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Mary Frances Cusack
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 779 pages of information about An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800.

Let us conclude an apology for our antiquity, if not a proof of it, in the words of our last poet historian:—­

“We believe that henceforth no wise person will be found who will not acknowledge that it is possible to bring the genealogies of the Gaedhils to their origin, to Noah and to Adam; and if he does not believe that, may he not believe that he himself is the son of his own father.  For there is no error in the genealogical history, but as it was left from father to son in succession, one after another.
“Surely every one believes the Divine Scriptures, which give a similar genealogy to the men of the world, from Adam down to Noah;[22] and the genealogy of Christ and of the holy fathers, as may be seen in the Church [writings].  Let him believe this, or let him deny God.  And if he does believe this, why should he not believe another history, of which there has been truthful preservation, like the history of Erinn?  I say truthful preservation, for it is not only that they [the preservers of it] were very numerous, as we said, preserving the same, but there was an order and a law with them and upon them, out of which they could not, without great injury, tell lies or falsehoods, as may be seen in the Books of Fenechas [Law], of Fodhla [Erinn], and in the degrees of the poets themselves, their order, and their laws."[23]

[Illustration:  BEREHAVEN]

FOOTNOTES: 

[15] Erinn.—­O’Curry, page 57.  It has also been remarked, that there is no nation in possession of such ancient chronicles written in what is still the language of its people.

[16] Years.—­See O’Curry, passim.

[17] Erinn.—­Eire is the correct form for the nominative.  Erinn is the genitive, but too long in use to admit of alteration.  The ordinary name of Ireland, in the oldest Irish MSS., is (h)Erin, gen. (h)Erenn, dat. (h)Erinn; but the initial h is often omitted.  See Max Mueller’s Lectures for an interesting note on this subject, to which we shall again refer.

[18] Poets.—­The Book of Lecain was written in 1416, by an ancestor of Mac Firbis.  Usher had it for some time in his possession; James II. carried it to Paris, and deposited it in the Irish College in the presence of a notary and witnesses.  In 1787, the Chevalier O’Reilly procured its restoration to Ireland; and it passed eventually from Vallancey to the Royal Irish Academy, where it is now carefully preserved.

[19] Murdered.—­The circumstances of the murder are unhappily characteristic of the times.  The Celtic race was under the ban of penal laws for adherence to the faith of their fathers.  The murderer was free.  As the old historian travelled to Dublin, he rested at a shop in Dunflin.  A young man came in and took liberties with the young woman who had care of the shop.  She tried to check him, by saying that he would be seen by the gentleman in the next room.  In a moment he seized a knife from the counter, and plunged it into the breast of Mac Firbis.  There was no “justice for Ireland” then, and, of course, the miscreant escaped the punishment he too well deserved.

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