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Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions

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Author Topic: Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions  (Read 5741 times)
Crissy Herrell
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Posts: 3407

« Reply #285 on: February 22, 2009, 01:00:07 am »

Spenser, though an Englishman, did justice to Ireland when he wrote--"It is certain the Irish hath had the use of letters very anciently and long before England." Let us acknowledge with Faber, that "fictions of ancient poetry . . . will be found to comprehend some portion of historic truth." It is Bede, no real friend to the Irish, who tells us that "many both of the nobles and the low state left their. country, and, either in search of sacred learning, or a stricter life, removed to Ireland." Camden quotes St. Sugenius, of the eighth century--

"Exemplo patrum, commotus amore legendi,
Ivit ad Hibernos Sophiâ mirabile claros."

Skene, in Celtic Scotland, observes, "Others of these legends are undoubtedly purely artificial, and the entire legendary history of Ireland, prior to the establishment of Christianity in the fifth century, partakes largely of this character." Dr. Todd, however, warns us "that the pagan character of a passage fails to prove its antiquity,"--as "early Christianity itself was deeply tinged by pagan influences." In the same sense, Eugene O'Curry writes--"The tales relating to the pre-Christian period have in some form or other floated down the stream of tradition, preserving in the midst of a richly-developed Christian mythos much of their original pagan character."

The latter author draws a comparison between Irish and Welsh literature, not much to the advantage of the latter, saying, that there is in the first "a definite localization of all the personages and incidents of the tales"; whereas the Welsh poems "bear incontestable evidence of having been recast in the twelfth or thirteenth century." He deplores the great destruction of Irish MSS. for several centuries before the Norman conquest of Ireland, much information being only preserved by tradition. The country must have been for ages in a fearful state of feud and anarchy

p. 306

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