An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 eBook

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.

The descriptions of our social state are by no means so flattering; but it is remarkable, and, perhaps, explanatory, that the most unfavourable accounts are the more modern ones.  All without the pale of Roman civilization were considered “barbarians,” and the epithet was freely applied.  Indeed, it is well known that, when Cicero had a special object in view, he could describe the Celtae of Gaul as the vilest monsters, and the hereditary enemies of the gods, for whose wickedness extermination was the only remedy.  As to the “gods” there is no doubt that the Druidic worship was opposed to the more sensual paganism of Greece and Rome, and, therefore, would be considered eminently irreligious by the votaries of the latter.

The most serious social charge against the Irish Celts, is that of being anthropophagi; and the statement of St. Jerome, that he had seen two Scoti in Gaul feeding on a human carcass, has been claimed as strong corroboration of the assertions of pagan writers.  As the good father was often vehement in his statements and impulsive in his opinions, he may possibly have been mistaken, or, perhaps, purposely misled by those who wished to give him an unfavourable impression of the Irish.  It is scarcely possible that they could have been cannibal as a nation, since St. Patrick never even alludes to such a custom in his Confessio,[56] where it would, undoubtedly, have been mentioned and reproved, had it existence.

[Illustration:  CROSS AT GLENDALOUGH, CO.  WICKLOW.]

[Illustration:  CROMLECH AT DUNMORE, WATERFORD.]

FOOTNOTES: 

[42] Josephus.—­Con.  Apionem, lib. i.

[43] Snechta.—­O’Curry, p. 14.

[44] Work—­See ante, p. 43.

[45] Writes.—­Josephus, lib. i. c. 6.  Most of the authorities in this chapter are taken from the Essay on the ancient history, religion, learning, arts, and government of Ireland, by the late W. D’Alton.  The Essay obtained a prize of L80 and the Cunningham Gold Medal from the Royal Irish Academy.  It is published in volume xvi. of the Transactions, and is a repertory of learning of immense value to the student of Irish history.

[46] Sea.—­Lib.  Zoar, p. 87, as cited by Vallancey, and Parson’s Defence, &c., p. 205.

[47] Sea.—­Herodotus, l. vii. c. 89.

[48] Me.—­“Sic mihi peritissimi Scotorum nunciaverunt.”  The reader will remember that the Irish were called Scots, although the appellative of Ierins or Ierne continued to be given to the country from the days of Orpheus to those of Claudius.  By Roman writers Ireland was more usually termed Hibernia.  Juvenal calls it Juverna.

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An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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