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Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions

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Crissy Herrell
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« Reply #285 on: February 22, 2009, 01:00:32 am »

of the antiquity of these Fenian poems"; but, he adds, "the language is so obsolete that it cannot be understood without a gloss; and even the gloss itself is frequently so obscure as to be equally difficult with the text." The mixture of barbarous and abbreviated Latin increases the embarrassment. English readers of such translations have to take much upon faith. The Fenian poems are by far the finest extant. The Pursuit of Diarmuid, or Dermot, has been translated into many languages. The Battle of Gabhra and the Lamentations of Oisin relate to the final destruction of the Fenian warriors by the Milesians.

The Irish Academy and other literary institutions have done excellent service in translations. Walker's Irish Bards and Miss Brooke's Reliques of Irish Poetry may be consulted with advantage, as well as Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy. The collection of Erin's ancient poets would not by any means approach in size that of the Finnish Kalevala, which were much greater in extent than the Iliad, if not equalling it in quality.

It has been well remarked that "Ireland would have been the richer had not the fears or bigotry of the priests discouraged the reading of pagan poems and romances, and thrown thousands of MSS. into the flames." St. Patrick is declared the destroyer of some hundreds of them. Though a number, yet preserved, are in Irish letter, the language is but Latin. The ancient Domnagh Airgid, in the Dublin Museum, is in Irish character, having portions of the Gospels in uncial Latin. That copy was said to have belonged to St. Patrick.

The reported ages of MSS. may be considered doubtful. Zeuss, the German philologist, puts the oldest at the ninth century; but many are clearly copies of earlier ones, now lost. The fifth century has been claimed for some, and a pre-Christian period for a number of lost originals.

p. 308

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