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Irish pedigrees; or, The origin and stem of the Irish nation (Volume 1) online

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Or whom the vales in shade of Tmolus hide,

Mestles and Antiphus the charge partake ;

Born on the banks of Gyges' silent lake.

There, from the fields where wild ]Maeander flows,

High Mycale and Latmos' shady brows,

And proudJIiletus.'^ — Tove's Homer.

" If we look upon this Catalogue with an eye to ancient learning," says Pope, " it
may be observed that, however fabulous the other part of Homer's poem may be accord-
ing to the nature of Epic poetry, this account of the people, princes, and countries is
purely historical, founded on the real transactions of those times ; and by far the most
valuable piece of history and geography left us concerning the state of Greece in that
early period. Greece was then divided into several dynasties, which Homer has
enumerated under their respective princes ; and his division was looked upon so exact,
that we are told of many controversies concerning the boundaries of Grecian cities,
which have been decided upon the authority of this piece (the ' Catalogue') : the city of
Calydon was adjudged to the ^tolians notwithstanding the pretensions of ^olia,.
because Homer had ranked it among the towns belonging to the former. "When the
Milesians and peojile of Priene disputed their claim to Mycal^, a verse of Homer (that
above given) carried it in favour of the Milesians."

Spain was first peopled after the Deluge by the descendants of Iber,.
who were called Iberes and Iberi ; the country, Iberia ; and its chief river,
Ebro. The Phoenicians in the early ages settled in Iberia, and gave it the

* Homer : According to some of the ancients, Homer was a native of Maeonia— the
old name of Lydia, in Asia Minor, and was therefore called Mceonides. As a Maeonian,
then, his langiiage must not have been very different, if at all, from that spoken by
Cadmus the Phoenician, or Cadmus of Miletus, as he was also called: "Miletus" having
been a city in Ma3onia. The name " Homer" was only an epithet applied to Maeonides,
because he was blind (" homeroi:" Gr., blind men.)


name of Spania, from " Span," which, in their language, signified a rahhii —
as the place abounded in rabbits ; by the Romans the country was called
Hispania ; and by the Spaniards, Espana, which has been anglicised Spain.
The city of Cadiz (the ancient Gadhir) was founded by the Phoenicians ;
who were celebrated for their commercial intercourse with various ancient
nations, as Greece, Italy, Spain, Gaul, Britain, and Ireland. In Ree's
Cydoj)edia^ in the article on Ireland, it is said :

" It does not appear improbable, much less absurd, to suppose that the Phoenicians
might have colonized Ireland at an early period, and introduced their laws, customs,
and knowledge, with a comparatively high state of civilization ; and that these might
have been gradually lost amidst the disturbances of the country, and at last completely
destroyed by the irruptions of the Ostmen" (or Danes).

Dr. O'Brien, in his Irish Dictionary,* at the word Fearmuiglie,
considers that the ancient territory of " Fermoy," in the county of Cork,
derived its name from the Phoenicians of Spain who settled there, and
were in Irish called Fir-Muighe-Feine, which has been latinized Firi
Campi PhcenioTum, meaning the "Men of the Plain of the Phoenicians."
The Phoenicians were, as above mentioned, celebrated for their commercial
intercourse with other nations : hence they were by some of the ancient
Irish historians confounded with the Fomorians {fogh : Irish, plundering,
and muir, the sea ; hence signifying Pirates) — a name by which, on account
of their piratical expeditions, the Scandinavians were, according to
O'Donovan's Four Masters, known to the ancient Irish ; and because of
their having come from Getulia, or Lybia (the Gothia of the Gaels), in the
north of Africa, where Carthage was afterwards built, the Fein6 or
Phoenicians, were considered by others "to have been African or
Phoenician pirates, descendants of Ham." These Fein4 are represented as
a race of giants ; and from them the Fiana Eireann {feinn^: Irish, " the
troops of the ancient militia of Ireland;" Arab, fenna^ "troops,") are
considered to have been so called : the appellation " Fiana Eireann" being,
on account of their great strength and stature, given to that ancient
military organization which flourished in the reign of King Cormac
Mac Art, Monarch of Ireland in the third century ; and which, before it
became disaffected, was the prop and protection of the Monarchy. f

* O'Brien's Dictionary : The Right Rev. John O'Brien, Roman Catholic bishop of
Cloyne, was the author of that Irish-English Dictionary ; which is a very learned and
valuable work, not only on the Irish language, but also on the topography of Ireland
and the genealogies of its ancient chiefs and clans. That work was first published at
Paris, A.D. 1768 ; and a new edition of it was published in Dublin, in the year 1832, by
the Right Rev. Robert Daly, late Protestant bishop of Cashel.

t Monarchy : In the reign of King Cormac Mac Art, or Cormac Ulfhada, the one
hundred and fifteenth Monarch of Ireland, flourished the celebrated military organiza-
tion called the Fiana Mreann, or " Irish Fenians," who (like the Red Branch Knights
of Ulster) formed a militia for the defence of the throne. Their leader was the
renowned Finn, the son of Cumhail (coramonly called "Finn MacCoole," whose
genealogy see in the " O'Connor Faley pedigree"), who resided at the hill of Allen in
Kildare. Finn and his companions-in-arms are to this day vividly remembered in
tradition and legend, in every part of Ireland ; and the hills, the glens, and the rocks of
the country still attest, not merely their existence — for that, no one who has studied the
question can doubt — but also the important part they played in the government and
military affairs of the Kingdom. One of the principal amusements of these old heroes,
■when not employed in war, was hunting ; and after their long sporting excursions, they


At an early period in the world's history the Gaels, moving west-
^yards, reached Gaul, whence, in after ages they crossed the Alps {ailp :
Irish, "a huge heap of earth"), into Italy, where they possessed the
territory called by the Eomans GalUa Cisalpina, or " Gaul this side of the
Alps ;" and others of them proceeding now eastwards penetrated into
Greece, and settled on the banks of the Ister, where they were called
" Istrians.^' From Gaul they crossed the Pyrenees, and settled in Iberia
or vSpain ; and, there mixing with the Iberians, they were called " Celto-

The Celts were the first inhabitants of Europe after the Deluge. They
inhabited those parts on the borders of Europe and Asia, about the Euxine
sea, and thence spread over Western Europe and the countries afterwards
called Germany, Gaul, Italy, Spain, Britain, and Ireland. The western
part of the European continent, comprising parts of Gaul, Germany, Spain,
and Italy, was, by ancient geographers, denominated Celtica, or the '' Land
of the Celts" — a name afterwards applied to Gaul, as the land of the Gaels.
Southern Italy was peopled by a mixture of Celts and Greeks.

The Celts were of the Caucasian race — a race which included (with the
exception of the Lapps and Finns) the ancient and modern Europeans and
"Western Asiatics, such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians,
Scythians, Parthians, Arabs, Jews, Syrians, Turks, Afghans, and Hindoos.
To these must also be added the European colonists who have settled in
America, Australia, and other parts of the world. But, notwithstanding
all the variations in colour and appearance which are observable in the
Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, Malayan, and American races, God has
made of one blood all nations of men; and the most positive identity exists
among them all !

In his Irish Dictionary, Dr. O'Brien derives from the Celtic many
names of countries terminating in tan : as, Britan or Britain ; Aquitain, in
Gaul ; Lusitan or Lusitania, the ancient name of Portugul ; Mauritan or
Mauritania, the land of the Moors ; Arabistan, the land of the Arabs j
Turkistan, the land of the Turks; Kurdistan, the land of the Kurds;
Farsistan, Luristan, etc., in Persia; Caffristan and Afghanistan, the
lands of the Caffres and the Afghans; Hindostan, the land of the
Hindoos; etc.

A great affinity between the Celtic and the Sanscrit languages has also
been shown by many etymologists ; and the word ''Sanscrit," itself, has
been derived from the Celtic word Seanscrohhtha [sanskrivta], which
signifies " old writings," and has the same signification in the Irish
language. As the Sanscrit is one of the most ancient of languages, we can
therefore form an idea of the great antiquity of the Celtic.

had certain favourite hills on which they were in the habit of resting and feasting during
the intervals of the chase. These hills, most of which are covered by caims or moats,
are called Suidhe Fmn [Seefin] — " Finn's seats," or resting places ; and they are found
in each of the four provinces of Ireland. Immediately under the brow of the mountain
" Seefin," near Kilfinane, in Limerick, reposes the beautiful vale of Glenosheen, whose
name commemorates the great poet and warrior, Oisin [Osheen], the son of Finn.— See
Joyce's " Irish Karnes of Places y

;hap. l] the creation. 13


The principal Celtic nations were the Gauls, the Celtse, the BeJgse, and
;he Gauls of Northern Italy ; the Galatians or Gauls of Asia Minor, and of
Grallicia, in the north of Spain ; the Boii and Pannonians of Germany, who
are branches of the Gauls ; the Celtiberians of Spain ; the Cimmerians of
Gl-ermany ; the Umbrians ; the Etrurians or Etruscans ; the Samnites and
Sabines of Italy ; the Thracians, Istrians, and Pelasgians of Greece ; the
Britons, the Welsh, and the Manx ; the Caledonians, and the Irish, etc.

The Teutonic nations were the Goths and Vandals, who overthrew the
Btoman empire, and conquered parts of France, Spain, Italy, and Africa ;
the Franks and Burgundians, who conquered France ; the Longobards, who
3onquered Northern Italy, now known as "Lombardy;" the Suevi,
Alemmanni, and other powerful nations of ancient Germany ; the Anglo-
Saxons, who conquered England ; and the Scandinavians or people of
Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. In modern times, however, the Teutonic
nations are the Germans, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, Dutch, Swiss,
English or British, the Anglo-Irish, and the Anglo-Americans, etc.

The name " Teuton" is derived from the Gothic teut^ which signifies
a god ;■' and the term " Teutons" has been applied to various nations
)£ Scythian origin, speaking cognate dialects of one great language — the

The Sclavonic or Slavonic nations were sometimes called "Sclavonians ;"
md were descended from the Slavi or Sclavi of the Roman writers — a
Scythian race who dwelt in Germany. The name is derived from slava,
which signifies "glory." The Sarmatians were also of Scythian origin,
and settled in the territory from them called by the Komans, " Sarmatia ;"
which comprised the country now called Poland, and parts of Eussia,
Prussia, and Austria.

As it was Cadmus the Phoenician that introduced the use of letters into
Greece, about the time that Moses is considered to have written the
Pentateuch (or first five books of the Bible), the knowledge of " letters"
must have therefore existed among the Phoenicians and their colonies
long before Homer wrote ; and there can be no doubt that '• letters" and
their use were then known in Cadmus's own city of Miletus, and the other
cities of Asia Minor, for, according to Herodotus, who is believed to have
written about four hundred and fifty years before Christ, the lonians of
Asia Minor preceded the other Greeks in acquiring the art of writing ; and
used skins on which to write, before they had the " papyrus." It would
therefore appear that the Fein^ or Phoenicians were the first people who
were acquainted with the art of writing by letters : hence they were able to
record their genealogies and the leading events of their race down from the


As the Milesian or Scotic Irish Nation is descended from the Scythian
family, it may not be out of place here to give a brief sketch of Scy thia.

Japhet, son of Noah, was the ancestor of the Scythians. The name
" Scythian" was applied to those nations who displayed skill in hunting


and the use of the how. In his Dictionary, Dr. O'Brien states that the word
" Scythian" is derived from the Celtic word sciot, which, in the Irish
language signifies a dart or arrow ; and this derivation seems probable, as
the Scythian nations, particularly the Parthians, were all famous archers.
The Greek colonists on the north of the Euxine or Black Sea, hearing
their Scythian neighbours frequently call archers, shooters, and hunters
(who were very numerous among them), by the names of " Scuti,"
♦' Scythi," " Shuten," or "Schuten" — each of which signifies Scythians^
applied that name to the whole nation. This word, or rather its ancient
primary signification, is still preserved in the English, German, Lithuanian,
Finnish, Livonian, Courlandish, Lapponian, Esthonian, and Prussian
tongues : a fact which goes to prove that all these nations are of Scythian

The Scythians were among the most warlike and valiant people of
antiquity, and fought chiefly in war-chariots. They worshipped the sun,
moon, and winds, and their chief deity was their god of war, called by the
Greeks 'Ares ; and Odin or Wodin, by the Goths, Germans, and Scan-
dinavians. The Sacae, ancestors of the Saxons ; the Sarmatse, progenitors
of the Sarmatians ; the Basternte, the Goths, the Vandals ; the Daci or
Dacians ; the Scandinavians, the Germans ; the Franks, who conquered
France; the Suevi, Alans, Alemanni ; the Longobards or Lombards;
and many other tribes, were all powerful nations of the Scythian family.
The Huns of Asia, who, under Attila in the fifth century, overran the
Roman empire, are stated by some writers to have been Scythians ; but
that opinion is incorrect, for the Huns were of the Mongol or Tartar,
while the Scythians were of the great Caucasian race. The name
" Tartar," — the modern appellation of the pastoral tribes of Europe and
Asia — was unknown to the ancients ; and the opinion that " Tartarus,"
the name of the infernal regions, was borrowed from the word " Tartar,"
on account of the gloomy aspect of the country about the Cimmerian
Bosphorus, has no just foundation, as that word is a modern corruption :
the genuine names being ''Tatars" and "Tatary," not Tartars and

Scythia was divided into two large portions — European and Asiatic :
the former extending along the north of the Danube and the Euxine ; the
latter, beyond the Caspian Sea and the river Jaxartes (now Siboon).
Scythia in Asia was divided by the chain of the Imaus mountains or
Beloor Tag — a branch projecting north from the Indian Caucasus, now
the Hindoo Cush or western part of the Himalayas. These divisions
were distinguished by the names of Scythia intra, and Scythia extra, Imaum
(or Scythia inside, and Scythia heyoncl, Imaus). Ancient Scythia included
all the country to the north of the Ister (or Lower Danube), and east of the
Carpathian mountains ; extending north to the Hyperborean or Frozen
Ocean, and eastwards as far as the Seres, on the west of China : an immense
region, but still not commensurate with the whole of what is now called
" Tartary," which extends to the north and west of China as far as the
mouth of the Amoor.

Moving to the west, the Scythians settled in Scythia in Europe — that
vast tract of country north of the Danube and Black Sea, and embracing
what is now known as " European Ptussia." At a later period it was


called Getcn or Gotlii ; and, in a more advanced stage of geographical
knowledge, " Sarmatia Europaea."

The term " Getse" is evidently a generic designation given to various
tribes of Scythians, such as the Massa-Getce^ the Thyssa-Geke, the Tyri-GetcBy
etc. ; as, in later times, we read of the Meso-GotJii, the Visi-Gothi, the Ostro-
Goihi: hence, as in the latter case, "Gothi" or "Goths" was the primary
appellation, so in the former case was the term " Getse."

The " Getse" of the Gaels dwelt in GetuUa or Lybia, in the north of
Africa, where afterwards stood the city of Carthage : these Getae and the
Carthaginians were identical in origin ; but the " Getse" of Herodotus dwelt
to the south of the Danube, and were by him classed as Thracians, while
he extended Thrace to the Danube : thus making it include what in sub-
sequent times was called Moesia, now known as Bulgaria. In the
expedition of Alexander the Great, however, to the Danube, the Getse
inhabited the north side of the stream. The Thyssa-Getse were located
on the Volga ;* the Tyri-Getas, on the Tyras or Dniester ; and the Massa-
Getse, on the Jaxartes, etc. The Scythia invaded by Darius, and
described by Herodotus, extended in length from Hungary, Transylvania,
and AVestern Wallachia, on the west, to the Don, on the east ; and included
the countries now known as Eastern Wallachia, the whole of Moldavia,
and the Bucko wina, Bessarabia, Boudjack, Little Tartary, Podolia,
Wolhynia, Ukraine Proper, the province of Belgorod, and part of the
country of the Don Cossacks. But, besides these countries, the ancient
Scythia in Europe included the whole of European Eussia, Poland,
Scandinavia, Wallachia, stretching east from the Norwegian and Kiolin
mountains, to the Uralian range. In the account of European Scythia
given by Herodotus the peninsula of the " Tauri" — or Taurica Chersonesus
(Crim. Tartary), as it was called — is not included. The Tauri were a
savage, cruel, and inhospitable people ; from this savage tribe and others
of similar dispositions along its coast, it is not improbable that the
Euxine acquired among the ancients the epithet of the "Inhospitable

Historians, in the accounts they have left us of the manners and
character of the Scythians, relate things of them that are entirely opposite
and contradictory. At one time they represent them as the justest and
most moderate people in the world j at another, they describe them as a
fierce and barbarous nation, which carried its cruelties to such excesses as
are shocking to human nature. This contrariety is a manifest proof that
those different characters are to be applied to different nations in that vast
family ; and that, although they were all comprehended under one and the
same general denomination of "Scythians," we ought not to confound
them or their characters together. According to Justin, they lived in
great simplicity and innocence. They did not give the name of goods or
riches to anything but what, humanly speaking, truly deserved that title :
as health, strength, courage, the love of labour and liberty, innocence of
life, sincerity, an abhorrence of all fraud and dissimulation, and, in a word.

* Volga: The ancestors of these Thyssa-Getse of Herodotus were, no doubt, the
"Firbolgs" or " Firvolgians" (the me7z from the banks of the Volga), who, according to
the Four Masters, invaded Ireland before the Tuatha-de-Danans.


all such qualities as render man more virtuous and more valuable. If to
these happy dispostions we could add the knowledge of the true God,
without which the most exalted virtues are of little value, they would
have been a perfect people.

" When," says Rolliu, "we compare the manners of the Scythians with
those of the present age, we are tempted to believe that the pencils which
drew so beautiful a picture of them were not free from partiality ; and
that Justin and Horace have decked them with virtues that did not belong
to them. But all antiquity agrees in giving the same testimony of them ;
and Homer, in particular, whose opinion ought to be of great weight, calls
them the most just and upright of men."


Objections have been advanced against the accuracy of the Irish Genea-
logies; because it is difficult to reconcile a point of chronology on the
subject of Gaodhal, who, according to the Pagan Irish chroniclers, was
fifth in descent from Japhet, and contemporary of Moses, who, according
to the Book of Genesis, was of the fourteenth or fifteenth generation after
Shem. Granting the genealogy of Moses, as recorded, to be correct, the
anachronism which here presents itself may easily be accounted for ; on
the supposition that the copyist of the Milesian Manuscripts may have
omitted some generations between Japhet and Gaodhal. In the histories
of those times so far remote, there are other things, besides, hard to be
reconciled. For instance, the learned difi'er about the king who reigned
in Egypt in the time of Moses, and who was drowned in the Red Sea :
some pretend that it was Amenophis, father of Sesostris ; others say that
it was Pheron, son of Sesostris ; whilst the Pagan Irish chroniclers say it
was Pharaoh Cincris. The Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Latins disagree
concerning the number of years that elapsed from the time of the Creation
to the coming of the Messiah ; whilst on this point, the Septuagint agrees
with the Pagan Irish chroniclers ! These differences, however, do not
affect the truth of the events recorded to have happened in the interval
between the Creation and the birth of our Redeemer — for instance : the
Deluge, the birth of Abraham, the building of the Temple of Jerusalem,
etc. ; nor ought a similar anachronism with respect to Gaodhal and Moses
destroy the truthfulness of the Irish Genealogies.

It has also been objected, that Xavigation was unknown in those early
periods, and that it therefore cannot be believed that the Gaels (or
descendants of Gaodhal above mentioned) had been able to make such
distant voyages by sea, as that from Egypt to Crete, from Crete to
Scythia, from Scythia to Africa, from Africa to Spain, and from Spain to
Ireland. This difficulty wAl vanish if we but consider that the art of
sailing had been at all times in use, at least since the Deluge. We know
that long before Solomon, the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Greeks possessed
the art of navigation :

" The Phcenicians," says Herodotus, *' who traded to all countries with the mer-
chandise of Egypt and Assyria arrived at Argos, a trading city in Greece; and, after
disposing of their merchandise, they carried off the wives of the Greeks, together with
lo, daughter of King Inachus, who reigned at Argos, about the year of the world


3,112; after which some Greeks trading to Tyre carried away, in their turn, EuroDa
daughter of the King of Tyre, to be revenged for the insult their countrymen sustained
by the carrying ofle of their wives from Argos."

Ifc may be asked, Why did not the early Gaels (or the Gadelians as
they were also called) establish themselves in some part of the continent,
rather than expose themselves to so many dangers by sea 1 The answer
IS obvious : The Scythians (from whom the Gaels are descended) had
neither cities nor houses ; they were continually roving, and lived in tents,
sometimes in one country, sometimes in another ; for,^ia those early ages'
society had not been sufficiently settled, and property in the possession of
lands was not then established as it since has been. This accounts for
the taste for voyages and emigrations which prevailed in the primitive
ages of the world. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians
(who were themselves a colony of Phoenicians) sent colonies into different
countries; and Carthage herself, after having founded three hundred
cities on the coast of Africa, and finding herself still overcharged with
inhabitants, sent Hanno with a fleet and thirty thousand volunteers, to
make discoveries on the coast of Africa, beyond the Pillars of Hercules
and to establish some colonies there. But, whatever truth may be attached
to the Irish Annals in regard to the genealogies of the Irish Nation, and
the voyages and transmigrations of the Gaels in different countries, it
appears at all times indisputable that these people, while claiming the
glory of having come originally from Egypt, derived their origin from the
bcythians: the accounts of foreign authors confirm it; amonff others,
JNewton (Chron. Dublin edit., page 10) says, that—

+1,0 ''^f^^^^^^^^lj^^^ope had been peopled by the Cimmerians or Scythians from
wandering life ''* "^^ ^®^' ^^''' ^'^^ *^^ Tartars, in the North of Asia, led a

Online LibraryJohn O'HartIrish pedigrees; or, The origin and stem of the Irish nation (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 109)