offered
terms, choosing the Western Province for his men. In memory of him it
was called Cuigead Sreing for generations, until Conn of the Five-Score
Battles changed the name for his own, calling the province Connacht, as
it is to this day.

It fared less well with the victors, and with their victory were sown
seeds of future discord. For Nuada, the king, being grievously wounded,
was in no state to rule, so that the chief power was given to Breas,
first envoy of the De Danaans. Now Breas was only half De Danaan, half
Fomor, and would not recognize the De Danaan rites or laws of
hospitality, but was a very tyrannous and overbearing ruler, so that
much evil came of his government. Yet for seven years he was endured,
even though meat nor ale was dispensed at his banquets, according to De
Danaan law.

Mutterings against Breas were rife among the chiefs and their followers
when the bard Cairbré, whose mother Etan was also a maker of verses,
came to the assembly of Breas. But the bard was shown little honor and
given a mean lodging,--a room without fire or bed, with three dry loaves
for his fare. The bard was full of resentment and set himself to make
songs against Breas, so that all men repeated his verses, and the name
of Breas fell into contempt. All men's minds were enkindled by the bard,
and they drove Breas forth from the chieftainship. Breas fled to his
Fomor kindred in the isles, with his heart full of anger and revenge
against the De Danaans.

He sought help of his kindred, and their design was told to the
Fomorian chieftains--to Balor of the Evil Eye, and to Indec, son of De
Domnand, chiefs of the Isles. These two leaders gathered ships from all
the harbors and settlements of the Fomorians, from the Hebrides, the
Shetlands, and far-distant Norway, so that their fleet was thick as
gulls above a shoal of fish along the north shores of Erin.

Coming down from the northern isles, they sighted the coast of Erin, the
peaks of the northwestern mountains rising purple towards the clouds,
with white seas foaming around them. Past towering headlands they
sailed; then, drawing in towards the shore, they crept under the great
cliffs of Slieve League, that rose like a many-colored wall from the sea
to the sky--so high that the great eagles on their summits were but
specks seen from beneath, so high that the ships below seemed like
sea-shells to those who watched them from above. With the wall of the
cliffs on their left hand, and the lesser headlands and hills of Sligo
on their right, they came to that same strand of Ballysadare, the
Cataract of the Oaks, where the last of the Firbolgs fell. Drawing their
long ships up on the beach, with furled sail and oars drawn in, they
debarked their army on the shore. It was a landing of ill-omen for the
Fomorians, that landing beside the cairn of Eocaid; a landing of
ill-omen for Indec, son of De Domnand, and for Balor of the Evil Eye.

It was the fall of the leaf when they came; the winds ran crying through
the forests, tearing the leaves and branches from the oaks, and mourning
among the pines of the uplands. The sea was gray as a gull's back, with
dark shadows under the cliffs and white tresses of foam along the
headlands. At evening a cold wind brought the rain beating in from the
ocean. Thus the Fomorians landed at the Cataract of the Oaks, and
marched inland to the plain now called Tirerril in Sligo. The murky sky
spread over the black and withered waste of the plain, hemmed in with
gloomy hills, wild rocks and ravines, and with all the northern horizon
broken by distant mountains. Here Indec and Balor, and Breas the cause
of their coming, fixed their camp. They sent a message of defiance to
the De Danaans, challenging them to fight or surrender. The De Danaans
heard the challenge and made ready to fight.

Nuada, now called the chieftain of the Silver Arm, because the mischief
wrought by Sreng's blow on his shoulder had been hidden by a silver
casing, was once more ruler since Breas had been driven out. Besides
Nuada, these were De Danaan chieftains: Dagda, the Mighty; Lug, son of
Cian, son of Diancect, surnamed Lamfada, the Long Armed; Ogma, of the
Sunlike Face; and Angus, the Young. They summoned the workers in bronze
and the armorers, and bid them prepare sword and spear for battle,
charging the makers of spear-haft and shield to perfect their work. The
heralds also were ready to proclaim the rank of the warriors, and those
skilled in healing herbs stood prepared to succor the wounded. The bards
were there also to arouse valor and ardor with their songs.

Then marching westward to the plain of the battle among the hills, they
set their camp and advanced upon the Fomorians. Each man had two spears
bound with a thong to draw them back after the cast, with a shield to
ward off blows, and a broad-bladed sword of bronze for close combat.
With war-chants and invocations the two hosts met. The spears, well
poised and leveled, clove the air, hissing between them, and under the
weight of the spear-heads and their sharp points many in both hosts
fell. There were cries of the wounded now, mingled with battle-songs,
and hoarse shouting for vengeance among those whose sons and brothers
and sworn friends fell. Another cast of the spears, seaming the air
between as the hosts closed in, and they fell on each other with their
swords, shields upraised and gold-bronze sword-points darting beneath
like the tongues of serpents. They cut and thrust, each with his eyes
fixed on the fierce eyes of his foe.

They fought on the day of the Spirits, now the Eve of All Saints; the
Fomorians were routed, and their chieftains slain. But of the De
Danaans, Nuada, once wounded by Sreng of the Firbolgs, now fell by the
hand of Balor; yet Balor also fell, slain by Lug, his own
daughter's son.

Thus was the might of the Fomorians broken, and the De Danaans ruled
unopposed, their power and the works of their hands spreading throughout
the length and breadth of the land.

Many monuments are accredited to them by tradition, but greatest and
most wonderful are the pyramids of stone at Brugh on the Boyne. Some
nine miles from the sandy seashore, where the Boyne loses itself in the
waves, there is a broad tongue of meadowland, shut in on three sides
southward by the Boyne, and to the northeast cut off by a lesser stream
that joins it. This remote and quiet headland, very famous in the
annals, was in old days so surrounded by woods that it was like a quiet
glade in the forest rimmed by the clear waters of the Boyne. The Mourne
Mountains to the north and the lesser summits on the southern sky-line
were hidden by the trees. The forest wall encircled the green
meadowland, and the river fringed with blue forget-me-nots.

In this quiet spot was the sacred place of the De Danaans, and three
great pyramids of stone, a mile apart along the river, mark their three
chief sanctuaries. The central is the greatest; two hundred thousand
tons of stone heaped up, within a circular wall of stone, itself
surrounded by a great outer circle of standing stones, thirty in number,
like gray sentinels guarding the shrine. In the very heart of the
pyramid, hushed in perpetual stillness and peace, is the inmost
sanctuary, a chamber formed like a cross, domed with a lofty roof, and
adorned with mysterious tracings on the rocks. Shrines like this are
found in many lands, whether within the heart of the pyramids of Egypt
or in the recesses of India's hills; and in all lands they have the same
purpose. They are secret and holy sanctuaries, guarded well from all
outward influence, where, in the mystic solitude, the valiant and great
among the living may commune with the spirits of the mighty dead. The
dead, though hidden, are not passed away; their souls are in perpetual
nearness to ours. If we enter deep within ourselves, to the remote
shrine of the heart, as they entered that secluded shrine, we may find
the mysterious threshold where their world and our world meet.

In the gloom and silence of those pyramid-chambers, the De Danaans thus
sought the souls of their mighty ones--the Dagda, surnamed the Mighty,
and Lug the Long-Armed, and Ogma of the Sunlike Face, and Angus the
Young. From these luminous guardians they sought the inbreathing of
wisdom, drawing into themselves the might of these mightier ones, and
rising toward the power of their immortal world. And to these sacred
recesses they brought the ashes of their mighty dead, as a token that
they, too, had passed through the secret gateway to the Land of the
Ever Young.

Some thirty miles to the west of Brugh, on the Boyne, a low range of
hills rises from the central plain, now bearing the name of Slieve na
Calliagh, the Witch's Hill. In the days of the great forest this was the
first large open space to the west coming from Brugh, and, like it, a
quiet and remote refuge among the woods. On the hillsides of Slieve na
Calliagh are other pyramids of stone, in all things like those of
Brugh, and with the same chambered sanctuaries, but of lesser size;
belonging, perhaps, to a later age, when the De Danaans were no longer
supreme in the land, but took their place beside newcome invaders. These
lesser shrines were also sacred places, doorways to the hidden world,
entrance-gates to the Land of the Ever Young. There also was beheld the
vision of the radiant departed; there also were fonts of baptism, basins
wrought of granite brought hither from the distant hills of Mourne or
Wicklow. As in all lands, these fonts were used in the consecration of
the new birth, from which man rises conscious of his immortality.

In harmony with this faith of theirs, our present tradition sees in the
De Danaans a still haunting impalpable presence, a race invisible yet
real, dwelling even now among our hills and valleys. When the life of
the visible world is hushed, they say, there is another life in the
hidden, where the Dagda Mor and Ogma and Lug and Angus still guard the
De Danaan hosts. The radiance of their nearness is all through the land,
like the radiance of the sun hidden behind storm-clouds, glimmering
through the veil.

[Illustration: White Rocks, Portrush]

In the chambers of those pyramid-shrines are still traces of the
material presence of the De Danaans; not only their baptismal fonts, but
more earthly things--ornaments, beads of glass and amber, and combs with
which they combed their golden locks. These amber beads, like so many
things in the De Danaan history, call us to far northern lands by the
Baltic, whence in all likelihood the De Danaans came; for in those
Baltic lands we find just such pyramid shrines as those at Brugh and on
the hillsides of Slieve na Calliagh, and their ornaments are the same,
and the fashion of their spear-heads and shields. The plan of the Danish
pyramid of Uby is like the pyramids of Newgrange and Nowth and Dowth by
the Boyne, and the carvings on King Gorm's stone by the Baltic are like
the carvings of stones in our own island. On the Baltic shores, too, of
most ancient date and belonging to forgotten times, are still found
fragments and even perfect hulls of just such long ships as were needed
for the Danaans' coming, like the ships they burnt along the reaches of
the Foyle.

By the Baltic, too, and nowhere else, were there races with hair yellow
as their own amber, or, as our island bards say, "so bright that the
new-molten gold was not brighter; yellow as the yellow flag-lilies along
the verges of the rivers." Therefore, in character of race, in face and
feature, in color and complexion, in the form and make of sword and
spear and shield, in their knowledge of ships and the paths of the sea,
as in their ornaments and decorative art, and in those majestic pyramids
and shrines where they sought mystic wisdom, and whither they carried
the ashes of their dead, as to a place of sacred rest--in all these the
life of the De Danaans speaks of the Baltic shores and the ancient race
of golden-haired heroes who dwelt there. The honoring of bards, the
heraldic keeping of traditions and the names of ancestors, also speak of
the same home; and with a college of heraldic bards, well-ordered and
holding due rank and honor, we can well see how the stories of their
past have come down even to our days, lingering among our hills and
valleys, as the De Danaan themselves linger, hidden yet not departed.

The traditional time of their coming, too, agrees well with all we know.
Without bronze tools they could not have carved the beautifully adorned
stones that are built into the pyramids by the Boyne; yet there is a
certain early ruggedness about these stones that falls far short of the
perfection of later times. Early in the bronze age, therefore, they must
be placed; and the early bronze age, wherever its remoteness can be
measured, as in the Swiss lakes or the peat-mosses of Denmark, cannot be
less than four thousand years ago, thus well agreeing with our De Danaan
tradition. We are, therefore, led to believe that the tale told by these
traditions is in the main a true one; that the races recorded by them
came in the recorded order; that their places of landing are faithfully
remembered; that all traditions pointing to their earlier homes are
worthy of belief, and in full accord with all our other knowledge.



V.

EMAIN OF MACA.

B.C. 50--A.D. 50.

The battles of Southern and Northern Moytura gave the De Danaans sway
over the island. After they had ruled for many centuries, they in their
turn were subjected to invasion, as the Firbolg and Fomorian had been
before them. The newcomers were the Sons of Milid, and their former home
was either Gaul or Spain. But whether from Gaul or Spain, the sons of
Milid were of undoubted Gaelic race, in every feature of character and
complexion resembling the continental Gauls.

We must remember that, in the centuries before the northward spread of
Rome, the Gauls were the great central European power. Twenty-six
hundred years ago their earlier tribal life was consolidated into a
stable empire under Ambigatos; Galicia in Eastern Austria and Galicia in
Western Spain mark their extreme borders towards the rising and
setting sun.

Several centuries before the days of Ambigatos, in the older period of
tribal confederation, was the coming of the Gaelic Sons of Milid to
Ireland. Tradition places the date between three and four thousand years
ago. Yet even after that long interval of isolation the resemblance
between the Irish and continental Gaels is perfect; they are tall,
solidly built, rather inclined to stoutness; they are fair-skinned, or
even florid, easily browned by sun and wind. Their eyes are gray,
greenish or hazel, not clear blue, like the eyes of the Baltic race; and
though fair-haired, they are easily distinguished from the golden-haired
Norsemen. Such are the descendants of the Sons of Milid. Coming from
Gaul or Spain, the Sons of Milid landed in one of the great fiords that
penetrate between the mountains of Kerry--long after so named from the
descendants of Ciar. These same fiords between the hills have been the
halting-place of continental invaders for ages; hardly a century has
passed since the last landing there of continental soldiers; there was
another invasion a century before that, and yet another a hundred years
earlier. But the Sons of Milid showed the way. They may have come by
Bantry Bay or the Kenmare River or Dingle Bay; more probably the last,
for tradition still points to the battlefield where they were opposed,
on the hills of Slieve Mish, above the Dingle fiord.

But wherever they debarked on that southwestern coast they found a land
warm and winning as the south they had left behind--a land of ever-green
woods, yew and arbutus mingling with beech and oak and fir; rich
southern heaths carpeting the hillsides, and a soft drapery of ferns
upon the rocks. There were red masses of overhanging mountain, but in
the valleys, sheltered and sun-warmed, they found a refuge like the
Isles of the Blest. The Atlantic, surging in great blue rollers, brought
the warmth of tropical seas, and a rich and vivid growth through all the
glens and vales responded to the sun's caress.

The De Danaans must ere this have spread through all of the island,
except the western province assigned to the Firbolgs; for we find them
opposing,--but vainly opposing,--the Sons of Milid, at the very place of
their landing. Here again we find the old tradition verified; for at the
spot recorded of old by the bards and heralds, among the hills by the
pass that leads from Dingle to Tralee Bay, numberless arrow-heads have
been gathered, the gleanings after a great combat. The De Danaans fought
with sword and spear, but, unless they had added to their weapons since
the days of Breas and Sreng, they did not shoot with the bow; this was,
perhaps, the cause of their defeat, for the De Danaans were defeated
among the hills on that long headland.

From their battlefield they could see the sea on either hand, stretching
far inland northward and southward; across these arms of the sea rose
other headlands, more distant, the armies of hills along them fading
from green to purple, from purple to clear blue. But the De Danaans had
burned their boats; they sought refuge rather by land, retreating
northward till they came to the shelter of the great central woods. The
Sons of Milid pursued them, and, overtaking them at Tailten on the
Blackwater, some ten miles northwest of Tara, they fought another
battle; after it, the supremacy of the De Danaans definitely
passed away.

Yet we have no reason to believe that, any more than the Fomorians or
Firbolgs, the De Danaans ceased to fill their own place in the land.
They seem, indeed, to have been preponderant in the north, and in all
likelihood they hold their own there even now; for every addition to our
knowledge shows us more and more how tenacious is the life of races, how
firmly they cling to their earliest dwellings. And though we read of
races perishing before invaders, this is the mere boasting of
conquerors; more often the newcomers are absorbed among the earlier
race, and nothing distinctive remains of them but a name. We have
abundant evidence to show that at the present day, as throughout the
last three thousand years, the four races we have described continue to
make up the bulk of our population, and pure types of each still linger
unblended in their most ancient seats; for, though races mingle, they do
not thereby lose their own character. The law is rather that the type of
one or other will come out clear in their descendants, all undefined
forms tending to disappear.

Nor did any subsequent invasion add new elements; for as all northern
Europe is peopled by the same few types, every newcomer,--whether from
Norway, Denmark, Britain or Continental Europe,--but reinforced one of
these earlier races. Yet even where the ethnical elements are alike,
there seems to be a difference of destiny and promise--as if the very
land itself brooded over its children, transforming them and molding
them to a larger purpose. The spiritual life of races goes far deeper
than their ethnic history.

It would seem that with the coming of the Sons of Milid the destiny of
Ireland was rounded and completed; from that time onward, for more than
two thousand years, was a period of uniform growth and settled life and
ideals; a period whose history and achievements we are only beginning to
understand. At the beginning of that long epoch of settled life the art
of working gold was developed and perfected; and we have abundance of
beautiful gold-work from remote times, of such fine design and execution
that there is nothing in the world to equal it. The modern work of
countries where gold is found in quantities is commonplace, vulgar and
inartistic, when compared with the work of the old Irish period.
Torques, or twisted ribbons of gold, of varying size and shape, were
worn as diadems, collars, or even belts; crescent bands of finely
embossed sheet-gold were worn above the forehead; brooches and pins of
most delicate and imaginative workmanship were used to catch together
the folds of richly colored cloaks, and rings and bracelets were of not
less various and exquisite forms.

We are at no loss to understand the abundance of our old goldsmiths'
work when we know that even now, after being worked for centuries, the
Wicklow gold-mines have an average yearly yield of some five hundred
ounces, found, for the most part, in nuggets in the beds of streams
flowing into the two Avons. One mountain torrent bears the name of Gold
Mines River at the present day, showing the unbroken presence of the
yellow metal from the time of its first discovery, over three thousand
years ago. It seems probable that a liberal alloy of gold gave the
golden bronze its peculiar excellence and beauty; for so rich is the
lustre, so fine the color of many of our bronze axes and spears, that
they are hardly less splendid than weapons of pure gold. From the
perfect design and workmanship of these things of gold and bronze, more
than from any other source, we gain an insight into the high culture and
skill in the arts which marked that most distinctively Irish period,
lasting, as we have seen, more than two thousand years.

Early in this same epoch we find traditions of the clearing of forests,
the sowing of cornfields, the skill of dyers in seven colors, earliest
of which were purple, blue and green. Wells were dug to insure an easily
accessible supply of pure water, so that we begin to think of a settled
population dwelling among fields of golden grain, pasturing their cattle
in rich meadows, and depending less on the deer and wild oxen of the
forest, the salmon of lake and river, and the abundant fish along
the shores.

Tradition speaks persistently of bards, heralds, poets and poetesses;
of music and song; of cordial and generous social life; and to the
presence of these bards, like the skalds of the Northmen, we owe
pictures, even now full of life and color and movement, of those days
of long ago.

At a period rather more than two thousand years ago, a warrior-queen,
Maca by name, founded a great fort and citadel at Emain, some two miles
west of Armagh, in the undulating country of green hills and meadows to
the south of Lough Neagh. The ramparts and earthworks of that ancient
fortress can still be traced, and we can follow and verify what the
ancient bards told of the greatness of the stronghold of Maca. The plans
of all forts of that time seem to have been much the same--a wide ring
of earthwork, with a deep moat, guarded them, and a stockade of oak
stakes rose above the earthwork, behind which the defenders stood,
firing volleys of arrows at the attacking host. Within this outer circle
of defence there was almost always a central stronghold, raised on a
great mound of earth; and this was the dwelling of the chief, provincial
ruler, or king. Lesser mounds upheld the houses of lesser chiefs, and
all alike seem to have been built of oak, with plank roofs. Safe
storehouses of stone were often sunk underground, beneath the chief's
dwelling. In the fort of Emain, as in the great fort of Tara in the
Boyne Valley, there was a banqueting-hall for the warriors, and the
bards thus describe one of these in the days of its glory: "The
banquet-hall had twelve divisions in each wing, with tables and passages
round them; there were sixteen attendants on each side, eight for the
star-watchers, the historians and the scribes, in the rear of the hall,
and two to each table at the door,--a hundred guests in all; two oxen,
two sheep and two hogs were divided equally on each side at each meal.
Beautiful was the appearance of the king in that assembly--flowing,
slightly curling golden hair upon him; a red buckler with stars and
beasts wrought of gold and fastenings of silver upon him; a crimson
cloak in wide descending folds upon him, fastened at his breast by a
golden brooch set with precious stones; a neck-torque of gold around his
neck; a white shirt with a full collar, and intertwined with threads of
gold, upon him; a girdle of gold inlaid with precious stones around him;
two wonderful shoes of gold with runings of gold upon him; two spears
with golden sockets in his hand."

We are the more disposed to trust the fidelity of the picture, since
the foundations of the Tara banquet-hall are to be clearly traced to
this day--an oblong earthwork over seven hundred feet long by ninety
wide, with the twelve doors still distinctly marked; as for the brooches
and torques of gold, some we have surpass in magnificence anything here
described, and their artistic beauty is eloquent of the refinement of
spirit that conceived and the skill that fashioned them. Spear-heads,
too, are of beautiful bronze-gold, with tracings round the socket of
great excellence and charm.

[Illustration: Powerscourt Waterfall, Co. Wicklow]

For a picture of the life of that age, we cannot do better than return
to Emain of Maca, telling the story of one famous generation of warriors
and fair women who loved and fought there two thousand years ago. The
ideal of beauty was still the golden hair and blue eyes of the De
Danaans, and we cannot doubt that their race persisted side by side with
the Sons of Milid, retaining a certain predominance in the north and
northeast of the island, the first landing-place of the De Danaan
invaders. Of this mingled race was the great Rudraige, from whom the
most famous rulers of Emain descended. Ros was the son of Rudraige, and
from Roeg and Cass, the sons of Ros, came the princes Fergus and
Factna. Factna, son of Cass, wedded the beautiful Nessa, and from their
union sprang Concobar, the great hero and ruler of Ulster--in those days
named Ulad, and the dwellers there the Ulaid. Factna died while Concobar
was yet a boy; and Nessa, left desolate, was yet so beautiful in her
sadness that Fergus became her slave, and sued for her favor, though
himself a king whose favors others sued. Nessa's heart was wholly with
her son, her life wrapt up in his. She answered, therefore, that she
would renounce her mourning and give her widowed hand to Fergus the
king, if the king, on his part, would promise that Nessa's son Concobar
should succeed him, rather than the children of Fergus. Full of longing,
and held in thrall by her beauty, Fergus promised; and this promise was
the beginning of many calamities, for Nessa, the queen, feeling her sway
over Fergus, and full of ambition for her child, won a promise from
Fergus that the youth should sit beside him on the throne, hearing all
pleadings and disputes, and learning the art of ruling. But the spirit
of Concobar was subtle and strong and masterful, and he quickly took the
greater place in the councils of the Ulaid, until Nessa, still confident
in her charm, took a promise from Fergus that Concobar should reign
for one year.

Fergus, great-hearted warrior, but tender and gentle and fond of feasts
and merrymaking, was very willing to lift the cares of rule from his
shoulders to the younger shoulders of Nessa's son, and the one year thus
granted became many years, so that Fergus never again mounted his
throne. Yet for the love he bore to Nessa, Fergus willingly admitted his
stepson's rule, and remained faithfully upholding him, ever merry at the
banquets, and leading the martial sports and exercises of the youths,
the sons of chieftains, at the court. Thus Concobar, son of Nessa, came
to be ruler over the great fort of Emain, with its citadel, its
earthworks and outer forts, its strong stockade and moat; ruler of
these, and of the chiefs of the Ulaid, and chief commander of all the
fighting-men that followed them. To him came the tribute of cattle and
horses, of scarlet cloaks and dyed fabrics, purple and blue and green,
and the beryls and emeralds from the mountains of Mourne where the sea
thunders in the caves, near the great fort of Rudraige. Fergus was lord
only of the banqueting-hall and of the merrymakings of the young chiefs;
but in all else the will of Concobar was supreme and his word was law.

It happened that before this a child had been born, a girl
golden-haired and with blue eyes, of whom the Druids had foretold many
dark and terrible things. That the evil might not be wrought through
this child of sad destiny, the king had from her earliest childhood kept
her securely hidden in a lonely fort, and there Deirdré grew in
solitude, daily increasing in beauty and winsomeness. She so won the
love of those set in guard over her that they relaxed something of the
strictness of their watch, letting her wander a little in the meadows
and the verges of the woods, gathering flowers, and watching the life of
birds and wild things there.

Among the chieftains of the court of Emain was one Usnac, of whom were
three sons, with Naisi strongest and handsomest of the three. Naisi was
dark, with black locks hanging upon his shoulders and dark, gleaming
eyes; and so strongly is unlike drawn to unlike that golden-haired
Deirdré, seeing him in one of her wanderings, felt her heart go forth to
him utterly. Falling into talk with him, they exchanged promises of
enduring love. Thus the heart of Naisi went to Deirdré, as hers had gone
to him, so that all things were changed for them, growing radiant with
tremulous hope and wistful with longing. Yet the fate that lay upon
Deirdré was heavy, and all men dreaded it but Naisi; so that even his
brothers, the sons of Usnac, feared greatly and would have dissuaded him
from giving his life to the ill-fated one. But Naisi would not be
dissuaded; so they met secretly many times, in the twilight at the verge
of the wood, Deirdré's golden hair catching the last gleam of sunlight
and holding it long into the darkness, while the black locks of Naisi,
even ere sunset, foreshadowed the coming night. In their hearts it was
not otherwise; for Deirdré, full of wonder at the change that had come
over her, at the song of the birds that echoed ever around her even in
her dreams, at the radiance of the flowers and trees, the sunshine on
the waters of the river, the vivid gladness over all,--Deirdré knew
nothing of the dread doom that was upon her, and was all joy and
wonderment at the meetings with her lover, full of fancies and tender
words and shy caresses; but Naisi, who knew well the fate that
overshadowed them like a black cloud above a cliff of the sea, strove to
be glad and show a bold face to his mistress, though his heart many a
time grew cold within him, thinking on what had befallen and what
might befall.

For the old foretelling of the star-watchers was not the only doom laid
upon Deirdré. Concobar the king, stern and masterful, crafty and secret
in counsel though swift as an eagle to slay,--Concobar the king had
watched Deirdré in her captivity, ever unseen of her, and his heart had
been moved by the fair softness of her skin, the glow of her cheek, the
brightness of her eyes and hair; so that the king had steadfastly
determined in his mind that Deirdré should be his, in scorn of all
prophecies and warnings; that her beauty should be for him alone. This
the king had determined; and it was known to Naisi the son of Usnac. It
was known to him also that what Concobar the king determined, he
steadfastly carried out; for the will of Concobar was strong and
masterful over all around him.

Therefore at their meetings two clouds lay upon the heart of Naisi: the
presentment of the king's power and anger, and his relentless hand
pursuing through the night, and the darker dread of the sightless doom
pronounced of old at the birth of Deirdré, of which the will of Concobar
was but the tool. There was gloom in his eyes and silence on his lips
and a secret dread in his heart. Deirdré wondered at it, her own heart
being so full of gladness, her eyes sparkling, and endearing words ever
ready on her lips. Deirdré wondered, yet found a new delight and
wonderment in the silence of Naisi, and the gloomy lightning in his
eyes, as being the more contrasted with herself, and therefore the more
to be beloved.

Yet the time came when Naisi determined to tell her all and risk the
worst that fate could do against them, finding death with her greatly
better than life without her. Yet death with her was not to be granted
to him. Deirdré heard, wondering and trembling, and Naisi must tell her
the tale many times before she understood,--so utter had been her
solitude and so perfect was yet her ignorance of all things beyond the
fort where she was captive, and of all the doings of men. Concobar was
not even a name to her, and she knew nothing of his power or the
stronghold of Emain, the armies of the Ulaid, or the tributes of gold
and cattle and horses. Spears and swords and those who wielded them were
not even dreams to her until the coming of Naisi, when his gloom blended
with her sunshine.

Talking long through the twilight, until the red gold of the west was
dulled to bronze over the hills, and the bronze tarnished and darkened
with the coming of the eastern stars, they planned together what they
should do; and, the heart of Deirdré at last growing resolute, they made
their way through the night to where the brothers of Naisi were, and all
fled together towards the northern sea. Amongst the fishermen of the
north they found those who were willing to carry them beyond the reach
of Concobar's anger, and with a southerly breeze set sail for the
distant headlands of Scotland, that they had seen from the cliff-top
lying like blue clouds along the horizon. They set forth early in the
morning, as the sun came up out of the east over blue Alban capes, and
when the sun went down it reddened the dark rocks of Islay; so that,
making for the shore, they camped that night under the Islay Hills. On
their setting forth again, the sea was like a wild grey lake between
Jura on the left and the long headland of Cantyre on their right; and
thus they sped forward between long ranks of gloomy hills, growing ever
nearer them on both sides, till they passed through the Sound of Jura
and rounded into Loch Etive.

There they made the land, drawing up under the shadow of dark hills, and
there they dwelt for many a day. Very familiar to Deirdré, though at
first strange and wild and terrible beyond words, grew that vast
amphitheatre of hills in their eternal grayness, with the long Loch
stretching down like a horn through their midst. Very familiar to
inland-bred Deirdré, though at first strange and fearful, grew the gray
surges of the incoming tides, the white foam of the waves seething along
boulders of granite, and the long arms of seaweed waving as she peered
downward into the clear green water. Very familiar to Deirdré, though at
first strange and confusing, grew the arms of Naisi around her in the
darkness and his warm lips on her cheek. Happy were those wild days in
the great glen of Etive, and dear did the sons of Usnac grow to her
heart, loved as brothers by her who never knew a brother, or the
gentleness of a mother's watching, or the solace of dear kindred.

The sons of Usnac sped forth before dawn among the hills from their
green dwelling roofed with pine branches and reeds and moss; early they
went forth to track the deer, pursuing them with their arrows, till the
red flank of the buck was laced with brighter red. One of the three ever
stayed behind with Deirdré, whether it was Naisi himself, or Alny, or
Ardan, and the two thus remaining were like children playing together,
whether gathering sticks and dry rushes and long spears of withered
grass for their fire, or wandering by the white curling waves, or
sending flat pebbles skipping over the wavelets; and the sound of their
laughter many a time echoed along the Loch's green waters and up the
hills, till the does peered and wondered from among the heather, and the
heron, startled at his fishing, flew upwards croaking, with flapping
wings. Happy were those days for Deirdré, and with utter sadness she
looked back to them afterwards, when the doom foretold had fallen upon
her. Happy sped the days, till once in the gray of the dawn, while
Deirdré was resting in their green refuge with Naisi, she cried out in
her sleep and waked, telling him, weeping, that she had heard the voice
of the bird of doom in her dreams.

The voice she heard was indeed the voice of their doom; yet it was a
cheerful voice, full of friendly gladness; the voice of Fergus, son of
Roeg, former King of Emain, and now come to Loch Etive as messenger of
Concobar, Fergus came up from the sea-beach towards the answering shout
of the sons of Usnac, and glad greetings passed among them at the door
of their refuge. Fergus looked long in admiration at the blue eyes and
golden locks, the clear skin and gentle breast of Deirdré, nor
wondered, as he looked, that Naisi had dared fate to possess her. Then
Fergus told the story of his coming; how they had discovered the flight
of the sons of Usnac from Emain, and how terrible was the black anger of
Concobar; what passionate fire had gleamed in his eyes as he tossed the
golden locks back from his shoulders and grasped the haft of his spear,
and pledged himself to be avenged on Naisi and all his kin, swearing
that he would have Deirdré back again.

Thus Fergus told the tale, laughingly, as at a danger that was past, a
storm-cloud that had lost its arrows of white hail and was no longer
fearful. For, he said, Concobar had forgotten his anger, had promised a
truce to the sons of Usnac, and most of all to Naisi, and had bidden
them return as his guests to Emain of Maca, where Deirdré should dwell
happy with her beloved. The comrades of Fergus by this time had tied
their boat and come up from the shore, and the sons of Usnac were ready
to depart. Yet Deirdré's heart misgave her as she thought of the days
among those purple hills and granite rocks, by the long green water of
the Loch, and her clear-seeing soul spoke words of doom for them all:
words soon to be fulfilled. Amongst the comrades of Fergus were certain
of the adherents of Concobar, treacherous as he; for he had no thought
of pardoning the sons of Usnac, nor any intent but to draw Deirdré back
within his reach; the image of her bright eyes and the redness of her
lips, and her soft breast and shining hair was ever before him, and his
heart gnawed within him for longing and the bitterness of desire.

Therefore he had designed this embassy; and Fergus, believing all things
and trusting all things, had gladly undertaken to be the messenger of
forgiveness; fated, instead, to be the instrument of betrayal. So they
turned their faces homewards towards Emain, Deirdré full of desponding,
as one whose day of grace is past. They set sail again through the long
Sound of Jura, with the islands now on their right hand and the gray
hills of Cantyre on their left. So they passed Jura, and later Islay,
and came at last under the cliffs of Rathlin and the white Antrim
headlands. Deirdré's heart never lightened, nor did laughter play about
her lips or in her eyes through all the time of her journey, but sadness
lay ever upon her, like the heavy darkness of a winter's night, when a
storm is gathering out of the West. But Fergus made merry, rejoicing at
the reconciling; bidden to a treacherous banquet by the partisans of
Concobar, his heart never misgave him, but giving the charge of Deirdré
and the sons of Usnac to his sons, he went to the banquet, delaying long
in carousing and singing, while Deirdré and the three brothers were
carried southwards to Emain. There the treachery plotted against them
was carried out, as they sat in the banquet-hall; for Concobar's men
brought against them the power of cowardly flames, setting fire to the
hall, and slaying the sons of Usnac as they hurried forth from under the
burning roof.

One of the sons of Fergus shamefully betrayed them, bought by the gold
and promises of Concobar, but the other bravely fell, fighting back to
back with one of the sons of Usnac, when they fell overpowered by the
warriors of Concobar. Thus was the doom of Deirdré consummated, her
lover treacherously done to death, and she herself condemned to bear the
hated caress of Concobar, thinking ever of those other lips, in the days
of her joy among the northern hills. This is the lament of Deirdré for
Usnac's sons:

     The lions of the hill are gone,
     And I am left alone, alone;
     Dig the grave both wide and deep,
     For I am sick and fain would sleep!

     The falcons of the wood are flown,
     And I am left alone, alone;
     Dig the grave both deep and wide,
     And let us slumber side by side.

     Lay their spears and bucklers bright
     By the warriors' sides aright;
     Many a day the three before me
     On their linked bucklers bore me.

     Dig the grave both wide and deep,
     Sick I am and fain would sleep.
     Dig the grave both deep and wide,
     And let us slumber side by side.



VI.

CUCULAIN THE HERO.

B.C. 50--A.D. 50.

The treacherous death of Naisi and his brothers Ardan and Alny, and her
own bereavement and misery, were not the end of the doom pronounced at
her birth for Deirdré, but rather the beginning. Yet the burden of the
evils that followed fell on Concobar and his lands and his warriors.

For Fergus, son of Roeg, former king over Emain, who had stayed behind
his charges feasting and banqueting, came presently to Emain, fearing
nothing and thinking no evil, but still warm with the reconciliation
that he had accomplished; and, coming to Emain of Maca, found the sons
of Usnac dead, with the sods still soft on their graves, and his own son
also dead, Deirdré in the hands of Concobar, and the plighted word of
Fergus and his generous pledge of safety most traitorously and basely
broken; broken by Concobar, whom he himself had guarded and set upon
the throne.

Fergus changed from gladness to fierce wrath, and his countenance was
altered with anger, as he uttered his bitter indignation against
Concobar to the warriors and heroes of Emain and the men of Ulad. The
warriors were parted in two by his words, swaying to the right and to
the left, as tall wheat sways before one who passes through it. For some
of them sided with Fergus, saying that he had done great wrong to put
Concobar on the throne, and that even now he should cast him down again,
for the baseness and treachery of his deed; but others took Concobar's
part, saying that the first betraying was Naisi's, who stole away
Deirdré,--the hostage, as it were, of evil doom, so that he drew the
doom upon himself. They further said that Concobar was chief and ruler
among them, the strong and masterful leader, able to uphold their cause
amongst men. So indeed it befell, for the sedition of Fergus and his
fight to avenge his wrong upon Concobar failed, so that he fled defeated
to Meave, Queen of Connacht, at her stronghold amid the lakes whence
issues forth the Shannon.

[Illustration: Honeycomb, Giant's Causeway.]

Meave, whose power and genius overtopped her lord Ailill, received the
exiled king gladly, and put many honors upon him, holding him as the
pillar of her army, with the two thousand men of the Ulaid who came
with him;--those who had fought for him against the party of Concobar.
At Cruacan, on the hillside, with the lakes of the Great River all
around them, with the sun setting red behind the Curlew hills, with
green meadows and beech-woods to gladden them, Meave and Ailill kept
their court, and thence they sent many forays against Emain of Maca and
Concobar, with Fergus the fallen king ever raging in the van, and, for
the wrong that was done him, working measureless wrong on his own
kingdom and the kingdom of his fathers.

After many a foray had gone forth against Ulad, crossing the level
plains, it befell that Meave and Ailill her lord disputed between them
as to which had the greatest wealth; nor would either yield until their
most precious possessions had been brought and matched the one against
the other. Their jewels of gold, wonderfully wrought, and set with
emeralds and beryls and red carbuncles, were brought forth, their
crescents for the brow, with hammered tracery upon them, their necklets
and torques, like twisted ribbons of gold, their bracelets and arm-rings
set with gold, their gems of silver and all their adornments, cloaks of
scarlet and blue and purple, were all brought, and no advantage in the
one was found over the other. Their battle-steeds also were brought,
their horses for chariots; and likewise their herds of lowing wealth,
their sheep with soft fleeces. When the cattle were driven up before
them, it was found that among the herds of Ailill was one bull,
matchless, with white horns shining and polished; and equal to this bull
was none among the herds of the queen. She would not admit her lord's
advantage, but sent forthwith to seek where another bull like the bull
of Ailill might be found, and tidings were brought to her of the brown
bull of Cuailgne,--of Cuailgne named after a chief of the Sons of Milid,
fallen ages ago in the pursuit of the De Danaans, when the De Danaans
retreated before the Sons of Milid from the southern headland of Slieve
Mish to the ford at green Tailten by the Boyne, and thence further
northwards to where Cuailgne of the Sons of Milid was killed. At that
same place had grown up a dwelling with a fortress, and there was the
brown bull that Meave heard the report of. She sent, therefore, and her
embassy bore orders to Dairé, the owner of the bull, asking that the
bull might be sent to her for a year, and offering fifty heifers in
payment. Dairé received her messengers well, and willingly consented to
her request; but the messengers of Meave from feasting fell to
drinking, from drinking to boasting; one of them declaring that it was a
small thing that Dairé had granted the request, since they themselves
would have compelled him, even unwillingly, and would have driven off
the brown bull by force. The taunt stung Dairé, after his hospitality,
and in wrath he sent them forth empty-handed, and so they came
slighted to Meave.

The queen, conceiving her honor impeached, would by no means suffer the
matter so to rest, but stirred up wrath and dissension, till the armies
of Connacht with their allies set forth to sack and burn in Ulad, and at
all hazards to bring the brown bull. Fergus and the men who fought by
his side went with them, and marching thus eastwards they came, after
three days march through fair lands and fertile, to the river Dee--the
frontier of Ulad, and the scene of many well-fought fights.

The army of Ulad was not yet ready to meet them, but one champion with
his band confronted them at the ford. That champion was Cuculain, whose
true name was Setanta, son of Sualtam, chief at Dundelga, and of Dectira
the sister of Concobar. Cuculain was accounted the greatest and most
skillful warrior of his time, and bards for ages after told how he kept
the ford. For by the laws of honor, amongst them, the host from Connacht
could not pass the ford so long as Cuculain held the ford and offered
single combat to the champions. They must take up his challenge one by
one; and while he stood there challenging, the host could not pass.

Many of their champions fell there by the ford, so that queen Meave's
heart chafed within her, and her army was hot to do battle, but still
Cuculain kept the ford. Last of the western champions came forth
Ferdiad, taught in the famous northern school of arms, a dear friend and
companion of Cuculain, who now must meet him to slay or be slain. This
is the story of their combat, as the traditions tell it:

When they ceased fighting on the first day, they cast their weapons away
from them into the hands of their charioteers. Each of them approached
the other forthwith, and each put his hand round the other's neck, and
gave him three kisses. Their horses were in the same paddock that night,
and their charioteers at the same fire; and their charioteers spread
beds of green rushes for them, with wounded men's pillows to them. The
men of healing came to heal and solace them, applying herbs that should
assuage to every cut or gash upon their bodies, and to all their
wounds. Of every healing herb that was laid on the hurts of Cuculain, he
sent an equal share to Ferdiad, sending it westward over the ford, so
that men might not say that through the healing virtue of the herbs he
was able to overcome him. And of all food and invigorating drink that
was set before Ferdiad, he sent an equal portion northwards over the
ford to Cuculain, for those that prepared food for him were more than
those who made ready food for Cuculain. Thus that night they rested.

They fought with spears on the next day, and so great was the strength
of each, so dire their skill in combat, that both were grievously
wounded, for all the protection of their shields. The men of healing art
could do little for them beyond the staunching of their blood, that it
might not flow from their wounds, laying herbs upon their red wounds.

On the third day they arose early in the morning and came forward to the
place of combat. Cuculain saw that the face of Ferdiad was dark as a
black cloud, and thus addressed him: "Thy face is darkened, Ferdiad, and
thine eye has lost its fire, nor are the form and features thine!" And
Ferdiad answered, "O, Cuculain, it is not from fear or dread that my
face is changed, for I am ready to meet all champions in the fight."
Cuculain reproached him, wondering that, for the persuasions of Meave,
Ferdiad was willing thus to fight against his friend, coming to spoil
his land. But Ferdiad replied that fate compelled him, since every man
is constrained to come unto the sod where shall be his last
resting-place. That day the heroes fought with swords, but such was the
skill of both that neither could break down the other's guard.

In the dusk they cast away their weapons, ceasing from the fight; and
though the meeting of the two had been full of vigor and friendship in
the morning, yet was their parting at night mournful and full of sorrow.
That night their horses were not in the same enclosure, nor did their
charioteers rest at the same fire.

Then Ferdiad arose early in the morning and went forth to the place of
contest, knowing well that that day would decide whether he should fall
or Cuculain; knowing that the sun would set on one of them dead that
night. Cuculain, seeing him come forth, spoke thus to his charioteer: "I
see the might and skill of Ferdiad, coming forth to the combat. If it be
I that shall begin to yield to-day, do thou stir my valor, uttering
reproaches and words of condemnation against me, so that my wrath shall
grow upon me, enkindling me again for the battle." And the charioteer
assented and promised.

Great was the deed that was performed that day at the ford by the two
heroes, the two warriors, the two champions of western lands, the two
gift-bestowing hands of the northwest of the world, the two beloved
pillars of the valor of the Gael, the two keys of the bravery of the
Gael, brought to fight from afar through the schemes of Meave the queen.

They began to shoot with their missiles from the dawn of the day, from
early morning till noon. And when midday came the ire of the men waxed
more furious, and they drew nearer together. Then Cuculain sprang from
the river-bank against the boss of the shield of Ferdiad, son of Daman,
to strike at his head over the rim of the shield from above. But Ferdiad
gave the shield so strong a turn with his left arm that he cast Cuculain
from him like a bird. Cuculain sprang again upon him, to strike him from
above. But the son of Daman so struck the shield with his left knee that
he cast Cuculain from him like a child.

Then the charioteer of Cuculain spoke to chide him: "Woe for thee, whom
the warrior thus casts aside as an evil mother casts away her offspring.
He throws thee as foam is thrown by the river. He grinds thee as a mill
would grind fresh grain. He pierces thee as the ax of the woodman
cleaves the oak. He binds thee as the woodbine binds the tree. He darts
on thee as the hawk darts on finches, so that henceforth thou hast no
claim or name or fame for valor, until thy life's end, thou
phantom sprite!"

Then Cuculain sprang up fleet as the wind and swift as the swallow,
fierce as a dragon, strong as a lion, advancing against Ferdiad through
clouds of dust, and forcing himself upon his shield, to strike at him
from above. Yet even then Ferdiad shook him off, driving him backwards
into the ford.

Then Cuculain's countenance was changed, and his heart swelled and grew
great within him till he towered demoniac and gigantic, rising like one
of the Fomor upon Ferdiad. So fierce was the fight they now fought that
their heads met above and their feet below and their arms in the midst,
past the rims of the shields. So fierce was the fight they fought that
they cleft the shields to their centers. So fierce was the fight they
fought that their spears were shivered from socket to haft. So fierce
was the fight they fought that the demons of the air screamed along the
rims of the shields, and from the hilts of their swords and from the
hafts of their spears. So fierce was the fight they fought that they
cast the river out of its bed, so that not a drop of water lay there
unless from the fierceness of the champion heroes hewing each other in
the midst of the ford. So fierce was the fight they fought that the
horses of the Gael fled away in fright, breaking their chains and their
yokes, and the women and youths and camp-followers broke from the camp,
flying forth southwards and westwards.

They were fighting with the edges of their swords, and Ferdiad, finding
a break in the guard of Cuculain, gave him a stroke of the
straight-edged sword, burying it in his body until the blood fell into
his girdle, until the ford was red with the blood of the hero's body.
Then Cuculain thrust an unerring spear over the rim of the shield, and
through the breast of Ferdiad's armor, so that the point of the spear
pierced his heart and showed through his body.

"That is enough, now," said Ferdiad: "I fall for that!" Then Cuculain
ran towards him, and clasped his two arms about him, and bore him with
his arms and armor across the ford northwards. Cuculain laid Ferdiad
down there, bowing over his body in faintness and weakness. But the
charioteer cried to him, "Rise up, Cuculain, for the host is coming upon
us, and it is not single combat they will give thee, since Ferdiad, son
of Daman, son of Dairé, has fallen before thee!"

"Friend," Cuculain made answer, "what avails it for me to rise after him
that has fallen by me?"

Thus did Cuculain keep the ford, still known as the ford of Ferdiad,
Ath-Fhirdia on the Dee, in the midst of the green plain of Louth. And
while he fought at the ford of Ferdiad the army of Ulad assembled, and
coming southwards over the hills before Emain, turned back the host of
Meave the queen and pursued them. The army of Meave fled westwards and
southwards towards Connacht, passing the Yellow Ford of Athboy and the
Hill of Ward, the place of sacrifice, where the fires on the Day of
Spirits summoned the priests and Druids to the offering. Fleeing still
westwards from the Yellow Ford, they passed between the lakes of Owel
and Ennel, with the men of Ulad still hot in their rear. Thus came
pursued and pursuers to Gairec, close by Athlone--the Ford of Luan--and
the wooded shore of the great Lough Ree. There was fought a battle
hardly less fatal to victors than to vanquished, for though the hosts of
Meave were routed, yet Concobar's men could not continue the pursuit.
Thus Meave escaped and Fergus with her, and came to their great fort on
the green hillside of Cruacan amid the headwaters of the Shannon.

The victory of Concobar's men was like a defeat. There was not food that
pleased him, nor did sleep come to him by flight, so that the Ulad
wondered, and Catbad the right-wonderful Druid, himself a warrior who
had taught Concobar and reared him, went to Concobar to learn the secret
of his trouble. Therefore Catbad asked of Concobar what wound had
wounded him, what obstinate sickness had come upon him, making him faint
and pale, day after day.

"Great reason have I for it," answered Concobar, "for the four great
provinces of Erin have come against me, bringing with them their bards
and singers, that their ravages and devastations might be recorded, and
they have burned our fortresses and dwellings, and Ailill and Meave have
gained a battle against me. Therefore I would be avenged upon Meave
the queen."

"Thou hast already avenged it sternly, O Red-handed Concobar," Catbad
made answer, "by winning the battle over the four provinces of Erin."

"That is no battle," Concobar answered, "where a strong king falls not
by hard fighting and by fury. That an army should escape from a goodly
battle! Unless Ailill should fall, and Meave, by me in this encounter
with valorous hosts, I tell you that my heart will break, O Catbad!"

"This is my counsel for thee," replied Catbad, "to stay for the present.
For the winds are rough, and the roads are foul, and the streams and the
rivers are in flood, and the hands of the warriors are busy making forts
and strongholds among strangers. So wait till the summer days come upon
us, till every grassy sod is a pillow, till our horses are full of
spirit and our colts are strong, till our men are whole of their wounds
and hurts, till the nights are short to watch and to ward and to guard
in the land of enemies and in the territories of strangers. Spring is
not the time for an invasion. But meanwhile let tidings be sent to thy
friends in absence, in the islands and throughout the northern seas."

Therefore messengers were sent with the tidings, and the friends in
absence of Concobar were summoned. They set forth with ships from the
islands of the northern seas, and came forward with the tide to the
Cantyre headland. The green surges of the tremendous sea rose about
them, and a mighty storm rose against them. Such was the strength of the
storm that the fleet was parted in three. A third of them, with the son
of Amargin, came under the cliffs of Fair Head, to the Bay of Murbolg,
where huge columns tower upward on the face of the cliff, high as the
nests of the eagles; cliffs ruddy and mighty, frowning tremendous across
the channel to Cantyre and Islay and far-away Jura. A third of the ships
came to the safer harbor of Larne, where bands of white seam the cliff's
redness, where the great headland is thrust forth northwards, sheltering
the bay from the eastern waves. A third of the fleet came to the strand
beside Dundelga, hard by the great hill of earth where was reared the
stronghold of Cuculain.

At that same time came Concobar with a thousand men to the fort of
Cuculain, and feasting was prepared for him at the House of Delga. Nor
was Concobar long there till he saw the bent spars of sails and the
full-crewed ships, and the scarlet pavilions, and the many-colored
banners, and the blue bright lances, and the weapons of war. Then
Concobar called on the chiefs that were about him, for the territory
and land he had bestowed upon them, and for the jewels he had given
them, to stand firm and faithful. For he knew not whether the ships were
ships of his foes, of the Galian of Lagin, now called Leinster, or the
Munstermen of great Muma, or the men of Olnemact, called afterwards
Connacht; for the estuary of the river and the strand were full of men.

Then Senca son of Ailill answered for the chieftains: "I give my word,
indeed, that Erin holds not a soldier who lays his hand in the hand of a
chieftain that is not known to me. If they be the men of Erin thy foes
that are there, I shall ask a truce of battle from them; but if they be
thy friends and allies, thou shalt the more rejoice."

Then Senca son of Ailill went forward to the place where the ships were,
and learned that they were the friends in absence of Concobar, come to
be his allies against the four provinces of Erin. Then Concobar spoke
to Cuculain:

"Well, O Cuculain, let the horses of the plain of Murtemni be caught by
thee; let four-wheeled chariots be harnessed for them; bring with them
hither my friends from the ships in chariots and four-wheeled cars,
that feasting and enjoyment may be prepared for them."

[Illustration: Gray Man's Path, Fair Head.]

They were brought in chariots to the feast, and carvers carved for them,
and serving-men carried the cups of mead. Songs were sung to them, and
they tarried there till sunrise on the morrow. Then Concobar spoke again
to Cuculain:

"It is well, Cuculain. Let messengers now be sent through the lands of
the Ulaid to the warriors of the Ulaid, that the foreign friends may be
ministered to by them also, while I make my camp here by the river. And
bid the thrice fifty veteran champions come hither to me, that I may
have their aid and counsel in battle."

But Cuculain would not. Therefore Concobar went himself to summon the
veterans. When they asked the cause of his coming, Concobar answered,
"Have you not heard how the four provinces of Erin came against us,
bringing with them their bards and singers, that their ravages and
devastations might the better be recorded, and burning and plundering
our fortresses and dwellings? Therefore I would make an expedition of
hostility against them, and with your guidance and counsel would I make
the expedition."

"Let our old steeds be caught by thee," they answered, "and let our old
chariots be yoked by thee, so that we may go on this journey and
expedition with thee." Then their old chargers were caught, and their
old chariots yoked, so that they too came to the camp at the Water
of Luachan.

This was told to the four provinces. The Three Waves of Erin thundered
in the night; the Wave of Clidna at Glandore in the South; the Wave of
Rudraige along the bent-carpeted sandhills of Dundrum, under the
Mountains of Mourne; and the Wave of Tuag Inbir, at the bar of northern
Bann. For these are the Three Waves of Fate in Erin. Then the four
provinces hosted their men. The son of Lucta, the north Munster king,
assembled his tribes at the Hill of Luchra, between the Shannon mouth
and the Summit of Prospects. Ailill and Meave hosted the men of the west
at Cruacan. Find, son of Ros, king over the Galian of Leinster, gathered
his army at Dinn-Rig by the Barrow. Cairpré Nia Fer assembled his host
about him at Tara, in the valley of the Boyne.

This was the proposal of Eocu, son of Lucta, king of north Munster by
the Shannon: That everything should have its payment, and that
reparation should be made to Concobar for the invasion; that a fort
should be paid for every fort, for every house a house, for every cow a
cow, for every bull a bull; that the great brown bull should be sent
back, that the breadth of the face of the bull in red gold should be
given to Concobar, and that there should be no more hostility among the
men of Erin.

This was reported to Meave, but the queen answered, "A false hand was
his who gave this counsel. For so long as there shall be among us one
who can hold a sword, who can wear the shield-strap about his neck, that
proposal shall not go to him."

"Thy counsel is not mine," replied Ailill, "for not greater shall be our
part of that payment than the part of all the four provinces who went on
that raid for the bull." Therefore Meave consented, and messengers were
sent, and came to Tara by the Boyne, where were Find, son of Ros, king
of Leinster, and his brother Cairpré Nia Fer, king of Tara. Thence they
sent messengers to treat with Concobar, but Concobar rejected the terms.
"I give my word, indeed," answered Concobar, "that I will not take terms
from you till my tent has been pitched in every province of Erin."

"Good, O Concobar," they replied; "where wilt thou now make thy
encampment to-night?"

"In the Headland of the Kings, by the clear bright Boyne," answered
Concobar, for Concobar concealed not ever from his enemy the place in
which he would take station or camp, that they might not say that it was
fear or dread that caused him not to say it. Concobar, therefore,
marched toward the Headland of the Kings, across the Boyne to the
southward, and facing the northern bank where are the pyramids of the
Dagda Mor and the De Danaans. But the southern armies were there
already, so Concobar halted before the river. Then were their positions
fixed and their pavilions pitched, their huts and their tents were made.
Their fires were kindled, cooking and food and drink were prepared;
baths of clean bathing were made by them, and their hair was
smooth-combed; their bodies were minutely cleansed, supper and food were
eaten by them; and tunes and merry songs and eulogies were sung by them.

Then Concobar sent men to reconnoitre the southern and western armies.
Two went and returned not, falling indeed into the hands of the foe. It
seemed long to Concobar that the two were gone. He spoke, therefore, to
his kinsman: "Good indeed, Irgalac, son of Macclac, son of Congal, son
of Rudraige, sayest thou who is proper to go to estimate and to
reconnoitre the army?"

"Who should go there," answered Irgalac, "but Iriel good at arms,
great-kneed son of Conall Cernac. He is a Conall for havoc, a Cuculain
for dexterity of feats. He is a Catbad, a right-wonderful Druid, for
intelligence and counsel, he is a Senca son of Ailill for peace and for
good speech, he is a Celtcair son of Utecar for valor, he is a Concobar
son of Factna Fatac for kingliness and wide-eyed-ness, for giving of
treasures and of wealth and of riches. Who but Iriel should go?"

Therefore Iriel went forward: standing on the pyramid of the Dagda, he
began measuring and reconnoitering the army. His spirit, or his mind, or
his thoughts did not fret over them at all. He brought their description
with him to the place in which Concobar was.

"How, my life, Iriel?" said Concobar. "I give my word truly," said
Iriel; "it seems to me that there is not ford on river, or stone on
hill, nor highway nor road in the territory of Breg or Mide, that is not
full of their horse-teams and of their servants. It seems to me that
their apparel and their gear and their garments are the blaze of a royal
house from the plain."

"Good, O Ulaid," said Concobar, "what is your advice to us for the
battle?" "Our advice is," said the Ulaid, "to wait till our strong men
and our leaders and our commanders and our supporters of battle come."
Not long was their waiting, and not great was their stay, till they saw
three chariot-warriors approaching them, and a band of twelve hundred
along with each rider of them. It is these that were there--three of the
goodly men of science of the Ulaid, to wit, Catbad the right-wonderful
Druid, and Aiterni the Importunate, and Amargin the man of science and
art. After them came other valiant leaders with troops. Then Concobar
arose and took his gear of battle and of conflict and of combat about
him, saying, "Why should we not give battle?"

A third of the army of the Ulaid rose with him, too. And they went over
the river Boyne. And the other armies arose against them as they were
crossing the river. And each of them took to hacking and to cutting down
the other, destroying and wounding till there was no similitude of the
Ulaid at that point of time, unless it were a huge sturdy oakwood in
the middle of the plain, and a great army were to go close to it, and
the slender and the small of the wood were cut off, but its huge sturdy
oaks were left behind. Thus their young were cut off, and none but their
champions and their battle-warriors and their good heroes of valor
were left.

The shield of Concobar was struck so that it moaned, and the three Waves
of Erin, the Wave of Clidna, the Wave of Rudraige, and the Wave of Tuag
Inbir echoed that moan, and all the shields of the Ulaid resounded,
every one of them that was on their shoulders and in their chariots. As
the Ulaid were retreating, fresh troops came up for them under Conall
Cernac. A tree of shelter and a wreath of laurel and a hand above them
was Conall to them. So their flight was stayed. Then Conall drew the
sharp long sword out of its sheath of war and played the music of his
sword on the armies. The ring of Conall's sword was heard through the
battalions on both sides. And when they heard the music of Conall's
sword their hearts quaked and their eyes fluttered and their faces
whitened, and each of them withdrew back into his place of battle and of
combat. But so fierce was the onset of the southern armies that the
fight of the Ulaid against them was as a breast against a great flood,
or an arrow against the rock, or the striking of a head against cliffs.
Yet through the great might of Cuculain the Ulaid prevailed, and Cairpré
the King of Tara was slain. After the battle, Concobar spoke thus:
"There were three sons of Ros Ruad the king--Find in Alend, Ailill in
Cruac, Cairpré in Tara; together they performed their deeds of valor,
the three brothers in every strife; together they used to give their
battle. They were three pillars of gold about their hills, abiding in
strength; great is their loss since the third son has fallen."



VII.

FIND AND OSSIN.

A.D. 200--290.

Seventeen centuries ago, two hundred summers after the death of Cuculain
the hero, came the great and wonderful time of Find the son of Cumal,
Ossin the son of Find, and Find's grandson Oscur. It was a period of
growth and efflorescence; the spirit and imaginative powers of the
people burst forth with the freshness of the prime. The life of the land
was more united, coming to a national consciousness.

The five kingdoms were now clearly defined, with Meath, in the central
plain, predominant over the others, and in a certain sense ruling all
Ireland from the Hill of Tara. The code of honor was fixed; justice had
taken well-defined forms; social life had ripened to genial urbanity.
The warriors were gathered together into something like a regular army,
a power rivaling the kings. Of this army, Find, son of Cumal, was the
most renowned leader--a warrior and a poet, who embodied in himself the
very genius of the time, its fresh naturalness, its ripeness, its
imagination. No better symbol of the spirit of his age could be found
than Find's own "Ode to Spring":

"May-day! delightful time! How beautiful the color! The blackbirds sing
their full lay. Would that Laigay were here! The cuckoos call in
constant strains. How welcome is ever the noble brightness of the
season. On the margin of the leafy pools the summer swallows skim the
stream. Swift horses seek the pools. The heath spreads out its long
hair. The white, gentle cotton-grass grows. The sea is lulled to rest.
Flowers cover the earth."

Find's large and imaginative personality is well drawn in one of the
poems of his golden-tongued son Ossin, though much of the beauty of
Ossin's form is lost in the change of tongue:

     "Six thousand gallant men of war
     We sought the rath o'er Badamar;
     To the king's palace home we bent
     Our way. His bidden guests we went.
         'Twas Clocar Fair,
         And Find was there,
         The Fians from the hills around
         Had gathered to the race-course ground.
     From valley deep and wooded glen
     Fair Munster sent its mighty men;
     And Fiaca, Owen's son, the king,
     Was there the contest witnessing.
     'Twas gallant sport! With what delight
     Leaped thousand pulses at the sight.
         How all hearts bound
         As to the ground
     First are brought forth the Fian steeds,
     Then those from Luimnea's sunny meads.
     Three heats on Mac Mareda's green
     They run; and foremost still is seen
     Dill Mac Decreca's coal-black steed.
     At Crag-Lochgur he takes the lead.

     "His is the day--and, lo! the king
     The coal-black steed soliciting
     From Dill the Druid!--'Take for it
     A hundred beeves; for it is fit
     The black horse should be mine to pay
     Find for his deeds of many a day.'

     "Then spoke the Druid, answering
     His grandson, Fiaca the king:
     'Take my blessing; take the steed,
     For the hero's fitting meed:
     Give it for thy honor's sake.'
     And to Find the King thus spake

     "'Hero, take the swift black steed,
     Of thy valor fitting meed;
     And my car, in battle-raid
     Gazed on by the foe with fear;
     And a seemly steed for thy charioteer.
     Chieftain, be this good sword thine,
     Purchased with a hundred kine,
     In thine hand be it our aid.

     Take this spear, whose point the breath
     Of venomed words has armed with death,
     And the silver-orbèd shield,
     Sunbeam of the battlefield!
     And take with thee
     My grayhounds three,
     Slender and tall,
     Bright-spotted all,
     Take them with thee, chieftain bold,
     With their chainlets light
     Of the silver white,
     And their neck-rings of the tawny gold.
     Slight not thou our offering,
     Son of Cumal, mighty king!"

     "Uprose Find our chieftain bold,
     Stood before the Fian ranks,
     To the king spoke gracious thanks,
     Took the gifts the monarch gave;
     Then each to each these champions brave
     Glorious sight to see and tell,
     Spoke their soldier-like farewell!

     "The way before us Find led then;
     We followed him, six thousand men,
     From out the Fair, six thousand brave,
     To Caicer's house of Cloon-na-Dave.

     "Three nights, three days, did all of us
     Keep joyous feast in Caicer's house;
     Fifty rings of the yellow gold
     To Caicer Mac Caroll our chieftain told;
     As many cows and horses gave
     To Caicer Mac Caroll our chieftain brave.
     Well did Find of Innisfail
     Pay the price of his food and ale.

     "Find rode o'er the Luacra, joyous man,
     Till he reached the strand at Barriman;
     At the lake where the foam on the billow's top
     Leaps white, did Find and the Fians stop.

     "'Twas then that our chieftain rode and ran
     Along the strand of Barriman;
     Trying the speed
     Of his swift black steed,--
     Who now but Find was a happy man?

     "Myself and Cailté at each side,
     In wantonness of youthful pride,
     Would ride with him where he might ride.
     Fast and furious rode he,
     Urging his steed to far Tralee.
     On from Tralee by Lerg duv-glass,
     And o'er Fraegmoy, o'er Finnass,
     O'er Moydeo, o'er Monaken,
     On to Shan-iber, o'er Shan-glen,
     Till the clear stream of Flesk we win,
     And reach the pillar of Crofinn;
     O'er Sru-Muny, o'er Moneket,
     And where the fisher spreads his net
     To snare the salmon of Lemain,
     And thence to where our coursers' feet
     Wake the glad echoes of Loch Leane;
     And thus fled he,
     Nor slow were we;
     Through rough and smooth our course we strain.

     "Long and swift our stride,--more fleet
     Than the deer of the mountain our coursers' feet!
     Away to Flesk by Carnwood dun;
     And past Mac Scalvé's Mangerton,
     Till Find reached Barnec Hill at last;
     There rested he, and then we passed
     Up the high hill before him, and:
     'Is there no hunting hut at hand?'
     He thus addressed us; 'The daylight
     Is gone, and shelter for the night
     We lack.' He scarce had ended, when
     Gazing adown the rocky glen,
     On the left hand, just opposite,
     He saw a house with its fire lit;
     'That house till now I've never seen,
     Though many a time and oft I've been
     In this wild glen. Come, look at it!'

     "Yes, there are things that our poor wit
     Knows little of,' said Cailté; 'thus
     This may be some miraculous
     Hostel we see, whose generous blaze
     Thy hospitality repays,
     Large-handed son of Cumal!'--So
     On to the house all three we go...."

Of their entry to the mysterious house, of the ogre and the witch they
found there, of the horrors that gathered on all sides, when

     "From iron benches on the right
     Nine headless bodies rose to sight,
     And on the left, from grim repose,
     Nine heads that had no bodies rose,..."

Ossin likewise tells, and how, overcome, they fell at last into a
deathlike trance and stupor, till the sunlight woke them lying on the
heathery hillside, the house utterly vanished away.

The scenes of all the happenings in the story are well known: the rath
of Badamar is near Caher on the Suir, in the midst of the Golden Vale, a
plain of wonderful richness and beauty, walled in by the red precipices
of the Galtee Mountains, and the Knock-Mealdown Hills. From the rath of
Badamar Find could watch the western mountains reddening and glowing in
front of the dawn, as the sun-rays shot level over the burnished plain.
Clocar is thirty miles westward over the Golden Vale, near where Croom
now stands; and here were run the races; here Find gained the gift of
the coal-black steed. It is some forty miles still westwards to the
Strand of Tralee; the last half of the way among hills carpeted with
heather; and the Strand itself, with the tide out, leaves a splendid
level of white sand as far as the eye can reach, tempting Find to try
his famous courser. The race carried them southwards some fifteen miles
to the beautiful waters of Lough Leane, with its overhanging wooded
hills, the Lake of Killarney, southward of which rises the huge red
mass of Mangerton, in the midst of a country everywhere rich in beauty.
The Hill of Barnec is close by, but the site of the magic dwelling, who
can tell? Perhaps Find; or Cailté, or golden-tongued Ossin himself.

There was abundant fighting in those days, for well within memory was
the time of Conn of the Five-score Fights, against whom Cumal had warred
because Conn lord of Connacht had raised Crimtan of the Yellow Hair to
the kingship of Leinster. Cumal fought at the Rath that bears his name,
now softened to Rathcool, twelve miles inward from the sea at Dublin,
with the hills rising up from the plain to the south of the Rath. Cumal
fought and fell, slain by Goll Mac Morna, and enmity long endured
between Find and Goll who slew his sire. But like valiant men they were
reconciled, and when Goll in his turn died, Find made a stirring poem on
Goll's mighty deeds.

Another fateful fight for Find was the battle of Kinvarra, among the
southern rocks of Galway Bay; for though he broke through the host of
his foeman Uincé, that chieftain himself escaped, and, riding swiftly
with a score of men, came to Find's own dwelling at Druim Dean on the
Red Hills of Leinster, and burned the dwelling, leaving it a smoldering
ruin. Find pursuing, overtook them, slaying them at the ford called to
this day Ath-uincé, the ford of Uincé. Returning homewards, Find found
his house desolate, and the song he sang still holds the memory of
his sorrow.

Two poems he made, on the Plain of Swans and on Roirend in Offaly, full
of vivid pictures and legends; and one of romantic tragedy, telling how
the two daughters of King Tuatal Tectmar were treacherously slain,
through the malice of the Leinster king. But of romances and songs of
fair women in the days of Find, the best is the Poem of Gael, who
composed it to win a princess for his bride.

Of fair Credé of the Yellow Hair it was said that there was scarce a gem
in all Erin that she had not got as a love-token, but that she would
give her heart to none. Credé had vowed that she would marry the man who
made the best verses on her home, a richly-adorned dwelling in the
south, under the twin cones of the Paps, and within sight of Lough Leane
and Killarney. Cael took up the challenge, and invoking the Genius that
dwelt in the sacred pyramid of Brugh on the Boyne he made these verses,
and came to recite them to yellow-haired Credé:

     "It would be happy for me to be in her home,
     Among her soft and downy couches,
     Should Credé deign to hear me;
     Happy for me would be my journey.
         A bowl she has, whence berry-juice flows,
     With which she colors her eyebrows black;
     She has clear vessels of fermenting ale;
     Cups she has, and beautiful goblets.
         The color of her house is white like lime;
     Within it are couches and green rushes;
     Within it are silks and blue mantles;
     Within it are red gold and crystal cups.
         Of its sunny chamber the corner stones
     Are all of silver and yellow gold,
     Its roof in stripes of faultless order
     Of wings of brown and crimson red.
         Two doorposts of green I see,
     Nor is the door devoid of beauty;
     Of carved silver,--long has it been renowned,--
     Is the lintel that is over the door.
         Credé's chair is on your right hand,
     The pleasantest of the pleasant it is;
     All over a blaze of Alpine gold,
     At the foot of her beautiful couch...
         The household which is in her house
     To the happiest fate has been destined;
     Grey and glossy are their garments;
     Twisted and fair is their flowing hair.
         Wounded men would sink in sleep,
     Though ever so heavily teeming with blood,
     With the warbling of the fairy birds
     From the eaves of her sunny summer-room.
         If I am blessed with the lady's grace,
     Fair Credé for whom the cuckoo sings,
     In songs of praise shall ever live,
     If she but repay me for my gift....
         There is a vat of royal bronze,
     Whence flows the pleasant; nice of malt;
     An apple-tree stands over the vat,
     With abundance of weighty fruit.
         When Credé's goblet is filled
     With the ale of the noble vat,
     There drop down into the cup forthwith
     Four apples at the same time.
         The four attendants that have been named,
     Arise and go to the distributing,
     They present to four of the guests around
     A drink to each man and an apple.
         She who possesses all these things,
     With the strand and the stream that flow by them,
     Credé of the three-pointed hill,
     Is a spear-cast beyond the women of Erin.
       Here is a poem for her,--no mean gift.
     It is not a hasty, rash composition;
     To Credé now it is here presented:
     May my journey be brightness to her!"

[Illustration: Colleen Bawn Caves, Klllarney.]

Tradition says that the heart of the yellow-haired beauty was utterly
softened and won, so that she delayed not to make Cael master of the
dwelling he so well celebrated; master, perhaps, of all the jewels of
Erin that her suitors had given her. Yet their young love was not
destined to meet the storms and frosts of the years; for Cael the
gallant fell in battle, his melodious lips for ever stilled. Thus have
these two become immortal in song.

We have seen Cailté with Ossin following Find in his wild ride through
the mountains of Killarney, and to Cailté is attributed the saying that
echoes down the ages: "There are things that our poor wit knows nothing
off!" Cailté was a great lover of the supernatural, yet there was in him
also a vein of sentiment, shown in his poem on the death of
Clidna--"Clidna the fair-haired, long to be remembered," who was
tragically drowned at Glandore harbor in the south, and whose sad wraith
still moans upon the bar, in hours of fate for the people of Erin.

In a gayer vein is the poem of Fergus the Eloquent, who sang the legend
of Tipra Seangarmna, the Fountain of the Feale River, which flows
westward to the sea from the mountains north of Killarney. The river
rises among precipices, gloomy caverns and ravines, and passes through
vales full of mysterious echoes amid mist-shrouded hills. There, as
Fergus sings, were Ossin and his following hunting, when certain ominous
fair women lured them to a cave,--women who were but insubstantial
wraiths,--to hold them captive till the seasons ran full circle, summer
giving place again to winter and spring. But Ossin, being himself of
more than human wisdom, found a way to trick the spirits; for daily he
cut chips from his spear and sent them floating down the spring, till
Find at last saw them, and knew the tokens as Ossin's, and, coming,
delivered his son from durance among ghosts.

The great romantic theme of the time binds the name of Find, son of
Cumal, with that of Cormac, son of Art, and grandson of Conn of the
Five-score Battles. This Cormac was himself a notable man of wisdom, and
here are some of the Precepts he taught to Cairbré, his son:

"O grandson of Conn, O Cormac," Cairbré asked him, "what is good for a
king?"

"This is plain," answered Cormac. "It is good for him to have patience
and not to dispute, self-government without anger, affability without
haughtiness, diligent attention to history, strict observance of
covenants and agreements, justice tempered by mercy in the execution of
the laws. It is good for him to make fertile land, to invite ships, to
import jewels of price from across the sea, to purchase and distribute
raiment, to keep vigorous swordsmen who may protect his territory, to
make war beyond his territory, to attend to the sick, to discipline his
soldiers. Let him enforce fear, let him perfect peace, let him give mead
and wine, let him pronounce just judgments of light, let him speak all
truth, for it is through the truth of a king that God gives
favorable seasons."

"O grandson of Conn, O Cormac," Cairbré again asked him, "what is good
for the welfare of a country?"

"This is plain," answered Cormac. "Frequent assemblies of wise and good
men to investigate its affairs, to abolish every evil and retain every
wholesome institution, to attend to the precepts of the seniors; let
every assembly be convened according to the law, let the law be in the
hands of the noblest, let the chieftains be upright and unwilling to
oppress the poor."

"O grandson of Conn, O Cormac," again asked Cairbré, "what are duties of
a prince in the banqueting-house?"

"A prince on the Day of Spirits should light his lamps and welcome his
guests with clapping of hands, offering comfortable seats; the
cup-bearers should be active in distributing meat and drink. Let there
be moderation of music, short stories, a welcoming countenance, a
greeting for the learned, pleasant conversation. These are the duties
of a prince and the arrangement of a banqueting-house."

"O grandson of Conn, O Cormac, for what qualifications is a king elected
over countries and tribes of people?"

"From the goodness of his shape and family, from his experience and
wisdom, from his prudence and magnanimity, from his eloquence and
bravery in battle, and from the number of his friends."

"O grandson of Conn, O Cormac, what was thy deportment when a youth?"

"I was cheerful at the banquet of the House of Mead, I was fierce in
battle, but vigilant and careful. I was kind to friends, a physician to
the sick, merciful to the weak, stern toward the headstrong. Though
possessed of knowledge, I loved silence. Though strong, I was not
overbearing. Though young, I mocked not the old. Though valiant, I was
not vain. When I spoke of one absent I praised and blamed him not, for
by conduct like this are we known to be courteous and refined."

"O grandson of Conn, O Cormac, what is good for me?"

"If thou attend to my command, thou wilt not scorn the old though thou
art young, nor the poor though thou art well clad, nor the lame though
thou art swift, nor the blind though thou seest, nor the weak though
thou art strong, nor the ignorant though thou art wise. Be not slothful,
be not passionate, be not greedy, be not idle, be not jealous; for he
who is so is hateful to God and man."

"O grandson of Conn, O Cormac, I would know how to hold myself with the
wise and the foolish, with friends and strangers, with old and young."

"Be not too knowing or simple, too proud or inactive, too humble or
haughty, talkative or too silent, timid or too severe. For if thou art
too knowing, thou wilt be mocked at and abused; if too simple, thou wilt
be deceived; if proud, thou wilt be shunned; if too humble, thou wilt
suffer; if talkative, thou wilt be thought foolish; if too severe, men
will speak ill of thee; if timid, thy rights will suffer."

"O grandson of Conn, O Cormac, how shall I discern the characters of
women?"

"I know them, but I cannot describe them. Their counsel is foolish, they
are forgetful of love, most headstrong in their desires, fond of folly,
prone to enter rashly into engagements, given to swearing, proud to be
asked in marriage, tenacious of enmity, cheerless at the banquet,
rejectors of reconciliation, prone to strife, of much garrulity. Until
evil be good, until hell be heaven, until the sun hide his light, until
the stars of heaven fall, women will remain as we have declared. Woe to
him, my son, who desires or serves a bad woman, woe to him who has a
bad wife."

Was there some thought of his daughter Grania in Cormac's mind, behind
these keen-edged; words?--of Grania, beloved of Diarmuid? When the
winters of the years were already white on Find, son of Cumal, when
Ossin his son had a son of his own, Oscur the valiant, the two old men,
Cormac the king and Find leader of the warriors, bethought them to make
a match between Find and Grania, one of the famous beauties of the olden
time. A banquet was set in the great House of Mead, and Find and his men
were there, Diarmuid son of Duibné being also there, best beloved among
Find's warriors. There was a custom, much in honor among the chieftains,
that a princess should send her goblet to the guests, offering it to
each with gentle courtesy. This grace fell to the lady Grania, whose
whole heart rose up against her grey-bearded lover, and was indeed set
on Diarmuid the son of Duibné. Grania compounded a dreamy draught to
mix with the mead, so that all the chieftains and warriors, with Cormac
and Find himself, even while praising the drink, fell straightway
a-nodding, and were soon in silent sleep, all except Ossin and Diarmuid,
whom Grania had bidden not to drink.

Then Grania, her voice all tremulous with tears, told to Ossin the fate
that awaited her, looking at him, but speaking for Diarmuid; bewailing
bitterly the misery of fair youth in the arms of withered eld, and at
last turning and openly begging Diarmuid to save her from her fate. To
carry away a king's daughter, betrothed to the leader of the warriors,
was a perilous thing, and Diarmuid's heart stood still at the thought of
it; yet Grania's tears prevailed, and they two fled forth that night to
the hills and forests. Dire and ruinous was the wrath of Cormac and of
Find when they awoke and found that these two were fled; and whatever
might was in the king's hand, whatever power in the hosts of Find, was
straightway turned against them in pursuit. Yet the two fled as the deer
might fly, visiting with their loves every wood and valley in Erin, till
the memory of them lingers throughout all the hills. Finally, after a
year's joyful and fearsome fleeing, the Fian warriors everywhere aiding
them for love of Diarmuid, swift death came upon Diarmuid, and Grania
was left desolate.

But Angus the Ever-Young, guardian Genius of the pyramid-shrine of Brugh
by the Boyne, De Danaan dweller in the secret house, Angus of the
Immortals received the spirit of Diarmuid, opening for him the ways of
the hidden world.

But enmity grew between Find with his warriors and Cormac the king, till
at last a battle was fought where Find's men fell, and Cairbré, the
well-instructed son of Cormac also fell. Thus passed away the ruling
spirits of that age, the flowering time of the genius of Erin.



VIII.

THE MESSENGER OF THE NEW WAY.

A.D. 410-493.

The valor of Fergus and Cuculain, the rich imaginative life of Find and
Ossin, were the flower of heroic centuries. Strong men had fought for
generations before Concobar reigned at Emain of Maca. Poets had sung
their deeds of valor, and the loves of fair women, and the magical
beauty of the world, through hardly changing ages. The heroes of fame
were but the best fruit in the garden of the nation's life. So ripe was
that life, more than two thousand years ago, that it is hard to say what
they did not know, of the things which make for amenity and comity. The
colors of the picture are everywhere rich, yet perfectly harmonized.

The earliest forms of Irish writing seem to have come from the Baltic
runes, and these, in their turn, from an old Greek script of twenty-five
hundred years ago. The runes spread as far as the Orkneys, and there
they were well within the horizon of Ireland's knowledge. Nothing would
be more natural than the keeping of written records in Erin for three
or four hundred years before Cuculain's birth, nineteen hundred
years ago.

The arts of life were very perfect; the gold-work of that time is
unsurpassed--has never been surpassed. At a far earlier time there were
beautifully moulded and decorated gold-bronze spears, that show what
richness of feeling and imagination, what just taste and fine skill were
there. All our knowledge goes to show that the suitor of Credé has drawn
a true picture of her house and the generous social life belonging to
it. We know, too, that the great dining-hall of Tara has been faithfully
celebrated by the bards; the picture of the king in his scarlet cloak is
representative of the whole epoch.

The story of Credé also shows the freedom and honor accorded to women,
as does the queenship of Meave, with the record of her separate riches.
The tragedies of Deirdré and Grania would never have been remembered,
had not the freedom and high regard of women been universal. Such
decorative skill as is shown in the metal-work and pottery that have
come down to us must have borne fruit in every realm of social life, in
embroideries, tapestries, well-designed and beautifully adorned homes.
Music is everywhere spoken of in the old traditions, and the skill of
the poets we can judge for ourselves.

In all that concerns the natural man, therefore, a very high perfection
had been reached. A frame of life had grown habitual, which brought out
the finest vigor and strength and beauty. Romantic love added its riches
to valor, and dignity was given by the ever-present memory of the heroic
past, merging on the horizon with the divine dawn of the world. Manhood
and womanhood had come to perfect flower. The crown rested on the brow
of the nation's life.

When the life of the natural man is perfected, the time comes to strike
the note of the immortal, to open the door of our real and enduring
destiny. Sensual success, the ideal of unregenerate man, was perfectly
realized in Concobar and ten thousand like him. The destiny of
triumphant individual life, the strong man victorious over nature and
other men, was fulfilled. Individual prowess, individual accomplishment,
could go no further.

Nor should we overlook the dark shadows of the picture. Glory is to the
victor, but woe to the vanquished. The continual warfare between tribe
and tribe, between chief and chief, which made every valley a home of
warriors dominated by a rath-fortress, bore abundant fruits of evil.
Death in battle need not be reckoned, or may be counted as pure gain;
but the fate of the wounded, maimed and miserable, the destitution of
women and children left behind, the worse fate of the captives, sold as
they were into exile and slavery,--all these must be included in
the total.

Nor are these material losses the worst. The great evil of the epoch of
tribal war is its reaction on the human spirit. The continual struggle
of ambition draws forth egotism, the desire to dominate for mere
domination, the sense of separation and antagonism between man and man,
tribe and tribe, province and province.

But our real human life begins only when these evil tendencies are
abated; when we learn to watch the life of others as if it were our
own,--as being indeed a part of our own life,--and in every act and
motion of our minds do only that which shall be to the best advantage of
both ourselves and our neighbor. For only thus, only by the incessant
practice of this in imagination and act, can the door of our wider and
more humane consciousness be opened.

[Illustration: Ruins on Scattery Island.]

Nor is this all. There are in us vast unexplored tracts of power and
wisdom; tracts not properly belonging to our personal and material
selves, but rather to the impersonal and universal consciousness which
touches us from within, and which we call divine. Our personal fate is
closed by death; but we have a larger destiny which death does not
touch; a destiny enduring and immortal. The door to this larger destiny
can only be opened after we have laid down the weapons of egotism; after
we have become veritably humane. There must be a death to militant
self-assertion, a new birth to wide and universal purposes, before this
larger life can be understood and known.

With all the valor and rich life of the days of Cuculain and Ossin, the
destructive instinct of antagonism was very deeply rooted in all hearts;
it did endless harm to the larger interests of the land, and laid
Ireland open to attack from without. Because the genius of the race was
strong and highly developed, the harm went all the deeper; even now,
after centuries, it is not wholly gone.

The message of the humane and the divine, taught among the Galilean
hills and on the shores of Gennesaret, was after four centuries brought
to Ireland--a word of new life to the warriors and chieftains,
enkindling and transforming their heroic world. Britain had received
the message before, for Britain was a part of the dominion of Rome,
which already had its imperial converts. Roman life and culture and
knowledge of the Latin tongue had spread throughout the island up to the
northern barrier between the Forth and Clyde. Beyond this was a
wilderness of warring tribes.

Where the Clyde comes forth from the plain to the long estuary of the
sea, the Messenger of the Tidings was born. His father, Calpurn, was a
Roman patrician; from this his son, whose personal name was Succat, was
surnamed Patricius, a title raised by his greatness into a personal
name. His letters give us a vivid picture of his captivity, and the
stress of life which gradually aroused in him the inspiration of the
humane and divine ripened later into a full knowledge of his apostolate.

"I Patricius, a sinner," he writes, "and most unlearned of believers,
looked down upon by many, had for my father the deacon Calpurn, son of
the elder Potitus, of a place called Bannova in Tabernia, near to which
was his country home. There I was taken captive, when not quite sixteen.
I knew not the Eternal. Being led into captivity with thousands of
others, I was brought to Ireland,--a fate well deserved. For we had
turned from the Eternal, nor kept the laws of the Eternal. Nor had we
heeded the teachers who urged us to seek safety. Therefore the Eternal,
justly wroth, scattered us among unbelievers, to the uttermost parts of
the earth; here, where my poor worth is now seen among strangers, where
the Eternal liberated the power hid in my unenkindled heart, that even
though late I should recognize my error, and turn with all my heart to
the Eternal....

"I have long had it in mind to write, but until now have hesitated; for
I feared blame, because I had not studied law and the sacred
writings,--as have others who have never changed their language, but
gone on to perfection in it; but my speech is translated into another
language, and the roughness of my writing shows how little I have been
taught. As the Sage says, 'Show by thy speech thy wisdom and knowledge
and learning.' But what profits this excuse? since all can see how in my
old age I struggle after what I should have learned as a boy. For then
my sinfulness hindered me. I was but a beardless boy when I was taken
captive, not knowing what to do and what to avoid; therefore I am
ashamed to show my ignorance now? because I never learned to express
great matters succinctly and well;--great matters like the moving of the
soul and mind by the Divine Breath.... Nor, indeed, was I worthy that
the Master should so greatly favor me, after all my hard labor and heavy
toil, and the years of captivity amongst this people,--that the Master
should show me such graciousness as I never knew nor hoped for till I
came to Ireland.

"But daily herding cattle here, and aspiring many times a day, the fear
of the Eternal grew daily in me. A divine dread and aspiration grew in
me, so that I often prayed a hundred times a day, and as many times in
the night. I often remained in the woods and on the hills, rising to
pray while it was yet dark, in snow or frost or rain; yet I took no
harm. The Breath of the Divine burned within me, so that nothing
remained in me unenkindled.

"One night, while I was sleeping, I heard a voice saying to me, 'You
have fasted well, and soon you shall see your home and your native
land.' Soon after, I heard the voice again, saying, 'The ship is ready
for you.' But the ship was not near, but two hundred miles off, in a
district I had never visited, and where I knew no one. Therefore I fled,
leaving the master I had served for six years, and found the ship by
divine guidance, going without fear....

"We reached the land after three days' sail; then for twenty-eight days
we wandered through a wilderness.... Once more, after years of exile, I
was at home again with my kindred, among the Britons. All welcomed me
like a son, earnestly begging me that, after the great dangers I had
passed through, I would never again leave my home.

"While I was at home, in a vision of the night I saw one who seemed to
come from Ireland, bringing innumerable letters. He gave me one of the
letters, in which I read, 'The voices of the Irish ...;' and while I
read, it seemed to me that I heard the cry of the dwellers by the forest
of Foclut, by the Western Ocean, calling with one voice to me, 'Come and
dwell with us!' My heart was so moved that I awoke, and I give thanks to
my God who after many years has given to them according to
their petition.

"On another night, whether within me or without me I know not, God
knows, One prayed with very wonderful words that I could not comprehend,
till at last He said, 'It is He who gave His soul for you, that speaks!'
I awoke for joy. And once in a vision I saw Him praying within me, as it
were; I saw myself, as it were, within myself; and I heard Him praying
urgently and strongly over the inner man; I being meanwhile astonished,
and wondering who thus prayed within me, till at the end He declared
that I should be an overseer for Him....

"I had not believed in the living Divine from childhood, but had
remained in the realm of death until hunger and nakedness and daily
slavery in Ireland--for I came there as a captive--had so afflicted me
that I almost broke down. Yet these things brought good, for through
that daily suffering I was so changed that I work and toil now for the
well-being of others, I who formerly took no care even for myself....

"Therefore I thank Him who kept me faithful in the day of trial, that I
live to offer myself daily as a living offering to Him who saves and
guards me. Well may I say, 'Master, what am I, what is my calling, that
such grace and divine help are given to me--that I am every day raised
to greater power among these unbelievers, while I everywhere praise thy
name? Whatever comes to me, whether happiness or misery, whether good or
evil fortune, I hold it all the same; giving Thee equal thanks for it,
because Thou hast unveiled for me the One, sure and unchanging, in whom
I may for ever believe. So that in these latter days, even though I am
ignorant, I may dare to undertake so righteous a work, and so wonderful,
that makes me like those who, according to His promise, should carry His
message to all people before the end of the world.

"It were long in whole or even in part to tell of my labours, or how the
all-powerful One many times set me free from bondage, and from twelve
perils wherein my life was in danger, and from nameless pitfalls. It
were ill to try the reader too far, when I have within me the Author
himself, who knows all things even before they happen, as He knows me,
His poor disciple. The voice that so often guides me is divine; and
thence it is that wisdom has come to me, who had no wisdom, knowing not
Him, nor the number of my days: thence comes my knowledge and heart's
joy in His great and healing gift, for the sake of which I willingly
left my home and kindred, though they offered me many gifts with tears
and sorrow.

"Many of the older people also disapproved, but through divine help I
would not give way. It was no grace of mine, but the divine power in me
that stood out against all, so that I came to bear the Message here
among the people of Ireland, suffering the scorn of those who believed
not, and bearing derision and many persecutions, and even chains. Nay, I
even lost my patrician rank for the good of others. But if I be worthy
to do something for the Divine, I am ready with all my heart to yield
service, even to the death, since it has been permitted that through me
many might be reborn to the divine, and that others might be appointed
to teach them....

"The people of Ireland, who formerly had only their idols and pagan
ritual, not knowing the Master, have now become His children. The sons
of the Scoti and their kings' daughters are now become sons of the
Master and handmaidens of the Anointed. And one nobly born lady among
them, a beautiful woman whom I baptized myself, came soon after to tell
me that she was divinely admonished to live in maidenhood, drawing
nearer to Him. Six days later she entered the grade that all the
handmaidens of the Anointed desire, though their fathers and mothers
would hinder them, reproaching and afflicting them; nevertheless, they
grow in number, so that I know not how many they are, besides widows and
continent women, who suffer most from those who hold them in bondage.
Yet they stand firm, and God grants grace to many of them worthily to
follow Him.

"Therefore I might even leave them, to go among the Britons,--for
willingly would I see my own kindred and my native land again, or even
go as far as Gaul to visit my brothers, and see the faces of my Master's
holy men. But I am bound in the Spirit, and would be unfaithful if I
went. Nor would I willingly risk the fruit of all my work. Yet it is not
I who decide, but the Master, who bid me come hither, to spend my whole
life in serving, as indeed I think I shall....

"Therefore I should ever thank Him who was so tolerant of my ignorance
and sluggishness, so many times; treating me not in anger but as a
fellow-worker, though I was slow to learn the work set for me by the
Spirit. He pitied me amongst many thousands, for he saw that I was very
willing, but did net know how to offer my testimony. For they all
opposed my mission, and talked behind my back, saying, 'He wishes to
risk his life among enemies who know nothing of the Master'; not
speaking maliciously, but opposing me because I was so ignorant. Nor did
I myself at once perceive the power that was in me....

"Thus simply, brothers and fellow-workers for the Master, who with me
have believed, I have told you how it happened that I preached and still
preach, to strengthen and confirm you in aspiration, hoping that we may
all rise yet higher. Let that be my reward, as 'the wise son is the
glory of his father.' You know, and the Master knows, how from my youth
I have lived among you, in aspiration and truth and with single heart;
that I have declared the faith to those among whom I dwell, and still
declare it. The Master knows that I have deceived no man in anything,
nor ever shall, for His sake and His people's. Nor shall I ever arouse
uncharity in them or in any, lest His name should be spoken evil of....

"I have striven in my poor way to help my brothers and the handmaidens
of the Anointed, and the holy women who often volunteered to give me
presents and to lay their jewels on my altar; but these I always gave
back to them, even though they were hurt by it; and I have so lived my
life, for the hope of the life eternal, that none may find the least
cause of offence in my ministry; that my least act might not tarnish my
good name, so that unbelievers might speak evil of me....

"If I have asked of any as much as the value of a shoe, tell me. I will
repay it and more. I rather spent my own wealth on you and among you,
wherever I went, for your sakes, through many dangers, to regions where
no believer had ever come to baptize, to ordain teachers or to confirm
the flock. With the divine help I very willingly and lovingly paid all.
Sometimes I gave presents to the kings,--in giving presents to their
sons who convoyed us, to guard us against being taken captive. Once they
sought to kill me, but my time was not yet come. But they took away all
we possessed, and kept me bound, till the Master liberated me on the
fourteenth day, and all our goods were given back, because of the Master
and of those who convoyed us. You yourselves know what gifts I gave to
those who administer the law through the districts I visited oftenest. I
think I spent not less than the fine of fifteen men among them, in order
that I might come among you. Nor do I regret it, nor count it enough,
for I still spend, and shall ever spend, happy if the Master allows me
to spend my soul for you....For I know certainly that poverty and plain
living are better for me than riches and luxury. The Anointed our Master
was poor for us. I am poorer still, for I could not have wealth if I
wished it. Nor do I now judge myself, for I look forward daily to a
violent death, or to be taken captive and sold into slavery, or some
like end. But I fear none of these ...but let me not lose the flock I
feed for Him, here in the uttermost parts of the earth....

"I am willing for His sake to shed my blood, to go without burial, even
though my body be torn by dogs and wild beasts and the fowls of the air;
for I know that thus I should through my body enrich my soul. And I know
that in that day we shall arise in the brightness of the sun, in the
glory of the Anointed Master, as sons of the divine and co-heirs with
Him, made in His likeness. For the sun we see rises daily by divine
ordinance; but it is not ordained to rise for ever, nor shall its light
last for ever. The sun of this world shall fade, with those that worship
it; but we bow to the spiritual Sun, the Anointed, that shall never
perish, nor they who do His will, but shall endure for ever like the
Anointed himself, who reigns with the Father and the Divine Spirit now
and ever....

"This I beg, that no believer or servant of the Master, who reads or
receives this writing, which I, Patricius, a sinner and very unlearned,
wrote in Ireland,--I beg that none may say that whatever is good in it
was dictated by my ignorance, but rather that it came from Him. This is
my Confession, before I die."

That is the story of the most vital event in the life of Ireland, in the
words of the man who was chiefly instrumental in bringing it about.
Though an unskilled writer, as he says himself he has nevertheless
succeeded in breathing into every part of his epistle the power and
greatness of his soul, the sense and vivid reality of the divine breath
which stirred in him and transformed him, the spiritual power, humane
and universal, which enkindled him from within; these are the words of a
man who had first-hand knowledge of the things of our deeper life; not a
mere servant of tradition, living on the words and convictions of other
men. He has drawn in large and universal outline the death to
egotism--reached in his case through hunger, nakedness and slavery--and
the new birth from above, the divine Soul enkindling the inner man, and
wakening him to new powers and a knowledge of his genius and
immortal destiny.

Not less vivid is the sense he conveyed, of the world in which he moved;
the feeling of his dignity as a Roman Patrician, having a share of the
greatness of empire; the sense of a dividing-line between the Christian
realms of Rome and the outer barbarians yet in darkness. Yet the picture
he gives of these outer realms is as certainly true. There are the rival
chieftains, each with his own tribe and his own fort, and bearing the
title of king. They are perpetually striving among themselves, so that
from the province of one he must move to the province of another with an
escort, led by the king's son, who receives gifts in return for this
protection. This is the world of Concobar and Cuculain; of Find and
Ossin, as they themselves have painted it.

The world of Find and Ossin, of Cael and Credé, was marked by a certain
urbanity and freedom, a large-mindedness and imaginative power. We are
therefore prepared to expect that the Messenger of the new life would be
received with openness of mind, and allowed to deliver his message
without any very violent opposition. It was the meeting of unarmed moral
power and armed valor; and the victory of the apostle was a victory of
spiritual force, of character, of large-heartedness; the man himself was
the embodiment of his message, and through his forceful genius his
message was effective. He visibly represented the New Way; the way of
the humane and the divine, transforming the destructive instinct of
self-assertion. He visibly represented the divine and the immortal in
us, the new birth from above.

Yet there were tragedies in his apostolate. In another letter a very
vivid and pathetic account is given of one of these. Coroticus, a
chieftain of Britain, and therefore nominally a Christian and a citizen
of Rome, had sent marauding bands to Ireland to capture slaves. Some of
the new converts were taken captive by these slave-hunters, an outrage
which drew forth an indignant protest from the great Messenger:

"My neophytes in their white robes, the baptismal chrism still wet and
glistening on their foreheads, were taken captive with the sword by
these murderers. The next day I sent letters begging them to liberate
the baptized captives, but they answered my prayer with mocking
laughter. I know not which I should mourn for more,--those who were
slain, those who were taken prisoner, or those who in this were Satan's
instruments, since these must suffer everlasting punishment in
perdition."

He appeals indignantly to the fellow-Christians of Coroticus in Britain:
"I pray you, all that are righteous and humble, to hold no converse
with those who do these things. Eat not, drink not with them, accept no
gifts from them, until they have repented and made atonement, setting
free these newly-baptized handmaidens of Christ, for whom He died....
They seem to think we are not children of one Father!"

The work and mission of this great man grow daily better known. The
scenes of each marked event are certainly identified. His early slavery,
his time of probation, was spent in Antrim, on the hillside of Slieve
Mish, and in the woods that then covered its flanks and valleys.
Wandering there with his flocks to the hill-top, he looked down over the
green darkness of the woods, with the fertile open country stretching
park-like beyond, to the coast eight miles away. From his lonely summit
he could gaze over the silvery grayness of the sea, and trace on the
distant horizon the headlands of his dear native land. The exile's heart
must have ached to look at them, as he thought of his hunger and
nakedness and toil. There in deep pity came home to him the fate of the
weak ones of the earth, the vanquished, the afflicted, the losers in the
race. Compassion showed him the better way, the way of sympathy and
union, instead of contest and dominion. A firm and fixed purpose grew up
within him to make the appeal of gentleness to the chiefs and rulers, in
the name of Him who was all sympathy for the weak. Thus the inspiration
of the Message awakened his soul to its immortal powers.

Later, returning with the clear purpose of his message formed, he began
his great work not far from his first place of captivity. His strong
personality led him always to the presence of the chiefs and warriors,
and he talked to them freely as an equal, gradually giving them an
insight into his own vision of life, of the kinship between soul and
soul, of our immortal power and inheritance. He appealed always to his
own inner knowledge of things divine, to the light and power unveiled
within himself; and the commanding genius in his words lit a like fire
in the hearts of those who heard, awakening an enthusiasm for the New
Way. He had a constant sense of his divine mission:

"Was it without divine promise, or in the body only, that I came to
Ireland? Who led me? Who took captive my soul, that I should no more see
friends and kindred? Whence came my inspiration of pity for the race
that had enslaved me?"

The memory of his first victories is perpetuated in the name,
Downpatrick,--that is: the Dwelling of Patrick.--where Dicu son of
Tricem, chief of the district, gave him a tract of land to build a place
of meeting and prayer for his disciples; while the church was being
built, the chief offered his barn as a meeting-place, an incident
commemorated in the name of Saul, on a hill above the town,--a name
softened from Sabal, "a barn." This first victory was won among the
rounded hills south of the Quoyle River, where it widens toward
Strangford Lough; from the hill-top of Saul there is a wide prospect
over the reed-covered flats with the river winding among them, the hills
with their oak-woods in the bends of the river, and the widening lough
with its innumerable islands, its sand-flats lit up with red under the
dawn. The sun sets among the mountains of Mourne, flushing from behind
the purple profile of the hills, and sending golden arrows over the rich
fertility of the plain. The year 432 is the probable date of this first
conversion.

The strong genius of the Messenger carried him after a few months to the
center of power in the land, to Tara with its fortresses, its
earthworks, its great banquet-halls and granaries and well-adorned
dwellings of chief and king. A huge oval earthwork defended the king's
house; northward of this was the splendid House of Mead,--the
banquet-hall, with lesser fortresses beyond it. Southward of the central
dwelling and its defence was the new ringed fort of Laogaire the king,
son of the more famous king Nial of the Hostages. At this circular fort,
Rath-Laogaire, on Easter day, Saint Patrick met the king face to face,
and delivered to him the message of the New Way, telling him of the
unveiling of the Divine within himself, of the voice that had bidden him
come, of the large soul of immortal pity that breathed in the teachings
among the hills of Galilee, of the new life there begun for the world.
Tradition says that the coming of the Messenger had been foretold by the
Druids, and the great work he should accomplish; the wise men of the
West catching the inner brightness of the Light, as the Eastern Magians
had caught it more than four centuries before. The fruits of that day's
teaching in the plain of Tara, in the assembly of Laogaire the king,
were to be gathered through long centuries to come.

In the year 444, the work of the teacher had so thriven that he was able
to build a larger church on a hill above the Callan River, in the
undulating country south of Lough Neagh. This hill, called in the old
days the Hill of the Willows, was only two miles from the famous
fortress of Emain of Maca. It was a gift from the ruler Dairé, who, like
so many other chiefs, had felt and acknowledged the Messenger's power.
Later, the hill came to be called Ard-Maca, the Height of Maca; a name
now softened into Armagh, ever since esteemed the central stronghold of
the first Messenger's followers.

The Messenger passed on from chief to chief, from province to province,
meeting with success everywhere, yet facing grave perils. Later
histories take him to the kings of Leinster and Munster, and he himself
tells us that the prayer of the children of Foclut was answered by his
coming, so that he must have reached the western ocean. It was a
tremendous victory of moral force, of the divine and immortal working
through him, that the Messenger was able to move unarmed among the
warriors of many tribes that were often at war with each other;
everywhere meeting the chiefs and kings, and meeting them as an equal:
the unarmed bringer of good tidings confronting the king in the midst of
his warriors, and winning him to his better vision.

For sixty years the Messenger worked, sowing seed and gathering the
fruit of his labor; and at last his body was laid at rest close to his
first church at Saul. Thus one of the great men of the world
accomplished his task.



IX.

THE SAINTS AND SCHOLARS.

A.D. 493-750.

It would be hard to find in the whole history of early Christianity a
record of greater and more enduring success than the work of St.
Patrick. None of the Messengers of the New Way, as they were called
first by St. Luke, unless the phrase is St. Paul's, accomplished
single-handed so wonderful a work, conquering so large a territory, and
leaving such enduring monuments of his victory. Amongst the world's
masters, the son of Calpurn the Decurion deserves a place with
the greatest.

Not less noteworthy than the wide range of his work was the way in which
he gained success. He addressed himself always to the chiefs, the kings,
the men of personal weight and power. And his address was almost
invariably successful,--a thing that would have been impossible had he
not been himself a personality of singular force and fire, able to meet
the great ones of the land as an equal. His manner was that of an
ambassador, full of tact, knowledge of men and of the world. Nor can we
find in him--or, indeed, in the whole history of the churches founded by
him--anything of that bitter zeal and fanaticism which, nearly two
centuries nearer to apostolic times, marred the work of the Councils
under Constantius; the fierce animosity between Christian and Christian
which marked the Arian controversy. The Apostle of Ireland showed far
more urbanity, far more humane and liberal wisdom, far more gentleness,
humor and good feeling, in his treatment of the pre-Christian
institutions and ideals of Ireland than warring Christian sects have
generally been willing to show to each other.

It was doubtless due to this urbane wisdom that the history of the
conversion of Ireland is without one story of martyrdom. The change was
carried out in open-hearted frankness and good-will, the old order
giving place to the new as gently as spring changes to summer. The most
marvelous example of St. Patrick's wisdom, and at the same time the most
wonderful testimony to his personal force, is his action towards the
existing civil and religious law of the country, commonly known as the
Brehon Law. Principles had by long usage been wrought into the fabric of
the Brehon Laws which were in flat contradiction to St. Patrick's
teaching of the New Way. Instead of fiercely denouncing the whole
system, he talked with the chief jurists and heralds,--custodians of the
old system,--and convinced them that changes in their laws would give
effect to more humane and liberal principles. They admitted the justice
of his view, and agreed to a meeting between three great chieftains or
kings, three Brehons or jurists, and three of St. Patrick's converts, to
revise the whole system of law, substituting the more humane principles,
which they had already accepted as just and right. These changes were
made and universally applied; so that, without any violent revolution,
without strife or bloodshed, the better way became the accepted law. It
would be hard to find in all history a finer example of wisdom and
moderation, of the great and worthy way of accomplishing right ends.

We have seen the great Messenger himself founding monasteries, houses of
religious study, and churches for his converts, on land given to him by
chieftains who were moved by his character and ideals. We can judge of
the immediate spread of his teaching if we remember that these churches
were generally sixty feet long, thus giving room for many worshippers.
They seem to have been built of stone--almost the first use of that
material in Ireland since the archaic days. Among the first churches of
this type were those at Saul, at Donaghpatrick on the Blackwater, and at
Armagh, with others further from the central region of St. Patrick's
work. The schools of learning which grew up beside them were universally
esteemed and protected, and from them came successive generations of men
and women who worthily carried on the work so wisely begun. The tongues
first studied were Latin and Irish. We have works of very early periods
in both, as, for instance, the Latin epistles of St. Patrick himself,
and the Irish poems of the hardly less eminent Colum Kill. But other
languages were presently added.

[Illustration: Valley of Glendalough and Ruins of the Seven Churches.]

These schools and churches gradually made their way throughout the whole
country; some of the oldest of them are still to be seen, as at
Donaghpatrick, Clonmacnoise and Glendalough. Roofed with stone, they are
well fitted to resist the waste of time. An intense spiritual and moral
life inspired the students, a life rich also in purely intellectual and
artistic force. The ancient churches speak for themselves; the artistic
spirit of the time is splendidly embodied in the famous Latin
manuscript of the Gospels, called the Book of Kells, the most beautiful
specimen of illumination in the world. The wonderful colored initial
letters reproduce and develop the designs of the old gold work, the
motives of which came, it would seem, from the Baltic, with the De
Danaan tribes. We can judge of the quiet and security of the early
disciples at Kells, the comfort and amenity of their daily life, the
spirit of comity and good-will, the purity of inspiration of that early
time, by the artistic truth and beauty of these illuminated pages and
the perfection with which the work was done. Refined and difficult arts
are the evidence of refined feeling, abundant moral and spiritual force,
and a certain material security and ease surrounding the artist. When
these arts are freely offered in the service of religion, they are
further evidence of widespread fervor and aspiration, a high and worthy
ideal of life.

Yet we shall be quite wrong if we imagine an era of peace and security
following the epoch of the first great Messenger. Nothing is further
from the truth. The old tribal strife continued for long centuries; the
instincts which inspired it are, even now, not quite outworn. Chief
continued to war against chief, province against province, tribe
against tribe, even among the fervent converts of the first teachers.

Saint Brigid is one of the great figures in the epoch immediately
succeeding the first coming of the Word. She was the foundress of a
school of religious teaching for women at Kildare, or Killdara, "The
Church of the Oak-woods," whose name still records her work. Her work,
her genius, her power, the immense spiritual influence for good which
flowed from her, entitle her to be remembered with the women of
apostolic times, who devoted their whole lives to the service of the
divine. We have seen the esteem in which women were always held in
Ireland. St. Brigid and those who followed in her steps gave effect to
that high estimation, and turned it to a more spiritual quality, so that
now, as in all past centuries, the ideal of womanly purity is higher in
Ireland than in any country in the world.

This great soul departed from earthly life in the year 525, a generation
after the death of the first Messenger. To show how the old order
continued with the new, we may record the words of the Chronicler for
the following year: "526: The battle of Eiblinne, by Muirceartac son of
Erc; the battle of Mag-Ailbe; the battle of Almain; the battle of
Ceann-eic; the plundering of the Cliacs; and the battle of Eidne against
the men of Connacht." Three of these battles were fought at no great
distance from St. Brigid's Convent.

The mediaeval Chronicler quotes the old Annalist for the following year:
"The king, the son of Erc, returned to the side of the descendants of
Nial. Blood reached the girdle in each plain. The exterior territories
were enriched. Seventeen times nine chariots he brought, and long shall
it be remembered. He bore away the hostages of the Ui-Neill with the
hostages of the plain of Munster."

Ten years later we find the two sons of this same king, Muirceartac son
of Erc, by name Fergus and Domnall, fighting under the shadow of
Knocknarea mountain against Eogan Bel the king of Connacht; the ancient
Annalist, doubtless contemporary with the events recorded, thus
commemorated the battle in verse:

"The battle of the Ui-Fiacrac was fought with the fury of edged weapons
against Bel;

"The kine of the enemy roared with the javelins, the battle was spread
out at Crinder;

"The River of Shells bore to the great sea the blood of men with their
flesh;

"They carried many trophies across Eaba, together with the head of
Eogan Bel."

During this stormy time, which only carried forward the long progress of
fighting since the days of the prime, a famous school of learning and
religion had been founded at Moville by Finian, "the tutor of the saints
of Ireland." The home of his church and school is a very beautiful one,
with sombre mountains behind rising from oak-woods into shaggy masses of
heather, the blue waters of Lough Foyle in front, and across the mouth
of the lough the silver sands and furrowed chalk hills of Antrim,
blending into green plains. Here the Psalms and the Gospels were taught
in Latin to pupils who had in no wise given up their love for the old
poetry and traditions of their motherland. Here Colum studied,
afterwards called Colum Kill, "Saint Colum of the Churches," and here
arose a memorable dispute concerning a Latin manuscript of the Psalms.
The manuscript belonged to Finian, founder of the school, and was
esteemed one of the treasures of his college. Colum, then a young
student, ardently longed for a copy, and, remaining in the church after
service, he daily copied a part of the sacred text. When his work was
completed, Finian discovered it, and at once claimed the copy of his
book as also his. The matter was submitted to an umpire, who gave the
famous decision: "Unto every cow her calf; unto every book its
copy"--the copy belonged to the owner of the book. This early decision
of copyright was by no means acceptable to the student Colum. He
disputed its justice, and the quarrel spread till it resulted in a
battle. The discredit attaching to the whole episode resulted in the
banishment of Colum, who sailed away northward and eastward towards the
isles and fiords of that land which, from the Irish Scoti who civilized
it, now bears the name of Scotland. Let us recall a few verses written
by Colum on his departure, in a version which echoes something of the
original melody and form:

     "We are rounding Moy-n-Olurg, we sweep by its head and
         We plunge through the Foyle,
     Whose swans could enchant with their music the dead and
         Make pleasure of toil....
     Oh, Erin, were wealth my desire, what a wealth were
         To gain far from thee,
     In the land of the stranger, but there even health were
         A sickness to me!
     Alas for the voyage, oh high King of Heaven,
         Enjoined upon me,
     For that I on the red plain of bloody Cooldrevin
         Was present to see.
     How happy the son is of Dima; no sorrow
         For him is designed,
     He is having this hour, round his own Kill in Durrow,
         The wish of his mind.
     The sound of the wind in the elms, like the strings of
         A harp being played,
     The note of the blackbird that claps with the wings of
         Delight in the glade.
     With him in Ros-grenca the cattle are lowing
         At earliest dawn,
     On the brink of the summer the pigeons are cooing
         And doves on the lawn...."

In another measure, he again mourns his exile: "Happy to be on Ben Edar,
before going over the sea; white, white the dashing of the wave against
its face; the bareness of its shore and its border....

     "How swiftly we travel; there is a grey eye
       Looks back upon Erin, but it no more
     Shall see while the stars shall endure in the sky,
       Her women, her men, or her stainless shore...."

This great-hearted and impetuous exile did not waste his life in useless
regrets. Calling forth the fire of his genius, and facing the reality of
life, he set himself to work, spreading the teaching of the New Way
among the Picts of the north--the same Picts who, in years gone by, had
raged against the barrier of Hadrian between Forth and Clyde. The year
of his setting out was 563; the great center of his work was in the
sacred isle of Iona, off the Ross of Mull. Iona stands in the rush of
Atlantic surges and fierce western storms, yet it is an island of rare
beauty amid the tinted mists of summer dawns. Under the year 592, a
century after Saint Patrick's death, we find this entry in the
Chronicle: "Colum Kill, son of Feidlimid, Apostle of Scotland, head of
the piety of the most part of Ireland and Scotland after Patrick, died
in his own church in Iona in Scotland, after the thirty-fifth year of
his pilgrimage, on Sunday night, the ninth of June. Seventy-seven years
was his whole age when he resigned his spirit to heaven." The corrected
date is 596.

We can see in Colum of the Churches the very spirit of turbulence and
adventure, the fierce impetuosity and readiness for dispute, which led
to the contests between the chieftains of Ireland, the wars between
province and province, often between valley and valley. It is the same
spiritual energy, working itself out in another way, transmuted by the
sacred fire into a divine mission. In the same way the strong will of
Meave, the romantic power of Deirdré and Grania, transmuted to ideal
purposes, was the inspiration of Saint Brigid and so many like her, who
devoted their powers to the religious teaching of women.

We should doubtless fail utterly to understand the riddle of history,
were we to regret the wild warring of these early times as a mere
lamentable loss of life, a useless and cruel bloodshed. We are too much
given to measuring other times and other moods of the soul by our own,
and many false judgments issue from this error. Peaceful material
production is our main purpose, and we learn many lessons of the Will
embodied in the material world when we follow this purpose honestly. But
before our age could begin, it was necessary for the races to come to
personal consciousness. This end seems everywhere to have been reached
by a long epoch of strife, the contending of man against man, of tribe
against tribe. Thus were brought to full consciousness the instinct of
personal valor, personal honor and personal readiness to face death.

Only after this high personal consciousness is kindled can a race enter
the wider path of national life, where vivid and intense individuals
unite their forces to a common end, reaching a common consciousness, and
holding their power in common for the purposes of all. After the lessons
of fighting come the lessons of work. For these lessons of work, for
the direct touch with the everlasting Will gained in all honest work,
our own age is to be valued, far more than for the visible and material
fruits which that work produces.

In like manner the old epoch of war is to be esteemed for the lessons it
taught of high valor, sacrifice, heroic daring. And to what admirable
ends these same qualities may tend we can see in a life like that of
Colum Kill, "head of the piety of the most part of Ireland and Scotland
after Patrick."

Yet the days of old were grim enough to live in. Let this record of some
half-century later testify. It is but one year culled from a long red
rank of years. We give the Chronicler's own words: "645: The sixth year
of Conall and Ceallac. Mac Laisre, abbot of Bangor, died on May 16.
Ragallac son of Uatac, King of Connacht, was killed by Maelbrigde son of
Motlacan, of which was said:

     "Ragallac son of Uatac was pierced on the back of a white
        steed;

     Muiream has well lamented him; Catal has well avenged him.

     Catal is this day in battle, though bound to peace in the
        presence of kings;

     Though Catal is without a father, his father is not without
        vengeance.

     Estimate his terrible revenge from the account of it related:

     He slew six men and fifty; he made sixteen devastations;

     I had my share like another in the revenge of Ragallac,--

     I have the gray beard in my hand, of Maelbrigde son of Motlacan."

These are evidently the very words of one who fought in the battle. Nor
need this in any way surprise us, for we have far older Chronicles set
down year by year in unbroken record. The matter is easy to prove. The
Chronicles of Ulster record eclipses of the sun and moon as early as
495,--two years after Saint Patrick's death. It was, of course, the
habit of astronomers to reckon eclipses backwards, and of annalists to
avail themselves of these reckonings. The Venerable Bede, for example,
has thus inserted eclipses in his history. The result is that the
Venerable Bede has the dates several days wrong, while the Chronicles of
Ulster, where direct observation took the place of faulty reckoning, has
them right, to the day and hour. It is only in quite modern times that
we have reached sufficiently accurate knowledge of the moon's movements
to vindicate the old Ulster Annalists, who began their work not less
than a hundred and fifty years before the battle we have just recorded.

Nor should we exaggerate the condition of the time, thinking of it as
altogether given over to ravaging and devastation. Even though there
were two or three expeditions and battles every year, these would only
affect a small part of the whole country. Over all the rest, the tending
of cattle in the glades of the forest, the sowing and reaping of wheat
and oats, the gathering of fruit and nuts, continued in quiet
contentment and peace. The young men practiced the arts of war and
exercised themselves in warlike games. The poets sang to them, the
heralds recounted the great doings of old, how Cuculain kept the ford,
how Concobar thirsted in his heart for Deirdré, how the son of Cumal
went to war, how golden-tongued Ossin was ensnared by the spirits. The
gentle life of tillage and the keeping of cattle could never engage the
whole mental force of so vigorous a race. What wonder, then, that, when
a chieftain had some real or imagined wrong to avenge, or some adventure
to propose,--what wonder that bold spirits were ever ready to accompany
him, leaving the women to their distaffs and the tending of children and
the grinding of corn? Mounting their horses, they rode forth through the
woods, under the huge arms of the oak-trees; along the banks of
swift-gliding rivers, through passes of the lowering hills. While still
in familiar territory, the time of the march was passed in song and
story. Then came increased precaution, and gradually heightened pulses
marked the stages of the way. The rival chieftain, warned by his scouts
and outlying tribesmen, got word of their approach, and hastily
replenishing his granaries and driving the cattle into the great circle
of his embankments, prepared to meet the coming foe. Swords, spears,
bows, arrows were the arms of both sides. Though leather tunics were
common, coats of mail came only at a later date. The attackers under
cover of the night sped across the open ground before the fort, and
tried to storm the fortress, the defenders meanwhile showering down
keen-pointed arrows on them from above. Both parties, under the
chieftains' guidance, fought fiercely, in a fever of excitement, giving
no heed to wounds, seeing nothing but the foe and the battlements to be
scaled. Then either a successful sortie broke the ranks of the
assailants and sent them back to their forest camp in wild disorder, or,
the stockade giving way, the stormers swept in like a wave of the sea,
and all was chaos and wild struggle hand to hand. Whatever the outcome,
both sides thought of the wild surge of will and valor in that hour as
the crowning event of their lives.

Meanwhile, within the quiet enclosures of the monasteries and religious
schools, the spirit of the time was working with not less fervor, to
invisible and ideal ends. At Bangor, on the neck of the northern Ards;
at Moville, where Lough Foyle spreads its inland sea; at Saul, where the
first Messenger won his first convert; at Devenish Island amid the
waters of Lough Erne; at Monasterboice in the plain of Louth; at
Grlendalough, among the solemn hills of Wicklow; at Kildare, beneath the
oak-woods; at Durrow, amid the central marshes, and many another ancient
seat of learning, the way of wisdom and holiness was trod with gladness.
Latin had been taught since the early days of the Message; the native
tongue of Ireland, consecrated in the hymns of St. Patrick and the poems
of St. Colum of the Churches, was the language in which all pupils were
taught, the modern ministrant to the classical speech of Rome. Nor were
the Scriptures alone studied. Terence, Virgil, Ovid, the Augustans and
the men of the silver age, were familiar in the Irish schools; and to
these Latin writers were soon added the Greeks, more especially--as was
natural--the Greek Fathers, the religious philosophers, and those who
embodied the thought and controversies of the early Christian centuries.
To Greek, Hebrew was added, so that both Old and New Testaments were
known in their proper tongues. About the time when "Ragallac son of
Uatac was pierced on the back of a white steed," Saint Camin in his
island school at Inis Caltra, where red mountains hem in Lough Derg of
the Shannon, was writing his Commentary on the Psalms, recording the
Hebrew readings on the margin of the page. A few years before that
battle, in 634, Saint Cummian of Durrow, some thirty miles to the east
of Camin's Holy Island, wrote to his brother, the Abbot of Iona in the
northern seas, quoting Latin writers sacred and secular, as well as
Origen, Cyril and Pachomius among the Greeks. The learned man discusses
the astronomical systems of the Mediterranean world, giving the names of
months and cycles in Hebrew, Greek and Egyptian, and telling of his
researches into the true time of Easter, while on a journey to Italy and
Rome. This letter, which has come down to our days, is first-hand
testimony to the learning of the early Irish schools.

[Illustration: Ancient Cross, Glendalough.]

Fifty years later, in 683, we hear of the Saxons for the first and
almost the last time in the history of Ireland. It is recorded that the
North Saxons raided Mag Breag in the East of Meath, attacking both
churches and chieftains. They carried away many hostages and much spoil,
but the captives were soon after set at liberty and sent home again, on
the intercession of a remarkable man, Adamnan, the biographer of Colum
of the Churches, whose success in his mission was held to be miraculous.

For more than a century after this single Saxon raid Ireland was wholly
undisturbed by foreign invasion, and the work of building churches,
founding schools, studying Hebrew and Greek and Latin, went on with
increasing vigor and success. An army of missionaries went forth to
other lands, following in the footsteps of Colum of the Churches, and of
these we shall presently speak. The life of the church was so rich and
fruitful that we are led to think of this as a period of childlike and
idyllic peace.

Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. The raids,
devastations and wars between province and province, tribe and tribe,
went on without a year's interruption. This was the normal course of the
nation's life, the natural outlet of the nation's energy: not less a
visible sign of invisible inward power than the faith and fervor of the
schools. We shall get the truest flavor of the times by quoting again
from the old Annals. That they were recorded year by year, we have
already seen; the records of frosts, great snow-storms, years of rich
harvests and the like, interspersed among the fates of kings, show how
faithfully the annals were kept,--as, for example, the winter of great
cold, "when all the rivers and lakes of Ireland were frozen over," in
the year after the Saxon raid.

Here again, under the year 701, is the word of a man then living: "After
Loing Seac son of Angus son of Domnall had been eight years in the
sovreignty of Ireland, he was slain in the battle of Ceann by Cealleac
of Lough Cime, the son of Ragallac, as Cealleac himself testifies:


     "'For his deeds of ambition he was slain in the morning at
          Glas Cuilg;

     I wounded Loing Seac with a sword, the monarch of Ireland
          round.'"

Two years later Saint Adamnan died, after governing the Abbey of Iona
for six and twenty years. It was said of him that "He made a slave of
himself to his virtues," and his great life-work, the Latin history of
Saint Colum of the Churches, founder of the Iona Abbey, to this day
testifies to his high learning and wisdom.

Fourteen years later "Leinster was five times devastated by the
Ui-Neill," the descendants of Nial, and a battle was fought between the
men of Connacht and Munster. Thus the lives of saints and warriors were
interwoven. On very rare occasions the two lives of the race came into
collision. Thus, a quarrel arose between Congus the Abbot and Aed Roin
king of Ulad. Congus summoned to his aid the chief of the Ui-Neill, Aed
Allan by name, in these verses:

     "Say to the cold Aed Allan that I have been oppressed by
         a feeble enemy:

     Aed Roin insulted me last night at Cill Cunna of the sweet
         music."

Aed Allan made these verses on his way to battle to avenge the insult:

     "For Cill Cunna the church of my spiritual father,
         I take this day a journey on the road.
     Aed Roin shall leave his head with me,
         Or I shall leave my head with him."

The further history of that same year, 733, is best told in the words of
the Annals: "Aed Allan, king of Ireland, assembled his forces to
proceed into Leinster, and he arrived at the Ford of Seannait (in
Kildare). The Leinstermen collected the greatest number they were able,
to defend their rights against him. The king Aed Allan himself went into
the battle, and the chieftains of the north along with him. The
chieftains of Leinster came with their kings into the battle, and
bloodily and heroically was the battle fought between them. Heroes were
slaughtered and bodies were hacked. Aed Allan and Aed, son of Colgan,
king of Leinster, met each other, and Aed son of Colgan was slain by Aed
Allan. The Leinstermen were killed, slaughtered, cut off, and dreadfully
exterminated in this battle, so that there escaped of them but a small
remnant and a few fugitives."

To round out the picture, to contrast the two streams of the nation's
life, let us give this, from the following year: "734: Fifth year of Aed
Allan. Saint Samtain, virgin, of Cluain Bronaig (Longford), died on
December 19. It was of her that Aed Allan gave this testimony:

     "Samtain for enlightening various sinners,
         A servant who observed stern chastity,
     In the wide plain of fertile Meath
         Great suffering did Samtain endure;
     She undertook a thing not easy,--
         Fasting for the kingdom above.
     She lived on scanty food;
         Hard were her girdles;
     She struggled in venomous conflicts;
         Pure was her heart amid the wicked.
     To the bosom of the Lord, with a pure death,
         Samtain passed from her trials."



X.

THE RAIDS OF THE NORTHMEN.

A.D. 750-1050.

Aed Allan, the king who so feelingly wrote the epitaph of the saintly
virgin Samtain, needed an epitaph himself four years later, for he fell
in battle with Domnall son of Murcad son of Diarmaid, who succeeded him
on the throne. It is recorded that, in the following year, the sea cast
ashore a whale under the mountains of Mourne, to the great wonder of
those who dwelt by the hill of Rudraige. Thus do the Chronicles
establish their good faith, by putting on record things trifling or
grave, with equal impartiality.

They were presently to have something more memorable to record than the
loss of a battle or the stranding of a whale. But before we come to this
new chapter in the life of Ireland, let us show the continuity of the
forces we have already depicted. The old tribal turmoil went on
unabated. In 771, the first year of Doncad son of Domnall in the
sovereignty over Ireland, that ruler made a full muster of the Ui-Neill
and marched into Leinster. The Leinstermen moved before the monarch and
his forces, until they arrived at the fort called Nectain's Shield in
Kildare. Domcad with his forces was entrenched at Aillin, whence his
people continued to fire, burn, plunder and devastate the province for
the space of a week, when the Leinstermen at last submitted to his will.
Seventeen years later it is recorded that the church and abbey of
Ardmaca, or, as we may now begin to call it, Armagh, were struck by
lightning, and the night was terrible with thunder, lightning and wind.

We see, therefore, that the double life of the people, the life of valor
and the life of wisdom, were following their steady course in camp and
school. We may call up a very interesting witness to the whole condition
of Ireland during this epoch: Alfred king of the Northumbrian Saxons,
who spent several years traveling through the land and studying in the
schools. On his departure, he wrote an ode of acknowledgment to the
country he was leaving, in the verse of the native Irish tongue. From
this ode we may quote a few picturesque lines, taking them from a
version which preserves something of the original rhythm:

     "I traveled its fruitful provinces round,
     And in every one of the five I found,
     Alike in church and in palace hall,
     Abundant apparel and food for all.
     Gold and silver I found, and money,
     Plenty of wheat and plenty of honey;
     I found God's people rich in pity;
     Found many a feast and many a city....
     I found in each great church moreo'er,
     Whether on island or on shore,
     Piety, learning, fond affection,
     Holy welcome and kind protection....
     I found in Munster unfettered of any
     Kings and queens and poets a many,
     Poets well skilled in music and measure;
     Prosperous doings, mirth and pleasure.
     I found in Connacht the just, redundance
     Of riches, milk in lavish abundance;
     Hospitality, vigor, fame,
     In Crimean's land of heroic name....
     I found in Ulster, from hill to glen,
     Hardy warriors, resolute men.
     Beauty that bloomed when youth was gone,
     And strength transmitted from sire to son....
     I found in Leinster the smooth and sleek,
     From Dublin to Slewmargy's peak,
     Flourishing pastures, valor, health,
     Song-loving worthies, commerce, wealth....
     I found in Meath's fair principality
     Virtue, vigor, and hospitality;
     Candor, joyfulness, bravery, purity--
     Ireland's bulwark and security.
     I found strict morals in age and youth,
     I found historians recording truth.
     The things I sing of in verse unsmooth
     I found them all; I have written sooth."

The modern form of the names used by the translator gives this version a
slightly misleading tone. Ulster, Munster, Leinster were still known by
their old names: Ulad, Mumain and Lagin. The Danish termination by which
we know them had not been added. In like manner, Dublin in those days
and far later was still called At-Cliat, the Ford of the Hurdles. Yet
the tribute which the Saxon king paid to Ireland has a true ring. It
thoroughly supports what we have said: that incessant tribal warfare
rather expressed than detracted from the vigor of the nation's life. It
had this grave defect, however: it so kindled and cherished the instinct
of separateness that union in face of a common foe was almost
impossible. Long years of adverse fate were needed to merge the keen
individual instinct of old into the common consciousness of to-day.

Modern historians generally write as if the onslaught of the Northmen
had had this unifying effect; as if it had been a great calamity,
overwhelming the country for several centuries, and submerging its
original life under a tide of conquest. Here again the history of the
time, as recorded year by year in the Annals, leads us to a wholly
different conclusion. We find inroads of the Northmen, it is true; but
they are only interludes in the old national life of storm and struggle.
That enduring tribal conflict, of which we have already seen so much,
did not cease even for a year. Nor can it have greatly mattered to the
dwellers in some remote valley whether they were sacked, their cattle
driven off, and their children taken captive by strangers or by men of
their own land.

There was one chief difference: the foreigners, being still heathens,
did not spare the churches and the schools. The golden or silver
reliquaries, the jeweled manuscript-cases, the offerings of precious
stones and rich ornaments laid on the altars: these things proved an
irresistible temptation to the roving sea-kings. They often burned or
cast away the manuscripts, eager only to take the jeweled coverings, and
in this way many monuments of the olden time have been lost, and many
gaps in the history of the nation made irreparable. Yet it would seem
that even the loss of manuscripts has been exaggerated, since such
lavish abundance remains to us from the times before the first northern
raiders came. Many a remote shrine was never even approached by the
northern wanderers; and, in the long times of peace between raid and
raid, one school had time to gain from another copies of the books which
were lost. We may hope that the somewhat rigid views of copyright
expressed in the matter of St. Finian's Psalter were not invariably
adhered to. We have Chronicles kept with unbroken regularity year by
year through the whole of the epoch of Northern raids, and they by no
means indicate a period of national depression, nor justify us in
thinking of these raids as much more than episodes in the general
fighting of the nation,--the martial state through which every modern
country has passed before emerging to homogeneous life.

To come to the events themselves, as they appeared to the men who
witnessed them. We find the first record of the Northern raiders under
the year 795: "The burning of Lambay by the Gentiles. The shrines were
broken and plundered." This Lambay is an island of considerable extent,
off the Dublin coast, some six or seven miles north of Howth. It rises
gradually from the south extremity into a purple cliff of porphyry
facing the northern sea, and on the sheltered slope under the sun a
little church colony with schools and dwelling-houses had been built.
Against this peaceful solitude the raiders came, burning and plundering,
and when they rowed away again in their long ships towards the north, a
smoldering black ruin bore testimony that they were indeed Gentiles,
unblessed by Christian baptism.

Three years later the little island of St. Patrick, six miles north of
Lambay, met with a like fate. It was "burned by the Gentiles," as the
Chronicles say. And from that time forth we hear of their long ships
again and again, hovering hawk-like around the coasts of Ireland and
Scotland. In 802, and again in 806, the Scottish Iona of Colum of the
Churches was raided, and the next year we find the pirates making a
descent upon Inismurray, off the Sligo coast, between the summit of
Knocknarea and the cliffs of Slieve League. This last settlement of
saints and scholars was founded by Molaise,--he who had pronounced
sentence of exile on Colum of the Churches, the banishment that was the
beginning of grace for the northern Picts. His oratory still remains on
the island, beside the Church of the Men, the Church of the Women and
the circular stone fort, which was very likely built to guard against
new attacks, after this first raid. There are holy wells and altars
there also, and Inismurray, better than any other place, gives us a
picture of the old scholastic life of that remote and wonderful time.

Five years later, the Northern raiders made their way further round the
coast, under the shadow of the western mountains and the great cliffs of
Achill; we read of "a slaughter of the people of Connemara by the
Gentiles" in that year, and the year following, other battles with
Gentiles are recorded in the same part of Ireland.

In 818, if we are to believe the Annalist, a singular thing happened:
"An army was led by Murcad, having the Ui-Neill of the North with him.
Concobar king of Ireland with the Ui-Neill of the South and the
Leinstermen came from the South on the other hand. When they came to one
place, it happened, through a miracle of God, that they separated from
each other for that time without slaughter or one of them spilling a
drop of the other's blood." That entry better than any other shows the
restless spirit of the times. It shows, too, that the first shock of
Norse invasion had not in any sense warned the people and chieftains of
Ireland of coming danger, nor had it in any degree checked the steady
course of the nation's growth through storm and strife to personal
consciousness, as the stepping-stone to the wider common consciousness
of the modern world.

The year following we read of "a plundering of Howth by the Gentiles,
who carried off a great prey of women." These captives were doubtless
the first to bring the Message of the New Way to the wild granite lands
of the north, where the mountains in their grandeur frown upon the long
inlets of the fiords. They taught to their children in those wild lands
of exile the lessons of grace and holiness, so rudely interrupted when
the long ships of the Norsemen were sighted from the Hill of Howth.

A year later, in 820, the raiders had found their way to the
southernmost extremity of the island; to Cape Clear, off the coast of
Cork. This once again brings to our notice the position of so many of
the early religious settlements,--on rocky islands off the coasts, well
out of the turmoil of tribal strife which raged uninterrupted on the
mainland. St. Patrick's Island and Lambay on the east, Clear Island on
the south, and Inismurray on the northwest, so well protected by the sea
from disturbance at home, were, by that very isolation, terribly exposed
to these foreign raiders from the sea. Howth, Moville and Bangor, all on
peninsulas, all by the seashore, enjoyed a like immunity and were open
to a like danger. Therefore we are not surprised to find that, two years
later, Bangor was "plundered by the Gentiles."

It will be remembered that St. Patrick's first church was built on land
given him by Dicu, chieftain of the district round Downpatrick, a name
which commemorates the presence of the Messenger. Two sons of this same
Dicu had been held as hostages by Laogaire the king, and their marvelous
escape from durance was recorded in the name, Dun-da-lath-glas, the
Dwelling of the Two Broken Fetters, given to Downpatrick. The place was
of old renown. Known to Ptolemy as Dunum, it was, during Concobar's sway
at Emain of Maca, the fortress of the strong chief, Celtcar, whose huge
embattled hill of earth still rises formidable over the Quoyle River. In
the year 823, we read, Dundalathglas was plundered by the Gentiles; but
the story does not stop here, for we are further told that these same
Gentiles were beaten by the Ulad armies not far from the great fort of
Celtcar. This is the first entry of this tenor. Hitherto, the Northmen
seem to have fallen only on outlying religious communities, in remote
islands or on the seashore; but this last raid brought them to one of
the very few church-schools which had been built close to a strong
fortress, with the result that the Northmen were beaten and driven back
into their ships.

Three years later the Gentiles plundered Lusk on the mainland opposite
Lambay, but in that same year they were twice defeated in battle, once
by Cairbré son of Catal, and once by the king of Ulad. The raids of the
Norse warriors grow more frequent and determined from this time; in
itself a testimony to the wealth and prosperity of the country, the
abundance of gold and of accumulated riches, whether cattle or corn,
ornaments or richly dyed stuffs, red and purple and blue. Word seems to
have been carried to the wild hills and fiords of frozen Scandinavia
that here was booty in abundance, and the pirate hordes came down
in swarms.

Thus we read that Armagh, the center of St. Patrick's work, and the
chief home of learning, was thrice plundered in 830, the raiders sailing
up Carlingford Lough and then making a dash of some fifteen miles across
the undulating country separating them from the city of churches. This
is the first time they ventured out of sight of their boats. Two years
later they plundered Clondalkin, nine miles inland from the Dublin
coast, where the Round Tower still marks the site of the old church and
school. To the growing frequency of these raids, it would seem, the
building of Round Towers is to be attributed; they were at once belfries
and places of refuge. We find, therefore, that the door is almost always
many feet above the ground, being reached by a ladder afterwards drawn
up by those inside. The number of these Round Towers all over the
country, and the perfect preservation of many of them, show how
universal this precaution was, and how effective were the refugees thus
provided. It is instructive to read under this same year, 832, that "a
great number of the family of Clonmacnoise were slain by Feidlimid king
of Cashel, all their land being burned by him up to the door of the
church." Thus the progress of tribal struggle was uninterrupted by the
Gentile raids.

Four years later, a fleet of sixty Norse fighting galleys sailed up the
Boyne. Sixty long ships entered the Liffey in the same year, and a year
later they captured the fortress of the Ford of the Hurdles,
At-Cliat,--the old name of Dublin. Three years later we find the king of
Munster plundering Meath and West Meath, showing that no sense of common
danger disturbed the native kings. This strengthens the view we have
already taken: that the attacks of the Norse sea-kings were only an
interlude in the incessant contests between the tribes of province and
province; contests perfectly natural and normal to the development of
the land, and through which every country has at some period passed.

[Illustration: Round Tower, Antrim.]

It would seem that the Northmen who captured the Ford of the Hurdles
departed from their former usage. Fortifying themselves, or
strengthening the existent fortress, they determined to pass the winter
in Ireland, instead of returning, as they had always done up to this
time, before the autumn storms made dangerous the navigation of the wild
northern seas. Their presence in this fort gave the native powers a
center upon which to concentrate their attack, and as a result the year
846 was marked by a signal victory over the Northmen, twelve hundred of
those at At-Cliat being slain. Four other successful contests with the
raiders are recorded for the same year, and we can thoroughly trust the
Annalists who, up to this time, have so faithfully recorded the
disasters of their own race.

About the same time the Northmen gained a second point of vantage by
seizing and fortifying a strong position where the town of Cork now
stands. Indeed their instinct of seamanship, their knowledge of good
harbors and the conditions which make them, led them to fix their first
entrenchments at Dublin, Cork and Limerick,--which remained for
centuries after the great ports of the country on the east, south and
west; and the Norse flavor still lingers in the names of Carlingford,
Wexford and Waterford, the Fiords of Cairlinn, Weis and Vadre. A
wonderful side-light on the whole epoch is shed by this entry for 847:
"In this year sevenscore ships of the Gentiles from abroad fought
against the Gentiles in Ireland." It would seem that the earlier comers,
who had drawn up their long ships on the beach, and thrown up earthworks
round their camp, instantly resented the attempt of later arrivals to
poach on their preserves, and that a fierce fight was the result. During
the whole of the following century we find signs of like rivalry between
different bands of raiders, and it becomes evident that they were as
much divided amongst themselves as were the native tribes they
fought against.

Two years later a further light is shed on this mutual strife when we
are told that "Dark Gentiles came to At-Cliat and slaughtered the Fair
Gentiles, plundering their fort and carrying away both people and
property." The next year saw a new struggle between the Dark Gentiles
and the Fair Gentiles, with much mutual slaughter. This leads us to
realize that these raiders, vaguely grouped by modern writers under the
single name of Danes, really belonged to several different races, and
doubtless came from many parts of the Baltic coasts, as well as from the
fiords of the great Scandinavian peninsula. The Dark Foreigners are
without doubt some of that same race of southern origin which we saw,
ages earlier, migrating northwards along the Atlantic seaboard,--a race
full of the spirit of the sea, and never happier than when the waves
were curling and breaking under their prows. They found their way, we
saw, as far northwards as the coast of Scotland, the Western Isles, and
distant Norway over the foam, where the long fiords and rugged
precipices gave them a congenial home. We find them hovering over the
shores of Ireland at the very dawn of her history; and, in later but
still remote ages, their power waned before the De Danaan tribes. This
same dark race returning now from Norway, swooped hawk-like upon the
rich shrines of the Irish island sanctuaries, only to come into hostile
contact once more with sons of that golden-haired race which scattered
the dark Fomorians at Mag Tuiread of the North. For the Fair Gentiles of
our mediaeval Chronicle are no other than the golden-haired
Scandinavians; the yellow-locked Baltic race that gave conquerors and a
new ideal of beauty to the whole modern world. And this Baltic race, as
we saw in an earlier epoch, was the source and mother of the old De
Danaans, whose hair was like new-smelted gold or the yellow flag-lilies
of our lakes and rivers. Thus after long ages the struggle of Fomor and
De Danaan was renewed at the Ford of the Hurdles between the Dark and
Fair Strangers, rivals for the plunder of the Irish religious schools.

Though the personalities of this age do not stand forth with the high
relief of Cuculain and Concobar, though we can hardly quote poems to
equal the songs of Find son of Cumal and Ossin of the golden tongue, yet
genuine inspiration never failed in the hearts of the warriors and on
the lips of the bards. Thus in 860 did a poet lament the death of
a king:

     "Mournfully is spread her veil of grief over Erin
     Since Maelseaclain, chieftain of our race has perished,--
     Maelseaclain of the flowing Shannon.
     Many a moan resounds in every place;
     It is mournful news among the Gael.

     Red wine has been spilled into the valley:
     Erin's monarch has died.
       Though he was wont to ride a white charger.
     Though he had many steeds,
     His car this day is drawn by a yoke of oxen.
     The king of Erin is dead."

Four years afterwards the contest between the raiders and the chieftains
grew keener, more centered, more like organized war. "A complete muster
of the North was made by Aed Finnliat, so that he plundered the
fortresses of the foreigners, wherever they were in the north; and he
carried off their cattle and accoutrements, their goods and chattels.
The foreigners of the province came together at Lough Foyle. After Aed
king of Ireland had heard that this gathering of strangers was on the
borders of his country, he was not negligent in attending to them. For
he marched towards them with all his forces, and a battle was fought
fiercely and spiritedly between them. The victory was gained over the
foreigners, and a slaughter was made of them. Their heads were collected
to one place, in the presence of the king, and twelve-score heads were
reckoned before him, which was the number slain in that battle, besides
the numbers of those who were wounded and carried off by him in the
agonies of death, and who died of their wounds some time afterwards."

A renewal of tribal warfare in the second year after this, when this
same Aed the king was attacked by Flann the lord of Breag in Meath,
called forth certain battle-verses full of the fire and fervor of
the time.

A poet sang:

     "At Kiladerry this day the ravens shall taste sips of blood:
     A victory shall be gained over the magic host of the Gentiles
        and over Flann."

The mother of Flann sang:

     "Happiness! Woe! Good news! Bad news! The gaining of a great
         triumphant battle.

     Happy the king whom it makes victorious; unhappy the king who
         was defeated.

     Unhappy the host of Leat Cuin, to have fallen by the sprites
         of Slain;

     Happy the reign of great Aed, and unhappy the loss of Flann."

Aed the victorious king sang:

     "The troops of Leinster are with him, with the added men of
         swift Boyne;

     This shows the treachery of Flann: the concord of Gentiles
         at his side."

After ten years, a bard thus sings the dirge of Aed:

     "Long is the wintry night, with rough gusts of wind;
     Under pressing grief we meet it, since the red-speared king
        of the noble house lives not.
     It is fearful to watch how the waves heave from the bottom;
     To them may be compared all those who with us lament him.
     A generous, wise, staid man, of whose renown the populous
        Tara was full.
     A shielded oak that sheltered the palace of Milid's sons.
     Master of the games of the fair hilled Taillten,
     King of Tara of a hundred conflicts;
     Chief of Fodla the noble, Aed of Oileac who died too soon.
     Popular, not forgotten, he departed from this world,
     A yew without any blemish upon him was he of the long-flowing
        hair."

Nor must it be thought that these repeated raids which we have recorded
in any way checked the full spiritual life of the nation. It is true
that there was not that quiet serenity from which came the perfect
beauty and art of the old Book of Kells, but a keenness and fire kindled
the breasts of those who learned the New Way and the Ancient Learning.
The schools sent forth a host of eminent men who over all western Europe
laid the intellectual basis of the modern world. This view of Ireland's
history might well be expanded almost without limit or possibility of
exaggeration. Receiving, as we saw, the learning and traditions of Rome
while Rome was yet mighty and a name of old imperial renown, Ireland
kept and cherished the classical wisdom and learning, not less than the
lore of Palestine. Then the northern garrisons of Rome were beaten back,
and Britain and Gaul alike were devastated by hordes from beyond the
Rhine. The first wild deluge of these fierce invaders was now over, and
during the lull of the storm teachers went forth from Ireland to
Scotland, as we have seen; they went also to Britain; to Belgium; to
northern, central and southern Gaul; and to countries beyond the Rhine
and in the south; to Switzerland and Austria, where one Irishman gave
his name to the Canton of St. Gall, while another founded the famous see
of Salzburg, a rallying-point through all the Middle Ages. It was not
only for pure spiritual zeal and high inspiration that these teachers
were famed. They had not less renown for all refined learning and
culture. The famous universities of Oxford, Paris and Pavia count among
the great spirits at their inception men who were worthy pupils of the
schools of Devenish and Durrow, of Bangor and Moville.

We have recorded the tribute paid by Alfred the Saxon king to the
Ireland of his day. Let us add to it the testimony of a great divine of
France. Elias, Bishop of Angoulême, who died in 875, wrote thus: "What
need to speak of Ireland; setting at nought, as it does, the
difficulties of the sea, and coming almost in a body to our shores, with
its crowd of philosophers, the most intelligent of whom are subjecting
themselves to a voluntary exile."

We have traced the raids of the Northmen for nearly a century. They
continued for a century and a quarter longer. Through all this time the
course of the nation's life was as we have described it: a raid from the
sea, or from one of their seaboard fortresses by the Dark Gentiles or
the Fair; an assembling of the hosts of the native chieftains against
them; a fierce and spirited battle against the pirates in their
mail-coats and armed with great battle-axes. Sometimes the chosen people
prevailed, and sometimes the Gentiles; but in either case the heads of
the slain were heaped up at the feet of the victor, many cattle were
driven away as spoil, and young men and maidens were taken into
captivity. It would seem that at no time was there any union between the
foreigners of one and another seaboard fortress, any more than there was
unity among the tribes whom they raided and who defeated them in their
turn. It was a strife of warring units, without fusion; small groups
round chosen leaders, and these merging for awhile in greater groups.
Thus the life of the times, in its warlike aspect. Its spiritual vigor
we have sufficiently shown, not less in the inspirations of the saints
than in the fiery songs of the bards, called forth by battles and the
death of kings. Everywhere there was fierce force and seething energy,
bringing forth fruit of piety or prowess.

The raiders slowly lost their grasp of the fortresses they had seized.
Newcomers ceased to fill their thinning ranks. Their force was finally
shattered at the battle of Clontarf, which the Annalist thus records:
"1013: The Foreigners of the west of Europe assembled against Brian and
Maelseaclain, and they took with them a thousand men with coats of mail.
A spirited, fierce, violent, vengeful and furious battle was fought
between them, the likeness of which was not to be found in that time, at
Cluain-tarb, the Lawn of the Bulls. In this battle was slain Brian son
of Ceinneidig, monarch of Ireland, who was the Augustus of all the west
of Europe, in the eighty-eighth year of his age."

The scene of this famous conflict is on the coast, between Dublin and
the Hill of Howth. A wide strand of boulders is laid bare by the
receding tide, with green sea-grass carpeting the stones. At the very
verge of the farthest tide are two huge sand-banks, where the waves roar
and rumble with a sound like the bellowing of bulls, and this tumultuous
roaring is preserved in the name of the place unto this day.



XI.

THE PASSING OF THE NORSEMEN.

A.D. 1013-1250.

There was, as we have seen, no "Danish Conquest" of Ireland, nor
anything approaching a conquest. What really happened during the ninth
and tenth centuries was this: Raiders from the shores of the Northern
seas, from the Scandinavian peninsula and the Western Isles of Scotland,
sailed in their long ships among the islands of the Irish coast, looking
for opportunities to plunder the treasuries of the religious schools,
and carrying off the gold and silver reliquaries and manuscript cases,
far more valuable to these heathen seamen than the Latin or Gaelic
manuscripts they contained.

These raids had little connection with each other; they were the outcome
of individual daring, mere boat's-crews from one or another of the
Northern fiords. A few of the more persistent gradually grew reluctant
to retreat with their booty to the frozen north, and tried to gain a
footing on the shores of the fertile and wealthy island they had
discovered. They made temporary camps on the beach, always beside the
best harbors, and threw up earthworks round them, or perhaps more
lasting forts of stone. Thus they established a secondary base for raids
inland, and a place of refuge whither they might carry the cattle, corn
and captives which these raids brought them from the territories of the
native clans. These camps on the shore were the germ of a chain of
sea-ports at Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick.

From these points raiding went on, and battles were fought in which the
raiders were as often vanquished as victorious. There was little union
between the various Norse forts, and indeed we sometimes find them
fighting valiantly among themselves. Meanwhile, the old tribal contest
went on everywhere throughout the island. The south invaded the north
and was presently invaded in return. The east and the west sent
expeditions against each other. Clan went forth against clan, chief
against chief, and cattle and captives many times changed hands. These
captives, it would seem, became the agricultural class in each clan,
being made to work as the penalty for unsuccessful fighting. The old
tribal life went on unbroken during the whole of this period; nor did
it subsequently yield to pressure from without, but rather passed
away, during succeeding centuries, as the result of inward growth.
Meanwhile the religious schools continued their work, studying Latin and
Greek as well as the old Gaelic, and copying manuscripts as before; and
one fruit of their work we see in the gradual conversion of the heathen
Norsemen, who were baptized and admitted to the native church. The old
bardic schools likewise continued, so that we have a wealth of native
manuscripts belonging to this time, embodying the finest tradition and
literature of the earlier pagan ages.

[Illustration: Giant Head and Dunluce Castle, Co. Antrim.]

If the Danes and Northern raiders never conquered Ireland, on the other
hand they never were expelled. Through the cessation of the original
impulse of unrest which brought them, they gradually ceased to receive
accessions from the North, and at the same time the forces of
amalgamation were slowly merging them into the national and tribal life
of their new home. Their separate influence grew less and less, but
their race continued, and continues to this day in the sea-ports we
have named.

We shall presently have to record another series of Norse inroads, this
time not directly from the North, but mediately, through France and
Britain, and we shall find that much of our subsequent history was
influenced by the new elements and principles then added. We shall do
well, therefore, to linger for a moment before this new transition, to
gain a clear view of the tendencies of the epoch then closed, the wider
significance of that chapter of our nation's life.

The culture of Ireland, during the period before the Northern raids,
bridged over the abyss between the classical and the mediaeval world.
During the whole of that period the rest of Europe was hidden under the
clouds of the Dark Ages. Ireland stood alone as the one cultured nation.
Receiving the classical learning from Roman Gaul and Britain and Italy,
while the old world was still alive, Ireland carried that culture onward
when Rome and the Roman Empire fell, crushed under the hordes of
Northern barbarians: the Franks in Gaul; the Lombards, Goths and Vandals
in Spain and Italy; the Angles, Saxons and Danes in Britain; and the
Picts and Northmen in the Scottish lowlands. Austria was meanwhile
overrun by Asian nomads, the Huns and Magyars; Russia and Germany, with
the Scandinavian lands, were still pagan.

Thus all Europe was submerged under a deluge of heathenism, and the old
Latin culture was swept away. The tradition of ancient Greece still
lingered at Constantinople behind the wall of the Balkans, but it had no
influence at all on the northern nations beyond the wall. Ireland was
thus the one exception, the ark of safety for the old wisdom and beauty
of classical days. And from Ireland, when the tide of heathen invasion
slackened, the light of classical times and the spirit of the New Way
went forth to all the nascent nations, the great pagan tribes that were
to form the modern world. Thus Ireland was the bridge over the Dark
Ages, the first of modern nations, keeping the old and blending it
with the new.

Yet another view of Ireland's significance must not be forgotten. Of the
original life of the great pagan world which swept over the Roman Empire
we know almost nothing. How much do we realize of the thought and genius
of Aleman, Frank and Vandal, of Angle and Lombard and Burgundian?

Nothing at all. The darkness that shrouds them is complete. But what a
contrast when we come to Ireland! If we leave out the basin of the
Mediterranean, with its Asian and African traditions, Ireland is the one
European nation which has clear records of its pagan history. And how
excellent that history was, how full of humanity and the rich wine of
life, the stories of Fergus and Concobar and Cuculain, of Find and Ossin
and Gael, of Meave and Deirdré and Credé bear sufficient witness. The
tide of Irish life to which they belong, and which brought them forth,
flowed on without break to a time so recent that their whole tradition
has come down to us, practically at first hand, from the heralds and
bards themselves. Ireland is, therefore, our one doorway to the history
of northern Europe through the long era of pagan times.

That history was everywhere a fierce tale of tribal warfare. Its heroes
are valiant fighters, keen leaders of forays, champion swordsmen and
defenders of forts. The air throbs to the battle-drum, rings to the call
of the war-trumpet. Every tribe, every clan, is in turn victor and
vanquished, raider and victim of raids. Everywhere are struggle and
unrest, tales of captivity and slaughter.

We fall into vain lamenting over this red rapine and wrath, until we
divine the genius and secret purpose of that wonderful epoch, so wholly
different in inspiration from our own. The life of races, like the life
of men, has its ordered stages, and none can ripen out of season. That
was the epoch of dawning individual consciousness, when men were coming
to a keen and vivid realization of themselves and their powers. Keen
consciousness and strong personal will could be developed only through
struggle--through long ages of individual and independent fighting,
where the best man led, and often fought for his right to lead with the
best of his followers. Innumerable centers of initiative and force were
needed, and these the old tribal life abundantly gave. The territory of
a chief hardly stretched farther than he could ride in a day, so that
every part of it had a real place in his heart. Nor was he the owner of
that territory. He was simply the chosen leader of the men who lived
there, perhaps the strongest among many brothers who shared it equally
between them. If another thought himself the better man, the matter was
forthwith decided by fighting.

The purpose of all this was not the "survival of the fittest" in the
material sense, but a harvest purely spiritual: the ripening of keen
personal consciousness and will in all the combatants, to the full
measure of their powers. The chiefs were the strongest men who set the
standard and served as models for the rest, but that standard held the
minds of all, the model of perfect valor was in the hearts of all. Thus
was personal consciousness gained and perfected.

If we keep this in mind as the keynote of the whole pagan epoch, we
shall be better able to comprehend the new forces which were added to
that epoch, and which gradually transformed it. The greatest was the
Message of the New Way. Deeds are stronger than words, and in the deeds
of the first Messengers we can see the new spirit bearing fruit. The
slave of Slemish mountain returned breathing not vengeance for his
captivity but pity and generous kindness towards his captors. Colum the
exile did not seek to enlist the Picts against his native land, but
sought rather to give the message of that land to the wild Pictish
warriors, and to spread humane and generous feeling among them. Thus was
laid the foundation of a wide and universal consciousness; a bridge was
built between soul and soul.

From the waning of the Norsemen to the first coming of the Normans is a
period of about a hundred and fifty years. We shall best gain an insight
into the national and religious life of that time by gleaning from the
Annals the vivid and living pictures they never fail to give,--pictures
which are the records of eye-witnesses. The strictly contemporary
character of the records is vouched for by the correct entry of
eclipses: for instance, "on the day before the calends of September, in
the year 1030, there was a darkening of the sun."

We see the genius of the Norsemen suffering a like eclipse the year
before: "1029: Olaf son of Sitric, lord of the Foreigners, was taken
prisoner by Matgamain Ua Riagain lord of Breag, who exacted twelve
hundred cows as his ransom, together with seven score British horses,
three score ounces of gold, the sword of Carlus, the Irish hostages,
sixty ounces of white silver as the ransom of his fetters, eighty cows
for word and supplication, and four hostages to Ua Riagain as a security
of peace."

Two generations later we read: "1088: Tigearnac Ua Briain, chief
successor of Ciaran and Coman, died. He was a paragon of learning and
history." The work of the paragon Tigearnac, a history of Ireland, is
extant and writ in choice Latin, a monument at once of the classical
learning of our schools and of the historical spirit carried down from
the days of the pagan heralds and bards. Tigearnac quotes abundantly
from Greek and Latin authors, fortifying his conclusions with passages
from Eusebius, Orosius, Julius Africanus, Josephus, Jerome and Bede.

A half-century later we get a quaint and vivid glimpse into the
religious life of the time: "1145: A lime-kiln which was sixty feet
every way was erected opposite Emain Maca by Gilla Mac Liag, the
successor of Patrick, and Patrick's clergy in general." Here is the glow
of that devotion through work which gave us the great mediaeval
cathedrals, the fervor and artistic power, which in former times adorned
the Gospels of the Book of Kells, now working out its way in lasting
stone. The date of this lime-kiln lies indeed just half-way between the
consecration of Cormac's Chapel at Cashel in 1134 and the foundation of
the beautiful cathedral beside it by the lord of Tuaid-Muma or Thomond
in 1152. Cormac's Chapel is a very pure example of native style,
untouched by foreign or continental influence.

[Illustration: Rock of Cashel, Ruins of Old Cathedral, King Cormac's
Chapel and Round Tower,]

We can divine the figure of one of the great men of the religious world
in the records for the year 1148: "A synod was convened at Saint
Patrick's Isle by Maelmaedog, called also Malachias, successor of
Patrick, at which were present fifteen bishops and two hundred priests,
to establish rules and morals for all. Maelmaedog by the advice of the
synod went a second time to Rome, to confer with the successor of
Peter." A few months later we read this record of his death: "Malachias,
that is, Maelmaedog Ua Morgair, Archbishop of the chair of Patrick,
chief head of the piety of the West of Europe, legate of the successor
of Peter, the only head whom the Irish and the Foreigners obeyed, chief
paragon of wisdom and piety, a brilliant lamp which illumined
territories and churches by preaching and good works, faithful shepherd
of the church in general,--after having ordained bishops and priests and
persons of every degree; after having consecrated many churches and
cemeteries; after having performed every ecclesiastical work throughout
Ireland; after having bestowed jewels and food upon the mighty and the
needy; after having founded churches and monasteries, for by him was
repaired in Ireland every church which had been consigned to decay and
neglect, and they had been neglected from times remote;--after leaving
every rule and every good moral in the churches of Ireland in general;
after having been the second time in the legateship; after having been
fourteen years in the primacy; and after the fifty-fourth year of his
age, resigned his spirit to heaven on the second day of November, and
was buried in the monastery of Saint Bernard at Claravallis in France."

This is the same worthy under whose influence was built the great
lime-kiln over against the fort of Emain, where Concobar once ruled.
Even from the scant notices which we have quoted he stands forth clear
and strong, full of spiritual and moral vigor, a great man in every
sense, and one in whom we divine a lovable and admirable spirit. At that
time there were four archbishoprics in Ireland, at Armagh, Cashel,
Dublin and Tuam; the primacy belonging to the first, as the seat of the
Damliag Mor or Great Stone Church, built by Saint Patrick himself. A
sentence in the Annals shows how the revenues were raised: "A horse from
every chieftain, a sheep from every hearth." A few passages like these
are enough to light up whole epochs of that mediaeval time, and to show
us how sympathetic, strong and pure that life was, in so many ways.

We find, meanwhile, that the tribal struggle continued as of old: "1154:
Toirdealbac Ua Concobar brought a fleet round Ireland northwards, and
plundered Tir-Conaill and Inis Eogain. The Cinel Eogain sent to hire the
fleets of the Hebrides, Arran, Cantyre and Man, and the borders of Alba
in general, and they fell in with the other fleet and a naval battle
was fiercely and spiritedly fought between them. They continued the
conflict from, the beginning of the day till evening, but the foreign
fleet was defeated." This records perhaps the only lesson learned from
the Norsemen, the art of naval warfare. We may regret that the new
knowledge was not turned to a more national end.

Four years later, "a wicker bridge was made by Ruaidri Ua Concobar at
Athlone, for the purpose of making incursions into Meath. There was a
pacific meeting between Ruaidri Ua Concobar and Tigearnan, and they made
peace, and took mutual oaths before sureties and relics." This is our
first meeting with a king as remarkable in his way as the great
archbishop his contemporary. Ruaidri descendant of Concobar was king of
Connacht, holding the land from the western ocean up to the great
frontier of the river Shannon. Eager to plunder his neighbors and bring
back "a countless number of cows," he undertook this wonderful work, a
pile bridge across the river, seemingly the first of its kind to be
built there, and in structure very like the famous bridge which Caesar
built across the Rhine,--or like many of the wooden bridges across the
upper streams of the Danube at the present day. We shall record a few
more of this enterprising and large-minded prince's undertakings,
following the course of the years.

In parenthesis, we find a clue to the standard of value of the time in
this record: "1161: The visitation of Osraige was made by Flaitbeartac,
successor of Colum Kill; the tribute due to him was seven score oxen,
but he selected, as a substitute for these, four hundred and twenty
ounces of pure silver." The price of an ox was, therefore, three ounces
of silver. The old-time barter, an echo of which still lingers in the
word "pecuniary" from the Latin name for "cattle," was evidently
yielding to the more convenient form of exchange through the medium of
the metals, which are easily carried and divided, and suffer no
detriment from the passage of time. With the wicker bridge and the
lime-kiln, this change from a tribute in cattle to a payment in silver
may remind us that we are on the threshold of the modern world.

In 1162 we find the king of Connacht in a new adventure: "An army was
led by Muirceartac Ua Lochlain, accompanied by the people of the north
of Ireland, the men of Meath, and a battalion of the Connacht men, to
At-Cliat, to lay siege to the Foreigners and the Irish; but Ua Lochlain
retired without battle or hostages after having plundered the Fair
Strangers. A peace was afterwards concluded between the Foreigners and
the Gaels; and six score ounces of gold were given by the Foreigners to
Ua Lochlain, and five score ounces of gold were paid by Diarmaid Ua
Maelseaclain to Ruaidri Ua Concobar for West Meath." Here again we see
the "countless cows" giving place to counted gold in the levying of
tribute. We note also, in the following year, that "a lime-kiln
measuring seventy feet every way was made by the successor of Colum Kill
and the clergy of Colum Kill in twenty days," in evident emulation of
the work of the Armagh see.

The synod already recorded as having been held in the little island of
Saint Patrick off the Dublin coast, gives us a general view of the
church at that time, the number of sees and parishes, and the spirit
animating them. We gain a like view of the civil state in the record of
a great assembly convened in 1167 by the energetic and enterprising
Connacht king: "A great meeting was called together by Ruaidri Ua
Concobar and the chiefs of Leat Cuin, both lay and ecclesiastic, and the
chiefs of At-boy,--the Yellow Ford across one of the streams of the
Boyne in Meath. To it came the successor of Patrick, the archbishop of
Connacht, the archbishop of Leinster, the lord of Breifne, the lord of
Oirgialla, the king of Ulster, the king of Tara, and Ragnall son of
Ragnall, lord of the Foreigners. The whole of their gathering and
assemblage was 19,000 horsemen, of which 6000 were Connachtmen, 4000
with the lord of Breifne, 2000 with the king of Tara, 4000 with the lord
of Oirgialla and the king of Ulster, 2000 with the chief of Ui-Failge,
and 1000 with the Foreigners of At-Cliat. They passed many good
resolutions at this meeting, respecting veneration for churches and
clerics, and control of tribes and territories, so that women used to
traverse Ireland alone; and a restoration of his prey was made by the
chief of the Ui-Failge at the hands of the kings aforesaid. They
afterwards separated in peace and amity, without battle or controversy,
or without anyone complaining of another at that meeting, in consequence
of the prosperousness of the king, who had assembled these chiefs with
their forces at one place."

Here is a foreshadowing of the representative assemblies of our modern
times, and the same wise spirit is shown in another event of the same
year, thus recorded: "A hosting and a mustering of the men of Ireland,
with their chieftains, by Ruaidri Ua Concobar; thither came the lord of
Deas-muma, the lord of Tuaid-muma, the king of Meath, the lord of
Oirgialla and all the chieftains of Leinster. They arrived in
Tir-Eogain, and allotted the part of it north of Slieve Gullion,--now
the eastern part of Derry,--to Nial Ua Lochlain for two hostages, and
allotted the part of the country of the clan to the south of the
mountain to Aed Ua Neill for two other hostages. Then the men of Ireland
returned back southwards over Slieve Fuaid, through Tir-Eogain and
Tir-Connaill, and over Assaroe--the Cataract of the Erne--and Ruaidri Ua
Concobar escorted the lord of Deas-muma with his forces southwards
through Tuaid-muma as far as Cnoc-Ainé--in Limerick--and the lord of
Deas-muma departed with gifts of many jewels and riches."

While the Norse foreigners were a power at Dublin, Waterford, Cork and
Limerick, there were not wanting occasions when one of the native tribes
called on them for aid against another tribe, sharing with them the joys
of victory or the sorrow of defeat, and, where fortune favored, dividing
with them the "countless cows" taken in a raid. In like manner the
Cinel Eogain, as we saw, hired the fleet of the Norsemen of the Western
Isles of Scotland to help them to resist a raid of the Connachtmen. The
example thus set was followed repeatedly in the coming years, and we
find mention of Flemings, Welshmen and Saxons brought over to take one
side or other in the tribal wars.

In the same year that saw the two assemblings of the chieftains under
Ruaidri Ua Concobar, another chieftain, Diarmaid son of Murcad brought
in from "the land of the Saxons," as it was called, one of these bands
of foreign mercenaries, for the most part Welsh descendants of the old
Gaelic Britons, to aid him in his contest for "the kingdom of the sons
of Ceinnsealaig." Two years later, Ruaidri Ua Concobar "granted ten cows
every year from himself and from every king that should follow him for
ever, to the Lector of Ard Maca, in honor of Patrick, to instruct the
youths of Ireland and Alba in Literature."

For the next year, 1170, we find this record: "Robert Mac Stepni and
Ricard Mac Gillebert--Iarl Strangbow--came from Saxonland into Erin with
a numerous force, and many knights and archers, in the army of the son
of Murcad, to contest Leinster for him, and to disturb the Gaels of
Erin in general; and the son of Murcad gave his daughter to Iarl
Strangbow for coming into his army. They took Loch Garman--Wexford--and
Port Lairge--Waterford--by force; and they took Gillemaire the officer
of the fortress and Ua Faelain lord of the Deisi and his son, and they
killed seven hundred persons there. Domnall Breagac with numbers of the
men of Breag fell by the Leinstermen on that occasion. An army was led
by Ruaidri Ua Concobar with the lord of Breifne and the lord of
Oirgialla against Leinster and the Foreigners aforesaid, and there was a
challenge of battle between them for the space of three days." This
contest was indecisive. The most noteworthy event of the battle was the
plundering and slaughter of the Danes of At-Cliat by the newcomers under
Iarl Strangbow. The Danes had long before this given up their old pagan
faith, converted by their captives and their Gaelic neighbors. Christ
Church Cathedral in At-Cliat or Dublin was founded early in the
preceding century by Sitric son of Olaf, king of the Danes of Dublin,
and Donatus the first Danish bishop; but the oldest part of the present
structure belongs to the time we are now speaking of: the close of the
twelfth century. The transepts with their chevron mouldings and the
principal doorway are of that period, and we may regard them as an
offering in expiation of the early heathen raids on Lambay, Saint
Patrick's Isle, and the early schools of the church.

The ambitious Diarmaid Mac Murcad died shortly after the last battle we
have recorded, "perishing without sacrament, of a loathsome disease;" a
manifest judgment, in the eyes of the Chronicler, for the crime of
bringing the Normans to Ireland. In the year that saw his death, "Henry
the Second, king of the Saxons and duke of the Normans, came to Ireland
with two hundred and forty ships." He established a footing in the land,
as one of many contesting powers, but the immediate results of his
coming were slight. This we can judge from the record of three years
later: "A brave battle was fought by the Foreigners under Iarl Strangbow
and the Gaels under Ruaidri Ua Concobar at Thurles, in which the
Foreigners were finally defeated by dint of fighting. Seventeen hundred
of the Foreigners were slain in the battle, and only a few of them
survived with the Iarl, who proceeded in sorrow to his home at Port
Lairge--Waterford." Iarl Strangbow died two years later at Dublin.

Norman warriors continue to appear during the succeeding years,
fighting against the native chieftains and against each other, while the
native chieftains continue their own quarrels, just as in the days of
the first Norse raids. Thus in the year of Iarl Strangbow's death, Kells
was laid waste by the Foreigners in alliance with the native Ui-Briain,
while later in the same year the Foreigners were driven from Limerick by
Domnall Ua-Briain, who laid siege to them and forced them to surrender.

Two years later, four hundred and fifty of the followers of De Courcy,
another great Norman warrior, were defeated at Maghera Conall in Louth,
some being drowned in the river, while others were slain on the
battlefield. In the same year De Courcy was again defeated with great
slaughter in Down, and escaped severely wounded to Dublin. For At-Cliat,
from being a fortress of the Danes and Norsemen, was gradually becoming
a Norman town. The doorway of Christ Church Cathedral, which dates from
about this time, is of pure Norman style.

In 1186 we find a son of the great Ruaidri Ua Concobar paying a band of
these same Foreigners three thousand cows as "wages," for joining him in
some plundering expedition against his neighbors. The genius of strife
reigned supreme, and the newcomers were as completely under its sway as
the old clansmen. Just as we saw the Dark Norsemen of the ninth century
coming in their long ships to plunder the Fair Norsemen of At-Cliat, and
the Fair Norsemen not less vigorously retaliating, so now we find wars
breaking out among the Normans who followed in the steps of the
Norsemen. In 1205 the Norman chieftain who held a part of Meath under
his armed sway, and who had already built a strong castle at Kells, was
at war with the De Bermingham family, who at that time held the old
Danish stronghold of Limerick. Two years later another contest broke out
between the De Berminghams and William Marescal, and yet another
struggle between Hugo de Lacy and De Bermingham, very disastrous to the
retainers of the latter, for the Chronicler tells us that "nearly all
his people were ruined."

Thus the old life of tribal struggle went on. The country was wealthy,
full of cattle and herds, silver and gold, stored corn and fruit, rich
dyed stuffs and ornaments. The chieftains and provincial kings lived in
state within their forts, with their loyal warriors around them,
feasting and making merry, and the bards and heralds recited for their
delight the great deeds of the men of old, their forefathers; the
harpers charmed or saddened them with the world-old melodies that
Deirdré had played for Naisi, that Meave had listened to, that Credé
sang for her poet lover.

The life of the church was not less vigorous and vital. There are many
churches and cathedrals of that period of transition, as of the epoch
before the first Norman came, which show the same fervor and devotion,
the same faith made manifest by works of beauty. In truth no country in
the world has so full and rich a record in lasting stone, beginning with
the dwellings of the early saints who had seen the first Messenger face
to face, and passing down through age after age, showing the life and
growth of the faith from generation to generation.

The schools, as we saw, carried on the old classical tradition, bringing
forth monuments like the Annals of Tigearnac; and there was the same
vigor and vital force in every part of the nation's life. The coming of
the Normans changed this in no essential regard. There was something
added in architecture, the Norman modifying the old native style; the
castle and keep gradually taking the place of the earthwork and stone
fort. And in the tenure of land certain new principles were introduced.
But the sum of national life went on unbroken, less modified, probably,
than it had been by the old Norse raids.



XII.

THE NORMANS.

A.D. 1250-1603.

When summing up each epoch of Irish history, we may find both interest
and profit in considering what the future of the land and the people
might have been had certain new elements not been added. Thus we may try
to picture to ourselves what would have been our history had our life
moved forward from the times of Cuculain and Concobar, of Find and
Cormac son of Art, without that transforming power which the fifth
century brought. We may imagine the tribal strife and stress growing
keener and fiercer, till the whole life and strength of the people was
fruitlessly consumed in plundering and destroying.

Or we may imagine an unbroken continuance of the epoch of saintly
aspiration, the building of churches, the illumination of holy books, so
dividing the religious from the secular community as almost to make two
nations in one, a nation altogether absorbed in the present life, with
another nation living in its midst, but dwelling wholly in the thought
of the other world. Religion would have grown to superstition, ecstasy
would have ruled in the hearts of the religious devotees, weakening
their hold on the real, and wafting them away into misty regions of
paradise. We should have had every exaggeration of ascetic practice,
hermitages multiplying among the rocks and islands of the sea, men and
women torturing their bodies for the saving of their souls.

The raids of the Norsemen turned the strong aspirations of the religious
schools into better channels, bringing them to a sense of their identity
with the rest of the people, compelling them to bear their part of the
burden of calamity and strife. The two nations which might have wandered
farther and farther apart were thus welded into one, so that the spirit
of religion became what it has ever since remained, something essential
and inherent in the life of the whole people.

After the waning of the Norsemen, a period opened full of great national
promise in many ways. We see the church strengthened and confirmed,
putting forth its power in admirable works of art, churches and
cathedrals full of the fire and fervor of devotion, and conceived in a
style truly national, with a sense of beauty altogether its own. Good
morals and generous feeling mark the whole life of the church through
this period, and the great archbishop whose figure we have drawn in
outline is only one of many fine and vigorous souls among his
contemporaries.

[Illustration: Dunluce Castle.]

The civil life of the nation, too, shows signs of singular promise at
the same time, a promise embodied in the person of the king of Connacht,
Ruaidri Ua Concobar, some of whose deeds we have recorded. There was a
clearer sense of national feeling and national unity than ever before, a
recognition of the method of conciliation and mutual understanding,
rather than the old appeal to armed force, as under the genius of tribal
strife. We see Ruaidri convoking the kings, chieftains and warriors to a
solemn assembly, presided over by the king and the archbishops of the
realm, and "passing good resolutions" for the settlement of religious
and civil matters, and the better ordering of territories and tribes.
That assembly was convened a half-century before the famous meeting
between King John and his barons, at Runnymead among the Windsor
meadows; and the seed then sown might have brought forth fruit as full
of promise and potency for the future as the Great Charter itself. The
contrast between these two historic assemblies is instructive. In the
one case, we have a provincial king from the rich and beautiful country
beyond the Shannon, gradually gaining such influence over the kings of
the provinces and the chieftains of the tribes that he had come to be
regarded as in a sense the overlord of the whole land, not through
inherent sovreignty or divine right, but first as the chosen chief of
his own tribe, and then as the elect of the whole body of chieftains,
first among his peers. In this character we see Ruaidri settling
disputes between two sections of the great Northern clan, and fixing a
boundary between them; giving presents to the chieftains of the south
for their support in this difficult decision, and exercising a
beneficent influence over the whole people, a moral sway rather than a
sovereign and despotic authority. It is pleasant to find the same king
establishing a college foundation for the instruction of the youth of
Ireland and Scotland in literature.

This is what we have on the one hand. On the other, we have the Norman
king surrounded by his barons, over whom he claimed, but could not
exercise, despotic authority; and the Norman barons taking advantage of
his necessity to extort promises and privileges for their own order
rather than for the whole people. For we must remember that the Angles
and Saxons had been reduced by conquest to a servile condition, from
which they never wholly recovered. The ruling classes of Britain at the
present day are at least nominal descendants of those same Norman
barons; and between them and the mass of the people--the sons of the
Saxons and Angles--there is still a great gulf fixed. It is quite
impossible for one of the tillers of the soil to stand on a footing of
equality with the old baronial class, and the gulf has widened, rather
than closed, since the battle of Hastings and the final overthrow of the
Saxon power.

We see here the full contrast between the ideal of kingship in Ireland
and that which grew up among the Norman conquerors of the Saxons. The
Irish king was always in theory and often in fact a real representative,
duly elected by the free suffrage of his tribesmen; he was not owner of
the tribal land, as the duke of the Normans was; he was rather the
leader of the tribe, chosen to guard their common possessions. The
communal system of Ireland stands here face to face with the feudal
system of the Normans.

It would be a study of great interest to consider what form of national
life might have resulted in Ireland from the free growth of this
principle of communal chieftainship. There are many analogies in other
lands, all of which point to the likelihood of a slow emergence of the
hereditary principle; a single family finally overtopping the whole
nation. Had this free development taken place, we might have had a
strong and vigorous national evolution, an abundant flowering of all our
energies and powers through the Middle Ages, a rich and vigorous
production of art and literature, equal to the wonderful blossoming of
genius in the Val d'Arno and Venice and Rome; but we should have missed
something much greater than all these; something towards which events
and destiny have been leading us, through the whole of the Middle Ages
and modern times.

From this point forward we shall have to trace the working of that
destiny, not manifested in a free blossoming and harvesting of our
national life, but rather in the suppression and involution of our
powers; in a development arrested by pressure from without and kept thus
suspended until the field was ready for its real work. Had our fate been
otherwise, we might now be looking back to a great mediaeval past, as
Spain and Austria look back; it is fated that we shall look not back but
forwards, brought as we are by destiny into the midst of the modern
world, a people with energy unimpaired, full of vigorous vital force,
uncorrupted by the weakening influence of wealth, taught by our own
history the measureless evil of oppression, and therefore cured once for
all of the desire to dominate others. Finally, the intense inner life
towards which we have been led by the checking of our outward energies
has opened to us secrets of the invisible world which are of untold
value, of measureless promise for all future time.

We have, therefore, to trace the gradual involution of our national
life; the checking and restraining of that free development which would
assuredly have been ours, had our national life grown forward unimpeded
and uninfluenced from without, from the days when the Norse power waned.
The first great check to that free development came from the feudal
system, the principle of which was brought over by Robert FitzStephen,
Richard FitzGilbert, the De Courcys, the De Lacys, the De Berminghams
and their peers, whose coming we have recorded. They added new elements
to the old struggle of district against district, tribe against tribe,
but they added something more enduring--an idea and principle destined
almost wholly to supplant the old communal tenure which was the genius
of the native polity. The outward and visible sign of that new principle
was manifested in the rapid growth of feudal castles, with their strong
keeps, at every point of vantage gained by the Norman lords. They were
lords of the land, not leaders of the tribe, and their lordship was
fitly symbolized in the great gloomy towers of stone that everywhere
bear witness to their strength, almost untouched as they are by the
hand of time.

When the duke of the Normans overthrew the Saxon king at Hastings, he
became real owner of the soil of England. His barons and lords held
their estates from him, in return for services to be rendered to him
direct. To reward them for supporting him, first in that decisive
battle, and then in whatever contests he might engage in, they were
granted the right to tax certain tracts of country, baronies, earldoms,
or counties, according to the title they bore. This tax was exacted
first in service, then in produce, and finally in coin. It was the
penalty of conquest, the tribute of the subject Saxons and Angles.
There was no pretence of a free contract; no pretence that the baron
returned to the farmer or laborer an equal value for the tax thus
exacted. It was tribute pure and simple, with no claim to be anything
else. That system of tribute has been consecrated in the land tenure of
England, and the class enriched by that tribute, and still bearing the
territorial titles which are its hall-mark, has always been, as it is
to-day, the dominant class alike in political and social life. In other
words, the Norman subjugation of Saxon and Angle is thoroughly effective
at this moment.

This principle of private taxation, as a right granted by the sovereign,
came over to Ireland with the De Courcys and De Lacys and their like.
But it by no means overspread Ireland in a single tide, as in England,
after Hastings was lost and won. Its progress was slow; so slow, indeed,
that the old communal system lingers here and there at the present day.
The communal chiefs lived their lives side by side with the Norman
barons, fighting now with the barons, now with each other; and the same
generous rivalry, as we have seen, led to abundant fighting among the
barons also. The principle of feudal ownership was working its way,
however. We shall see later how great was its ultimate influence,--not
so much by direct action, as in the quite modern reaction which its
abuse provoked--a reaction from which have been evolved certain
principles of value to the whole world.

Leaving this force to work its way through the centuries, we may turn
now to the life of the times as it appeared to the men and women who
lived in them, and as they themselves have recorded it. We shall find
fewer great personalities; nor should we expect this to be otherwise, if
we are right in thinking that the age of struggle, with its
efflorescence of great persons, had done its work, and was already
giving way before the modern spirit, with its genius for the universal
rather than the personal. We shall have contests to chronicle during the
following centuries, whether engendered within or forced upon us from
without; but they are no longer the substance of our history. They are
only the last clouds of a departing storm; the mists before the dawn of
the modern world.

The most noteworthy of these contests in the early Norman age was the
invasion under Edward Bruce, brother of the Scottish king, who brought a
great fleet and army to Larne, then as now the Irish port nearest to the
northern kingdom. The first sufferers by this invasion were the Normans
of Heath, and we presently find these same Normans allied with Feidlimid
son of Aed Ua Concobar and the Connachtmen, fighting side by side
against the common foe. This was in 1315; two years later Robert Bruce
joined his brother, and it was not till 1319 that Edward Bruce finally
fell at Dundalk, "and no achievement had been performed in Ireland for a
long time before," the Chronicler tells us, "from which greater benefit
had accrued to the country than from this; for during the three and a
half years that Edward had spent in it, a universal famine prevailed to
such a degree that men were wont to devour one another."

A ray of light is thus shed on the intellectual and moral life of the
time: "1398: Garrett Earl of Desmond--or Deas-muma--a cheerful and
courteous man, who excelled all the Normans and many of the Irish in the
knowledge of the Irish language, poetry, history and other learning,
died after the victory of peace." We see that the Normans are already
fallen under the same influence of assimilation which had transformed
the Danes two hundred years before.

A half-century later, we get a vigorous and lurid picture of the
survival of the old tribal strife: "1454: Donell O'Donell was installed
in the lordship of Tyrconnell, in opposition to Rury O'Donell. Not long
after this, Donell was treacherously taken captive and imprisoned in the
castle of Inis--an island in Lough Swilly. As soon as Rury received
tidings of this, he mustered an army thither, and proceeded to demolish
the castle in which Donell was imprisoned with a few men to guard him.
Rury and his army burned the great door of the castle, and set the
stairs on fire; whereupon Donell, thinking that his life would be taken
as soon as the army should reach the castle,--it being his dying
request, as he thought--that he might be loosed from his fetters, as he
deemed it a disgrace to be killed while imprisoned and fettered. His
request was granted, and he was loosed from his fetters; after which he
ascended to the battlements of the castle, to view the motions of the
invading army. And he saw Rury beneath, with eyes flashing enmity, and
waiting until the fire should subside, that he might enter and kill him.
Donell then, finding a large stone by his side, hurled it directly down
upon Rury, so that it fell on the crest of his helmet, on the top of his
head, and crushed it, so that he instantly died. The invading forces
were afterwards defeated, and by this throw Donell saved his own life
and acquired the lordship of Tyrconnell."

There is a whole historical romance in that single picture; the passage
could not easily be surpassed for direct and forcible narrative. A few
years later, we come on one of the most amusing things in the whole
series of annals, a perfect contrast to the grim ferocity of the feud of
the O'Donells. In 1472 "a wonderful animal was sent to Ireland by the
king of England. She resembled a mare, and was of a yellow color, with
the hoofs of a cow, a long neck, a very large head, a large tail, which
was ugly and scant of hair. She had a saddle of her own. Wheat and salt
were her usual food. She used to draw the largest sled-burden behind
her. She used to kneel when passing under any doorway, however high, and
also to let her rider mount." It is evident that the Gaelic language in
the fifteenth century lacked a name for the camel. The same year, we are
told, "the young earl of Desmond was set at liberty by the MacCarthys;
he disabled Garrett, son of the earl of Kildare."

Here is another passage which vies in vividness and force with the story
of the death of Rury O'Donell: "1557: Two spies, Donough and Maurice by
name, entered the camp of John O'Neill by Lough Swilly, and mingled with
the troop without being noticed; for in consequence of the number and
variety of the troops who were there, it was not easy for them to
discriminate between one another, even if it were day, except by
recognizing their chieftains alone. The two persons aforesaid proceeded
from one fire to another, until they came to the great central fire,
which was at the entrance of the son of O'Neill's tent; and a huge
torch, thicker than a man's body, was continually flaming at a short
distance from the fire, and sixty grim and redoubtable warriors with
sharp, keen axes, terrible and ready for action, and sixty stern and
terrific Scots, with massive, broad and heavy striking swords in their
hands, ready to strike and parry, were guarding the son of O'Neill. When
the time came for the troops to dine, and food was divided and
distributed among them, the two spies whom we have mentioned stretched
out their hands to the distributor like the rest, and that which fell to
their share was a measure of meal, and a suitable complement of butter.
With this testimony of their adventure they returned to their
own people."

Here again, what a picture of the camp-life of the age; the darkness of
night, the great central fire with the sixty grim and redoubtable
warriors armed with keen axes, terrible and ready for action, and the
sixty stern and terrific Scots with their massive swords. The admirable
manner of the narrative is as striking as the fierce vigor of the life
portrayed. So we might go on, adding red pages of martial records, but
in reality adding nothing to our understanding of the times. The life of
the land was as full and abundant as of old, and one outcome of that
life we may touch on rather more at length.

We have said much of the old religious schools of Ireland, with their
fine and vigorous intellectual life, which did so much to carry forward
the torch of culture to our modern world. For nearly seven hundred years
these great schools seem to have developed wholly along indigenous
lines, once they had accepted the body of classical culture from the
Roman Empire, then tottering to its fall. The full history of that
remarkable chapter in the world's spiritual life has yet to be written;
but this we can foretell, that when written, it will abound with rich
material and ample evidence of a sound and generous culture, inspired
throughout with the fervor of true faith.

About the time when the Norman warriors began to mingle with the
fighting chieftains of the old native tribes, a change came over the
religious history of the country. After sending forth men of power and
light to the awakening lands of modern Europe, Ireland began to receive
a returning tide, to reap a harvest from these same lands, in the friars
and abbots of the great Continental orders founded by men like Saint
Bernard, Saint Dominick and Saint Francis of Assisi. A change in the
church architecture of the period visibly records this spiritual change;
continental forms appear, beginning with the rounded arches of the
Normans, and passing gradually into the various forms of pointed arches
which we know as Gothic. Very beautiful Abbeys belonging to this epoch
remain everywhere throughout the island, making once more evident--what
strikes us at every point of our study--that no country in the world is
so rich in these lasting records of every step of our national life,
whether in pagan or Christian times.

We have said much of the archaic cromlechs. We have recorded the great
Pyramids by the Boyne telling us of the genius of the De Danaans. The
Milesian epoch is even now revealed to us in the great earthworks of
Tara and Emain and Cruacan. We can, if we wish, climb the mound of
heaped-up earth where was the fortress of Cuculain, or look over the
green plains from the hill of Find.

[Illustration: Mellifont Abbey, Co. Louth.]

In like manner, there is an unbroken series of monuments through the
early Christian epoch, beginning with the oratories of the sixth
century, continuing through the early churches of Killiney, Moville,
Dalkey, Glendalough and Monasterboice, from before the Norse inroads;
followed by the epoch of Round Towers, or protected belfries, with their
churches, nearly three score of these Round Towers remaining in fair
preservation, while many are perfect from base to apex; and culminating
in Cormac's chapel and the beautiful group of buildings on Cashel Rock.
For the next period, the age of transition after the waning of the
Norsemen and the coming of the first Normans, we have many monuments in
the Norman style, like the door of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin,
with its romance of Danish conversion and Norse religious fervor.

Finally, we come to the age whose progress we have just recorded, which
covers the whole of the Middle Ages. For this period, which was for
Ireland an epoch of foreign influence much more than of foreign rule, we
have many beautiful Abbeys, built for those foreign orders whose coming
was in a sense a return tide, a backward flow of the old missionary
spirit which went forth from Ireland over nascent modern Europe. The
life of these abbeys was full of rich imaginative and religious power;
it abounded in urbanity and ripe culture of a somewhat selfish and
exclusive type. Yet we cannot but feel a limitless affection and
sympathy for the abbots and friars of the days of old who have left us
such a rich heritage of beauty and grace.

All these abbeys seem to have been formed on a single plan: a cruciform
church symbolized the source of all their inspiration, its choir
extending towards the east, whence the Light had come; the nave, or main
body of the church, was entered by the great western door, and the arms
of the cross, the transepts, extended to the north and south. Here is a
very beautiful symbol, a true embodiment of the whole spirit and
inspiration of the monastic orders. From one of the transepts a side
door generally led to the domestic buildings, the dormitory, the
refectory, the chapter house, where the friars assembled in conclave
under the presidency of the abbot. There were lesser buildings,
store-rooms, granaries, work-rooms, but these were the kernel of the
establishment. The church was the center of all things, and under its
floor the friars were at last laid to rest, while brother friars carved
tombs for them and epitaphs, adding a new richness of decoration to the
already beautiful church.

We may record a few of these old foundations, showing at the same time
the present state of the old abbey buildings. At Newtown on the northern
bank of the Boyne, about a mile below Trim, Simon Rochfort founded an
abbey for the Augustinian Canons in 1206, dedicating it to Saint Peter
and Saint Paul. The capitals of the pillars in the church, the vaulting
of the roof and the shafts of the arches which supported the tower are
full of singular grace and beauty, even now when the abbey is roofless
and in part destroyed, while the corbels and mouldings round the
lancet-shaped windows are full of luxuriant fancy and charm. We can
divine from them the full and rich spiritual life which brought forth
such exquisite flowers of beauty; we can imagine the fine aroma of
fervor and saintly peace which brooded over these consecrated aisles.

A few miles below Trim, and an equal distance from the old royal palace
of Tara, Bective Abbey stands on the northern bank of the Boyne, with a
square, battlemented tower overshadowing its cloistered quadrangle. The
cinque-foil cloister arches, the fillets that bind the clustered shafts
of the pillars, the leaf ornaments of the plinths at their base all
speak of a luxuriant sense of beauty and grace, of a spirit of pure and
admirable artistic work. This rich creative power thus breaking forth in
lovely handiwork is only the outward sign of a full inner life, kindled
by the fire of aspiration, and glowing with the warm ardor of devotion.
Bective Abbey dates from about 1150. We are told that the king of Meath
who founded it for the Cistercian order "endowed it with two hundred and
forty-five acres of land, a fishing-weir and a mill." From this meager
outline we can almost restore the picture of the life, altogether
idyllic and full of quiet delight, that the old Friars lived among the
meadows of the Boyne.

Grey Abbey was founded a little later, in 1193, for the same Cistercian
order, where the promontory of the Ards divides Strangford Lough from
the eastern sea. Over the waters of the lough, the red sandstone hills
of north Down make a frame for the green of the meadows, as the tide
laps and murmurs close to the old monastic church. Grey Abbey owes its
foundation to the piety of a princess of the Isle of Man, wedded to De
Courcy, the Norman warrior whose victories and defeats we have recorded.
The great beauty of its church is due to the soaring loftiness of the
eastern window, and the graceful daring of the arches which in former
days upheld the central tower.

Other Cistercian foundations are commemorated in the names of
Abbey-leix in Queen's county, and Abbey-dorney and Abbey-feale in Kerry;
all three dating from after the reformation of the order by Saint
Bernard the Younger, though the work of that ardent missionary did not
apparently extend its influence to Ireland until a later date. This
reformer of the Cistercians must not be confused with the elder Saint
Bernard, whose hospice guards the pass of the Alps which bears his name.
Saint Bernard of the Alps died in 1008, while Saint Bernard the reformer
was born in 1093, dying sixty years later as abbot of Clara vallis or
Clairvaux, on the bank of the Aube in northern France. It was at this
Abbey of the Bright Vale, or Clara vallis, that Archbishop Maelmaedog
resigned his spirit to heaven, five years before the death of the
younger Saint Bernard, then abbot there. This is a link between the old
indigenous church and the continental orders of the Friars.

Killmallock Abbey, in Limerick, belonged to the order of the Dominicans,
founded by the scion of the Guzmans, the ardent apostle of Old Castile,
known to history as Saint Dominick. Here again we have a beautiful abbey
church with a square central tower, upborne on soaring and graceful
arches from the point where the nave joined the choir. There is only one
transept--on the south--so that the church is not fully cruciform, a
peculiarity shared by several other Dominican buildings. The eastern
window and the window of this transept are full of delicate grace and
beauty, each containing five lights, and marked by the singularly
charming manner in which the mullions are interlaced above. Enough
remains of the cloister and the domestic buildings for us to bring back
to life the picture of the old monastic days, when the good Friars
worked and prayed there, with the sunlight falling on them through the
delicate network of the windows.

Holycross Abbey, near Thurles in Tipperary, was another of the
Cistercian foundations, its charter, dating from 1182, being still in
existence. Its church is cruciform; the nave is separated from the north
aisle by round arches, and from the south aisle by pointed arches, which
gives it a singular and unusual beauty. The great western window of the
nave, with its six lights, is also very wonderful. Two chapels are
attached to the north transept, with a passage between them, its roof
supported by a double row of pointed arches upheld by twisted pillars.
The roof is delicately groined, as is the roof of the choir, and the
whole abbey breathes a luxuriant richness of imagination, bearing
everywhere the signs of high creative genius. The same lavish
imagination is shown everywhere in the interlaced tracery, the black
limestone giving the artist an admirable vehicle for his work. Though
the charter dates from the twelfth century, some of the work is about
two centuries later, showing finely the continuity of life and spiritual
power in the old monastic days.

[Illustration: Holy Cross Abbey, Co. Tipperary.]

The Friars of Saint Augustine, who were in possession of the abbey at
Newtown on the Boyne, had another foundation not far from West port in
Mayo, in the Abbey of Ballintober, founded in 1216 by a son of the great
Ruaidri Ua Concobar. Here also we have the cruciform church, with four
splendid arches rising from the intersection of nave and choir, and once
supporting the tower. The Norman windows over the altar, with their
dog-tooth mouldings, are very perfect. In a chapel on the south of the
choir are figures of the old abbots carved in stone.

One of the Ui-Briain founded a Franciscan Abbey at Ennis in Clare about
1240, which is more perfectly preserved than any of those we have
described. The tower still stands, rising over the junction of nave and
choir; the refectory, chapter house, and some other buildings still
remain, while the figure of the patron, Saint Francis of Assisi, still
stands beside the altar at the north pier of the nave.

Clare Abbey, a mile from Ennis, was founded for the Augustine Friars in
1195, and here also the tower still stands, dominating the surrounding
plain. Three miles further south, on the shore of Killone Lake, was yet
another abbey of the same period, while twenty miles to the north, at
Corcomroe on the shore of Galway Bay, the Cistercians had yet
another home.

We might continue the list indefinitely. Some of the most beautiful of
our abbeys still remain to be recorded, but we can do no more than give
their names: Bonamargy was built for the Franciscans in Antrim in the
fifteenth century; the Dominican priory at Roscommon dates from 1257;
the Cistercian Abbey of Jerpoint in Kilkenny was begun in 1180; Molana
Abbey, in Waterford, was built for the Augustinians on the site of a
very old church; and finally Knockmoy Abbey in Galway, famous for its
fourteenth century frescoes, was begun in 1189. We must remember that
every one of these represents, and by its variations of style indicates,
an unbroken life through several centuries. The death-knell of the old
life of the abbeys and priories, in Ireland as in England, was struck in
the year 1537 by the law which declared their lands forfeited to the
crown; as the result of the religious controversies of the beginning of
the sixteenth century.



XIII.

THE TRIUMPH OF FEUDALISM.

A.D. 1603-1660.

The confiscation of the abbey lands, as the result of religious
controversy, closed an epoch of ecclesiastical life in Ireland, which we
cannot look back on without great regret for the noble and beautiful
qualities it brought forth in such abundance. There is a perennial charm
and fascination in the quiet life of the old religious houses--in the
world, yet not of the world--which appeals to aesthetic and moral
elements in our minds in equal degree. From their lovely churches and
chapter-houses the spirits of the old monks invite us to join them in an
unworldly peace on earth, a renewal of the golden age, a life full of
aspiration and self-forgetfulness, with all the burdens of egotism
laid aside.

Yet after all is said, we can hardly fail to see that out of the
spoliation and scattering of the religious orders much good came. There
was a danger that, like the older indigenous schools which they
supplanted, these later foundations might divide the nation in two, all
things within their consecrated walls being deemed holy, while all
without was unregenerate, given up to wrath. A barrier of feelings and
hopes thus springing up, tends to harden from year to year, till at last
we have a religious caste grown proud and arrogant, and losing all trace
of the spiritual fervor which is its sole reason for being.

The evils which surround a wealthy church are great and easily to be
understood, nor need we lay stress on them. There is, indeed, cause for
wonder in the spectacle of the followers of him "who had not where to
lay his head" become, in the Middle Ages, the greatest owners of land in
Europe; and we can see how temptations and abuses without number might
and did often arise from this very fact. Ambition, the desire of wealth,
the mere love of ease, led many to profess a religious life who had
never passed through that transformation of will and understanding which
is the essence of religion. The very purpose of religion was forgotten,
or allowed to be hidden away under things excellent in themselves, yet
not essential; and difference of view about these unessential things led
to fierce and bitter controversy, and later to open strife and war.

We take religion, in its human aspect, to mean the growth of a new and
wider consciousness above the keen, self-assertive consciousness of the
individual; a superseding of the personal by the humane; a change from
egotism to a more universal understanding; so that each shall act, not
in order to gain an advantage over others, but rather to attain the
greatest good for himself and others equally; that one shall not
dominate another for his own profit, but shall rather seek to draw forth
in that other whatever is best and truest, so that both may find their
finest growth. Carried far enough, this principle, which makes one's
neighbor a second self, will bring to light in us the common soul, the
common life that has tacitly worked in all human intercourse from the
beginning. Individual consciousness is in no way effaced; something new,
wider and more humane, something universal, is added to it from above;
something consciously common to all souls. And through the inspiration
of that larger soul, the individual life for the first time comes to its
true power--a power which is held by all pure souls in common.

We can see that something like this was the original inspiration of the
religious orders. Their very name of Friars or Brothers speaks of the
ideal of a common life above egotism. They sought a new birth through
the death of selfishness, through self-sacrifice and renunciation. All
their life in common was a symbol of the single soul inspiring them, the
very form of their churches bearing testimony to their devotion. More
than that, the beauty and inspiration which still radiate from the old
abbey buildings show how often and in how large a degree that ideal was
actually attained.

Nevertheless we can very well see how the possession of large wealth and
costly offerings might be a hindrance to that spirit, fanning back to
life the smouldering fires of desire. We can see even more clearly that
the division between the secular and the religious life would tend to
raise a moral barrier, hardening that very sense of separation which the
humane and universal consciousness seeks to kill. Finally, we should see
what the world has often seen: the disciples of the Nazarene dwelling in
palaces, and vying with princes in the splendor of their retinues. This
is hardly the way to make real the teaching of "the kingdom not of this
world." This world, in the meaning of that saying, is the old world of
egotism, of self-assertion, of selfish rivalry, of the sense of
separation. The kingdom is that very realm of humane and universal
consciousness added from above, the sense of the one soul common to all
men and working through all men, whether they know it or not.

We can, therefore, see that the confiscation of the monasteries, and
even the persecution of the religious orders, might be the cause of
lasting spiritual good; it was like the opening of granaries and the
scattering of grain abroad over the fields. The religious force, instead
of drawing men out of the world, thenceforth was compelled to work among
all men, not creating beautiful abbeys but transforming common lives.
Persecution was the safeguard of sincerity, the fire of purification,
from which men's spirits came forth pure gold. Among all nations of the
world, Ireland has long held the first place for pure morals, especially
in the relations of sex; and this is increasingly true of those
provinces where the old indigenous element is most firmly established.
We may affirm that the spiritualizing of religious feeling through
persecution has had its share in bringing this admirable result,
working, as it did, on a race which has ever held a high ideal
of purity.

Thus out of evil comes good; out of oppression, rapacity and
confiscation grow pure unselfishness, an unworldly ideal, a sense of the
invisible realm. We shall presently see the same forces of rapacity and
avarice sowing the seeds for a not less excellent harvest in the world
of civil life.

The principle of feudalism, though introduced by the first Norman
adventurers in the twelfth century, did not gain legal recognition over
the whole country until the seventeenth. The old communal tenure of the
Brehon law was gradually superseded, so that, instead of innumerable
tribal territories with elected chiefs, there grew up a system of
estates, where the land was owned by one man and tilled by others. The
germ of this tenure was the right of private taxation over certain
districts, granted by the Norman duke to his barons and warriors as the
reward for their help in battle. Feudal land tenure never was, and never
pretended to be, a contract between cultivator and landowner for their
mutual benefit. It was rather the right to prey on the farmer, assigned
to the landowner by the king, and paid for in past or present services
to the king. In other words, the head of the Norman army invited his
officers to help themselves to a share of the cattle and crops over
certain districts of England, and promised to aid them in securing their
plunder, in case the Saxon cultivator was rash enough to resist. The
baronial order presently ceased to render any real service to their
duke, beyond upholding him that he might uphold them. But there was no
such surcease for the Saxon cultivator. The share of his cattle and
crops which he was compelled to give up to the Norman baron became more
rigidly defined, more strictly exacted, with every succeeding century,
and the whole civil state of England was built up on this principle.

The baronial order assembled at Runnymead to force the hand of the king.
From that time forward their power increased, while the king's power
waned. But there was no Runnymead for the Saxon cultivator. He
continued, as to this day he continues, to pay the share of his cattle
and crops to the Norman baron or his successor, in return for
services--no longer rendered--to the king. The whole civil state of
England, therefore, depends on the principle of private taxation; the
Norman barons and their successors receiving a share of the cattle and
crops of the whole country, year after year, generation after
generation, century after century, as payment for services long become
purely imaginary, and even in the beginning rendered not to the
cultivator who was taxed, but to the head of the armed invaders, who
stood ready to enforce the payment. The Constitution of England embodies
this very principle even now, in the twentieth century. Two of the three
Estates,--King, Lords and Commons,--in whom the law-making power is
vested, represent the Norman conquest, while even the third, still
called the Lower House, boasts of being "an assembly of gentlemen," that
is, of those who possess the right of private taxation of land, the
right to claim a share of the cattle and crops of the whole country
without giving anything at all in return.

This is the system which English influence slowly introduced into
Ireland, and with the reign of the first Stuarts the change was
practically complete, guaranteed by law, and enforced by armed power.
The tribesmen were now tenants of their former elected chief, in whom
the ownership of the tribal land was invested; the right of privately
taxing the tribesmen was guaranteed to the chief by law, and a share of
all cattle and crops was his by legal right, not as head of the tribe,
but as owner of the land, with power to dispossess the tribesmen if they
failed to pay his tax.

But very many districts had long before this come under the dominion of
Norman adventurers, like the De Courcys, the De Lacys, and the rest, of
whose coming we have told. They also enjoyed the right of private
taxation over the districts under their dominion, and, naturally, had
power to assign this right to others,--not only to their heirs, but to
their creditors,--or even simply to sell the right of taxing a certain
district to the highest bidder in open market.

The tribal warfare of the Middle Ages had brought many of the old chiefs
and Norman lords into open strife with the central power, with the
result that the possessions of unsuccessful chiefs and lords were
continually assigned by the law-courts to those who stood on the side of
the central power, the right to tax certain districts thus changing
hands indefinitely. The law-courts thus came into possession of a very
potent weapon, whether for rewarding the friends or punishing the
enemies of the central power, or simply for the payment of personal and
partisan favors.

During the reign of the first Stuarts the full significance of this
weapon seems to have been grasped. We see an unlimited traffic in the
right to tax; estates confiscated and assigned to time-serving
officials, and endless abuses arising from the corruption of the courts,
the judges being appointed by the very persons who were presently to
invoke the law to their own profit. The tribal system was submerged,
and the time of uncertainty was taken advantage of to introduce
unlimited abuses, to assign to adventurers a fat share of other men's
goods, to create a class legally owning the land, and entitled, in
virtue of that ownership, to a share of the cattle and crops which they
had done nothing to produce.

The Stuarts were at this very time sowing the seeds of civil war in
England by the introduction of like abuses, the story of which has been
repeatedly told; and we are all familiar with the history of the great
uprising which was thereby provoked, to the temporary eclipse of the
power of the crown. The story of the like uprising at the same epoch,
and from kindred causes, in Ireland, is much more obscure, but equally
worth recording, and to this uprising we may now turn.

Its moral causes we have already spoken of. There was, first, the
confiscation of the abbey lands, and the transfer of church revenues and
buildings to Anglican clergy--clergy, that is, who recognized the
sovreign of England as the head of the church. This double confiscation
touched the well-springs of intense animosity, the dispossessed abbots
using all the influences of their order in foreign lands to bring about
their re-installation, while the controversy as to the headship of the
church aroused all the fierce and warring passions that had been raging
on the Continent since the beginning of the sixteenth century.

There were, besides, the griefs of the dispossessed chieftains, whose
tribal lands had been given to others. Chief among these was the famous
house of O'Neill, the descendants of Nial, the old pagan monarch whose
wars are thought to have brought the captive of Slemish Mountain to
Ireland. The O'Neills, like their neighbors the O'Donnells, descendants
of Domnall, had been one of the great forces of tribal strife for eighty
generations, and they now saw their lands confiscated and given over to
strangers. But they were only representatives of a feeling which was
universal; an indignant opposition to arbitrary and tyrannous
expropriation.

The head of the O'Neills had made his peace with the Tudors on the very
day Queen Elizabeth died, and the tribal lands had been guaranteed to
him in perpetuity. But within four years plots were set on foot by the
central authorities, possibly acting in good faith, to dispossess him
and the chief of the O'Donnells on a charge of treason; and in 1607
both fled to the Continent. Their example was followed by numberless
others, and the more restless and combative spirits among the tribesmen,
who preferred fighting to the tilling of their fields, entered the
continental armies in large numbers.

When the chiefs of the north fled to the Continent, their lands were
held to have reverted to the crown; and not only was the right to tax
the produce of these lands assigned to adherents of the central power,
but numbers of farmers from the Scottish lowlands, and in lesser degree
from England, were brought over and settled on the old tribal territory.
The tribesmen, with their cattle, were driven to less fertile districts,
and the valleys were tilled by the transplanted farmers of Scotland.
This was the Plantation of Ulster, of 1611,--four years after the flight
of O'Neill and O'Donnell. The religious controversies of Scotland were
thereby introduced into Ireland, so that there were three parties now in
conflict--the old indigenous church, dispossessed of revenues and
buildings, and even of civil rights; the Anglicans who had received
these revenues and buildings, and, lastly, the Dissenters--Presbyterians
and Puritans--equally opposed to both the former.

The struggle between the king and Parliament of England now found an
echo in Ireland, the Anglican party representing the king, while the
Scottish and English newcomers sympathized with the Parliament. A
cross-fire of interests and animosities was thus aroused, which greatly
complicated the first elements of strife. The Parliament at Dublin was
in the hands of the Puritan party, and was in no sense representative of
the other elements of the country. There was a Puritan army of about ten
thousand, as a garrison of defence for the Puritan newcomers in Ulster,
and there were abundant materials of an opposing national army in the
tribal warriors both at home and on the Continent.

These national materials were presently drawn together by the head of
the O'Neills, known to history as Owen Roe, an admirable leader and a
most accomplished man, who wrote and spoke Latin, Spanish, French and
English, as well as his mother-tongue. Owen Roe O'Neill had won renown
on many continental battlefields, and was admirably fitted by genius and
training to lead a national party, not only in council but in the field.
The nucleus of his army he established in Tyrone, gaining numbers of
recruits whom he rapidly turned into excellent soldiers.

This took place at the end of 1641 and the beginning of 1642, and the
other forces of the country were organized about the same time. The
lines of difference between the Anglican and Catholic parties were at
this time very lightly drawn, and the Norman lords found themselves able
to co-operate with the Catholic bishops in forming a General Assembly at
Kells, which straightway set itself to frame a Constitution for
the country.

The Norman lords had meanwhile assembled and organized their retainers,
so that there were now three armies in Ireland: the garrison of the
Scottish settlers under Monroe, strongly in sympathy with the Puritans;
the tribal army under Owen Roe O'Neill; and the army of the Norman
lords. The General Assembly outlined a system of parliamentary
representation in which the Lords and Commons were to form a single
House, the latter, two hundred and twenty-six in number, representing
all the important cities and towns. A supreme Cabinet was to be formed,
composed of six members for each of the four provinces, twenty-four in
all, who might be lords spiritual or temporal, or commoners, according
to the choice of the Parliament. This Cabinet, thus selected from the
whole Parliament, was the responsible executive of the country; and
under the Supreme Council a series of Provincial Councils and County
Councils were to be formed along the same lines.

[Illustration: Donegal Castle.]

This plan was adopted at a general meeting of all the influential forces
of the country, which assembled in May at Kilkenny, where many
Parliaments had sat during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Writs
were issued for elections under the new Constitution, and the date of
the first assembly of the new Parliament was fixed for October. The new
national body enjoyed abundant revenues, and no small state marked its
deliberations in Kilkenny. We read of an endless series of
illuminations, receptions, banquets and balls,--the whole of the Norman
nobility of Leinster lavishing their great wealth in magnificent
display. The Supreme Council journeyed in state from Kilkenny to
Wexford, from Wexford to Waterford, from Waterford to Limerick and
Galway, surrounded by hundreds of horsemen with drawn swords, and
accompanied by an army of officials. We hear of "civil and military
representations of comedies and stage plays, feasts and banquets, and
palate-enticing dishes."

The General Assembly, duly elected, finally met on October 23, 1642, at
Kilkenny. On the same day was fought the battle of Edgehill, between
the king of England and the forces of the English Parliament. This
battle was the signal for division of counsels in the new Assembly. The
Norman lords of Leinster, who stood on the ground of feudalism, and
lived under the shadow of royal authority, were strongly drawn to take
the side of the king against the English Parliament, and overtures of
negotiation were made, which came near gaining a recognition and
legalization of the General Assembly by the English Crown.

While the leaders at Kilkenny were being drawn towards the royalists of
England, Owen Roe O'Neill was successfully holding Ulster against the
Puritan forces under Monroe and Leslie, with their headquarters at
Carrickfergus. Thus matters went on till the autumn of 1643, when we
find him inflicting a serious defeat on the English army under Monk and
Moore at Portlester in Meath, in which Moore was killed and his forces
driven back within the walls of Drogheda.

The General Assembly continued to exercise sovreign authority at
Kilkenny, collecting revenues, maintaining courts of justice in the
provinces, and keeping several armies in the field, most effective of
which was undoubtedly that of Owen Roe O'Neill. We find matters still in
this condition three years later, in May, 1646, when Monroe and the
Scottish forces prepared to inaugurate an offensive campaign from their
base at Carrickfergus. General Robert Monroe had about seven thousand
men at Carrickfergus; his brother George had five hundred at Coleraine;
while there was a Scottish army at Derry, numbering about two thousand
men. It was decided to converge these three forces on Clones, in
Monaghan, and thence to proceed southwards against the government of the
General Assembly, then centered at Limerick. Clones was sixty miles from
Derry, and rather more from Coleraine and Carrickfergus, the two other
points of departure.

Owen Roe O'Neill was then at Cavan, fourteen miles south of Clones, with
five thousand foot and five hundred horse, all "good, hopeful men," to
use his own words. General Robert Monroe, starting from Carrickfergus,
and marching by Lisburn and Armagh, expected to reach Glasslough, some
sixteen miles from Clones, on June 5th. By a forced march from Cavan,
Owen Roe O'Neill reached Glasslough a day earlier, and marching along
the northern Blackwater, pitched his camp on the north bank of the
river. Here he was directly in the line between the two Monroes, who
could only join their forces after dislodging him; and Robert Monroe,
who by that time had reached Armagh, saw that it would be necessary to
give battle without delay if the much smaller forces from the north were
not to be cut off.

Robert Monroe began a movement northwards towards Owen Roe's position at
dawn on June 5th, and presently reached the Blackwater, to find himself
face to face with Owen Roe's army across the river. The two forces kept
parallel with each other for some time, till Robert Monroe finally
forded the Blackwater at Caledon, Owen Roe then retiring in the
direction of the current, which here flows north. Owen Roe, in his
movement of withdrawal, brought his army through a narrow pass, which he
left in charge of one of his best infantry regiments, with orders to
hold it only so long as the enemy could be safely harassed, meanwhile
carrying his main body back to the hill of Knocknacloy, the position he
had chosen from the first for the battle, and to gain which he had up to
this time been manoeuvering.

At Knocknacloy he had the center of his army protected by the hill, the
right by a marsh, and the left by the river, so that, a flanking
movement on Monroe's part being impossible, the Scottish general was
forced to make a frontal attack. Under cover of the rearguard action at
the pass, which caused both delay and confusion to Monroe's army, Owen
Roe formed his men in order of battle. His first line was of four
columns, with considerable spaces between them; his cavalry was on the
right and left wings, behind this first line; while three columns more
were drawn up some distance farther back, behind the openings in the
front line, and forming the reserve. We should remember that not only
was Owen Roe's army outnumbered by Monroe's, but also that Owen Roe had
no artillery, while Monroe was well supplied with guns.

Meanwhile Monroe's army came into touch with Owen Roe's force, and the
Scottish general opened fire with guns and muskets, to which the muskets
of Owen Roe as vigorously replied. The Scottish artillery was planted on
a hillock a quarter-mile from Owen Roe's center, and under cover of its
fire an infantry charge was attempted, which was brilliantly repulsed by
the pikemen of Owen Roe's army. A second attack was made by the Scottish
cavalry, who tried to ford the river, and thus turn the left flank of
the Irish army, but they were met and routed by the Irish horse. This
was about six in the evening, and the sun, hanging low in the sky, fell
full in the faces of the Scottish troops. Owen Roe promptly followed up
the rout of the Scottish horse by an advance, making a sweeping movement
from right to left, and thereby forcing Monroe towards the junction of
two streams, where he had no space to move. At this point Owen Roe's
army received a notable accession of strength in the form of four
squadrons of cavalry, sent earlier in the day to guard against the
possible approach of George Monroe from Coleraine.

At a signal from Owen Roe, his army advanced upon Monroe's force, to be
met by a charge of the Scottish cavalry, instantly replied to by a
charge of the Irish cavalry through the three open spaces in the front
infantry line of Owen Roe's army. Monroe's first line was broken, and
the Irish pikemen, the equivalent of a bayonet charge, steadily forced
him backwards. It was a fierce struggle, hand to hand, eye to eye, and
blade to blade. The order of Owen Roe's advance was admirably preserved,
while the Scottish and English forces were in confusion, already broken
and crowded into a narrow and constricted space between the two rivers.
Finally the advancing Irish army reached and stormed the hillock where
Monroe's artillery was placed, and victory was palpably won. The defeat
of the Scottish and English army became an utter rout, and when the sun
set more than three thousand of them lay dead on the field.

It is almost incredible that the Irish losses were only seventy, yet
such is the number recorded, while not only was the opposing army
utterly defeated and dispersed, but Monroe's whole artillery, his tents
and baggage, fifteen hundred horses, twenty stand of colors, two months'
provisions and numbers of prisoners of war fell into the hands of Owen
Roe; while, as a result of the battle, the two auxiliary forces were
forced to retreat and take refuge in Coleraine and Derry, General Robert
Monroe escaping meanwhile to Carrickfergus. It is only just to him to
say that our best accounts of the battle come from officers in Monroe's
army, Owen Roe contenting himself with the merest outline of the result
gained, but saying nothing of the consummate generalship that gained it.

For the next two years we see Owen Roe O'Neill holding the great central
plain, the west and most of the north of Ireland against the armies of
the English Parliamentarians and Royalists alike, and gaining victory
after victory, generally against superior numbers, better armed and
better equipped. We find him time after time almost betrayed by the
Supreme Council, in which the Norman lords of Leinster, perpetually
anxious for their own feudal estates, were ready to treat with whichever
of the English parties was for the moment victorious, hoping that,
whatever might be the outcome of the great English struggle, they
themselves might be gainers. At this time they were in possession of
many of the abbey lands, and there was perpetual friction between them
and the ecclesiastics, their co-religionists, who had been driven from
these same lands, so that the Norman landowners were the element of
fatal weakness throughout this whole movement, willing to wound, and yet
afraid to strike. While praying for the final defeat of the English
parliamentary forces, they dreaded to see this defeat brought about by
Owen Roe O'Neill, in whom they saw the representative of the old tribal
ownership of Gaelic times, a return to which would mean their own
extinction.

Matters went so far that the Supreme Council, representing chiefly these
Norman lords, had practically betrayed its trust to the Royalist party
in England, and would have completed that betrayal had not the
beheading of King Charles signalized the triumph of the
Parliamentarians. Even then the Norman lords hoped for the Restoration,
and strove in every way to undermine the authority of their own general,
Owen Roe O'Neill, who was almost forced to enter into an alliance with
the Puritans by the treachery of the Norman lords. It is of the greatest
interest to find Monroe writing thus to Owen Roe in August, 1649: "By my
own extraction, I have an interest in the Irish nation. I know how your
lands have been taken, and your people made hewers of wood and drawers
of water. If an Irishman can be a scourge to his own nation, the English
will give him fair words but keep him from all trust, that they may
destroy him when they have served themselves by him."

On November 6, 1649, this great general died after a brief illness,
having for seven years led his armies to constant victory, while the
Norman lords, who were in name his allies, were secretly plotting
against him for their own profit. Yet so strong and dominant was his
genius that he overcame not only the forces of his foes but the
treacheries of his friends, and his last days saw him at one with the
Normans, while the forces of the Parliamentarians in Ireland were
calling on him for help.

We sea, therefore, that for full eight years, from the beginning of 1642
to the close of 1649, Ireland had an independent national government,
with a regularly elected Representative Assembly, and a central
authority, the Supreme Council, appointed by that Assembly, with judges
going circuit and holding their courts regularly, while the Supreme
Council held a state of almost regal magnificence, and kept several
armies continuously in the field. While Owen Roe O'Neill lived, that
part of the army under his command was able not only to secure an
unbroken series of victories for itself, but also to retrieve the
defeats suffered by less competent commanders, so that at his death he
was at the summit of power and fame. If regret were ever profitable, we
might well regret that he did not follow the example of the great
English commander, his contemporary, and declare himself Lord Protector
of Ireland, with despotic power.

After his death, the work he had done so well was all undone again, in
part by treachery, in part by the victories of Oliver Cromwell. Yet ten
years after the Lord Protector's arrival in Ireland, his own work was
undone not less completely, and the Restoration saw once more enthroned
every principle against which Cromwell had so stubbornly contended.



XIV.

THE JACOBITE WARS.

A.D. 1660-1750.

The Restoration saw Cromwell's work completely undone; nor did the class
which helped him to his victories again rise above the surface. The
genius of the Stuarts was already sowing the seeds of new revolutions;
but the struggle was presently to be fought out, not between the king
and the people, but between the king and the more liberal or more
ambitious elements of the baronial class, who saw in the despotic
aspirations of the Stuarts a menace to their own power.

These liberal elements in England selected as their champion Prince
William of Nassau, before whose coming the English king found it
expedient to fly to France, seeking and finding a friend in that apostle
of absolutism, Louis XIV. We have already seen how the interests of the
feudal lords of Ireland, with the old Norman families as their core,
drew them towards the Stuarts. The divine right of the landowner
depended, as we saw, on the divine right of kings; so that they
naturally gravitated towards the Stuarts, and drew their tenants and
retainers after them. Thus a considerable part of Ireland was enlisted
on the side of James II, and shared the misfortunes which presently
overtook him--or in truth did not overtake him, as the valiant gentleman
outran them and escaped. Nothing is more firmly fixed in the memories of
the whole Irish people than a good-natured contempt for this runaway
English king, whose cause they were induced by the feudal lords to
espouse. We shall follow the account of an officer in the Jacobite army
in narrating the events of the campaigns that ensued.

James, having gained courage and funds from his sojourn at the court of
Louis XIV, presently made his appearance in Ireland, relying on the
support of the feudal lords. He landed at Kinsale, in Cork, on March 12,
1688, according to the Old Style, and reached Dublin twelve days later,
warmly welcomed by Lord and Lady Tyrconnell. The only place in the
country which strongly declared for William was the walled city of
Derry, whence we have seen the Puritan forces issuing during the wars of
the preceding generation. James, this officer says, went north to Derry,
in spite of the bitterness of the season, "in order to preserve his
Protestant subjects there from the ill-treatment which he apprehended
they might receive from the Irish," and was mightily surprised when the
gates were shut in his face and the citizens opened fire upon him from
the walls.

[Illustration: Tullymore Park, Co. Down.]

James withdrew immediately to Dublin, assembled a Parliament there, and
spent several months in vain discussions, not even finding courage to
repeal the penal laws which Queen Elizabeth had passed against all who
refused to recognize her as the head of the church. James was already
embarked on a career of duplicity, professing great love for Ireland,
yet fearing to carry out his professions lest he might arouse animosity
in England, and so close the door against his hoped-for return.

Enniskillen, on an island in Lough Erne, dominated by a strong castle,
was, like Derry, a settlement of Scottish and English colonists brought
over by the first of the Stuarts. These colonists were up in arms
against the grandson of their first patron, and had successfully
attacked his forces which were besieging Derry. James, therefore, sent a
small body of troops against them; but the expedition ended in an
ignominious rout rather than a battle, for the Jacobite army seems
hardly to have struck a blow. The Irish leader, Lord Mountcashel, who
manfully stood his ground in the general panic, was wounded and
taken prisoner.

The armies of James, meanwhile, made no headway against the courageous
and determined defenders of Derry, where the siege was degenerating into
a blockade, the scanty rations and sickness of the besieged being a far
more formidable danger than the attacks of the besiegers. James even
weakened the attacking forces by withdrawing a part of the troops to
Dublin, being resolved at all risks to protect himself.

So devoid of resolution and foresight was James that we only find him
taking means to raise an army when Schomberg, the able lieutenant of
William, was about to invade the north of Ireland. Schomberg landed at
Bangor in Down in August, 1689, and marched south towards Drogheda, but
finding that James was there before him, he withdrew and established a
strongly fortified camp near Dundalk. James advanced to a point about
seven miles from Schomberg, and there entrenched himself in turn, and so
the two armies remained; as one of Schomberg's officers says, "our
General would not risk anything, nor King James venture anything." The
long delay was very fatal to Schomberg's army, his losses by sickness
and disease being more than six thousand men.

Early in November, as winter was already making itself felt, James
decided to withdraw to Dublin; as our narrator says, "the young
commanders were in some haste to return to the capital, where the ladies
expected them with great impatience; so that King James, being once more
persuaded to disband the new levies and raising his camp a little of the
soonest, dispersed his men too early into winter quarters, having spent
that campaign without any advantage, vainly expecting that his
Protestant subjects of England who were in the camp of Schomberg would
come over to him. And now the winter season, which should be employed in
serious consultations, and making the necessary preparations for the
ensuing campaign, was idly spent in revels, in gaming, and other
debauches unfit for a Catholic court. But warlike Schomberg, who, after
the retreat of James, had leisure to remove his sickly soldiers, to bury
the dead, and put the few men that remained alive and were healthy into
winter quarters of refreshment, took the field early in spring, before
Tyrconnell was awake, and reduced the castle of Charlemont, the only
place that held for James in Ulster, which was lost for want of
provisions; and the concerns of the unfortunate James were ill-managed
by those whom he entrusted with the administration of public affairs."

We come thus to the spring of 1690. Derry was still holding out
valiantly against the horrors of famine and sickness, the blockade being
maintained, though nothing like a determined storm was attempted. A
little of the courage shown by the apprentices of Derry, had he
possessed it, might have revived the drooping fortunes of the fugitive
English king. It seems, however, that even Schomberg's withdrawal to
Carrickfergus failed to arouse him to more vigorous and valiant
measures. It is clear that he was ready to abandon his Irish allies,
hoping by their betrayal to gain favor with his "subjects in England,"
whom he confidently expected to recall him, as they had recalled his
brother Charles thirty years before. James found an able lieutenant in
Tyrconnell, who thoroughly entered into his master's schemes of
duplicity; and it is fairly clear that these two worthies, had occasion
offered, would have betrayed each other with a perfectly good grace.

Thus matters dragged on quite indecisively until June, 1690, when King
William landed at Carrickfergus with a mixed force of English, Scottish,
Dutch, Danish, Swedish and German troops, and joined his forces to the
remnant of Schomberg's army. James, as we saw, had disbanded his army on
breaking up his camp in the previous autumn, and had made no effective
effort to get a new army together. Nor could he have used a strong army,
had he possessed one. Nevertheless James marched north with such troops
as were available, leaving Dublin on June 16th. He took up a strong
position on the borders of Ulster and Leinster, thus blocking William's
way south to the capital, only to abandon it again on the news of
William's approach, when he retired to Drogheda and encamped there. He
thus gave the whole advantage of initiative into the hands of his
opponent, a brave man and a skillful general.

James seems to have hoped that William's army would be mowed down by
disease, as Schomberg's had been in the preceding campaign. And there is
reason to believe that Tyrconnell, foreseeing the defeat of James,
wished to avoid any serious fighting, which would be an obstacle in his
way when he sought to patch up a peace with the victor and make terms
for himself. But his opponent was inspired by a very different temper,
and William's army advanced steadily southwards, to find James encamped
on the southern bank of the Boyne.

There were several fords by which William's army would have to cross on
its way south. But James was such an incapable general that he did not
even throw up trenches to defend the fords. William's army arrived and
encamped on the north bank of the river, and the next day, June 30th,
was employed in an artillery duel between the two armies, when
considerable injury was inflicted on William's forces, although he was
far stronger in artillery than his opponent. During that night, James,
already certain of defeat, sent away most of his artillery to Dublin,
leaving only six guns with his army on the Boyne.

It seems tolerably certain that, when the battle began again next day,
William's army numbered between forty-five and fifty thousand, with the
usual proportion of cavalry,--probably a tenth of the whole. James, on
the other hand, had from twenty to twenty-five thousand men, about a
tenth of them, probably, being mounted; he had, by his own fault, only
six guns against about fifty in William's batteries. William's line of
battle was formed, as usual, with the infantry in the center and the
cavalry on the wings. He gave the elder Schomberg command of the center,
while Schomberg's son, with the cavalry of the right wing, was sent four
or five miles up the river to Slane, to cross there and turn the left
flank of the opposing army. William himself led the cavalry on the left
wing, and later on in the battle, descending the river, crossed at a
lower ford. He could thus attack the right flank of his opponent; the
infantry composing the center of his army advancing, meanwhile, under
cover of a heavy artillery fire, and forcing the fords of the Boyne.

The river is shallow here, and in the middle of summer the water is
nowhere too deep for wading, so that it was a very slight protection to
the army of James. A better general would at least have chosen a
stronger position, and one which would have given him some manifest
advantage. Such positions were to be found all along the road by which
William had advanced from Carrickfergus. The country on both sides of
the Boyne is flat; rolling meadows with the shallow river dividing
them--a country giving every opportunity to cavalry.

William's right, under the younger Schomberg, made several unsuccessful
attempts to cross the river at Slane, being repeatedly beaten back by
Arthur O'Neill's horse. Finally, however, the way was cleared for him by
a vigorous cannonade, to which O'Neill, having no cannon, was unable to
reply, and William's right wing thus forced the passage of the Boyne.

William's center now advanced, and began the passage of the river, under
cover of a heavy artillery fire. Every foot of the advance was
stubbornly contested, and such headway was made by the Irish troops that
Schomberg's bodyguard was scattered or cut to pieces, and he himself was
slain. The center of William's army was undoubtedly being beaten back,
when, crossing lower down with eighteen squadrons of cavalry, he
fiercely attacked the right flank of the Irish army and thus turned the
possibility of defeat into certain victory. That the Irish troops,
although outnumbered two to one and led by a coward, fought valiantly,
is admitted on all sides. They charged and re-charged ten times in
succession, and only gave way at last under pressure of greatly superior
numbers. The retreat of the Irish army was orderly,--the more so,
doubtless, because the former king of England was no longer among them,
having most valiantly fled to Dublin, and thence to Kinsale, where he
took ship for France, leaving behind him a reputation quite singular in
the annals of Ireland.

Within a week after the battle, the Irish army, which had preserved
order and discipline even in the face of the flight of James, occupied
Limerick, and made preparations to hold that strong position, with the
untouched resources of the western province behind them, and the hope,
unshaken by their rude experience, that the runaway king might reinforce
them by sea. Through all the events that followed, presently to be
narrated, it must be understood that Tyrconnell was steadily seeking to
undermine the resolution of the Irish army, hoping the sooner to make
his peace with King William, to secure his Irish estates, and, very
possibly, be appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, under the new king.

William meanwhile brought his army southwards, being welcomed to Dublin
by the large English element there, and presently continued his march to
Waterford, which was surrendered to him, as was alleged, by Tyrconnell's
orders. He also reduced Kilkenny, to which Tyrconnell had failed to
send reinforcements, though repeatedly appealed to by its commander.
About this time, on July 28th or a day or two later, the brave garrison
of Derry was relieved by some of William's ships, which broke the line
of blockade across the river and brought abundant provisions to the
emaciated defenders.

A section of William's army under Douglas was sent to take Athlone, the
strong fortress which guarded the ford, and later the bridge across the
Shannon--the high road from Leinster to the western province of
Connacht, beyond the river. Douglas, after a fierce attack lasting seven
days, was compelled to retreat again to the main army encamped at
Waterford. The French auxiliaries under Lauzun, who had not hitherto
greatly distinguished themselves for valor, losing less than a score of
men at the Boyne, now deserted Limerick and retreated to Galway, taking
with them, if the fugitive king may be credited, a great quantity of
ammunition from the fortress of Limerick.

[Illustration: Thormond Bridge, Limerick.]

Finally, on August 9th, William's army appeared before Limerick, and the
famous siege began. Tyrconnell signalized himself by deserting the fords
over the Shannon and departing to Galway, declaring that the town would
certainly surrender within a week. The city, however, was of a
different opinion. The garrison, under Sarsfield, made vigorous
preparation for a defence, and a party under Sarsfield himself cut off
one of William's convoys from Dublin, destroying the siege-train which
was being brought for the attack on the city. William's cavalry, taking
advantage of Tyrconnell's retreat, crossed the ford of the Shannon to
complete the investment of the city on that side, but they presently
returned, having done nothing effective.

We hear of more attempts by Tyrconnell to undermine the resolution of
the army, and of attacks by William's force, which gave him possession
of the outworks, so that he was able presently to begin cannonading the
walls, to make a breach for an assault. The officer in the Irish army
whom we have already quoted, gives this account of the siege: "Never was
a town better attacked and better defended than the city of Limerick.
William left nothing unattempted that the art of war, the skill of a
great captain and the valor of veteran soldiers could put in execution
to gain the place; and the Irish omitted nothing that courage and
constancy could practice to defend it. The continual assaults of the one
and the frequent sallies of the other consumed a great many brave men
both of the army and the garrison. On the nineteenth day, William, after
fighting for every inch of ground he gained, having made a large breach
in the wall, gave a general assault which lasted for three hours; and
though his men mounted the breach, and some even entered the town, they
were gallantly repulsed and forced to retire with considerable loss.
William, resolving to renew the assault next day, could not persuade his
men to advance, though he offered to lead them in person. Whereupon, all
in a rage, he left the camp, and never stopped till he came to
Waterford, where he took shipping for England; his army in the meantime
retiring by night from Limerick."

During this first siege of Limerick the garrison numbered some twenty
thousand, by no means well armed. William's besieging army was about
forty thousand, with forty cannon and mortars. His loss was between
three and four thousand, while the loss of the defenders was about half
that number.

William, presently arriving in England, sent reinforcements to his
generals in Ireland, under Lord Churchill, afterwards famous as the Duke
of Marlborough. Tyrconnell had meantime followed his runaway king to
France, as was involved in a maze of contradictory designs, the one
clear principle of which was the future advantage of Tyrconnell. Louis
XIV, who had reasons of his own for wishing to keep the armies of
William locked up in Ireland, was altogether willing to advise and help
a continuance of hostilities in that country. James seems to have
recognized his incapacity too clearly to attempt anything definite, or,
what is more probable, was too irresolute by nature even to determine to
give up the fight. Tyrconnell himself sincerely wished to make his peace
with William, so that he might once more enjoy the revenues of his
estates. The Irish army was thoroughly determined to hold out to
the end.

With these conflicting desires and designs, no single-hearted and
resolute action was possible. Matters seem to have drifted till about
January, 1691, when Tyrconnell returned; "but he brought with him no
soldiers, very few arms, little provision and no money." A month later a
messenger came direct to Sarsfield, then with the army at Galway, from
Louis XIV, promising reinforcements under the renowned soldier Saint
Ruth. This letter to a great extent revealed the double part Tyrconnell
had been playing at the French court, and did much to undermine his
credit with the better elements in the Irish army.

The French fleet finally arrived at Limerick in May, 1691, under Saint
Ruth, bringing a considerable quantity of provisions for the Irish army;
but it is doubtful whether this arrival added any real element of
strength to the army. The Irish army, soon after this, was assembled at
Athlone, to defend the passage of the Shannon. Much vigorous fighting
took place, but Ginkell, William's general, finally captured that
important fortress in June. The road to Galway was now open, and
Ginkell's army prepared to march on that important city, the strongest
place in Connacht. Saint Ruth prepared to resist their approach, fixing
his camp at Aughrim, The Hill of the Horses, some eighteen miles from
Athlone and thirty-five from Galway. We may once more tell the story in
the words of an eye-witness:

"Aughrim was then a ruined town, and the castle was not much better,
situated in a bottom on the north side of the hill, where the Irish army
encamped. The direct way from Ballinasloe was close by the castle, but
there was another way about, on the south-east side of the hill. The
rest of the ground fronting the camp was a marsh, passable only for
foot. The army of Ginkell appeared in sight of Aughrim on July 12th. The
Irish army, composed of about ten thousand foot, two thousand
men-at-arms, and as many light horse, was soon drawn up by Saint Ruth in
two lines; the cavalry on both wings flanking the foot; and having
placed Chevalier de Tessé on the right wing of the horse, and Sarsfield
on the left, and giving their several posts to the rest of the chief
commanders, Saint Ruth obliged himself to no certain place, but rode
constantly from one side to another to give the necessary orders where
he saw occasion. Ginkell being now come up at so near a distance that
his guns and other battering engines might do execution, he ordered them
to be discharged, and as he had a vast number of them he made them play
incessantly on the Irish army, hoping by that means to force them from
the hill, which was of great advantage. But the Irish, encouraged by the
presence and conduct of Saint Ruth, kept their ground and beat the
English as often as they advanced towards them. The fight continued from
noon till sunset, the Irish foot having still the better of the enemy;
and Saint Ruth, observing the advantage of his side, and that the
enemy's foot were much disordered, was resolved, by advancing with the
cavalry, to make the victory complete, when an unlucky shot from one of
the terrible new engines, hitting him in the head, made an end of his
life, and took away the courage of his army. For Ginkell, observing the
Irish to be in some disorder, gave a notable conjecture that the general
was either killed or wounded, whereupon he commanded his army to
advance. The Irish cavalry, discouraged by the death of Saint Ruth, and
none of the general officers coming to head them in his place, gave
back, and quitted the field. The foot who were engaged with the enemy,
knowing nothing of the general's death or the retreat of the cavalry,
continued fighting till they were surrounded by the whole English army;
so that the most of them were cut off, and no quarter given but to a
very few; the rest, by favor of the night then approaching, for Saint
Ruth was killed about sunset, made their escape."

To this we may add the testimony of the runaway monarch: "The Irish
behaved with great spirit. They convinced the English they had to do
with men no less resolute than themselves. Never assault was made with
greater fury nor sustained with greater obstinacy. The Irish foot
repulsed the enemy several times, particularly in the center. They even
looked upon the victory as certain.... The Irish lost four thousand
men. The loss of the English was not much inferior."

The army of Ginkell, thus in possession of the key of Connacht, advanced
upon its most important city, arriving before Galway a few days after
the battle of Aughrim. Galway, however, was full of divided counsels,
and speedily surrendered, so that Limerick alone remained. Limerick was
greatly weakened, now that Galway, and with Galway the whole of Connacht
to which alone Limerick could look for supplies, was in the hands of the
enemy. Ginkell turned all his efforts in the direction of Limerick,
appearing before the city and pitching his camp there on August 25,
1691. Beginning with the next day, our narrator tells us, "he placed his
cannon and other battering engines, which played furiously night and day
without intermission, reducing that famous city almost to ashes. No
memorable action, however, happened till the night between September 15
and 16, when he made a bridge of boats over the Shannon, which being
ready by break of day, he passed over with a considerable body of horse
and foot on the Connacht side of the river, without any opposition. This
so alarmed Sheldon, who commanded the cavalry at that time, that without
staying for orders, he immediately retired to a mountain a good
distance from Limerick, and marched with such precipitation and
disorder, that if a hundred of the enemy's horse had charged him in the
rear, they would in all likelihood have defeated his whole party, though
he had near upon four thousand men-at-arms and light horse; for the man,
if he was faithful, wanted either courage or conduct, and the party were
altogether discouraged to be under his command. But Ginkell did not
advance far, and after showing himself on that side of the bridge,
returned back into his camp the same day. Yet Sheldon never rested till
he came, about midnight, fifteen miles from the Shannon, and encamped in
a fallow field where there was not a bit of grass to be had: as if he
had designed to harass the horses by day and starve them by night....
Ginkell, understanding that the Irish horse was removed to such a
distance, passed the river on the twenty-third day with the greatest
part of his cavalry, and a considerable body of foot, and encamped
half-way between Limerick and the Irish horse camp, whereby he hindered
all communication between them and the town. On the twenty-fourth, the
captains within Limerick sent out a trumpet, desiring a parley," and as
a result of this parley, a treaty was ultimately signed between the two
parties, Limerick was evacuated, and the war came to an end. This was
early in October, 1691.

The war had, therefore, lasted nearly four years, a sufficient testimony
to the military qualities of the Irish, seeing that throughout the whole
period they had matched against them greatly superior numbers of the
finest troops in Europe, veterans trained in continental wars, and at
all points better armed and equipped than their adversaries.

What moves our unbounded admiration, however, is to see the troops
displaying these qualities of valor not only without good leadership,
but in face of the cowardice of the English king, and of duplicity
amounting to treachery on the part of his chief adherents. Foremost
among these time-servers was Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnell, whose name
shows him to have sprung from one of the Norman families, and we see
here the recurrence of a principle which had worked much harm in the
eight years' war of the preceding generation. The Duke of Ormond, sprung
from the Norman Butlers, was then the chief representative of the policy
of intrigue, and many of the reverses of both these wars are to be
attributed to the same race.

It is tragical to find the descendants of the old Norman barons, who at
any rate were valiant fighters, descending thus to practices quite
unworthy; yet we can easily understand how the fundamental injustice of
the feudal principle on which they stood, not less than the boundless
abuse of that already bad principle under the first Stuarts, could not
fail to undermine their sense of honor and justice, preparing them at
length for a policy of mere self-seeking, carried on by methods always
doubtful, and often openly treacherous.

The old tribal chieftains lived to fight, and went down fighting into
the night of time. Owen Roe O'Neill, last great son of a heroic race,
splendidly upheld their high tradition and ideal. No nobler figure, and
few more gifted captains, can be found in the annals of those warlike
centuries. The valor of Cuculain, the wisdom of Concobar, the chivalry
of Fergus--all were his, and with them a gentle and tolerant spirit in
all things concerning religion, very admirable in an age when so many
men, in other things not lacking in elements of nobility, were full of
bitter animosity, and zealous to persecute all those who differed from
them concerning things shrouded in mystery.

It may be said, indeed, that Owen Roe is in this only a type of all his
countrymen, who, though they suffered centuries of persecution for a
religious principle, never persecuted in return. Their conduct
throughout the epoch of religious war and persecution was always
tolerant and full of the sense of justice, contrasting in this, and
contrasting to their honor, with the conduct of nearly every other
nation in Christendom.

The history of Ireland, for the half century which followed this war,
offers few salient features for description. The Catholics during all
this time were under the ban of penal laws. The old tribal chiefs were
gone. The Norman lords were also gone. The life of the land hardly went
beyond the tilling of the fields and the gathering of the harvests. And
even here, men only labored for others to enter into their labor. The
right of private taxation, confirmed by law, and now forfeited by the
feudal lords, was given as a reward to the adherents of the dominant
party in England, and their yearly exactions were enforced by an armed
garrison. The more vigorous and restless elements of our race, unable to
accept these conditions of life, sailed in great numbers to the
continent, and entered the armies of many European powers. It is
estimated that, during the half century after the Treaty of Limerick,
fully half a million Irishmen fell in the service of France alone.



XV.

CONCLUSION.

A.D. 1750-1901.

The Treaty of Limerick, signed when the army of Sarsfield came to terms
with the besiegers, guaranteed equal liberty to all Ireland, without
regard to difference of religion. There is no doubt that William of
Nassau, scion of a race which had done much for liberty, a house that
had felt the bitterness of oppression, would willingly have carried this
treaty out in a spirit of fidelity and honor. But he was, helpless. The
dominant powers in England and Ireland were too strong for him, and
within the next few years the treaty was violated in letter and spirit,
and the indigenous population of Ireland was disarmed, deprived of civil
rights, reduced to servitude.

It is best, wherever possible, to secure the word of witnesses who
cannot be suspected of prejudice or favor. We shall do this, therefore,
in describing the condition of Ireland during the eighteenth century. We
find the Lord Chancellor of England declaring, during the first half of
that period, that "in the eye of the law no Catholic existed in
Ireland." The Lord Chief Justice affirms the same doctrine: "It appears
plain that the law does not suppose any such person to exist as an Irish
Roman Catholic." The law, therefore, as created by England for Ireland,
deprived of all civil, religious, intellectual and moral rights
four-fifths of the whole population, and gave them over as a lawful prey
to the remaining fifth: a band of colonists and adventurers, who favored
the policy of the party then dominant in England. This was the condition
of the law. We shall see, presently, what was its result on the life of
the nation. It should be a warning, for all time, of the dangers which
arise when one nation undertakes to govern another. For it must be
clearly understood that the Sovreign and Parliament of England believed
that in this they stood for honor and righteousness, and had a true
insight into the spirit and will of the Most High. It was, indeed, on
this superior knowledge of the divine will that they based their whole
policy; for what else is the meaning of legal discrimination against the
holders of a certain form of faith?

[Illustration: Salmon Fishery, Galway.]

In the second half of the eighteenth century, in 1775, the Congress of
the United States sent its sympathy in these words to the people of
Ireland: "We know that you are not without your grievances; we
sympathize with you in your distress, and we are pleased to find that
the design of subjugating us has persuaded the administration to
dispense to Ireland some vagrant rays of ministerial sunshine. Even the
tender mercies of the government have long been cruel to you. In the
rich pastures of Ireland many hungry parasites are fed, and grow strong
to labor for her destruction."

Three years later, in 1778, Benjamin Franklin wrote thus to the Irish
people: "The misery and distress which your ill-fated country has been
so frequently exposed to, and has so often experienced, by such a
combination of rapine, treachery and violence as would have disgraced
the name of government in the most arbitrary country in the world, has
most sincerely affected your friends in America, and has engaged the
most serious attention of Congress."

It must be assumed that the men who drew up the Declaration of
Independence knew the value of words, and that when they spoke of misery
and cruelty, of rapine, treachery and distress, they meant what they
said. Franklin's letter brings us to the eve of the Volunteer Movement,
of which much has been said in a spirit of warm praise, but which seems
to have wrought evil rather than good. This Movement, at first initiated
wholly by the Scottish and English colonists and their adherents, was
later widened so as to include a certain number of the indigenous
population; and an armed force was thus formed, which was able to gain
certain legislative favors from England, with the result that a
Parliament sitting in Dublin from 1782 to 1799 passed laws with
something more resembling justice than Ireland was accustomed to.

But this Parliament was in no sense national or representative. It was
wholly composed of the Scottish and English colonists and their friends,
and the indigenous population had no voice in its deliberations. It is,
therefore, the more honor to Henry Grattan that we find him addressing
that Parliament thus: "I will never claim freedom for six hundred
thousand of my countrymen while I leave two million or more of them in
chains. Give the Catholics of Ireland their civil rights and their
franchise; give them the power to return members to the Irish
Parliament, and let the nation be represented." At this time, therefore,
four-fifths of the nation had neither civil rights nor
franchise,--because they differed from the dominant party in England as
to the precedence of the disciples of Jesus.

It may be supposed, however, that, even without civil or religious
rights, the fate of the people of Ireland was tolerable; that a certain
measure of happiness and well-being was theirs, if not by law, at least
by grace. The answer to this we shall presently see. The Volunteer
Movement, as we saw, included certain elements of the indigenous
population. The dominant party in England professed to see in this a
grave danger, and determined to ward off that danger by sending an army
to Ireland, and quartering troops on the peasants of all suspected
districts. We must remember that the peasants, on whom a hostile
soldiery was thus quartered, had no civil rights as a safeguard; that
the authorities were everywhere bitterly hostile, full of cowardly
animosity towards them.

The result we may best describe in the words of the English generals at
the head of this army. We find Sir Ralph Abercrombie speaking thus: "The
very disgraceful frequency of great crimes and cruelties, and the many
complaints of the conduct of the troops in this kingdom--Ireland--has
too unfortunately proved the army to be in a state of licentiousness
that renders it formidable to everyone except the enemy." Sir Ralph
Abercrombie declared himself so frightened and disgusted at the conduct
of the soldiers that he threw up his commission, and refused the command
of the army.

General Lake, who was sent to take his place, speaks thus: "The state of
the country, and its occupation previous to the insurrection, is not to
be imagined, except by those who witnessed the atrocities of every
description committed by the military,"--and he gives a list of
hangings, burnings and murders.

Finally, we have the testimony of another English soldier, Sir William
Napier, speaking some years later: "What manner of soldiers were these
fellows who were let loose upon the wretched districts, killing, burning
and confiscating every man's property? ... We ourselves were young at
the time; yet, being connected with the army, we were continually among
the soldiers, listening with boyish eagerness to their experiences: and
well remember, with horror, to this day, the tales of lust, of bloodshed
and pillage, and the recital of their foul actions against the miserable
peasantry, which they used to relate."

The insurrection against this misery and violence, which began in May,
1798, and its repression, we may pass over, coming to their political
consequences. It is admitted on all hands that the morality and religion
of England reached their lowest ebb at this very time; we are,
therefore, ready to learn that the Act of Union between England and
Ireland, which followed on the heels of this insurrection, was carried
by unlimited bribery and corruption. The Parliament of Ireland, as we
know, was solely composed of Protestants, the Catholics having neither
the right to sit nor the right to vote; so that the ignominy of this
universal corruption must be borne by the class of English and Scottish
settlers alone.

The curious may read lists of the various bribes paid to secure the
passage of the Act of Union in 1800, the total being about six million
dollars--a much more considerable sum then than now. And it must be
remembered that this entire sum was drawn from the revenues of Ireland,
besides the whole cost of an army numbering 125,000 men, which England
maintained in Ireland at the time the Act was passed. What the amenities
of the last three years of the eighteenth century cost Ireland we may
judge from these figures: in 1797, while the hangings, burnings and
torturings which brought about the insurrection of the following year
were in an early stage, the national debt of Ireland was under
$20,000,000; three years later that debt amounted to over $130,000,000.
It is profitless to pursue the subject further. We may close it by
saying that hardly can we find in history a story more discreditable to
our common humanity than the conduct of England towards Ireland during
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The French Revolution wrought a salutary change of heart in the
governing class in England, for it must in justice be added that the
tyranny of this class was as keenly felt by the "lower orders" in
England as in Ireland itself. It is fairly certain that only the Reform
Bill and the change of sovreigns which shortly followed prevented an
insurrection of the peasants and servile classes in England which would
have outdone in horrors the French Revolution itself. The Reform Bill
was the final surrender of the baronial class in England; a surrender
rather apparent than real, however, since most of the political and all
the social power in the land still remains in the hands of the
same class.

[Illustration: O'Connell's Statue, Dublin.]

Through the salutary fear which was inspired by the horrors of the
French Revolution, and perhaps through a certain moral awakening, the
governing classes in England came to a less vicious mind in their
dealings with Ireland. They were, therefore, the more ready to respond
to the great national movement headed by Daniel O'Connell, with his
demand that Irishmen might all equally enjoy civil and political rights,
regardless of their form of faith. In 1829, as the result of this great
movement, the Catholics were finally relieved of the burden of penal
laws which, originally laid on them by the Tudors, were rendered even
more irksome and more unjust by Cromwell and William of Nassau,--men in
other things esteemed enlightened and lovers of liberty.

Thus the burden of persecution was finally taken away. To those who
imposed it, the system of Penal Laws will remain a deep dishonor. But to
those who bore that burden it has proved a safeguard of spiritual purity
and faith. The religion of the indigenous race in Ireland was saved from
the degeneration and corruption which ever besets a wealthy and
prosperous church, and which never fails to engender hypocrisy, avarice
and ambition. In England, the followers of the Apostles exercise the
right to levy a second tax on the produce of all tilled lands, a second
burden imposed upon the conquered Saxons. As a result, the leaders of
the church live in palaces, while the people, the humbler part of their
congregation; have sunk into practical atheism. In France, the reaction
against a like state of things brought the church to the verge of
destruction, and led the masses to infidelity and materialism. The
result to the moral life of the people is too well known to need remark.
Not less evil consequences have flowed from the enriching of the church
in other lands. That wealth has always carried with it the curse, so
prophetically pronounced, against those who trust in riches. For the
ministers of religion, in a supreme degree, the love of money has been
the root of evil.

We may, therefore, see in the spirituality and unworldliness of the
native church in Ireland a result of all the evil and persecution the
church suffered during almost three hundred years. From this
purification by fire it comes that the people of Ireland are almost
singular throughout Christendom in believing sincerely in the religion
of gentleness and mercy--the kingdom which is not of this world.

In 1829 the Catholics were at last freed from the galling burdens which
had weighed on them since 1537, when they failed to recognize Henry VIII
as the representative of God on earth. They were still, however, under
the shadow of a grave injustice, which continued to rest on them for
many years. When their church lands were confiscated and their faith
proscribed by law under the Tudors, a new clergy was overlaid on the
country, a clergy which consented to recognize the Tudors and their
successors as their spiritual head. As a reward, these new ministers of
religion were allowed to levy a second tax on land, exactly as in
England; and this tax they continued to collect until their privilege
was finally taken away by Gladstone and the English Liberals. Needless
to say that through three centuries and more four-fifths of this tax was
levied on the indigenous Catholics, in support of what was to them an
alien, and for most of the time a persecuting church.

One heavy disability still lay on the whole land. With its partial
removal a principle has emerged of such world-wide importance in the
present, and even more in the future, that we may well trace its history
in detail.

The Normans, as we saw, paid themselves for conquering the Saxons and
Angles by assuming a perpetual right to tax their produce; a right still
in full force, and forming the very foundation of the ruling class in
England. The land tenure thus created was, under the Tudors and the
first Stuarts, bodily transferred to Ireland. In Ireland the land had
ever been owned by the people, each tribe, as representing a single
family, holding a certain area by communal tenure, and electing a chief
to protect its territory from aggression. For this elective
chieftainship the English law-courts substituted something wholly
different: a tenure modeled on the feudal servitude of England. This new
principle made the land of the country the property not of the whole
people but of a limited and privileged class: the favorites of the
ruling power--"hungry parasites" as the Congress of 1775 called them.
This "landed" class continued to hold absolute sway until quite
recently, and it was this class which succumbed to bribery in 1800, and
passed the Act of Legislative Union with England. The clergy of the
Established church were little more than the private chaplains of the
"landed" class, the two alien bodies supporting each other.

Folly, however, was the child of injustice; for so shortsighted were
these hungry parasites that they developed a system of land-laws so bad
as to cause universal poverty, and bring a reaction which is steadily
sweeping the "landed" class of Ireland to extinction and oblivion. The
fundamental principle of these bad land-laws was this: the tenant was
compelled to renew his lease from year to year; and whenever, during the
year, he had in any way improved the land in his possession,--by
draining marshes, by reclaiming waste areas, by adding farm-buildings,
the "owner" of the land could demand an enhanced rent, as the condition
of renewing the lease. The tenant had to submit to a continually
ascending scale of extortion, sanctioned by law and exacted by armed
force; or, as an alternative, he had to give up the fruit of his
industry without compensation and without redress.

Anything more certain to destroy energy, to cut at the roots of thrift,
to undermine all the best qualities of manhood, it would be impossible
to imagine. The slave on the plantation could in time purchase his
freedom. The tiller of the soil in Ireland found, on the contrary, that
the greater his industry, the greater was the sum he had to pay for the
right to exercise it. We saw that there never was any pretence of free
contract in the feudal land-tenure of England; that there never was any
pretence of an honest bargain between farmer and landlord, for their
mutual benefit. The tenant paid the landlord for services rendered, not
to him, but to his Norman conqueror. So it was, in an even greater
degree, in Ireland. There was no pretence at all that tenant and
landlord entered into a free contract for their mutual benefit. Nor did
either law, custom, religion or opinion require the landlord to make any
return to his tenants for the share of the fruit of their toil he
annually carried away.

The tiller of the soil, therefore, labored from year to year, through
droughts and rains, through heat and cold, facing bad seasons with good.
At the end of the year, after hard toil had gathered in the fruit of the
harvest, he saw the best part of that fruit legally confiscated by an
alien, who would have been speechless with wonder, had it been suggested
to him that anything was due from him in return. Nor was that all. This
alien was empowered, and by the force of public opinion incited, to
exact the greatest possible share of the tiller's produce, and, as we
saw, he was entitled to the whole benefit of whatever improvements the
tiller of the soil had made; and could--and constantly did--expel the
cultivator who was unable or unwilling to pay a higher tax, as the
penalty for improving the land.

It may be said that bad as this all was, it was not without a remedy;
that the cultivator had the choice of other occupations, and might let
the land lie fallow, while its "owner" starved. But this only brings to
mind the fact that during the eighteenth century England had legislated
with the deliberate intention of destroying the manufactures and
shipping of Ireland, and had legislated with success. It should be added
that this one measure affected all residents in Ireland equally,
whatever faith or race. There was practically no alternative before the
cultivator. He had the choice between robbery and starvation.

It would be more than miraculous if this condition of things had not
borne its fruit. The result was this: it ceased to be the interest of
the cultivator of the land to till it effectively, or to make any
improvement whatever, whether by drainage, reclaiming waste land, or
building, or by adopting better agricultural methods. In every case, his
increase of labor, of foresight and energy, would have met with but one
reward: when the time came to renew the lease, he would have been told
that his land had doubled in value during the year, and that he must,
therefore, pay twice as much for the privilege of tilling it. If he
refused, he at once forfeited every claim to the fruit of his own work,
the whole of his improvements becoming the property of the land owner.

The cultivators, as an inevitable consequence, lost every incentive to
labor, energy, foresight and the moral qualities which are fostered by
honestly rewarded work. They worked as little as possible on their
farms, and the standard of cultivation steadily declined, while the mode
of living grew perpetually worse. If it were intended to reduce a whole
population to hopeless poverty, no better or more certain way could
be imagined.

The steady lowering of the arts of cultivation, the restriction of
crops, the tendency to keep as close as possible to the margin of
sustenance, thus zealously fostered, opened the way for the disastrous
famine of 1846 and 1847, which marks the beginning of a rapid decline in
population,--a decrease which has never since been checked. The
inhabitants of Ireland shortly before the famine numbered considerably
over eight millions. Since that time, there has been a decrease of about
four millions--a thing without parallel in Christendom.

The amendment of the land-laws, which were directly responsible for
these evil results, was by no means initiated in consequence of the
famine. It was due wholly to a great national agitation, carried out
under the leadership of Charles Stewart Parnell, which led to the
land-acts of 1881 and 1887. These new laws at last guaranteed to the
cultivator the fruit of his toil, and guarded him against arbitrary
increase of the tax levied on him by the "owner" of the land. But they
did not stop here; they initiated a principle which will finally make
the cultivator absolute owner of his land, and abolish the feudal class
with their rights of private taxation. This cannot fail to react on
England, so that the burdens of the Angles and Saxons will at last be
lifted from their shoulders, as a result of the example set them by the
Gaels, for generations working persistently, and persistently advancing
towards their goal. Nor will the tide thus set in motion spread only to
Saxon and Angle; its influence will be felt wherever those who work are
deprived unjustly of the fruit of their toil, whether by law or without
law. The evils suffered by Ireland will thus be not unavailing; they
will rather bring the best of all rewards: a reward to others, of
whatever race and in whatever land, who are victims of a like injustice.

The story of Ireland, through many centuries, has thus been told. The
rest belongs to the future. We have seen the strong life of the prime
bringing forth the virtues of war and peace; we have seen valor and
beauty and wisdom come to perfect ripeness in the old pagan world. We
have seen that old pagan world transformed by the new teaching of
gentleness and mercy, a consciousness, wider, more humane and universal,
added from above to the old genius of individual life. With the new
teaching came the culture of Rome, and something of the lore of Hellas
and Palestine, of Egypt and Chaldea, warmly welcomed and ardently
cherished in Ireland at a time when Europe was submerged under barbarian
inroads and laid waste by heathen hordes. We have seen the faith and
culture thus preserved among our western seas generously shared with the
nascent nations who emerged from the pagan invasions; the seeds of
intellectual and spiritual life, sown with faith and fervor as far as
the Alps and the Danube, springing up with God-given increase, and
ripening to an abundant harvest.

To that bright epoch of our story succeeded centuries of growing
darkness and gathering storm. The forces of our national life, which
until then had found such rich expression and flowered in such abundant
beauty, were now checked, driven backward and inward, through war,
oppression and devastation, until a point was reached when the whole
indigenous population had no vestige of religious or civil rights; when
they ceased even to exist in the eyes of the law.

The tide of life, thus forced inward, gained a firm possession of the
invisible world, with the eternal realities indwelling there. Thus fixed
and founded in the real, that tide turned once again, flowing outwards
and sweeping before it all the barriers in its way. The population of
Ireland is diminishing in numbers; but the race to which they belong
increases steadily: a race of clean life, of unimpaired vital power,
unspoiled by wealth or luxury, the most virile force in the New World.

It happens very rarely, under those mysterious laws which rule the life
of all humanity, the laws which work their majestic will through the
ages, using as their ministers the ambitions and passions of men--it
happens rarely that a race keeps its unbroken life through thirty
centuries, transformed time after time by new spiritual forces, yet in
genius remaining ever the same. It may be doubted whether even once
before throughout all history a race thus long-lived has altogether
escaped the taint of corruption and degeneration. Never before, we may
confidently say, has a single people emerged from such varied
vicissitudes, stronger at the end in genius, in spiritual and moral
power, than at the beginning, richer in vital force, clearer in
understanding, in every way more mature and humane.

For this is the real fruit of so much evil valiantly endured: a deep
love of freedom, a hatred of oppression, a knowledge that the wish to
dominate is a fruitful source of wrong. The new age now dawning before
us carries many promises of good for all humanity; not less, it has its
dangers, grave and full of menace; threatening, if left to work
unchecked, to bring lasting evil to our life. Never before, it is true,
have there been so wide opportunities for material well-being; but, on
the other hand, never before have there been such universal temptations
toward a low and sensual ideal. Our very mastery over natural forces and
material energies entices us away from our real goal, hides from our
eyes the human and divine powers of the soul, with which we are
enduringly concerned. Our skill in handling nature's lower powers may be
a means of great good; not less may it bring forth unexampled evil. The
opportunities of well-being are increased; the opportunities of
exclusive luxury are increased in equal measure; exclusion may bring
resentment; resentment may call forth oppression, armed with new
weapons, guided by wider understanding, but prompted by the same corrupt
spirit as of old.

In the choice which our new age must make between these two ways, very
much may be done for the enduring well-being of mankind by a race full
of clean vigor, a race taught by stern experience the evil of tyranny
and oppression, a race profoundly believing the religion of gentleness
and mercy, a race full of the sense of the invisible world, the world of
our immortality.

We see in Ireland a land with a wonderful past, rich in tradition and
varied lore; a land where the memorials of the ages, built in enduring
stone, would in themselves enable us to trace the life and progress of
human history; we see in Ireland a land full of a singular fascination
and beauty, where even the hills and rivers speak not of themselves but
of the spirit which builds the worlds; a beauty, whether in brightness
or gloom, finding its exact likeness in no other land; we see all this,
but we see much more: not a memory of the past, but a promise of the
future; no offering of earthly wealth, but rather a gift to the soul of
man; not for Ireland only, but for all mankind.



INDEX.


Abbey-Dorney, 303
Abbey-feale, 303
Abbey-leix, 303
Abbey of Ballintober, 305
Abbey-quarter, 29
Abercrombie, Sir Ralph, words of, 369, 370
Achill Island, 30
Act of Union, 371
Aed Allan, 225, 231
Aed Finnliat, 247
Aed Roin, 225
Aed, son of Colgan, 226
Ailill, 130, 131, 132, 141, 142, 146, 147, 152
Aiterni, 150
Alfred, king of the Northumbrian Saxons, 232
Alfred, king, ode of to the country he visited, 232, 233
Alny, 120, 129
Amargin, 150
Ambigatos, 103
Ancient seats of learning, 221
Ancient seats of learning, studies therein, 221, 222
Anglicans, 322
Angus, the Young, 92, 95, 96, 173
"Annals," history of the times as recorded in the, 235, 252
"Annals," quotations from, 224, 244, 264, 277, 293
Antrim, 5, 196
Archaic Darkness, 11
Archaic Dawn, 12
Ardan, 120, 129
Ard-Maca, 200
Armagh, 200, 208, 232, 241
At-Cliat, 242, 243, 275
Athlone, 140, 350, 354
Ath-uincé, 163
Aughrim, 354, 355

Ballinasloe, 354
Ballysadare, 27, 87, 90
Balor of the Evil Eye, 90, 91, 93
Bangor, 221, 239, 240, 250, 342
Bann, 146
Bantry Bay, 104
Barrow, valley of the, 42
Battle of Kinvarra, 162
Battle of the Headland of the Kings, 13
Battle-verses, 248, 249
Bay of Murbolg, 143
Bay of Sligo, 29
Bective Abbey, 301
Bede, Venerable, 218
Belgadan, 85
Beltane, festival of, 47
Beltaney, 47
Black Lion Cromlech, 46
Blackwater, 39, 82
Bonamargy Abbey, 306
Book of Kells, 209, 249
Boyne, the, 5, 150, 242, 350
Brandon Hill, 42
Breagho, 34
Breas, 83, 84, 99, 91, 105
Breg, 149
Brehon Laws, the, 206
Brehon Laws, changes of, effected by St. Patrick, 207, 316
Bruce, Edward, invasion by, 292
Bruce, Edward, death of, 293
Brugh, on the Boyne, 93, 95
Bundoran, 29

Cael, 163, 165, 194, 262
Cael, poem of, 164, 165
Caher, 161
Caherconree, 32
Cailté, 162, 166
Cairbré, 89, 167, 168, 173, 241
Cairpré Nia Fer, 146, 147, 132
Callan River, 199
Calpurn, 182
Cantyre, 119, 123, 143
Carlingford Lough, 241
Carlingford Mountains, 44
Carrickfergus, 331, 344, 345, 347
Carrowmore, 27, 29
Cataract of the Oaks, 87, 90, 91
Catbad, 141, 142, 150
Cavan, 46
Cavancarragh, 35, 66
Cealleac, 224
Charlemont, castle of, 343
Chevalier de Tessé, 355
Chiefs of Tara, 82
Chieftain of the Silver Arm, 91
Chronicler's record of battles fought, 210, 211, 212, 217, 218
Chronicles of Ulster, 218
Church architecture, 298
Ciar, 104
Cistercian Abbey, 306
Clare, 31, 62
Clare Abbey, 306
Clidna, 166
Clocar, 161
Clondalkin, 241
Clonmacnoise, 208
Cluain Bronaig, 226
Coleraine, 331
Colum Kill, 208, 212
Colum Kill, death of, 215
Colum Kill, verses written by, 213, 214
Colum of the Churches, 223, 237
Conall Cernac, 149, 151
Concobar, 13, 113, 114, 117, 121, 122, 123, 124, 129, 130, 131, 141,
142, 143, 144, 145, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 177, 194, 246, 258,
262, 360
Conditions existing in early years, 219, 220, 221, 222
Congus the Abbot, 225
Connacht, 5, 88, 133, 140, 144, 350, 357
Connemara, 85
Conn, lord of Connacht, 162
Conn of the Five-Score Battles, 88, 162
Copyright decision, an early, 213
Cork, 5
Cormac, 167, 171, 172
Cormac, precepts of, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171
Coroticus, 195
Corrib, 85
Credé of the Yellow Hair, 163, 178, 194, 262
Crimtan of the Yellow Hair, 162
Cromlech-builders, the, 51, 68
Cromlech of Howth, 43
Cromlech of Lisbellaw. 47
Cromlech of Lough Rea, 46
Cromlechs, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 37, 39, 42, 43, 45, 46, 47, 51, 52. 53,
54, 55, 56, 57, 58
Cromwell, 334, 339
Croom, 161
Cruacan, 131, 141, 146
Cryptic Designs on cromlechs, 47
Cuailgne, 132
Cuigead Sreing, 88
Culdaff, 47
Cumal, 162
Curlew hills, 37, 131
Cuculain, 13, 14, 15, 16, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 143, 144,
145, 152, 155, 181, 194, 246, 262, 360

DAGDA Mor, 96, 148
Dagda, the Mighty, 92, 95
Dairé, 132, 133, 200, 262
Danes, conversion of the, 275
Danish Pyramid of Uby, 97
Dark Ages, the, 260, 261, 262
Day of Spirits, 140
De Danaans, the, 77, 79, 80, 82, 84, 86, 87, 89, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96,
97, 98, 99, 103, 105, 106, 112, 132, 148
De Courcey, 277
De Courceys, the, 319
Deer-park, 29
Deirdré, 13, 14, 15, 115, 123, 124, 129, 130, 178, 262
Deirdré, the fate of, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122
Deirdré, the Lament of, 125
De Lacys, the, 319
Deny, 331, 341, 342, 344, 350
Devenish, 250
Devenish Island, 221
Diarmuid, 171, 172, 173
Dicu, 240
Dingle Bay, 104
Dinn-Rig by the Barrow, 146
Dissenters, 322
Domnall, 211, 231
Donaghpatrick, 208
Doncad, 231, 232
Donegal, 29, 47
Donegal Highlands, 26
Donegal ranges, 5
Douglas, 350
Douin Cain, 81
Down, 5, 46
Downpatrick, 198, 240
Drogheda, 342, 345
Druids, 140
Druim Dean, 162
Drumbo, 46
Dublin, 5, 252, 340, 345
Dublin Parliament, 368
Duke of Ormond, 359
Dundalathglas, 240
Dundalk, 342
Dundelga, 143
Dundrum, 146
Dundrum Bay, 44, 45
Durrow, 221, 250

Early churches, 208
Early schools of learning, tongues first studied in, 208
Eclipses of the sun and moon, record of, 218
Edgehill, battle of, 326
Elias, Bishop of Angoulême, France, testimony of, 250, 251
Elizabeth, Queen, 321, 341
Emain, Banquet-hall of, 111
Emain of Maca, 13, 110, 112, 115, 122, 123, 129, 131, 140
Engineering skill ten thousand years ago, 43
Enniskillen, 34, 35, 341
Eocaid, son of Erc, 81, 84, 86, 87
Eocu, 146
Erin, 141, 144
Established Church, clergy of the, 376
Etan, 89
Evangel of Galilee, the, 16

Factna, son of Cass, 113
Fair Head, 143
Feidlimid, 242
Ferdiad, 134, 135, 136, 138, 139, 140
Fergus mac Roeg, 13, 15, 16, 113, 114, 121, 122, 123, 124, 129, 130,
131, 133
Fergus the Eloquent, 166, 177, 262, 360
Fermanagh, 33
Feudal system, the, 289
Feudal ownership, 291
Find, ode to Spring of, 156
Find, son of Cumal, 14, 16, 155, 161, 162, 163, 166, 167, 171, 172,
173, 177, 194, 246, 262
Find, son of Ros, 146, 147, 152
Finian, school of learning and religion founded by, 212
Finvoy, 46
Firbolgs, 60, 61, 69. 70, 77, 81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 90, 105, 106
Flann, 248
Fomorians, 69, 70, 77, 81, 90, 91, 92, 93, 106, 246
Ford of Ferdiad, Ath-Fhirdia, 140
Ford of Luan, 140
Ford of Seannait, 226
Ford of the Hurdles, 242, 243, 246
Ford of the river, 14
Franklin, Benjamin, letter of to Irish people, 367
French Revolution, the, 372

Gairec, 140
Galian of Lagin, 144
Galtee Mountains, 161
Galway, 5, 62, 350, 357
Galway Bay, 31, 162
Galway Lakes, 31
Gauls, the, 103
Giant Stones, 30
Ginkell, 354, 355, 357, 358
Gladstone, 375
Glanworth, 39
Glendalough, 208, 221
Glen Druid, 42
Gold Mines River, 109
Golden Vale, 161
Goll Mac Norna, 162
Grania, 15, 171, 172, 173, 178
Grattan, Henry, address of, to Dublin Parliament, 368
Gray Lake, 37
Grey Abbey, 302

Headland of the Kings, 148
Hill of Barnec, 162
Hill of Howth, 239, 252
Hill of Luchra, 146
Hill of Rudraige, 44
Hill of Tara, 155
Hill of the Willows, 200
Hill of Ward, 140
Holycross Abbey, 304
House of Delga, 143
House of Mead, 199
Howth, 239
Howth Head, 43
Hyperboreans, 60, 61, 62, 64, 69

Iarl Strangbow, 275
Indec, son of De Domnand, 90, 91
Inis Fail, the Isle of Destiny, 21
Inismurray, 237, 238, 239
Iona, 215
Ireland, art of working gold in, 108, 178
Ireland, causes of uprising in, 320
Ireland, condition of, in the eighteenth century, 365, 366, 367
Ireland, English influence in, 318
Ireland, life in, two thousand years ago, 177, 178, 179, 180
Ireland, national debt of, 372
Ireland, sympathy of U. S. Congress for people of, 366, 367
Ireland, traditions of, 110
Ireland, the Insurrection of, 370, 371, 372
Ireland, visible and invisible, 3
Irgalac, 149
Iriel, 149
Irish writing, earliest forms of, 177
Islay, 143
Islay Hills, 119

James II., 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 353
Jura, 119, 123, 143

Kenmare, 39
Kenmare Kiver, 39, 104
Kerry, 5, 62
Kildare, 210, 221, 232
Kilkenny, 42, 325, 326, 349
Killarney, 36, 39, 163
Killee, 34
Killmallock Abbey, 303
Killteran Village, 43
Kinsale, 340, 349
King Gorm's Stone, 97
King William, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 350, 352, 365
Knock-Mealdown Hills, 161
Knockmoy Abbey, 306
Knocknarea, 30

Lake, General, statement of, 370
Lake of Killarney, 161
Lakes of Erne, 81
Lambay, 236, 239, 241
Land of the Cromlech-builders, 57
Land of the Ever Young, 95, 96
Land tenure, 375, 376, 377, 378, 379, 380
Laogaire, 199, 240
Lame, 143
Lauzun, 350
Legamaddy, 45
Leinster, 5, 162, 225, 226, 232, 345, 350
Leitrim, 81
Leitrim Hills, 26
Lennan in Monaghan, 46
Life of the Cromlech-builders, 68
Liffey, the, 242
Limerick, 349, 350, 351, 354, 357
Leinstermen, 232, 238
Loing Seac, 224
Lough Erne, 341
Loch Etive, 119, 121
Lough Foyle, 247
Lough Garra, 37
Lough Gill, 29
Lough Gur, 38, 39
Lough Key, 37
Lough Leane, 161, 163
Lough Mask, 85
Lough Neagh, 110, 200
Lough Ree, 140
Loughcrew Hills, 43
Louis XIV, 337, 340, 353
Lug, surnamed Lamfada, the Long-Armed, 92, 93
Lusk, 241

Maca, Queen, 110
Maelbridge, 217
Mag Breag, 223
Mag Rein, 81
Mag Tuiread, 85, 87, 246
Mangerton, 162
Marlborough, Duke of, 352
Mask, 85
Mayo, 5, 62
Mayo Cliffs, 26
Meave, Queen of Connacht, 13, 14, 15, 25, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134,
136, 137, 140, 141, 142, 146, 147, 178, 262
Meath, 155, 242
Men of Oluemacht, 144
Message of the New Way, 264
Messenger of the Tidings, 182
Mide, 149
Miocene Age, the, 58
Modern form of old Irish names, 234
Monasterboice, 221
Monk, 326
Molana Abbey, 306
Molaise, 237
Monasteries and religious schools, 221
Monroe, 324, 326, 327, 323, 329, 330, 331, 333
Monument of Pillared Stones, 30
Moore, 326
Mount Venus Cromlech, 42
Mountcashel, Lord, 342
Mountains of Mourne, 44, 94, 146, 193, 231
Mountains of Storms, 26, 87
Moville, 221, 239, 262
Moytura, 31, 85
Munster, 5
Munstermen of Great Muma, 144
Murcad, 238

Naisi, 115, 116, 117, 118, 120, 121, 122, 129, 130
Napier, Sir William, testimony of, 370
Nectain's Shield, 232
Nemed's sons, 87
Nessa, 15, 113
Norsemen, waning of the, 284
Northern Cromlech Region, 54
Northmen, 234, 235, 236, 243, 251
Nuada, the De Danaan king, 85, 88, 89, 91, 92, 93

O'Connell, Daniel, 373
O'Donnell, 321, 322
O'Neill, Owen Roe, 321, 322, 323, 324, 332, 333, 334, 338
O'Neill, death of, 333
O'Neill, defeat of English army by, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 360
Ogma, of the Sunlike Face, 92, 95, 96
Oscar, son of Ossin, 14
Oscur, 155, 171
Ossin, son of Find, 14, 15, 16, 155, 161, 162, 167, 171, 172, 177, 181,
194, 246, 262
Ox Mountains, 87

Parliament at Dublin, 323
Parliament of Ireland, 371
Parnell, Charles Stewart, 380
Patricius, 182
Patricius, appeal of, to fellow-Christians of Coroticus, 195, 196
Patricius, birthplace of, 182
Patricius, letter of, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191,
192, 193
Patrick, 17
Patrick, his first victory commemorated, 198
Patrick, the dwelling of, 198
Peat, age of, 34, 36
Peat, rate of growth of, 33, 35, 66, 67
Penal Laws, the system of, 373
Plain of Nia, 85
Plain of the Headland, 82
Plain of the Pillars, 85
Plain of Tirerril, 91
Plantation of Ulster, 322
Poem of Ossin, 156
Potitus, 182
Prince William of Nassau, 339, 340, 342
Private taxation, 291
Pyramids of stone, 93, 94

Quoyle River, 198, 240

Ragallac, 217
Raid of the Northmen, 234, 235, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243
Raids on islands of Irish coast, 257, 258, 259
Raphoe, 47
Rathcool, 162
Rath-Laogaire, 199
Rath of Badamar, 161
Red Hills of Leinster, 162
Reform Bill, the, 372
Restoration, the, 339
Roderick O'Conor, 61
Ros Ruad, 152
Ros, son of Rudraige, 112
Rudraige, 44, 112
Rudraige, hill of, 44, 231
Runnymead, 317

Saint Adamnan, 223, 224
Saint Bernard, 298
Saint Brigid, 210
Saint Camin's "Commentary on the Psalms," 222
"Saint Colum of the Churches," 212
Saint Dominick, 298
Saint Francis of Assisi, 298
Saint Mansuy, 60
Saint Patrick, body of laid at rest, 201
Saint Patrick, delivery of message by, to King Laogaire, 199
Saint Patrick, visit of to kings of Leinster and Munster, 200
Saint Patrick, work of, 199, 205
Saint Ruth, 354, 355
Saint Ruth, death of, 356
Saint Samtain, 226
Saint Samtain, epitaph of the saintly virgin, 226, 227
Sarsfield, 351, 353, 355
Saul, 208, 221
Schomberg, 342, 343, 344, 345, 347, 348
Second Epoch, 13
Senca, 144
Shannon, the, 5, 32, 37, 130, 141, 146, 350, 354, 357
Sheldon, 357, 358
Slane, 347, 348
Slieve Callan, 31, 39
Slieve League, 26, 90
Slieve Mish, 104, 132, 196
Slievemore Mountain, 30
Slieve na Calliagh, 95, 97
Slieve-na-griddle, 45, 46
Sligo, 25, 29, 90, 91
Sligo Hills, 26
Sons of Milid, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 112, 132
Sound of Jura, 119, 123
Southern Cromlech Province, 53
Sreng, 82, 83, 84, 91, 93, 105
Stone Circles, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 42, 45, 46, 47, 51, 52,
53, 55, 72
Stone Circles, clue to their building, 40
Stone Circles, measure of their years, 40
Strand of Tralee, 161
Strangford, 45
Strangford Lough, 198
Stuarts, the, 339
Sualtam, 13
Succat, 182
Suir, 161
Sullane River, 39
Summit of Prospects, 146

Tailten, 106, 132
Talbott, Earl of Tyrconnell, 359
Tara, 81, 84, 106, 146, 147, 198
Tara, Banquet-hall of, 112
"The Church of the Oak-woods," 210
The Gravestones of the Sons of Nemed, 87
Thenay Relics, the, 58
Third Epoch, 14
Three Waves of Erin, the, 146
Tigearnac, 265
Toppid Mountain, 35, 36
Traig Eotaile, 87
Tralee, 32
Treaty of Limerick, 361, 365
Tuata De Danaan, 79, 84
Twelve Peaks of Connemara, 31
Tyrconnell, Lady, 340
Tyrconnell, Lord, 340, 343, 344, 345, 349, 351, 352, 353

Uincé, 162
Ui-Neill, the, 225, 232
Ulad, 113, 130, 131, 133, 141, 151
Ulaid, 113, 145, 150, 152
Ulaid, Councils of the, 113
Ulaid, men of the, 130
Ulster, 5, 345
Upper Erne, 32
Usnae, 115

Venice of Lough Rea, 37
Volunteer Movement, the, 367, 369

Waterford, 349, 350, 352
Water of Luachan, 146
Wave of Clidna, the, 146, 151
Wave of Rudraige, the, 146, 151
Wave of Tuag Inbir, the, 146, 151
Waves of Erin, the three, 146, 151
Weight of Cromlech-stones, 56
Wexford Harbor, 42
Wicklow, 5
Wicklow Gold-mines, the, 108, 109

Yellow Ford of Athboy, 140





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About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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