Irish History Pre-History
Focus: Pre-christian, and some early Christian, later, for context
Finding history in contemporary authors: The legendary-historical account of the origins of the Irish is not only in tomes, but also in a series of 20th Century medieval setting mysteries, Old Ireland monasteries: Mid-7th Century CE. In Act of Mercy, A Celtic Mystery by Peter Tremayne. The whole set is in our local library: Read the introductions for fine overviews of these early times.
Sister Fidelma, the sleuth in the series, is excluded from the later Catholic culture, that rejects this time when women were decision-makers in the church and culture; but she is pivotal the earlier Irish Christian era. Women then were also judges in the culture, heads of religious houses, religious houses housed both genders in many cases. See http://www.sisterfidelma.com/main.htm.
Even reading of a time without gender-separated religious houses, and where relationships and marriage occur without comment, is a worthwhile jolt to our assumptions of what "church" people have to be.
Resource: See "Hiberia"; as well as Paralocac Scythae; Otio.Scythae and Runni Scythae; written on ancient map of the Holy Land, see Kenneth Nebenzahl, Maps of the Holy Land, NY Abbeville Press 1986, shown in Biblical Archeology Review March-April 2006 at 56ff, Onomasticon of Eusebius article.
Scythians - The Mystery
The history of the Celts, and other groups in ancient Ireland, such as Milesians, see http://www.danann.org/library/arch/mil.html, is hard to find in one location. Some sites are overwhelming because they put all angles in one configuration: religious, cultural, military, colonization, see http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/E800002-001/text001.html.. That comprehensive site is best used as a framework once the basic history is understood better. Start, then, with the more simplistic and changeable, perhaps not reliable as to each point (yet), but a framework: Wiki - http://www.houseofnames.com/wiki/Ireland. This site at least separates out the Milesians and Picts from the later Celts. Is that correct?
Greeks, and these Scythians, a Central Asian nomadic people by that time, could also tip their arrows with "scythicon" - dung, human blood serum and poisonous viper venom, article at 31. They were a martial force to be feared. Does that explain how they, if they did, migrated intact through Spain to Ireland, and also up the Eastern European Caucasus. A founding father of Troy was known for steeping his arrow tips with poison, one Amycus.
See Research notes at FN 1
1270 or so BC -- We are told that Milesians, and Queen Scota, arrived about 1270 BCE. See http://www.danann.org/library/arch/mil.html ; see also the long narrative at http://www.ensignmessage.com/archives/scythian.html. Egyptian roots? Scroll to Scota, at Odyssey magazine, at 17 (see site above) and find lists of the Egyptian dynasties -- if Scota is an Egyptian princess (?) the 1270 date would put her father as perhaps Rameses II, or perhaps Seti?
1000 BC On the continent, Celts emerged as a loosely-knit "barbaric" (that at the time meant non-Greek, not any aspersion as to a less developed, more lawless culture) nation in the region north of the Alps.
8th C BC Southern England becomes populated with farming peoples, in the chalk-lands (Wiltshire?), and in the north with a more fierce group -- warriors with swords, horses, perhaps just bands of adventurers at that time.
5th C. BC Migrants continued to come to southern England from northern France and the Low Countries areas, and those seemed to form the bulk of the population through the Roman conquest. Theirs became known as an Iron Age"A" culture and it appears that they were Celts in origin, by structures and culture. (need to go to the book directly for details and vetting)
450 BC Herodotus era. Herodotus, historian, 484-425 BC. See http://biography.yourdictionary.com/herodotus The Greeks recognized the Celts as a major foreign people that they called Keltoi, living west and north of the Western Mediterranean.
400 BC A tribe of the Celts, that the Romans called Galli, or Gauls, invaded northern Italy.
325 BC Pytheas of Massilia (Marseilles), Greek navigator and geographer, see http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Pytheas, refers to Ireland and Britain as Pretanic Islands.
3rd Century BC - Another group of Celts came to southern Britain, known to us now as the Iron Age "B" people.
Then (when?) came a third wave of Celts known as the Belgae, also Celtic in organization and language.
64 BC - 27 AD -- Geographer and historian, and philosopher: the Greek, Strabo. See http://www.s9.com/Biography/Strabo. Strabo wrote (says Violet), "The whole (Celtic) nation is war-mad, high-spirited and quick for battle" Other writers also noted their bravery in battle, but hospitality at home, and a strict code of etiquette towards visitors. Artifacts show Celtic manual skills and artistic perception.
Cultural comments: Physical appearance, as noted frequently by Greek and Latin writers -- fair skin, blue eyes, blond hair, height tall, and muscular. Aristocratic dress: For men, tunic to the knees. For women, tunic to the ankles. Both, gathered at waist, belted. Cloak on top, a square, held by a brooch. Shoes: leather shoes and sandles. Headgear: unimportant. Ornaments: neck-ring, torque, or gold or bronze.
55-43 BC Rome invades Britain, see http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/romans_in_britain.htm. Ireland began receiving exiles and refugees from Gaul and Britain, as the Romans proceeded. Did these new people merely augment an existing Celtic broad-based system, or were these the groups that crystalized it? Not sure.
Roman conquest meant political oblivion for the Celts, except in Ireland. The Irish continued their raids on Roman Britain, and in the north of England these Irish were called Scotti. The name "Scotia" was given to Ireland. [Ultimately, in the 11th Century, this name "Scotia" was transferred to the northern part of Britain, now Scotland.]
5th Century AD - Celts, pushed to the coast, set up the Kingdom of Dalraida (Dal Riata, see http://www.ibiblio.org/gaelic/celts.html), there are in Argyll and the neighboring islands, both serving as an offshoot of northeast Ireland. The two countries (Ireland areas and the now Scottish areas) at this point cannot be more than 25 miles apart.
Find Rathlin at http://adrianmckinty.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-they-decided-rathlin-island-was.html. Settled since 6000 BC, but not by "Scottish" - settled by Celts of that era. The Irish language, Gaelic, was implanted in Scotland, thus the Highlands became Gaelic speaking, while the Lowlands became English speaking, says Violet in her notes of The Celts.
450 AD Ireland's relative isolation also meant it was free not only from Roman intervention, but also the Saxon migrations that began in England when the Roman Empire fell, see http://www.thenagain.info/webchron/westeurope/AngloSaxon.html. Saint Patrick arrived in about 479 ACE?
Early Christian Ireland continued on its own path with its age of saints and scholars untainted by the mainland Christianity evolving in Rome. Monasteries at Lindisfarne, Iona, drew monks and scholars, and led to their taking their message over parts of Europe and establishing monasteries and colleges.
479 ACE - Saint Patrick arrives in Ireland
400-700's Early Christians went to areas where, for 500 years after Rome fell, the ordinary people were illiterate, as was Charlemagne himself. They brought literacy, but not much tempering of the Roman or papal branch in its drive to force conversions.
7th Century AD Fast forward .
It appears to be known, however, that: (here I quote Cousin Violet (McConaghy) because I know her to be a diligent student of history -- go read the book, I'll take Violet's word as she wrote it April 15, 1977, as a Family Elder, here)
"Only in Ireland did there survive a language and literature that sprang directly from the ancient Celts, uncontaminated by Rome. The (Christian early) missionaries found in Ireland a highly organized body of learned men with specialists in customary law, in sacred arts, heroic literature and geneology. When paganism was supplanted, the traditional oral schools continued to flourish side by side with the new monasteries."
"By the 7th century A.D. (if not earlier) there existed aristocratic Irish monks who had also been fully educated in the traditional native learning. This led to the first writing of the vernacular literature which because the oldest in Europe after Greek and Latin. (Yet) [t]he systematic study of Old Irish language and literature is a thing of only the past 100 years."So far, she is right.
1249 AD The last traditional inauguration of a King of the Scots took place, for Alexander III. He was led to the sacred Stone of Scone, received homage of the people, and heard his pedigree recited in Gaelic, says Violet.
1603 AD. Scotland loses its independence. James IV of Scotland became James I of England, after the death of Elizabeth I.
End of Violet's notes, letter April 15, 1977, from The Celts study. Vet Violet? I don't need to, but if you want to, be quick. Other texts she has relied upon through the years: The Scottish Clans, I believe that is the one that is now an e-book, see http://www.scotclans.com/bletherskite/?p=3137; or is it this one? http://www.amazon.com/Scottish-Clans-Over-Featured-ebook/dp/B005LP01NU
FN 1 Research notes
- Sites disagree. Are Picts, Angles also Celts? We do not think so. How about the early Scots (Scotti) of Ireland, are they Milesians or Celts, raiding and then settling in what is now Scotland. Were they Celts, or predate? Wiki seems to resolve that. Then go back to the many references to Spain and Iberians in Ireland (even sounds like Hibernia) in ancient times, see, e.g., http://www.libraryireland.com/HistoryIreland/Conn-Hundred-Battles.php. There, the ancient road, the Escir Riada, from Dublin to Galway, divided Conn's northern half from Eoghan's southern, there was a quarrel, and a Spaniard enters.
- Oral traditions were recorded, and anybody can probably find an old name close enough to claim a hypothetical lineage. See ancient Milesian lineages (grain of salt?)at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~fianna/history/milesian.html; Is that Milesian ancestry, is anything reliable? Scroll down to CONN CEADCATHACH; ("Conn of the Hundred Fights") -- sure sounds like McConaghy to me! at 11Oth Monarch Slain 157 A.D. at Tara, "Seat of Kings". I hereby claim Conn of the Hundred Fights, CeadCathach as McConaghy. Prove me wrong.
- Article pointing to one origin of Milesians, from Spain, see http://www.greatdreams.com/reptlan/Tuatha_de_Danaan.htm. What authority for that site? At least it led us to the etymology of my father's middle name, Carman, he of the Scharfe-Irish who emigrated (Norse origins) in the 1840's from Kilkenny: a goddess! We have to believe Wikipedia. I've looked for that for years. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carman
Try this starting point: at http://www.ibiblio.org/gaelic/celts.html. Find that the Irish and the Scots, the old Scotti, are indeed from the same tribe, where they came from (originally Antrim area), influences, other quotations from contemporaneous sources, customs. Good site. Then move to Celtic Mysteries, The Ancient Religion, by John Sharkey, see http://www.mediaquest.co.uk/jsharkey.html; and How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill, see http://www.randomhouse.com/features/cahill/irish.html
- Find elaborations on how the "Scotti" from Ireland came to be, and who was involved, maybe, at http://irelandroadways.blogspot.com/2010/03/tralee-queen-scotia-and-slieve-mish.html. Irish mists. d
a. The Norse, ours through the Scariff line if that is so; Vikings 795 AD or so, see http://www.reisenett.no/norway/facts/history/viking_age.html ; Rathlin Island wasted.
b. The Scotti, the Scotic Colony, says http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/E800002-001/text001.html, perhaps with even ancient middle eastern roots (Scota?), then through Spain and Milesians 489 BC. Or 200 BC? This is the confusing group: Fast forward to their activity once pressed by Celts into the northeast, to Ulster; raiders and emigrant settlers to Scotland and Campbell-Robertsons (even Robert the Bruce, gasp, like everyone else) and perhaps then a loop. Back through the Plantation through the McConaghy (spelled a hundred ways) line in Ulster-Donegal. Before that: the Firbolg, the Tuatha de Danaan, the Milesians that produce the Scotti, or is that incorrect? see http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/E800002-001/text001.html
c. The Norman conquest line through the Briens, Norman Rule 1120 AD. See http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=07®ion=euwb; http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~fianna/surname/dhnames1.html. Is any research using actual names and actual descent reliable? Or just the fun of finding the same name, De Brien in old records, and our Briens of Trillick.
Celts and Scotti, Milesians and Scotti. More familiar is an association between Celts and Scotti, probably because of simultaneous activity against the Romans in Britain. A relative, named Violet, researched the Celts and provided summaries, after close work with The Celts, by T.G.E. Powell, see http://www.amazon.com/Celts-Ancient-Peoples-Places/dp/0500272751. I have put her information in a timeline, and added some comments and other information. Why the interest in old cultures? Our family area is Donegal and Ulster, and Ulster was the last of Ireland to be overcome by the British after the Flight of the Earls left Ulster without leaders. The border areas in particular between what is now Donegal, and Tyrone, and Londonderry were fiercely fought, opposing the Plantation and then at the later Troubles. Is any family clearly one root or another. Probably not. Celtic Ireland, later migrations, invasions, much of a piece.
Ireland's isolation preserved its Celtic past, more than would have been possible if Rome or the Saxons had invaded, as they did and at the same time as in England. As it was, the invasions still came (Normans), but at least at a later time. See the medieval Norman invasion at http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/history/norman_invasion.html (overwhelming), or simplified, http://www.yourirish.com/history/medieval/normans/