Thomas Wood.

An inquiry concerning the primitive inhabitants of Ireland online

. (page 6 of 17)
Online LibraryThomas WoodAn inquiry concerning the primitive inhabitants of Ireland → online text (page 6 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


These having been defeated at sea by the
Romans, and all their vessels, except a few,
having fallen into the hands of the latter,
Caesar, reflecting upon their revolt, after they
had given hostao;es as evidence of submission;
irritated at the insult offered to the sacred
character of ambassadors, and indulging a
hope that exemplary punishment would deter
other Gallic states from the commission of
similar acts, proceeded against the survivors
with unusual severity. Though Csesar informs
us that the whole senate was put to death,
and the rest sold as slaves, it is not improbable
that many of the survivors, in dread of Caesar's
anger, took refuge among the neighbouring
states, or accompanied the defeated Britons,
who had probably joined in the league.'^^



^3 C.J. Cas. 1. 3. S.8. Omni ori maritimS celtritcr ad suam sententlani
pcrducta. Ami S. Q. Socios hibi ad iJ belluni Osismios, Lexobios, Nannetcs,
Ambianbs, Morinos, Diabliiues, Menapios adsciscunt. — Auxilia ex Britannia,
quae contra eas rcgiones posita est, accersuiit.

'"■» Ca;». L 4. S. 18. — Tamen in Britanniam proficisci contcndit; quod
<,mnilvi /ere Cillich irllif,hoit\hili nostrisinde juL/nirit'slrala auxilia intelligebat.



90 INQUIRY INTO THE

These fugitives seem to have coasted along
the west shore of Britain, and crossed from
the isle'of Mona or Anglesea over to Eirin.
Three of those tribes and two septs occupied
the north west division of this island. A
fourth, called Diablinta.^ or Diablintes, settled
in the site of Dublin, where they founded a
town, which, according to an ancient author
of the life of St. Coemgin, was denominated
in Irish, Buhh-limiJ^^ Those Armoricans,
according to the bards, whose narrative
plainly proves that they wrote after Chris-
tianity had been introduced into Ireland,
were called Fine Foghmoi^aicc, who, they tell
us, were African pirates of the race of Cham,
compelled to quit their country by the
descendants of Shem I

They settled at Toir-inis or Tto?- Chonuing
in that north west county, then and since
called after them Dun-na-ngaP^"^ or Donnegal
— the fortification of the Gauls, the situation
assigned to the Vennicnii and Rhobogdii in
Ware's edition of Ptolemy's map. The bards



'"^ This name, which he interprets the * black bath^ properly signifies the
black pond or pool, from which in Gaul, not in Dublin, the denomination of
this tribe probably originated. — ' Et Scoticc dicitur Dubhlina, quod sonat latine
nigra therma, et ipsa civiras potens et belligera est, in qua semper habitant
viri aspcrriml in praliis, et peritissimi in classibus.' See p. 97 of this Work.
''s" Keating, p. 181.



PRIMITIVE INHABITANTS. 91

inform us that four of the sons of those
pirates were artisans famous for the con-
struction of forts, and were called Bog,
Rhobog, Rodan and Ruibne.'^^ From this
traditional account of their skill and of their
denominations, I infer that this tribe were the

CLANNA RHOBOIG, THE RHOBOGDII OF PTOLEMY, AND
CLANNA RHODOIN OR THE RHEDONES OF C^SAR,

whom our bards personified and fixed in
Donnegal — Dun na ngal — the fortresses of
the Gauls. These, or a sept of them, in
after ages, seized upon the north east coast.
They probably subdued the Damni, whose
neighbouring territory in the county of
Colerain — Cuil rathan, seems to have got
into their possession. The Clanna Rhedoin
were bounded on the north by the

VENNICNII OR CLANNA VENNIC*

These I conceive to be fugitives of the
Veneti — Vennet of Ceesar, who seated them-
selves near the extremity of the north west



»07 See p. 15. note ^
• The author is aware that when the scope of a work do not coincide with
the erroneous conceptions, prejudices or vanity of human nature, passages or
assertions, apparently weak, arc too often selected for the condemnation of
the work in general, even when the tenor of it and the facts adduced cannot
be fairly refuted.



92 INQUIRY INTO THE

coast. Another division of these seem to
have settled cither then or afterward, and
probably, with a commercial view, in North

AVales.

THE NAGNATI NAGNAT OR NANNET,

whom I conceive to have been the Nannetes,
Nannetee or Namnetae of Gaul, settled south
of the Clanna Rhoboig in the county Sligo,
and perhaps also in Mayo. Their town,
which Ptolemy calls the illustrious city, jtoa^s
im<rnfi6r, stood in the former county.

AVith regard to this inquiry it may, for instance, be objected that, although
the fort builders or chieftains, Rhobog and Rhedon, are commemorated by
the bards, the Clanna Vcnnic and Namnet, who are unnoticed by them,
should be considered in any other point of view than as ideal septs, because
there is no authority to establish their residence in Ireland, except that of
Ptolemy.

In answer to such objections it may be urged that as the bardic principal
tribes accord with those of Ptolemy, it is probable that his subordinate ones,
although omitted by the bards, were equally well founded. One of those,
the Ltic/jt na Sionna, though not mentioned in bardic narratires, is affirmed
by Orosius to have been settled on the Shannon in his own time. The
Velibori or Siol Eihheir too, according to Ptolemy and him, were coexistent
with the former in the second and fifth centuries, although their respective
situations are not recorded by the bards.

The state of obscurity in which ancient Irish history is involved, lays
every modern work upon the subject open to criticism. On this account, the
nature of this inquiry requires that its different subjects should be, like the
links of a chain, so connected as to support each other. The reader will
judge whether the design has succeeded. He ought however in candour to
suspend his judgment with regard even to a single assertion, until he will
have patience not only to read this history throughout, but to consider the
facts upon which it is founded, as well as the inferences deduced.



PRIMITIVE INHABITANTS. 9^

THE ERDINI ERNAIGH,^^^

one of the Gallic septs, formed a settlement
south east of the Nannet or Nagnet in the
county Fermanagh. And, in consequence
one of its divisions was anciently denomi-
nated, from its relative situation, la?' -gal —
West Gaul, and another, from its local
aspect, Ros-gal, or the Delightful Gaul; both
significant of the origin of these septs. The
former division contained the present barony
of Lurge, &c ; the latter Magheraboy, with
the ancient district Magh Cceitne or Magh
Geitne, the present barony of Cool and
Tullagh. According to Irish writers, they
also occupied the entire county of Leitrim
and part of the county Cavan, each of which
was in later ages denominated Breifne. — The
last of these tribes were

THE AUTERI AUT-ARAIDHE.

These occupied the county Galway and
part of the county Roscommon. Modern
audiors assert that this tribe is unnoticed by
Irish writers : on the contrary, their posterity



»"* These were also called Clanna Dcgaid and Claniia Dcagha. I.och
Erne (I.och Eirnc) probably received its name from this Sept, which sur-
rounded it.



94 INQUIRY INTO THE

at least are iVequently mentioned. Baxter
sajs, I hat ot or ant, in the Celtic, signify a
coast. If we add to it the word Araidhe,
which is pronounced nw-ree^ probably a
name of Gallic descent, and certainly that
of an Irish Chieftain, whose tribe the bards
place in the county Antrim, we shall have
that tribe denominated Aut-aw-ree, Araidhe's
coast ; which Ptolemy places in the province
of Conacht. The identity of this tribe with
that of Da'l Araidhe, seems to be confirmed
by the dereliction of their territory in Conacht
in the third or fourth century,'*^? and by
its subsequent occupation by the Belgae,
whose septs seized upon the whole province
under the patronymic names of Damnonii,
Olnemactffi ; and those of clans, as Gail-
eangadii, Cathragii, Gamanradii, Partricii,
Martini, &c. And, on Araidhe quitting
the coast for an inland situation in the south
and south-east parts of the county Antrim,
his new territory acquired the name of Dal,
a portion, territory or tribe ; in place of the
former ot or aut, a coast.



'"» The bards inform us that a King of Ulster, in the third century, was
called Fiacha Araidhe. If this chronology be correct, it may be inferred
that the Aut-Araldbe had then quitted the coast, and that the Bclgx had
crossed the Shannon before the fourth centur)'.



PRIMITIVE INHABITANTS. 95

All that can be interred from the bardic
account of the wars, which occurred between
those Gauls and the Irish, is, that they were
engaged with the Dainnii, the Belgse, the
Brigantes and the Voluntii, whom I conceive
to be designated by the appellation Briotan^^''°
and the epithet 7naol. All those tribes are
indiscriminately called Mic Neimhiodh, or
the Sons of Poetry ; and they are said to
have been of the same family.

Some tribes which were settled in this
island before, and perhaps, after, the arrival
of the Foghmoraicc, having been vanquished
by them, were required to pay an annual
tribute in kind, which was tyrannically levied
and received at Magh Geidne, within the
dominions of the Ernaigh, and also at More
and Conuing, in Tory- island — Toir-inis, in
the territory of the Rhobog.^^i

Nagnata, the celebrated city of Ptolemy,
is not noticed in Irish history, although a
small episcopal village called Rhohog, is to
this day a memorial of this people, who
lived beyond their northern frontier.

*^ The name Bbrlotan is applicable to the country whence they emigrated ;
and the epithet maol, shaven or bald, probably alluded to short hair. At
what time it became fashionable it \i not ascertained. J. Ciesar deacribes
it as long before the Incarnation ; Gir. Cambrcnsis as short in the twelfth
century. ''' Keating, p. 181.



96 INQUIRY INTO THE



ADDITIONAL REASONS FOR SUPPOSING THOSE TRIBES

OR SEPTS TO HAVE BEEN THE DESCENDANTS OF

THE ARMORICAN GAULS, DEFEATED BY J. CiESAR.

Vestiges, Avhich denote the ancient settle-
ment of a comparatively intelligent people
in Ireland, are noticed, and some have been
recently discovered. A commercial road,
called Aisgeir Riada, or the mountainous
ridge of Riada, was run through woods and
bogs from Gal way to Dublin, along the south
boundary of the Aut-Araidhe, and on the
borders of the counties Meath and Leinster.
Each side was walled and strengthened with
redoubts. A MS. life of St. Colomba informs
us that, in this apostle's days, a druidic
temple stood in Dun na ngal, Avliich contained
an altar of exquisite workmanship, and deco-
rated with precious stones. And plate 26 of
Gough's Camden, exhibits another altar full
of rock basins, which was found in the same
county ; human victims are supposed to have
been slain upon it. A plough was found in
a very deep bog in Donnegal ; and a hedge
defended with wattles, standing under a bog,
five or six feet in depth. ^^^



*'* Sam. Molyncux in a letter to the Archbishop of Dublin,



PRIMITIVE INHABITANTS. 97

I quote the following passage from the
Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy. ^73
' The early Irish accounts of Dublin, alluding
to it having been built and inhabited by the
Danes in the fifth century, are evidently anti-
cipated. The Blanioi or Eblanoi of Ptolemy
constitute the Canthred of Dubhlana or
Dubhlin of the Irish; whence it is supposed,
Difelin of the Danes, Develin of the English,
Dublinium and Dublinia of Latin writers,
Dinas Dulin of the Welsh, Duflin of the
Saxons are taken. Baile cliath is compara-
tively a modern appellation/

* The commentators of Camden state that,
' when Eagan king of Munster visited it, it
was called Atha-cliath Dubhline ; which is
interpreted, * the passage of the ford of
hurdles over the black pool.' And they add
that, ' the etymology of Baile-cliath is founded
upon a very false supposition ; for the ground
upon which Dublin stands, could at no time
have been soft or quaggy. The ancient city,
once enclosed with walls, stands on very
high and firm ground ; and in the lowest
parts of it toward the river, where several



*" Vol. itiii. On the Mixture of Fable and fact, p. 45.
O



98 INQUIRY INTO THE

new streets have been built within fifty
years, they come to a firm gravelly founda-
tion in a few feet/

When we consider that almost all the towns
and the Irish septs, which occupied them in
tlie supposed time of St. Patrick, are as new
to the present generation as those described
in Ptolemy's map, it is wonderful, after the
lapse of many centuries, that so many traces
of those Gallic tribes should have survived
the devouring^ hand of time.

Ceesar's description of the Veneti corres-
ponds with the bardic account of those Gauls
in Ireland. He says they possessed many
vessels, with which they traded to Britain ;
and that the neighbouring states, which
visited their harbours, were tributary to
them. ^74 Keating informs us that, * these
people were denominated Fomhoruigh, i. e.
sea robbers or pirates ; for the term signifies
powerful at sea, or sea-faring meni'^^i that
they were engaged in warfare with the Irish
in every province in Ireland ;^76 ^nd at length
succeeded in the conquest of it, exacting a

'^■* Cacs. de bcl. Gal. 1. 3. S. 8. Quod et naves habent Veneti plurimas
quibus in Britanniam navigare consucverunt, — Omncs fere, qui eodem mari
uti consucverunt, habent vectigalcs.

'■T> History yf Ireland, p. 181. '/"o Eadcm, p. 179.



PRIMITIVE INHABITANTS. 9^

tribute in slaves and in kind, which was
annually paid at Magh Geidne and in
Donnegal.^77 To facilitate the Irish trade,
which was carried on with Britain and with
other foreigners in the time of Tacitus/^s they
constructed the road, already mentioned,
through which the articles of commerce were
conveyed to the metropolis of their allies, the
Diablintae ; whence they were transported to
Holyhead and Bangor^79 in North Wales, the



"^ History of Ireland, p. 181.

''^ Vit. Agric. S. 24, Melius aditus portusque per commercia & ncgotiatores
cogniti. It is not improbable that the Massilians, the early instructors of the
Gauls, were invited by those Armoricans to trade with Ireland.

''^ In the 15th vol. of the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, MIxt.
of Fable, &c. p. 48. the author is disposed to believe he committed an error
relative to the direction of the British causeway, which he thus accounts for.
Having been then ignorant of any ancient Irish commercial road, and having
relied upon Dr Gibson's explanation of the names of places found in an old
Saxon chronicle, which the author supposed to be authentic, he thought
Richard and Whitaker wrong in asserting that the British causeway extended
from Richburrow in Kent, to Segontium, a town near Bangor ; not to
Cardigan as Gibson describes it. — The author is now of opinion that the
passage from Ireland across St. George's Channel to Cardigan was both long
and dangerous, especially for the British and Irish corachs or boats which
were slight in texture, ill-shaped and easily upset. — Gir. Cam. Cambrix
Descr. C. 17, says that a British corach was liable to be overset by the tail
of a living salmon : — cum autem naviculam salmo injectus cauda fortiter
percusserit, non absque pcriculo plerumque vecturam pariter & vectoreni
cvcrtit. These facts, as well as the following circumstances, induce him to
suppose Gibson's line of road erroneous ; viz. the direction of the Irish
causeway from the site of Galway to Dubhn ; the short passage thence
across to Anglcsca and the safe land carriage from that island toward
Bangor ferry, to the territory of the Armorlcan Vencti.



100 INQUIRY INTO THE

territory of the other sept of the Veneti,
])y whom they were ultimately transferred
along Sarn Gaolach, the Irish causeway, to
Richburrough or Dover.

The emigration of those Gallic tribes from
Gaul, which may be inferred from the occu-
pation of their territory by the Britons, gives
some support to the opinion I advanced.
The regions of the Curiosolitee on the north,
and of the Veneti on the south, are parti-
cularly noticed by Adelmus Benedictus, an
author of the seventh century, as the retreat
of the Britons; but, the Diablintse and
Rhedones having been seated between those,
it is probable that they had also forsaken
their country. As the Curiosolita2 are not
mentioned on Ptolemy's map of Ireland, it
may be supposed that they might have
assumed the name of a more distinguished
tribe, or that of the chieftain Araidhe.

The coincidence of circumstances con-
nected with those people appears, on reca-
pitulation, very striking. l...The causes of
emigration. 2. ..The time nearly correspond-
ing with the date assigned the Rhobog and
Eblanoi by Mr. Whitaker. 3.. .The maritime
situation chosen as the best suited for a



PRIMITIVE INHABITANTS. 101

trading people. 4... The agreement of de-
nominations. 5.. .The identity of nations or
tribes, the Irish Gaill and Celtic Gauls
having been of the same family. 6... The
circmnstance of three neighbouring tribes
in Gaul settling in the vicinity of each other
in Ireland, and the fourth, together with a
division of a fifth, forming establishments on
opposite coasts, apparently with a trading
view. 7... The subsequent and immediate
occupation of their territories in Gaul by
the British. 8. ..The vestiges of a civilized
people, which have been discovered in Don-
negal. 9-. -The appellations denoting a Gallic
as well as an Irish people, which are still
in use, or on record where they settled.
10.. .Their city Nagnata, to which Ptolemy
applies the epithet ivtmfcogy illustrious, excelling,
as we should suppose it among a commercial
people, all the rest in Ireland. 11... Another
town, if not two, within their territories,
having been called Regia or Rigia (rig, rigo,
royal) denominations applied to royal forts
in Gaul. 12...Their skill and power as
mariners. 13. ..The commercial road leading
from the territory of the most southern Gallic
tribe to the metropolis of the Diabhntae,



102 INQUIRY INTO THE

"where, according to Irish history, duties
were anciently levied upon merchandize.
14."AVatling-street, a Saxon corruption of
sarn Gailach,^^° the Irish causeway, having
been conducted nearly on a line with Aisgeir
Riada, through the territory of the Veneti of
North Wales. l5...The failure of Mr.Whitaker
in accounting for those particular tribes.
l6...The notice in Richard, which expressly
states that the Cauci and Menapii had arrived
in Ireland a little before Cesar's attempt on
Britain.*^*



Notwithstanding the power of necromancy,
which the Damni are represented to have
exercised against their enemies, the fate of
battle drove them from the county London-
Derry or Colerain to the east shore of Antrim;



"•^ Richard, Iter. I. Ab eadem civitate (Rhutupae, Richburrow in Kent,)
ducta est via Guethelinga dicta usque in Segontium ; a town near Bangor.
Rapin calls this road a Roman high way ; but as the Irish were never known
fo the Romans by the name of Gaill, as Air. Whitaker observes, we may
conclude from the Celtic denomination of .this causeway, that it was con-
structed by the Britons ; and from its Import and direction, for the purpose
of conveying commodities from the commercial people of Ireland to the
commercial people of Britain.

'^' Antiquities of Ireland, p. 9. — The Menapii, and perhapi the Cauci
vere allies in the Armorican war against Cxsar.



PRIMITIVE INHABITANTS. i05

whence they afterward probably emigrated
to the present Scotland. The forsaken ter-
ritories were seized upon by some of the
victorious tribes, which assumed in part the
names of their commanders. The denomi-
nation Rhobog was transferred to those, who
quitted the west for the north-east coast ; but
the other Gallic septs adopted the new names
of chieftains, and were called Da I na riiidhe.
Da I raidhc, and Da' I Riada. Dili sisfnifies
a property, territory or tribe; and ruidhe,
raidhe and ri, which are all pronounced ree,
may, for aught an Irish etymologist knows,
mean a chieftain's name merely, or a king.
lii-ada or fada^ which is interpreted ' a long
arm', signifies also a tall king. These seized
upon the entire county of Antrim, which
was known by the general appellation Da' I
meann-araidhe, which, with some alteration
in spelling, may mean the jmnons territory of
the king, or of Araidhe. And, accordingly,
the bards inform us that this chief was a kins:
denominated Fiacha Araidhe. Those Gauls
were probably invited, in conjunction with
the Bclgae, to join the Picts in their annual
predatory excursions into Britain. And some
of their tribes, about the third or fourth
century, seem to have settled in Caledonia.



104i TNQUIRT INTO THE

THE VOLUNTII, ULUNTII ULLAIGH.

The Armoric tribes, the Diablintae except-
ed, seemingly with a view of commanding
a greater extent of territory and of trade,
preferred the west to the east coast of Ireland.
The north-east, being consequently left un-
occupied, received the Uluntii, either about
the commencement of Christianity, when the
Bri2;antes of Yorkshire and Durham invaded
Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancaster and
Chester ; or, in the year 76, when Petilius
Cerealis was the first Roman who invaded
this part of Britain.

From the inscription, ' Volanti vkas,'^^^
preserved upon an ancient altar, which was
found in EUenborough, a town situate upon
the mouth of the river Elen or Ulen, in
Cumberland, it may be inferred that this
tribe was called Volant or Ulant ; a denomi-
nation either derived from or bestowed upon
the river, by the inhabitants. According to
Mr. W hi taker, this town was the capital of
the Voluntii, where the first cohort of the
Dalmatians was garrisoned, and commanded
by Cornelius Peregrinus, for whom this in-
scription is supposed to have been engraved,

182 t jy^jy you ijye gt Volaiit.'



PRIMITIVE INHABITANTS. 105

in commemoration of his having restored the
houses and temples of the Decuriones, * which
were dedicated to the genius of the place/
According to Stephens' Historical Dictionary
the name of that town was transported with
that part of the tribe, which emigrated to the
county Down, and applied to the site of the
present poor town of Ardglas, which he
denominates Vohmtium.

Beside three great canthreds, which the
county Down contains, the Voluntii pro-
bably occupied the whole of the county
Ardmagh, and parts of the counties Louth
and Monaghan, which anciently were called
Oir-gal — East Gaul.

Close to the city of Down, a large fort called
Aras Cheltair, surrounded with great ram-
parts, is yet in tolerable preservation : it
measures in conical height sixty feet, and in
circumference two thousand one hundred. —
As it is commemorated by documents more
ancient than those on the Danish invasion,
it is erroneously ascribed to the Danes.
Another fortification, called Eamhain Madia,
formerly, it is said, of more celebrity, is
situate, according to Colgan, near Ardmagh;
a town anciently called Druim-saUeach, The

p



106 INQUIRY INTO THE

denoniiiiations Ulagh, Vila or Ulliv, which
anciently were confined to the county Down,
and Ullaigh to the tribe, were afterward
extended to the whole province of Ulster,
whose inhabitants in general are now called
Ulltaigh. And the affinity of these appella-
tions to Volant or Ulont, may be considered
a memorial of this ancient tribe.

The only remaining Celtic tribes of Ireland
were the Brigantes and the CeannCangi ; but,
as these were preceded by the Belgae of Gaul
and Britain, it becomes necessary to speak of
the prior settlements of the latter, to account
for the posterior ones of the former, and
for the consequent numerous battles which
occurred between those jealous and hostile
neighbours.

THE BELG^'^^ — FIR BOLG; LITERALLY THE
BELGIAN PEOrLE.

The places of residence, which the bards
assign the Belgae, are confused, the ancient
being blended with the later. The confusion



''^ The Roman imitation of the Gothic appellation, whicli might have
been lolagy like the Irish name, a word signifying, according to Olaus Varelius,
« ivciety of good men.



PRIMITIVE INHABITANTS. 107

arose from this cause. The bardic history
was commenced some centuries after the
Belgse had crossed the river Shannon, and
consequently it assigns to them not only the
province of Connacht, which in the second
century belonged to the Ceann Cangi and the
Aut-Araidhe, but that of Ulster ; which in
that century was divided among Gallic tribes
and the British, the Damni and Voluntii.

That the Belgae originally emigrated from
Gaul to Britain admits of little doubt : the


1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryThomas WoodAn inquiry concerning the primitive inhabitants of Ireland → online text (page 6 of 17)