CONOR MAC NESSA                                    THE BREAK OF ULSTER
 
CUCHULAINN                                                  NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES
 
 
CORMAC MAC ART                                        THE IRISH KINGDOM OF SCOTLAND
 
TARA                                                                 THE CENTURIES OF THE SAINTS

The Druids Manuscript tells the story of Irish Mythology

 CONOR MAC NESSA
 
At the time of Christ, there reigned over Ulster - residing at Emain Macha (Emania) - a king noted in ancient song and story, Conor MacNessa. He was the grandson of Rory Mor, a powerful Ulster ruler who had become monarch of Ireland, and who was the founder of the Rudrician line of Ulster kings. The memory of Conor MacNessa is imperishably preserved in the tale of the sons Of Usnach and in the greater tale of the Tain Bo Cuailgne. His first wife was the Amazonian Medb (Maeve), a daughter of Eochaid the Ard-Ri of Ireland (High King). Conor separated from her and she became Queen of Connaught. He found his happiness with her sister, Ethne, whom he took as his wife. She proved to all that she was true to her name – Ethne; meaning "sweet kernel of a nut".
 Conor was a patron of poetry and the arts, and a practical man who is said to have struck from learning, the oppressive shackles of tradition that up to this had cramped and bound it. Up to this time the learned professions, both for sake of monopoly and of effect upon the multitude used an archaic language that only the initiated understood, and because of this the mass of the people held them in great esteem. Conor ordered that the professions should not from now remain in the hereditary possession of the ancient learned families - but should be thrown open to all, irrespective of family or rank.
Conor’s reverence for poets was such that he saved them from expulsion, when, once they were threatened with death or exile, because having grown so vast numbers, and got to be lazy, covetous, cruel, they had become an almost unbearable burden upon the multitude. Conor gathered twelve hundred poets, it is said, into his dominion, and protected them there for seven years, till the anger of the people had abated, and they could scatter themselves over Ireland once more.
Conor died by a brain ball that sunk into his skull - fired by the hand of Cet MacMagach, the Connaught champion, whom he had pursued after a Connaught cattle raid. The legend attached to Conor’s death is curious. The brain ball fired by Cet did not directly kill him. It sank into his skull - and his doctor, Faith Liag, would not remove it, because that would cause instant death. With care, Conor might live long, carrying the brain ball. From that time on he had to be moderate in all things, avoiding violent emotion, which was rare in those days for kings. Under his doctor’s wise care he lived for seven years. But one time, his court was thrown into consternation when daylight was suddenly turned into blackest night, the heavens were lit up by lightning, and the world shook with thunder. Conor asked his wise men for an explanation of the fearful happening. The Druids and wise men told him that there had been "in the East, a singular man, of a most noble character, more lofty of mind, and more beautiful of soul, than the world had ever before known, or ever again would know - he was the noblest and most beautiful, most loving of men. And now the heavens and the earth were thrown into agony because on this day the tyrant Roman, jealous of his power over the people, had nailed him high upon a cross, and between two crucified thieves, had left the divine man to die a fearful death." Conor was so fired up in rage at this thought, that he snatched his sword and tried to fiercely cut down a grove of trees. Under the strain of the fierce passion that held him the brain ball burst from King Conor’s head - and he fell dead.
 
 CUCHULAINN
 
The days when Conor MacNessa sat on the throne of Ulster were brilliant days in Ireland’s history. Then was the sun of glory in the zenith of Eire’s Heroic period - the period of chivalry, chiefly created by the famous Royal or Red Branch Knights of Emain Macha. Though, two other famous bands of Irish warriors gave added lustre to the period- the Gamanraide of the West (who were the Firbolgs) and the Clanna Deaghaid of Munster led by Curoi MacDaire. All three warrior bands had their poets and the seanachies, who chanted their deeds in imperishable song and story which, down the dim ages, have since held spell bound the clan of the Gael. But the greatest, the most celebrated, and the most dazzling of all the heroes of the heroic age was undoubtedly Cuchullain, of whose life and wondrous deeds, real and imaginary, hundreds of stories still exist.
 
CUCHULAINN was a foster son of King Conor. "I am little Setanta, son to Sultram, and Dectera your sister" he told the King, when, as a boy, he arrived in Emain Macha to join the Red Branch warriors. When he arrived there the other youths were in training and were playing a game of caman (hurling) on the green. Cuchulainn took out his red bronze hurl and his silver ball, and launched himself into the game. The little stranger, outplayed all the others so much that the attention of the court was drawn to him. And it was then that the little stranger gave the above reply to the question of the admiring king. The warriors of the Red Branch were impressed with what they saw and were drawn to the lad. One of the Druids foresaw great things of him. "They noted that he expressed himself nobly and wonderfully, on this day, in Emain Macha, in the Hall of Heroes."
He stood before the Druids and the Red Branch warriors and exclaimed "I care not whether I die tomorrow or next year, if only my deeds live after me".
The greatest, most exciting portion of this hero’s stories is the account of his fight with his friend, Ferdia, at the ford, where, single handed, he held at bay the forces of Connaught. Ferdia was the great Connaught champion, chief, of the Connaught knights of the Sword, the Fir Domniann, and a dear friend and comrade of CUCHULAINN. In their youth, they had trained together in the art of swordsmanship and weapons. And it was now very difficult for CUCHULAINN to fight his soulmate whom the Connaught army had pitted against him. He tried to dissuade Ferdia from fighting, by reminding him of their comradeship, when they were together learning the art of war from the female champion, Scathach, in Alba (Scotland).
 
"We were heart companions,
 We were companions in the woods,
 We were fellows of the same bed,
 Where we used to sleep the balmy sleep.
 After mortal battles abroad,
 In countries many and far distant,
 Together we used to practice, and go
 Through each forest, learning with Scathach".
 
 
But Ferdia had not the tenderness of CUCHULAINN, and would not let fond memories turn him from his purpose. Indeed fearing he might yield to the weakness of temptation, he forced himself to answer Cuchullain’s tenderness with taunts, so as to provoke the Combat. And fight they finally did. They fought for four days. On the fourth day, “CUCHULAINN rallies to the fight more fiercely, more terribly, more overpoweringly than ever, and at length gives to his friend, Ferdia, the coup de grace. CUCHULAINN laid Ferdia down then, and a trance, and a faint, and a weakness fell on CUCHULAINN over Ferdia there.”
 
CUCHULAINN died as a hero should - on a battlefield, with his back to a rock and his face to the foe, buckler on arm, and spear in hand. He died standing, and in that defiant attitude (supported by the rock) was many days dead before the enemy dared venture near enough to reassure themselves of his exit - which they only did when they saw the vultures alight upon him, and undisturbed, peck at his flesh.
Legend has it that CUCHULAINN was indeed the son of Dectera but his father was Lug the Celtic God (This explains why he had superhuman powers and skills).
 
 CONN OF THE HUNDRED BATTLES
 
The celebrated Conn of the hundred Battles was a son of Feidlim, the son of Tuathal - though he did not immediately succeed Feidlim. Between their reigns was Cathari Mor, who was father of thirty sons, among whom he attempted to divide Ireland. The chief Leinster families were descendants of Cathari Mor. As Conn’s title suggests, his reign was filled with battling. Conn’s strenuous militancy and the suggestive title that it won for him, made him famed beyond worthier men - "the greatest pride of some of the noblest families of the land a thousand years and more after his time trace back their descent to him of the Hundred Battles."
 Conn’s life and reign were ended by his assassination at Tara. Fifty robbers hired by the king of Ulster, came to Tara, dressed as women, and treacherously assinated the Monarch. Conn’s son in law, Conaire II, succeeded him as monarch , because his own son Art was then but a child. Conaire 11 is famed as father of three Carbris, namely Carbri Musc, from whom was named the territory of Muskerry, Carbri Baiscin, whose descendants lived in Corca Baiscin in Western Clare, and most notable of them, Carbri Riada, who, when there was a famine in the South, led his people to the extreme Northeast of Ireland, and some of them across to the nearest part of Scotland, where they settled, forming the first important colony of Scots in Alba, and driving there the edge of the Irish wedge which was eventually to make the whole country known as the land of the Scots.
 
 
 CORMAC MAC ART
 
Of all the ancient kings of Ireland, Cormac, who reigned in the third century, is unquestionably considered the greatest by the poets, the seanachies, and the chroniclers. His father Art was the son of Conn of the Hundred Battles, and was known as Art the Lonely, as he had lost his brothers, Connla and Crionna - both slain by their uncles. It was at the court of Lugaid at Tara, that Cormac first distinguished himself, and gave token of the ability and wisdom, which were, afterwards, to mark him the most distinguished of Eirinn’s monarchs.
From his exile in Connaught, Cormac, a green youth, had returned to Tara, where, unrecognised, he was engaged herding sheep for a poor widow. Now one of the sheep broke into the queen’s garden, and ate the queen’s vegetables. King Lugaid was equally as angry as his queen when he heard about the sheep and he ordered that the penalty on the widow was that her sheep should be forfeit to the queen. To the amazement of Lugaid’s court, the herd boy who had been watching the proceedings with anxiety, arose, and, facing the king, said,
"Unjust is thy award, O king, for, because thy queen hath lost a few vegetables, thou wouldst deprive the poor widow of her livelihood?"  When the king recovered from his astonishment, he looked contemptuously at the lad, asking scathingly:
"And what, O wise herd boy would be thy just award?" The herd boy, not one little bit disconcerted, answered him:
"My award would be that the wool of the sheep should pay for the vegetables the sheep has eaten - because both the wool and the green things will grow again, and both parties have forgotten their hurt." And the wonderful wisdom of the judgement drew the applause of the astounded court. But Lugaid exclaimed in alarm:
"It is the judgement of a King." And, the lad’s great mind having betrayed him, he had to flee. He returned and claimed the throne when Lugaid was killed. Shortly after this at a feast which he gave to the princes whose support he wanted, Fergus Black Tooth of Ulster, who coveted the Ard Righship himself, managed, it is said, to singe the hair of Cormac - creating a blemish that debarred the young man temporarily from the throne. And he fled again from Tara, fearing for his life. Fergus became Ard Righ for a year - at the end of which time Cormac returned with an army, and, supported by Taig, the son of Ciann, and grandson of the great Oilill Olum of Munster, completely overthrew the usurper in the great battle of Crionna (on the Boyne) Fergus and his two brothers were slain - and Cormac won undisputed possession of the monarchy. Taig was granted a large territory between Damlaig (Duleek) and the River Liffey, since then called the Ciannachta. He became the ancestor of the O’Hara’s, O’Gara’s, O’Carroll’s, and other now Northern families.
In Cormac’s time, the world was replete with all that was good and the food and the fat of the land, and the gifts of the sea were in abundance in this king’s reign. There were neither wounding’s nor robberies in his time, but every one enjoyed his own, in peace. Cormac rebuilt the palace of Tara, with much magnificence. He built the Teach Mi Chuarta, the great banqueting hall, that was 760 feet by 46 feet, and 45 feet high. Until quite recently, the outline of the foundations of this great hall with the traces of its fourteen doorways, were still to be observed on Tara Hill. In the Book of Leinster is related:
"Three thousand persons each day is what Cormac used to maintain in Tara; besides poets and satirists, and all the strangers who sought the king; Galls, and Romans, and Franks, and Frisian, and Longbards, and Albanians and Saxons, and Picts, for all these used to seek him, and it was with gold and with silver, with steeds and with chariots, that he presented them. They all came to Cormac, because there was not in his time, nor before him, any more celebrated in honour, and in dignity, and in wisdom, except only Solomon, the son of David. The remarkable king died in the year 267 - more than a century and a half before the coming of St. Patrick. By reason of his extraordinary wisdom, the righteousness of his deeds, judgements and laws, he is said to have been blest with the light of the Christian faith seven years before his death.”
 The traditions about Cormac also state that having been inspired by the faith he made a dying request that he should be buried, not with the other pagan kings at their famous burial ground, but in a more consecrated place. Disregarding his dying wish, the Druids ordered that he should be interred with his ancestors at Brugh of Boyne. But then during the burial ceremony, the bearers carrying his body across the river, a great wave swept it from their shoulders, down the stream, and cast it up at Ros na Riogh, where, according to his wish, he was then buried.
 
 TARA
 
Tara, which attained the climax of its fame under Cormac, is said to have been founded by the Firbolgs, and became the seat of the High Kings. Ollam Fodla first gave it historic fame by founding the Feis or Triennial Parliament, there, seven or eight centuries before Christ. It is said it was under, Eremon, the first Milesian high king that the hill itself, came to be named Tara - a corruption of the genitive form of the compound word, Tea Mur - meaning "the burial place of Tea" the wife of Eremon, and daughter of a king of Spain. In its heyday Tara must have been impressive. The great, beautiful hill was dotted with seven duns, and in every dun were many buildings - all of them, of course, of wood, in those days - or of wood and metal. The greatest structure was the Mi Cuarta, the great banqueting hall, which was on the Ard Righ’s own dun. Each of the provincial kings had, on Tara, a house that was set aside for him when he came up to attend the great Parliament. There was a Grianan (sun house) for the provincial queens, and their attendants. The great Feis was held at Samain (Halloween). It lasted for three days before Samain and three days after. But the Aonach or great fair, the assembly of the people in general, which was a most important accompaniment of the Feis, seems to have begun much earlier. At this Feis the ancient laws were recited and confirmed, new laws were enacted, disputes were settled, grievances adjusted, wrongs righted. And in accordance with the usual form at all such assemblies, the ancient history of the land was recited, probably by the high king’s seanachie, who had the many other critical seanachies attending to his every word, and who, accordingly, dare not seriously distort or prevaricate. This highly efficient method of recording and transmitting the country’s history, in verse, too, which was practised for a thousand years before the introduction of writing, and the introduction of Christianity and which continued to be practised for long centuries after these events was a highly practical method, which effectively preserved for us the large facts of our country’s history throughout a thousand of the years of dim antiquity when the history of most other countries is a dreary blank.
 And from this great heart and centre of the Irish Kingdom, five great arteries or roads radiated from Tara to the various parts of the country the Slighe Cualann, which ran toward the present County Wicklow, the Slighe Mor, the great Western road, which ran via Dublin to Galway, the Slight Asail which ran near the present Mullingar, the Slighe Dala which ran southwest, and the Slighe Midluachra, the Northern road. "Great, noble and beautiful truly was our Tara of the Kings."
 
 
 FIONN AND THE FIANNA
 
It is only recently that we have realised the all-important part played by legendary lore in forming and stamping a nation’s character. A people’s character and a people’s heritage of tradition act and react upon each other. Down through the ages, the outstanding qualities of both getting ever more and more alike - so long as their racial traditions are cherished as an intimate part of their life. Of all the great bodies of ancient Irish Legendary lore, none other, with the possible exception of the Red Branch cycle, has had such developing, uplifting, and educational effect upon the Irish people, through the ages, as the wonderful body of Fenian tales in both prose and verse, rich in quality and rich in quantity.
Fionn MacCumail, leader of the Fianna, in the time of Cormac MacArt, was the great central figure of these tales. Fionn lived and died in the third century of the Christian Era. It was in the reign of Conn, at the very end of the second century, that he founded the Fianna - a great standing army of picked and specially trained, daring warriors, whose duty was to carry out the mandates of the high king - "To uphold justice and put down injustice, on the part of the kings and lords of Ireland - and to guard the harbours from foreign invaders". From this latter we might conjecture that an expected Roman invasion first called the Fianna into existence. They prevented robberies, exacted fines and tributes, put down public enemies and every kind of evil that might afflict the country. Moreover they moved about from place to place all over the island. Fionn, being a chieftain himself in his own right, had a residence on the hill of Allen in Kildare. The Fianna recruited warriors at Tara, Uisnech and Taillte fairs. The greatest discrimination was used in choosing the eligible ones from amongst those who applied. Among those who applied were plenty of sons of chieftains and princes. "Many and hard were the tests for him who sought to be one of this noble body."
 One of the first tests was literary for no candidate could join the Fianna, who had not mastered the twelve books of poetry. So skilful must he be in wood running, and so agile, that in the flight no single braid of his hair is lossened by a hanging branch. His step must be so light that underfoot he breaks no withered branch. In facing the greatest odds the weapon must not shake in his hand . When a candidate had passed these tests and was approved as fit for his heroic band, there were also vows to be taken as the final condition of his admission. There were three cathas (battalions) of the Fianna - three thousand in each catha. This was in time of peace. In time of war the quota was seven cathas. Although the Fianna were supposed to uphold the power of the Ard Righ, their oath of fealty was not to him, but to their own chief, Fionn.
The best stories of the Fianna are preserved to us in the poems of Oisin, the son of Fionn, in the Agallamh na Seanorach (Colloquy of the Ancients) of olden time. This is by far the finest collection of Fenian tales, and is supposed to be an account of the Fianna’s great doings, given to St. Patrick by Oisin and Caoilte, another of Fionn’s trusted lieutenants, more than 150 years after. After the overthrow of the Fianna, in the battle of Gabra in the year 280 A.D.,Caoilte is supposed to have lived with the Tuatha de Dannann, under the hills - until the coming of St. Patrick. Oisin had returned from Tir na nOg when Patrick walked the countryside.
 
 
 THE BREAK OF ULSTER
 
In the time of Ir, son of Milesius, to whom Ulster had been granted, there was a  Branch called Clan na Rory (after its great founder, Fory, who had been King of Ulster, and also High King of Ireland). Clan Rory ruled the province for over 600 years. 300 years before the Christian Era, and more than 300 years after. The capital city and the king’s seat had been at Emain Macha. During practially all of this time, from that fort’s first founding by Queen Macha, the royal Court of Ulster had been a court of splendour. It was noted as a centre of chivalry and the home of poetry. But in the beginning of the fourth century, Ulster’s power was irrevocably broken, and by far the greater portion of her territory wrested from her - her people driven into miserably narrow bounds from which, ever after, they can hardly be said to have emerged.
It was when Muiredeach Tireach, grandson of Carbri of the Liffey, was High King of Ireland, that Ulster was despoiled and broken by his nephews, the three Collas, who, on the ruins of the old kingdom of Uladh, founded a new kingdom - of Oirgialla (Oriel) which was for nearly a thousand years to play an important part in the history of Northern Ireland.
The underlying reason for their attack on Ulster was because of an old grudge borne against that province. Many generations before, the Ulster king, Tiobraide, had sent fifty robbers to Tara disguised as women, and they had slain Conn of the Hundred Battles. A generation later, the Ulster prince, Fergus Blacktooth, had put a blemish on Cormac MacArt,which, for a time, debarred him from the throne which Fergus then usurped.
The Collas first went to their clan in Connaught and there gathered a great army for the invasion of Ulster. On the plain of Farney in Monaghan they met the Ulstermen under their king, Fergus, and for seven successive days the battle raged, finally Fergus was killed and the Ulstermen were completely routed.
Of the conquered portion of Ulster, from Louth in the south to Derry in the north, and from Loch Neagh to Loch Erne, the Collas made themselves the new kingdom of Oirgialla (Oriel).
 
 
 NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES
 
Niall of the Nine Hostages was the greatest king that Ireland knew between the time of Cormac MacArt and the coming of Patrick. His reign was supreme. He not only ruled Ireland greatly and strongly, but carried the name and the fame, and the power and the fear, of Ireland into all neighbouring nations. He was, moreover, founder of the longest, most important, and most powerful Irish dynasty. Almost without interruption his descendants were Ard Righs of Ireland for 600 years. Under him the spirit of pagan Ireland upleaped in its last great red flame of military glory, a flame that, in another generation, was to be superseded by a great white flame, far less fierce but far more powerful and the bounds of neighbouring nations to the uttermost bounds of Europe. That is the great flame that Patrick was to kindle, and which was to expand and grow, ever mounting higher and spreading farther, year by year, for three hundred years.
 
Niall was grandson of Muiredeach Tireach. His father, Eochaid Muig Medon, son of Muiredeach, became Ard Righ mid way of the fourth century. By his wife, Carthann, daughter of a British king, Eochaid had the son Niall. By another wife, Mong Fionn, daughter of the King of Munster, Eochaid had four sons, Brian, Fiachar, Ailill, and Fergus. Mong Fionn was a bitter, jealous and ambitious woman, who set her heart upon having her son, Brian, succeed his father as Ard Righ. As Niall was his father’s favourite, Mong Fionn did not rest until she had outcast him and his mother, Carthann, and made Carthann her servant, carrying water to the court. The child (Niall) was rescued by a great poet of that time, Torna, who reared and educated him. When he had reached budding manhood, Torna brought him back to court to take his rightful place - much to his father’s joy. Then Niall, showing strength of character, even in his early youth, took his mother from her menial tasks, and restored her to her place.
 Of Niall’s youth there are many legends, but one in particular show the working of his destiny. One day, the five brothers were in the smith’s forge when it went on fire, they were commanded to run and save what they could. Their father, who was looking on (and who, say some, started the fire, to test his sons), observed with interest Neill’s distinctiveness of character, his good sense and good judgement. While Brian saved the chariots from the fire, Ailill a shield and a sword, Fiachra the old forge trough, and Fergus only a bundle of firewood, Niall carried out the bellows, the sledges, the anvil, and anvil block - saved the soul of the forge, and saved the smith from ruin. Then his father said: "It is Niall who should succeed me as Ard Righ of Eirinn".
 Niall’s first expedition was into Alba to subdue the Picts. The little Irish (Scotic) colony in that part of Alba just opposite to Antrim had gradually been growing in numbers, strength, and prestige - until they excited the jealousy and enmity of the Picts, who tried to crush them. Niall fitted out a large fleet and sailed to the assistance of his people. Joined then by the Irish in Alba, he marched against the Picts, overcame them, took hostages from them and had Argyle and Cantire settled upon the Albanach Irish.
 After obtaining obedience from the Picts, his next foreign raid was into Britain. Maximus and his Roman legions were then withdrawing from Britain, mainly because of barbarian pressure on the Continental Roman Empire. Niall, with his Irish hosts and Pictish allies, took advantage of the Roman withdrawal and began their raids. 
 Niall must have made many incursions into Britain and probably several into Gaul. He carried back hostages, many captives, and great wealth from these expeditions. Yet how often out of evil comes some good ? It was in one of these Gallic expeditions that a young lad named Succat, was carried to Ireland and sold to a farmer in Antrim, there he was set to herd swine for the chieftain Milcho. This young slave was later to be known as Patrick, and became patron Saint of Ireland.
 Many and many a time, in Alba, in Britain, and in Gaul, Niall's leadership was measured against the best leadership of Rome, and the courage and wild daring of his Scotic hosts was pitted against the skill of the Imperial Legions. Nialls death in a foreign land was not by the strategy or might of the foreign enemy, but by the treachery of one of his own. He fell on the banks of the River Loire, in France, by the hand of Eochaid, the son of Enna Ceannselaigh, King of Leinster, who ambushed and killed the great king.
 
 IRISH INVASIONS OF BRITAIN
 
In spite of the apparently isolated position of the Irish, they seemed to have kept up contact with other countries. Many foreign mercenaries were employed in Irish wars and foreign matrimonial alliances were common among the Irish royal families. The Irish, although not a sea going nation were well equipped for sea transit and quite expert in the art. The Book of Acaill contains sea-laws and defines the rights and duties of foreign trading vessels.
In the year 222 Cormac’s fleet sailed the seas for three years. Niall brought his fleet when he invaded Britain. St Patrick as a slave boy, quit his slavery and arrived at the sea just in time to find a ship about to sail for foreign lands. When Columbanus is deported from France, they readily find a ship just about to sail to Ireland. These happenings imply that there must have been fairly regular travel between Ireland and other lands.
In pre-Christian days, all Irish foreign military expeditions were into Alba and Britain.
The Romans never once ventured into Ireland - it was considered though - "the want of a strong and permanent autocratic central authority in Ireland, commanding the respect and obedience of the various sub-kingdoms and unifying Irelands power",  always left the nation open to the great danger of foreign conquest. Yet the Romans never attacked Ireland - their discovery of the fierceness of Irish fighters may have played a part in dissuading them from the Irish venture. The recklessness and persistency of Irish fighters taught them to respect Irish fighters and Irish commanders. The Romans even recruited Irish regiments for Continental service.
Though the Irish nation was weak for defence, it was strong for offence. It was only the Romans discipline and numbers that overcame the Irish attacks in Britain. When the Romans were called home, it was the Irish and Picts who drove them south and eventually out of Britain. Britain was now left at the mercy of her northern and western neighbours, and suffered greatly.
 
 THE IRISH KINGDOM OF SCOTLAND
 
The terms Scotia and Scot were first applied to Ireland and Irishmen, but later came to be applied to Irelands northeastern neighbour, Scotland and its inhabitants.
Our most ancient poets and seanachies claim that an early name for Eirinn, Scotia, was derived from Scota, queen-mother of the Milesians. The poet Egesippus tells how "Scotia which links itself to no land, trembles at their name". The term Scotia is, by Continental writers, applied to Ireland more often than any other name. And Scot is the term by these writers most constantly applied to a native of Eirinn. Orosius, the third century geographer, uses "Hibernia the nation of the Scoti". An Irish exile on the continent, the celebrated Marianus Scotus referred to his countrymen as Scots.
The modern name of Ireland seems to have originated with the Northmen, in about the seventh century - being probably formed from Eire, they called it Ir or Ire, and after that the English called it Ireland, and its natives Irish. For several centuries longer, however, these terms were not adopted by Continental writers, who still continued to speak of Scotia and the Scot, and designated the Irish scholars on the Continent by the term Scotus. The new name Ireland was on the Continent, first used only in the eleventh century (by Adam De Breme).
To Alba (the present Scotland) was transferred the term Scotia, and to its people the term Scot, because the Scoti of Hibernia, having again and again colonised there, built in it a strong kingdom, which gave the Scotic (Irish) people dominance there, and soon made the Scotic kings the kings of the whole country.
The Picts naturally jealous of these usurpers on their soil, continued exerting the utmost pressure upon them, in the hope of crushing them out, till Niall of the Nine Hostages, going to their assistance with an army, overcame and drove back the Picts, establishing the Scotic kingdom in Alba on a solid foundation, and, it is said, got the submission of the Picts and the tribute of all Alba. Now that the Scotic people got complete dominance over all or the main part of the country, it began to be called Scotia - at first Scotia Minor, in contra-distinction to Eire, which was called Scotia Major - but gradually the title Scotia fell away from Eire, and solely came to signify Alba.
In the eleventh century a number of leading English families who fled or were driven from the south, flocked into southeastern Scotland and came into favour at court. When, at the end of the eleventh century, Malcolm’s son, Edgar, English both by name and nature, was crowned king - the Gaelicism of royalty and of the court waned more rapidly, till in the thirteenth century it went out altogether; and the last of the Irish royal line became extinct with Alexander the Third, who died without heir in 1287.
So, though the greater portion of the country was, and still is, Gaelic - with Gaelic manners, customs, dress and language, still holding in the Highlands and the Islands - the end of the thirteenth century saw the end of the Scotic (Irish) rule in Alba.
 
 THE CENTURIES OF THE SAINTS
 
Patrick gave a new impetus and aim to the Irish nation, turning it from a war-love culture to much higher ideals. He brought a phenomenal transformation to the island. While foreign warring and raiding ceased, and internal warring became more rare, tens of thousands of every rank and class in the nation vied with one another, not, as formerly, for skill in handling war weapons, but for understanding of the Scriptures and gathering favour in the sight of God. The religious development and spiritual revolution were extraordinary.
Christianity and learning went hand in hand in Ireland. Almost every one of her multitude of holy men became scholars, and every holy scholar became a teacher.
These centuries had three orders of saints, namely :
  • The Patrician or Secular Clergy; missionaries who travelled and preached Christ to all the land during the hundred years after the coming of Patrick. 
  • The Monastic Saints; who, during the next hundred years, cultivated Christianity in, and radiated it from, their monastic establishments and monastic schools.
  • The Anchorites; the hermit saints, who, succeeding the great ones of the second order, cultivated Christ in solitude. On lonely islands, on wild mountain tops and in the impenetrable wilderness.
One of the most honoured and most beloved of the second order was Finian of Clonard. For, from his famous school at Cluain-ard, on the river Boyne "went forth the twelve saints who were styled the Twelve Apostles of Eirinn; the two Ciarans, the two Brendans, the two Colms, Mobi, Ruadan, Lasserian, Ciannech, Senach and Ninnid of Loch Erne".

 

 

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