Tuesday 18 December 2012

Fac-Similies of Irish National Manuscripts II

Below is the concluding part of the 1875 article on Irish manuscripts which, if anything, is even more interesting. I particularly enjoyed the account of the huge retinue which accompanied the chief poet to the court of King Guaire and put his reputation as 'the hospitable' to the test. The description of the seating arrangements at the great hall of Tara is also fascinating as is the chequered history of the Book of Lismore. Part two introduces a wide range of manuscript sources and also mentions many of the pagan Irish tales and sagas.


The Liber Hymnorum is the next selected. It is believed to be more than one thousand years old, and one of the most remarkable of the sacred tracts among the MSS. in Trinity College, Dublin. It is a collection of hymns on S. Patrick and other Irish saints, which has been published by the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society, under the superintendence of Dr. Todd. The three pages selected contain the hymn written by S. Fiach of Sletty, between the years 538 and 558, in honor of S. Patrick. The hymn is furnished with an interlinear gloss.

The tenth of these MSS. is The Saltair of S. Ricemarch, Bishop of St. David's between the years 1085 and 1096, a small copy of the Psalter containing also a copy of the Roman Martyrology.

Of the four pages of this volume which have been selected for copying, two are a portion of the Martyrology and two of the Psalter. The first of these last contains the first two verses of the 101st Psalm, surrounded by an elaborate border formed by the intertwining of four serpentine monsters. The initial D of Domine is also expressed by a coiled snake, with its head in an attitude to strike; the object of its attack being a creature which it is impossible to designate, but which bears some resemblance to the hippocampus, or sea-horse. The second page of the Psalter contains the 115th, 116th, and 117th Psalms. in which the same serpentine form is woven into shapes to represent the initial letters. The version of the Psalms given in this volume differs from that used in England in Bishop Ricemarch's time. It is written in Latin in Gaelic characters. The volume belongs to Trinity College, Dublin.

Next in order appears the Leahhar na h-Uidhre, or Book of the Dark Gray Cow, a fragment of one hundred and thirty-eight folio pages, which is thought to be a copy made about the year 1100 of a more ancient MS. of the same name written in S. Ciaran's time. It derived its name from the following curious legend, taken from the Book of Leinster, and the ancient tale called Im thecht na tram daimhe, or Adventures of the Great Company, told in the Book of Lismore. About the year 598, soon after the election of Senchan Torpeist to the post of chief file (professor of philosophy and literature) in Erinn, he paid a visit to Guaire, the Hospitable, King of Connaught, accompanied by such a tremendous retinue, including a hundred and fifty professors, a hundred and fifty students, a hundred and fifty hounds, a hundred and fifty male attendants, and a hundred and fifty female relatives, that even King Guaire's hospitality was grievously taxed ; for he not only had to provide a separate meal and separate bed for each, but to minister to their daily craving for things that were extraordinary, wonderful, rare, and difficult of procurement. The mansion which contained the learned association was a special source of annoyance to King Guaire, and at last the "longing desires" for unattainable things of Muireann, daughter of Cun Culli and wife of Dallan, the foster-mother of the literati, became so unendurable that Guaire, tired of life, proposed to pay a visit to Fulachtach Mac Owen, a person whom he thought especially likely to rid him of that burden, as he had killed his father, his six sons, and his three brothers. Happily for him, however, he falls in with his brother Marbhan, " the prime prophet of heaven and earth," who had adopted the position of royal swineherd in order that he might the more advantageously indulge his passion for religion and devotion among the woods and desert places; and Marbhan eventually revenges the trouble and ingratitude shown to his brother by imposing upon Senchan and the great Bardic Association the task of recovering the lost tale of the Tain Bo Chuailgne, or Great Cattle Spoil of Cuailgne. After a vain search for it in Scotland, Senchan returned home and invited the following distinguished saints, S. Colum Cille, S. Caillin of Fiodhnacha, S.Ciaran, S. Brendan of Birra, and S. Brendan the son of Finnlogha, to meet him at the grave of the great Ulster chief, Feargus Mac Roigh who had led the Connaught men against the Ulster men during the spoil, of which also he appears to have been the historian to try by prayer and fasting to induce his spirit to relate the tale. After they had fasted three days and three nights, the apparition of Feargus rose before them, clad in a green cloak with a collared, gold-ribbed shirt and bronze sandals, and carrying a golden hilled sword, and recited the whole from beginning to end. And S. Ciaran then and there wrote it down on the hide of his pet cow, which he had had made for the purpose into a book, which has ever since borne this name.

The volume contains matter of a very miscellaneous character: A fragment of Genesis; a fragment of Nennius' History of the Britons, done into Gaelic by Gilla Caomhain, who died before 1072 ; an amhra or elegy on S. Colum Cille, written by Dalian Forgail, the poet, in 592; fragments of the historic tale of the Mesca Uladh, or Inebriety of the Ulstermen; fragments of the cattle spoils Tain Bo Dartadha and Tain Bo Flidais ; the navigation of Madduin about the Atlantic for three years and seven months ; imperfect copies of the Tain Bo Chuailgne, the destruction of the Bruighean da Dearga, or Court of Da Dearga, and murder of King Conaire Mor ; a history of the great pagan cemeteries of Erinn and of the various old books from which this and other pieces were compiled; poems by Flann of Monasterboice and others; together with various other pieces of history and historic romance chiefly referring to the ante-Christian period, and especially that of the Tuatha De Danann. Three pages, containing curious prayers and the legend of The Withering of Cuchulain and the Birds of Emer , extracted from the Leabhar buidh Slaine or Yellow Book of Slane; one of the ancient lost books of Ireland from which the Leabhar na h-Uidhre was compiled, have been selected.

The Book of Leinster, a folio of over four hundred pages, appears as the next. It was compiled in the first half of the XIIth century by Finn Mac Gorman, Bishop of Kildare, by order of Aedh Mac Crimhthainn, the tutor of Dermot, King of Leinster. Among other pieces of internal evidence pointing to this conclusion are the following entries, the first in the original hand, the second by one strange but ancient, translated and quoted by O'Curry :

" Benedictions and health from Finn, the Bishop of Kildare, to Aedh Mac Crimhtain, the tutor of the chief King of Leth Mogha Nuadut (or of Leinster and Munster), successor of Colaim Mic Crumtaind of, and chief historian of, Leinster, in wisdom, intelligence, and the cultivation of books, knowledge, and learning. And I write the conclusion of this little tale for thee, O acute Aedh ! thou possessor of the sparkling intellect. May it be long before we are without thee! It is my desire that thou shouldst always be with us. Let Mac Loran's book of poems be given to me, that I may understand the sense of the poems that are in it; and farewell in Christ.

"O Mary! it is a great deed that has been done in Erinn this day, the Kalends of August -Diarmait Mac Donnchadda Mic Murchada, King of Leinster and of the Danes (of Dublin), to have been banished over the sea eastwards by the men of Erinn ! Uch, uch, O Lord ! what shall I do ?"

The more important of the vast number of subjects treated of in this MS. are mentioned as being: The usual book of invasions; ancient poems ; a plan and explanation of the banqueting-hall of Tara; a copy of The Battle of Ross na Righ in the beginning of the Christian era; a copy of the Mesca Uladh, and one of the origin of the Borromean Tribute, and the battle that ensued; a fragment of the battle of Ceannabrat, with the defeat of Mac Con by Oilioll Olium, his flight into, and return from, Scotland with Scottish and British adventurers, his landing in Galway Bay, and the defeat of Art, monarch of Erinn, and slaughter of Olium’s seven sons at the battle of Magh Mucruimhe ; a fragment of Cormac's Glossary, another of the wars between the Danes and Irish; a copy of the Dinnsenchus; genealogies of Milesian families; and an ample list of the early saints of Erinn, with their pedigrees and affinities, and with copious references to the situation of their churches. The volume belongs to Trinity College, Dublin.

Three pages have been selected. The first contains a copy of the poem on the Teach Miodhchuarta of Tara a poem so ancient that of its date and author no record remains and of the ground-plan of the banqueting-hall by which the poem was illustrated, published by Dr. Petrie in his History and Antiquities of Tara Hill. The groundplan, which in this copy is nearly square, is divided into five compartments lengthwise, the centre and broadest of which contains the door, a rudely-drawn figure of a daul or waiter turning a gigantic spit, furnished with a joint of meat, before a fire, the lamps, and a huge double-handed vase or amphora for the cup-bearer to distribute. This great spit, called Bir Nechin, or the spit of Nechin, the chief smith of Tara, which in the drawing is half the length of the hall, appears to have been so mechanically contrived as to be able to be coiled up after use; and the instrument is thus described in another MS. Belonging to Trinity College, Dublin, quoted by Dr. Petrie: "A stick at each end of it, and its axle was wood, and its wheel was wood, and its body was iron : and there were twice nine wheels on its axle, that it might turn the faster; and there were thirty spits out of it, and thirty hooks and thirty spindles, and it was as rapid as the rapidity of a stream in turning; and thrice nine spits and thrice nine cavities (or pots) and one spit for roasting, and one wing used to set it in motion."

In the two compartments on either side are enumerated in order of precedence the various officers and retainers of the king's household, together with their tables and the particular portions of meat served out to each, forming a very curious and instructive illustration of the social condition and habits of the early Irish. The description of the rations that were considered specially adapted to the several ranks of consumers is very amusing. For the distinguished men of literature, "the soft, clean, smooth entrails," and a steak cut from the choicest part of the animal, were set aside; the poet had a "good smooth" piece of the leg ; the historian, "a crooked bone," probably a rib ; the artificers, "a pig's shoulder "; the Druids and aire dessa, a "fair foot." These last are said to decline to drink; not so the trumpeters and cooks, who are to be allowed "cheering mead in abundance, not of a flatulent kind." The doorkeeper "the noisy, humorous fool and the fierce, active kerne " had the chine ; while to the satirists and the braigitore, a class of buffoons whose peculiar function was to amuse the company after a fashion which will not only not bear description, but almost defies belief -licensed and paid Aethons of the court- "the fat of the shoulder was divided to them pleasantly."

The selection is continued by the Leabhar Breac, or Speckled Book, probably named from the color of its cover, or, as it was formerly called, Leabhar Mor Duna Doighre, the Great Book of Dun Doighre, a place on the Galway side of the Shannon not far from Athlone. It is a compilation from various ancient books belonging chiefly to churches and monasteries in Conaught, Munster, and Leinster, beautifully written on vellum, as is supposed about the close of the XIVth century, by one of the Mac Ogans, a literary family of great repute belonging to Dun Doighre.

Its contents are of an extremely miscellaneous character, and they are all, with the exception of a copy of The Life of Alexander the Great from the VIIth century, MS. of S. Berchan of Clonsost, of a religious nature, comprising Biblical narratives, homilies, hymns ; pedigrees of saints, litanies and liturgies, monastic rules, the Martyralogy of Aengus Ceule De, or the Culdee, the ancient rules of discipline of the order of the Culdees, etc., etc. When the Abbe Mac Geoghegan wrote his History of Ancient Erinn in Paris, in the year 1758, this volume, his principal MS. of reference, was in Paris. It is now in the Royal Irish Academy.

Three pages have been selected for fac-similes, giving a description of the nature and arrangement of the Felire of Aengus the Culdee and the date and object of its composition, which was made between the years 793 and 817, when Aedh Oirdnidhe was monarch of Erinn.

Then comes the Leabhar Buidhe Lecain, or Yellow Book of Lecain, a large quarto volume of about five hundred pages, which was written by Donnoch and Gilla Isa Mac Firbis in the year 1390, with the exception of a few tracts of a somewhat later date. O'Curry, in his ninth lecture, supposes it to have been originally a collection of ancient historical pieces, civil and ecclesiastical, in prose and verse. In its present imperfect state it contains a number of family and political poems; some monastic rules ; a description of Tara and its banqueting-hall ; a translation of part of the Book of Genesis; the Feast of Dun-na-n-Gedh and the battle of Magh Rath; an account of the reign of Muirchertach Mac Erca, and his death at the palace of Cleitech in the year 527 ; copies of cattle-spoils, of the Bruighean Da Dearga and death of the king; the tale of Maelduin's three years' wanderings in the Atlantic; tracts concerning the banishment of an ancient tribe from East Meath, and their discovery in the Northern Ocean by some Irish ecclesiastics; accounts of battles in the years 594, 634, and 718, and many other curious and valuable pieces and tracts. It is preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.

Two pages have been selected. The first contains the plan of the Teach Miodchuarta of ancient Tara, with a portion of the prose preface to the poem, which the plan is intended to illustrate. This ground-plan differs somewhat in the shape of the hall and the arrangement of the tables from that given in the Book of Leinster, an earlier copy of a different original. It is also very much superior to it, both as regards the drawing and writing. The daul and his spit are unrepresented here, but there is the door, the common hall, the swinging lamp and candles, the great double-handed vase, called the dabhach or vat, and three places marked out for the fires. The arrangement of the hall appears to have been this: Each of the two outside compartments contained twelve seats, and each seat three sitters; the two airidins or divisions on either side of the centre of the hall held each eight seats and sixteen sitters. There were eight distributors, cup-bearers, and herdsmen at the upper end of the hall, and two sat in each of the two seats on either side of the door, being the two door-keepers and two of the royal fools. The daily allowance for dinner was two cows, two salted hogs, and two pigs. The quantity of liquor consumed is not specified, but the poem states that there were one hundred drinkings in the vat, and that the vat was supplied with fifty grooved golden horns and fifty pewter vessels. The order of precedence seems to have ranged from the top of the external division to the left on entering the hall; then to the top of the external division to the right; then the two internal divisions beginning with the left; then the iarthar or back part of the hall, the upper end opposite the door; and last the seats on either side of the door itself. There is no seat marked for the king, but it is stated in the poem that a fourth part of the hall was at his back and three-fourths before him, and he is supposed to have sat about a quarter of the way down the centre of the hall with his face toward the door, which would place him between two of the great fires, with the artisans on his right and the braziers and fools on his left hand. It is probable, however, from no mention being made of the king's seat, and no provision being made for him in the appropriation of the daily allowance of food, which is specified in as many rations as there are persons mentioned in the plan, that this is not the plan of the royal banqueting-hall, but of a portion of it only the common dining-hall for the officers and retainers of the palace; the monarch himself and his princes and nobles, none of whom are even alluded to in the plan, dining in another and superior apartment.

The second page contains a portion of the sorrowful tale of the loves of fair Deirdre and Naoisi, the son of Uisneach, one of the class of Irish legends called Aithidhe, or elopements. An outline of this story, in the commencement of which the reader will recognize that of one of his early nursery favorites, “Little Snow White," is given by Keating in his General History of Ireland.

The Book of Lecain Mac Firbisigh, a folio of more than six hundred pages, was compiled in the year 1418 by Gilla Isa Mor Mac Firbis, Adam O'Cuirnin, and Morogh Riabhac O'Cuindlis. Its contents are nearly the same as those of The Book of Ballymote, to some of which it furnishes valuable additions, among the most important of which is a tract on the families and subdivisions of the territory of Tir Fiachrach in the present county of Sligo. The volume is preserved in the Royal Irish Academy.

Four pages have been selected, being a portion of a copy of the Leabhar na g-Ceart, or Book of Rights, a metrical work attributed in the work itself to S. Benean or Benignus, S. Patrick's earliest convert, and his successor in the Archbishopric of Armagh in the middle of the Vth century. These four pages, which are written in columnar form, contain the concluding ten verses of the stipends due to the chieftainries of Connacht from the supreme King of Cruachain ; the metrical accounts, with their preceding prose abstracts, of the privileges of the King of Aileach; the payment and stipends of the same king to his chieftainries and tribes for refection and escort ; the privileges of the King of the Oirghialla with the stipends due to him from the King of Erinn, and by him to his chieftainries; the rights, wages, stipends, refections, and tributes of the King of Eamhain and Uladh; and almost all the prose abstract of the rights of the King of Tara.

The Book of Ballymote, a large folio volume of five hundred and two pages of vellum, was written, as stated on the dorse of folio 62, at Ballymote, in the house of Tomaltach oig Mac Donogh, Lord of Corann, during the reign of Torlogh oig, the son of Hugh O'Conor, King of Connaught. It appears to be the work of different hands, but the principal scribes employed in writing it were Solomon O'Droma and Manus O'Duigenann, and it was written at the end of the XIVth century.

It contains an imperfect copy of the Leabhar Gabhala, or Book of Invasions, a series of ancient chronological, historical, and genealogical pieces in prose and verse; the pedigrees of Irish saints, and the histories and pedigrees of all the great families of the Milesian race,with their collateral branches, so that, as O’Curry remarks, there is scarcely any one whose name begins with "O" or "Mac" who could not find out all about his origin and family in this book; then follow stories and adventures, lists of famous Irish names, a Gaelic translation of Nennius' History of the Britons, an ancient grammar and prosody, and various other tracts.

Six pages have been selected. The first four contain the dissertation on the Ogham characters, and the last two the genealogy of the Hy Nialls, showing their descent from Eremon, one of the sons of Milesius. The volume belongs to the Irish Academy.

The last in Mr. Sanders' list of the great volumes of Irish History is the Book of M'Carthy Riabhac, a compilation of the XIVth century in language of a much earlier date now also known as the Book of Lismore, to which a very curious story attaches. It was first discovered in the year 1814, enclosed in a wooden box together with a fine old crosier, built into the masonry of a closed-up doorway which was reopened during some repairs that were being made in the old Castle of Lismore. Of course the account of its discovery soon got abroad and became a matter of great interest, especially to the antiquarian class of scholars. Among these there happened to be then living in Shandon Street, Cork, one Mr. Dennis O'Flinn, a professed Irish scholar. O'Curry says that he was a "professed but a very indifferent" one; but at any rate his reputation was sufficiently well grounded to induce Colonel Curry, the Duke of Devonshire's agent, to send him the MS. According to O’Flinn's own account, the book remained in his hands for one year, during which time it was copied by Michael O’Longan, of Carrignavan, near Cork; after which O'Flinn bound it in boards, and returned it to Colonel Curry. From that time it remained locked up and unexamined until 1839, when the duke lent it to the Royal Irish Academy to be copied by O'Curry, and O'Curry's practised eye and acumen soon discovered that much harm had come to the volume during its sojourn in Shandon Street. The book had been mutilated, and, what was worse, mutilated in so cunning a way that what remained was rendered valueless by the abstraction, no doubt with the view of enhancing the value of the stolen portions as soon as it should become safe to pretend a discovery of them. Every search was made, especially by O'Curry, about Cork, to see if any of the missing pages could be found; but it was not till seven or eight years afterwards that a communication was made that a large portion of the original MS. was actually in the possession of some person in Cork, but who the person was, or how he became possessed of it, the informant could not tell. This clue seems to have failed; but soon afterwards the late Sir William Betham's collection of MSS. passed into the library of the Royal Irish Academy by sale, and among these were copies of the lost portions, and all made, as the scribe himself states at the end of one of them, by himself, Michael O'Longan, at the house of Dennis Ban O'Flinn, in Cork, in 1816, from the Book of Lismore. The missing portions of the MS. were at length traced, and the £50 asked for them was offered by the Royal Irish Academy; but the negotiation ultimately broke down, and they were purchased by Mr. Hewitt, of Summerhill, near Cork. Since that time, however, they have been restored, and the whole volume excellently repaired and handsomely bound by the Duke of Devonshire, who has most liberally allowed it to remain in Mr. Sanders' possession for the purpose of copying. Whether O'Flinn actually mutilated the volume or not, there can be no doubt that pages and pages of it have been ruined and will eventually be rendered illegible by the most reckless use of that pernicious chemical agent, infusion of galls. Besides this, Mr. O'Flinn has written his name in several places of the book, among others all over the colored initial letter of one of the tracts, which he has entirely spoiled by filling in the open spaces with the letters of his name and the date of the outrage. But perhaps the most characteristic act performed by him is the interpolation of an eulogistic ode upon himself in Gaelic, of which the following is a literal translation:

"Upon the dressing of this book by D. O'F., he said (or sang) as follows :
'"Gold chart! forget not, wheresoever you are taken,
To relate that you met with the Doctor of Books;
That helped you, out of compassion, from severe bondage,
After finding you in forlorn state without a tatter about you, as it should be.
Under the disparagement of the ignorant who liked not to know you,
Till you met by chance with learned good-nature from the person*
Who put healing herbs with zeal to thy old wounds,
And liberally put bloom on you at your old age,
And baptized you the Book of Lismore.
Forget not this friend that esteemed your figure,
Distinguishing you, (though) of unseemly appearance, in humble words.
I doubt not that truly you will declare to them there
That you met with your fond friend ere you went to dust."

*" That is, Dennis O'Flinn, with whom was this book during a year, namely, from the seventh month of the year 1815 to the eighth month of the year 1816, i.e. viz., D. O'F., of Shandon Street, in Cork, of Great Munster, and that put it carefully in this form, as say the stanzas above."

The book contains ancient lives of Irish saints, written in very pure Gaelic; the conquests of Charlemagne, translated from Archbishop Turpin's celebrated romance of the VIIIth century; the conversion of the Pantheon into a Christian church ; the stories of David, son of Jesse, the two children, Samhain, the three sons of Cleirac ; the Imtheacht na trom daimhe ; the story of S.Peter's daughter Petronilla and the discovery of the Sibylline Oracle; an account of S. Gregory the Great; the Empress Justina's heresy; modifications of minor ceremonies of the Mass; accounts of the successors of Charlemagne, and of the correspondence between Lanfranc and the clergy of Rome; extracts from Marco Polo's Travels ; accounts of Irish battles and sieges; and a dialogue between S. Patrick, Caoilte, Mac Ronain, and Oisin (Ossian),the son of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, in which many hills, rivers, caverns, etc., in Ireland, are described, and the etymology of their names recorded. This last is preluded by an account of the departure of Oisin and Caoilte on a hunting expedition, during which their gillie sees and is much troubled by a very strange spectacle. As this tale furnishes a good example of the contents of these ancient books, we subjoin a translation of the commencement of it.

" On a certain time it happened that Oisin and Cailte were in Dun Clithar (the sheltered or shady Dun) at Slieve Crott. It was the time that Patrick came to Ireland. It is there dwelt a remnant of the Fenians, namely, Oisin and Cailte and three times nine persons in their company. They followed this custom: about nine persons went out hunting daily. On a certain day it chanced that Cailte Mac Ronain set out with eight persons (big men) and a hoy (gilla), the ninth. The way they went was northward to the twelve mountains of Eibhlinne and to the head of the ancient Moy Breogan. On their returning from the chase at the cheerless close of the day they came from the north to Corroda Cnamhchoill. Then was Fear Gair Cailte's gilla loaded with the choice parts of the chase in charge, because he had no care beyond that of Cailte himself, from whom he took wages. The gilla comes to the stream, and takes Cailte's cup from his back and drinks a drink of the stream. Whilst the gilla was thus drinking the eight great men went their way southward, mistaking the road, and the gilla following afterwards. Then was heard the noise of the large host, and the gilla proceeds to observe the multitude; bushes and a bank between them. He saw in the fore front of the crowd a strange band; it seemed to him one hundred and fifty were in this band. They appeared thus: robes of pure white linen upon them, a head chief with them, and bent standards in their hands; shields, broad-streaked with gold and silver, bright shining on their breasts; their faces pale, pitiably feminine, and having masculine voices, and every man of them humming a march. The gilla followed his people, and did not overtake them till he came to the hunting-booth, and he came possessed, as he thinks, with the news of the strange troop lie had seen, and casts his burden on the ground, goes round it, places his elbows under, and groans very loudly. It was then that Cailte Mac Ronain said: ' Well, gilla, is it the weight of your burden affects you?' 'Not so,' replied the gilla; ‘when is large the burden, so great is the wages you give to me. This does not affect me; but that wonderful multitude I saw at the hut of Cnamhchoill. The first band that I saw of that strange crowd filled me with the pestilent, heavy complaint of the news of this band.' 'Give its description,' said Cailte. ' There seemed to me an advanced guard of one hundred and fifty-six men, pure white robes upon them, a head leader to them, bent standards in their hands, broad shields on their breasts, having feminine faces and masculine voices, and every single man of them humming a march.' Wonder seized the old Fenian on hearing this. 'These are they,' said Oisin ' the Tailginn (holy race), foretold by our Druids and Fionn to us, and what can be done with them ? Unless they be slain, they shall ascend over us altogether.' 'Uch !' said Oisin, ' who amongst us can molest them ? For we are the last of the Fenii, and not with ourselves is the power in Erinn, nor the greatness, nor pleasure but in the chase, and as ancient exiles asserting the right,' said he ; and they remained so till came the next morning, and there was nothing on their minds that night but these (things). Cailte rose early the fore front of the day, being the oldest of them, and came out on the assembly-mound. The sun cleared the fog from the plains, and Cailte said : . . ."

The procession thus described as having been seen by the gillie was probably one of ecclesiastics, with S. Patrick himself at their head, on the saint's first arrival in Ireland.

The foregoing sketches of certain of the MSS., extracts from which are intended to appear in the series of fac-similes, may serve to convey an idea of how rich Ireland is in such national records, what an immense mass of historical and romantic literature her libraries contain, and how great is their antiquity. Besides the evidence afforded by these books, both as to the ancient social, political, and ecclesiastical history of Ireland, and its topography, the books themselves are found to be full of illustrations of the customs, mode of life, manners, and costume of her early Celtic inhabitants; often conveyed through the medium of charming legends and fairy tales.

The Catholic World Volume 20 (1875), 213-222.

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