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.
forgery, are ascribed to Finn’s sons, Oisin and Fergus the Eloquent, and to his kinsman Caeilte, as well as to himself.  Five poems only are ascribed to him, but these are found in MSS. of considerable antiquity.  The poems of Oisin were selected by the Scotch writer for his grand experiment.  He gave a highly poetical translation of what purported to be some ancient and genuine composition, but, unfortunately for his veracity, he could not produce the original.  Some of the real compositions of the Fenian hero are, however, still extant in the Book of Leinster, as well as other valuable Fenian poems.  There are also some Fenian tales in prose, of which the most remarkable is that of the Pursuit of Diarmaid and Grainne—­a legend which has left its impress in every portion of the island to the present day.  Finn, in his old age, asked the hand of Grainne, the daughter of Cormac Mac Airt; but the lady being young, preferred a younger lover.  To effect her purpose, she drugged the guest-cup so effectually, that Finn, and all the guests invited with him, were plunged into a profound slumber after they had partaken of it.  Oisin and Diarmaid alone escaped, and to them the Lady Grainne confided her grief.  As true knights they were bound to rescue her from the dilemma.  Oisin could scarcely dare to brave his father’s vengeance, but Diarmaid at once fled with the lady.  A pursuit followed, which extended all over Ireland, during which the young couple always escaped.  So deeply is the tradition engraven in the popular mind, that the cromlechs are still called the “Beds of Diarmaid and Grainne,” and shown as the resting-places of the fugitive lovers.

There are many other tales of a purely imaginative character, which, for interest, might well rival the world-famous Arabian Nights’ Entertainments; and, for importance of details, illustrative of manners, customs, dress, weapons, and localities, are, perhaps, unequalled.

Nial of the Nine Hostages and Dathi are the last pagan monarchs who demand special notice.  In the year 322, Fiacha Sraibhtine was slain by the three Collas,[107] and a few short-lived monarchs succeeded.  In 378, Crimhthann was poisoned by his sister, who hoped that her eldest son, Brian, might obtain the royal power.  Her attempt failed, although she sacrificed herself for its accomplishment, by taking the poisoned cup to remove her brother’s suspicions; and Nial of the Nine Hostages, the son of her husband by a former wife, succeeded to the coveted dignity.  This monarch distinguished himself by predatory warfare against Albion and Gaul.  The “groans"[108] of the Britons testify to his success in that quarter, which eventually obliged them to become an Anglo-Saxon nation; and the Latin poet, Claudian, gives evidence that troops were sent by Stilicho, the general of Theodosius the Great, to repel his successful forays.  His successor, Dathi, was killed by lightning at the foot of the Alps, and the possibility of this occurrence is also strangely verified from extrinsic sources.[109]

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