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Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions

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Author Topic: Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions  (Read 3997 times)
Crissy Herrell
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« Reply #285 on: February 22, 2009, 12:59:57 am »

ANCIENT IRISH LITERATURE.
THERE are such contradictory views upon the originality, authenticity, and reliableness of Irish literature among Irish scholars and experts, that it is necessary to give various

p. 304

ideas of this question, as has been given upon other subjects treated of in this book.

Some Irish authorities, like not a few Welsh ones, are ready to accept without hesitation a narrative written by their countrymen, as if it were a point of patriotism to do so. Others, not so credulous, are desirous to explain away any seeming errors or incongruities, especially if regarded in the interest of a Church, or the exigency of a political party. Then, there are a few, influenced by the modern spirit of inquiry, or scepticism, prepared not only to reject what are palpable absurdities, but, sometimes, unreasonably to deny what is not immediately capable of proof.

Too much praise cannot be given to many, such as Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, who are trying to popularize ancient Irish literature.

It is harsh, indeed, to say, as Dr. Ledwich does in his Antiquities of Ireland, after quoting a list by Ware and Keating--"It savours, as all Irish MSS. do, of modern forgery." But no student of history can exempt the annals of Ireland from the charge of misrepresentation of facts, or absolute invention of falsehoods. Prof. Harttung, who considered the old Irish "a distinctly unhistorical and unsettled people," has this opinion of their ancient literature--"Imagination and the works of scholars, especially after the tenth century, supplied that which was painfully wanting in actuality."

No better illustration can be given than the remarkable series of books on the lives of St. Patrick and St. Columba. One's faith is tried thereby to the uttermost, leading not a few to deny the very existence of the two missionaries. That early Irish literature was afterwards much corrupted may be admitted, without throwing doubt upon all records because of interpolations and changes, through indiscreet zeal, or love of the marvellous.

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