Tighearnmas—His Death—Introduces Colours as a Distinction of Rank—Silver Shields and Chariots first used—Reign of Ugaine Mor—The Treachery of Cobhthach—Romantic Tales—Queen Mab—Dispute which led to the celebrated Cattle Spoil—The Story of the Tain bo Chuailgne—The Romans feared to invade Ireland—Tacitus—Revolt of the Attacotti—Reign of Tuathal—Origin of the Boromean Tribute.
Our annals afford but brief details from the time of Eremon to that of Ugaine Mor. One hundred and eighteen sovereigns are enumerated from the Milesian conquest of Ireland (according to the Four Masters, B.C. 1700) to the time of St. Patrick, A.D. 432. The principal events recorded are international deeds of arms, the clearing of woods, the enactment of laws, and the erection of palaces.
Tighearnmas, one of these monarchs, is said to have introduced the worship of idols into Ireland. From this it would appear, that the more refined Magian, or Sun-worship, had prevailed previously. He died, with “three-fourths” of the men of Ireland about him, on the night of Samhain, while worshipping the idol called Crom Cruach, at Magh Slacht, in Breifne. Tighearnmas reigned seventy-five years. He is said to have been the first who attempted the smelting of gold in Ireland; and the use of different colours, as an indication of rank, is also attributed to him.
Silver shields were now made (B.C. 1383) at Airget-Ros, by Enna Airgtheach, and four-horse chariots were first used in the time of Roitheachtaigh, who was killed by lightning near the Giant’s Causeway. Ollamh Fodhla (the wise or learned man) distinguished himself still more by instituting triennial assemblies at Tara. Even should the date given by the Four Masters (1317 B.C.) be called in question, there is no doubt of the fact, which must have occurred some centuries before the Christian era; and this would appear to be the earliest instance of a national convocation or parliament in any country. Ollamh Fodhla also appointed chieftains over every cantred or hundred, he constructed a rath at Tara, and died there in the fortieth year of his reign.
At the reign of Cimbaoth (B.C. 716) we come to that period which Tighernach considers the commencement of indisputably authentic history. It is strange that he should have selected a provincial chief, and a period in no way remarkable except for the building of the palace of Emania. But the student of Irish pre-Christian annals may be content to commence with solid foundation as early as seven centuries before Christ. The era was an important one in universal history. The Greeks had then counted sixteen Olympiads, and crowned Pythagoras the victor. Hippomenes was archon at Athens. Romulus had been succeeded by Numa Pompilius, and the foundations of imperial Rome were laid in blood by barbarian hordes.