Page images

Sources and authorities of importance are given in every instance. In the second chapter a suggestion of the late Mr. T. L. Cooke has been worked out.

The writer expresses his obligations to the publishers, who have spared no expense to make the book a success; to the Rev. J. E. H. Murphy, Professor of Irish in Trinity College, the Rev. M. E. O'Malley, and Mr. E. Fournier D'Albe, B.Sc., his brother-in-law, who have given valuable assistance in the spelling of Irish names; and to his friend, Mr. Thomas Ulick Sadleir, B.L., who has contributed the important Appendix on the King's County families in the eighteenth century.





KEATING, in the preface of his History of Ireland, complains of the manner in which the ancient Irish have been misrepresented by foreign historians. Strabo, for instance, declared that the Irish were cannibals. Solinus asserted that there were no bees in Ireland—a falsehood rebutted by another foreigner, Camden, who stated that the multitude of bees is so great that they are to be found not only in hives, but also in the hollow places of the trees and ground. Pomponius Mela represented the Irish as “ignorant of every virtue.” That ignorant and malicious writer," Giraldus Cambrensis, stated that the kingdom paid tribute to King Arthur in A.D. 519, and added insult to injury by describing the Irish as an inhospitable race (gens inhospita), whereas Stanihurst testifies to their hospitality in the sentence: “The Irish are truly the most hospitable men, and you cannot please them better than by visiting them frequently and without invitation.” Stanihurst himself receives the vials of Keating's wrath for his statement that “ the meanest scullion that lives in the English province would not give his daughter in marriage to the most noble prince of the Irish ”; and

for his uncomplimentary remarks to the Irish language, which he regretted was not expelled with the Irish natives from Fingall, Stanihurst was altogether ignorant of the mellifluous language, and, therefore, was unqualified, in Keating's opinion, to express his views on the subject. Stanihurst went still further, and although, as Keating remarks, he had no notion of music, harmony, or distinction of sound, had the audacity to pronounce the Irish “an unmusical nation." Keating wonders that this second Midas, on whose head Apollo, the God of song, would undoubtedly have fixed the ears of an ass, had not consulted Giraldus Cambrensis, that "inexhaustible fund of falsehood," as he elsewhere describes him, who states in his History: “I find the diligence of that nation praiseworthy in the use of musical instruments, with which they are better provided than any other nation." This testimony to the musical talent of the Ireland of the twelfth century is corroborated by the resemblance that has been discovered between the Irish melodies and the Norse, which must have been familiar to Ireland for some centuries at the time of Giraldus, and by the fame of the ancient Irish harpers. The present writer has heard people say that the Irish peasantry of the present age have no ear for music, and that part singing, which comes naturally to their Welsh brethren, is only learnt with great difficulty by the Celt on this side of the Channel. Be that as it may, there are few nations as susceptible to the charm of sweet sounds, or as subject to the sway of melody; while the Welsh Giraldus praised the Irish melodies of his age for their sweetness, swiftness, and “concordia discors.” Then Spenser provokes

« PreviousContinue »