The History of Ireland - XX.

XX.

It is probable that this island whence the druids went to France was the island of Ireland, since Ireland was the fountain of druidism for western Europe at that time, and that accordingly Gaelic was the language of these druids. Or if it was from Manainn they went thither, it is well known that Gaelic was the mother-tongue there, according to Ortelius, who, treating of Manainn, says: "They use," he says, "the Scotic language, or Gaelic, which is the same."[443]

Accordingly it is probable that, when these druids were teaching in France, the youth of France, from their intercourse with the druids, caught up a certain number of Irish words, and that these have ever since been in use in the French language; and, moreover, Camden states in the book called "Britannia Camdeni," that the druids taught in their schools more from oral tradition than from writing.

Another reason why it should not seem strange that Irish words should be embodied in French is, the great intercourse that existed between the Irish and the French. For the Book of Invasions says that the wife of Ughaine Mor, high king of Ireland, was a daughter of the king of the French, and this Ughaine went to conquer France. In like manner another high king of Ireland, Niall Naoighiallach, a long time after Ughaine, went to conquer France, and was slain at the river Leor, in France, by Eochaidh son of Eanna Cinnsealach, king of Leinster. Criomhthann son of Fiodhach, king of Ireland, went to France before Niall. Another high king of Ireland also, whose name was Dathi son of Fiachraidh, went on an expedition of conquest to France; but he was slain by lightning in the east of France, beside the Alp mountains. Similarly, Cornelius Tacitus says that commercial exchange and intercourse existed between Ireland and France. From what we have said, it is not strange that there should have been a borrowing of words from Irish into French and from French into Irish. However, it does not necessarily follow from this that it was from France the race of Gaedheal came to Ireland. Hence, the second argument that Buchanan advances is trivial.

False again is the third argument that Buchanan gives in which he says that the manners and customs of the French and of the Irish are the same. Now, whoever reads Joannes Bohemus, in the book which he has written on the manners and customs of all nations, will find plainly there that neither the manners nor the customs of the French and the Irish are the same at present, nor were they the same in the distant past. Accordingly false is the third reason he alleges as a proof that the race of Gaedheal came first to Ireland from France.

Some modern English writers treating of Ireland state that it was from Great Britain that the sons of Milidh first came, and their reason for that view is, that there are many words identical in Irish and Welsh. My reply to this reason is, that it is not a proof of the race of Gaedheal having first come from Great Britain. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is, that Gaelic was the mother tongue of Briotan son of Fearghus Leithdhearg, son of Neimhidh, and that it was from him Britain was called Britannia, according to Cormac son of Cuileannan and the Books of Invasion of Ireland, and that it was in Britain he and his descendants after him dwelt; that Eireamhon son of Milidh sent the Cruithnigh, who are called Picts, to share Alba with them; and that Brutus son of Silvias, if we may believe some of their r own chronicles, invaded them, and after him the Romans, and then the Saxons and the Lochlonnaigh, and finally William the Conqueror and the French, so that they suffered so much oppression from foreigners that it was not strange that Scoitbhearla, which was the language of Briotan and of his descendants after him, should fail. Still the little of it that remains alive without being completely extinguished is identical with Gaelic, as much of it as has remained from the time of Briotan without change.

The second reason why it is not strange that many words are the same in Irish and in Welsh, without supposing the sons of Milidh to have come to Ireland from Britain, is that Ireland was a place of refuge for Britons whenever they suffered persecution from the Romans or the Saxons, or from any other races that oppressed them, so that large companies of them, with their families and followers, and with their wealth, used to fly for refuge to Ireland; and the Irish nobles used to give them land during their stay; and the children they had during their time of exile used to learn Irish, and there are townlands in Ireland named from them, as Graig na mBreathnach, Baile na mBreathnach, Dun na mBreathnach, etc.; and after they returned to Britain they themselves, and their descendants after them, had many Irish words in constant use. From what we have said it is not necessarily to be inferred that it was from Britain the sons of Milidh first came, notwithstanding that there are some words identical in Welsh and in Irish. Furthermore, if anyone were to say that the Welsh and the Irish are alike in their manners and customs, since as the Irishman is hospitable in bestowing food without payment so is the Welshman; as, moreover, the Irishman loves seanchas, poets and bards and harp-players, the Welshman has a similar love for these classes, and in the same way they resemble one another in several other customs; this is not a proof that the Gaels came from Britain, but is rather a proof that the Welsh were familiar with Ireland, as we have said above; and hence it is not to be inferred from the forementioned reasons that it was from Great Britain the sons of Milidh first came. It may, however, be stated with truth that a company of the race of Breoghan went from Ireland to settle in Great Britain, to wit, some of the descendants of the chiefs of the race of Breoghan who came with the sons of Milidh to Ireland.

The following are the names of those sons of Breoghan who came with the sons of Milidh to Ireland, namely, Breagha, Fuad, Muirtheimhne, Cuailgne, Cuala, Eibhle, Bladh, and Nar. It is precisely from the progeny of these, according to the records of Ireland, that the race called Brigantes are descended; and the truth of this should be the more readily admitted, as Thomasius, in the Latin Dictionary which he has written, says that the Brigantes, that is, the descendants of Breoghan, were an Irish tribe.

A Spanish author named Florianus del Campo, agreeing with the Irish records, says that the Brigantes were Spanish by origin, and that it was from Spain they came to Ireland, and from Ireland they went to Britain.

All that we have stated concerning the intercourse of the Britons with the Irish, and Ireland's being a place of refuge for the Britons, is the more probable, because Caradocus, a Welsh author, in his chronicle, and Albion in his chronicle, and many other Welsh authors, state that many British princes and nobles, with their families and followers, used to come to Ireland, where they were received and kindly entertained, and where they got land to settle down in, as we have said above. Moreover, Doctor Hanmer, in his chronicle, makes special mention of some of them. In the first place, he says that a king of Wales named Cadualin was banished to Ireland by Edwin son of Athelfred in the year of the Lord 635, and that he was kindly received there, and got a reinforcement for his army, by means of which he recovered his own kingdom. He also states that two princes from Britain, namely, Haralt and Conan, came to Ireland in the year of the Lord 1050, and that they were received and even treated in a friendly manner and protected by the Irish. He says likewise that Aligor, Earl of Chester, fled from Britain to Ireland for refuge, and that the Irish sent a force with him by means of which he regained his own territory in the year of the Lord 1054. There came also for refuge to Ireland another Welsh prince whose name was Bleithin ap Conan in the year of the Lord 1087; and he was maintained during his visit there. Thus from age to age did they cultivate alliance and intercourse with one another.

In Hanmer's chronicle, also, we read that Arnulfus, Earl of Pembroke, married the daughter of Muircheartach O'Brien, King of Ireland, in the year of the Lord 1101. And his second daughter was married to Maghnus son of Aralt, king of the Isles. Moreover, when Henry the First was on the throne of England, there was a prince over Wales whose name was Griffin ap Conan, who used often boast that his mother was an Irishwoman, and also his grandmother, and that it was in Ireland he was born and educated in politeness. According to the same author there was also another prince of Wales in the time of Henry the Second, whose name was Biradus son of Guineth, who had an Irishwoman for his mother. In this manner there used to be much intercourse of friendship and of alliance between the Irish and Welsh, so that therefore it is not to be wondered at that there are many words common to their languages, and that they resemble one another in their manners and customs, without supposing that the Gaels ever came originally from Britain.

Camden says, in like manner, that the Brigantes settled in the following territories of Great Britain, to wit, the district of York, the district of Lancaster, the district of Durham, the district of Westmoreland, and the district of Cumberland; and it is not strange, from what we have said, that the Welsh and the Irish should resemble one another in their manners and customs, and that there should be may words common to both their languages without supposing the sons of Milidh to have ever come from Britain originally, notwithstanding Camden, who says that it was from Britain that the first inhabitants came to Ireland. Now the seanchus of Ireland, whose function it is to investigate and preserve an exact account of every event that ever happened in Ireland, is more deserving of credit than the opinion of Camden, to whom Irish history never gave up its secret from which he could derive a knowlege of the affairs of Ireland.

Cambrensis, writing of Ireland, says that it was by permission of the King of Great Britain that the sons of Milidh came from Biscay, and that, moreover, it was at his inducement they came after him to the Orcades, and that he sent a company with them to Ireland so that they might settle down there on condition that themselves and their descendants should be subject to him and to the kings of Great Britain for ever; and Cambrensis gives the king's name as Gorguntius son of Beilin. In the same way my reply to Cambrensis is, that it is plain that his statement is false. For, whoever will read Stowe's Chronicle will plainly find that there is little more than three hundred years from the reign of that Gorguntius over Great Britain till the coming of Julius Cæsar to conquer it, the eighth year of the reign of Cassibellanus over Great Britain; and we read in the same author that there were only about forty-two years from Julius Cæsar to the birth of Christ, so that, according to the computation of Stowe, there were not four hundred years in full from the time of Gorguntius to the birth of Christ. Now Cormac son of Cuileannan and the Books of Invasion of Ireland state that it was about thirteen hundred years before the birth of Christ that the sons of Milidh came to Ireland. And the Polychronicon agrees with them in the same computation where it treats of Ireland. It thus speaks: "There are," it says, "one thousand eight hundred years from the arrival of the Irish to the death of Patrick." This is equivalent to saying that it was about thirteen hundred years before Christ that the sons of Milidh came to Ireland. For deduct the four hundred and ninety-two years from the birth of Christ to the death of Patrick from the eighteen hundred years the Polychronicon computes to be between the coming of the sons of Milidh to Ireland and the death of Patrick, and there will be one thousand three hundred and eight years from the coming of the sons of Milidh to Ireland to the birth of Christ, so that the Polychronicon, Cormac son of Cuileannan, and the Books of Invasion agree with one another in computing the time from the invasion of the sons of Milidh to the birth of Christ; and if we compare, according to the Chronicle of Stowe, the space of time between Gorguntius and the birth of Christ, and similarly the space of time the Polychronicon, and Cormac son of Cuileannan, and the Books of Invasion compute to be from the coming of the sons of Milidh to Ireland to the birth of Christ, we shall plainly find that the sons of Milidh were in Ireland more than nine hundred years before Gorguntius assumed the sovereignty of Great Britain. From what we have said it is obvious that it is a baseless falsehood Cambrensis states in his chronicle when he says that Gorguntius above-mentioned brought after him the sons of Milidh to the Orcades, and sent them thence to Ireland. For how could Gorguntius send them to Ireland, seeing he was not himself born, according to authorities we have cited here, until nine hundred years after the sons of Milidh had come to Ireland?

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