An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 eBook

Mary Frances Cusack
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 946 pages of information about An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800.

From an account in the Hamilton MSS., published in the Ulster Archaeological Journal, it would appear that it was usual, or, at least not uncommon, for young men of rank to go abroad for some time, attended by a tutor, to perfect themselves in continental languages.  It need scarcely be said that travelling was equally tedious and expensive.  A journey from Dublin to Cork occupied several days; postchaises are a comparatively modern invention; and Sir William Petty astonished the good people of Dublin, in the seventeenth century, by inventing some kind of carriage which could be drawn by horses.  With his description of the condition of the lower classes in Ireland at this period, I shall conclude this chapter.  The accompanying figure represents the costume of the Irish peasant about the fifteenth century.  The dress was found on the body of a male skeleton, in the year 1824, which was preserved so perfectly, that a coroner was called to hold an inquest on it.  The remains were taken from a bog in the parish of Killery, co.  Sligo.  The cloak was composed of soft brown cloth; the coat of the same material, but of finer texture.  The buttons are ingeniously formed of the cloth.  The trowsers consists of two distinct parts, of different colours and textures; the upper part is thick, coarse, yellowish-brown cloth; the lower, a brown and yellow plaid.


“The diet of these people is milk, sweet and sour, thick and thin; but tobacco, taken in short pipes seldom burned, seems the pleasure of their lives.  Their food is bread in cakes, whereof a penny serves a week for each; potatoes from August till May; muscles, cockles, and oysters, near the sea; eggs and butter, made very rancid by keeping in bogs.  As for flesh they seldom eat it.  Their fuel is turf in most places.”  The potatoe, which has brought so many national calamities on the country, had been then some years in the country, but its use was not yet as general as it has become since, as we find from the mention of “bread in cakes” being an edible during a considerable part of the year.




[512] Language—­A proclamation in Irish, issued by Tyrone in 1601, is still extant, with a contemporary English translation.—­See Ulster Arch.  Jour. vol. vi. p. 57.

[513] Pope.—­He rhymes spirit and merit; fit and yet; civil and devil; obey and tea.

[514] Tasso.—­

“The land fornenst the Greekish shore he held.”

Chaucer, too, uses faute for fault in the Canterbury Tales.

[515] Historians.—­Max Mueller—­Lectures on the Science of Language, p. 271—­states, that labourers in country parishes in England do not use more than 300 words.  A friend of mine, who is an excellent Irish scholar, assures me the most illiterate Irish-speaking peasant would use at least 500.

Project Gutenberg
An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook