An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800
by Mary Frances Cusack
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'The Nun of Kenmare'

Illustrations by Henry Doyle










The Author.

List of Full-Page Illustrations





A demand for a Second Edition of the "Illustrated History of Ireland," within three months from the date of the publication of the First, consisting of 2,000 copies, is a matter of no little gratification to the writer, both personally and relatively. It is a triumphant proof that Irishmen are not indifferent to Irish history—a fault of which they have been too frequently accused; and as many of the clergy have been most earnest and generous in their efforts to promote the circulation of the work, it is gratifying to be able to adduce this fact also in reply to the imputations, even lately cast upon the ecclesiastics of Ireland, of deficiency in cultivated tastes, and of utter neglect of literature.

Nor, as a Catholic and a religious, can I fail to express my respectful gratitude and thankfulness for the warm approbation which the work has received from so many distinguished prelates. A few of these approbations will be found at the commencement of the volume—it was impossible to find space for all. It may be, however, well to observe, that several of the English Catholic bishops have not been less kind and earnest in their commendations, though I have not asked their permission to publish their communications. Some extracts are given from the reviews, which also are necessarily condensed and limited; and, as the Most Rev. Dr. Derry has observed, the press has been most favorable in its criticisms. Even those who differed from the present writer toto coelo, both in religion and politics, have not been less commendatory, and, in some instances, have shown the writer more than ordinary courtesy.

Nor should I omit to acknowledge the encouragement which so many gentlemen, both English and Irish, have given to the work, and the assistance they have afforded in promoting its circulation. In a circular, quite recently published in London, and addressed to the members of a society for the republication of English mediaeval literature, gentlemen are called on by the secretary, even at the risk, as he himself admits, of "boring them, by asking them to canvass for orders, like a bookseller's traveller," to assist in obtaining additional subscribers to the series, and he requests every subscriber "to get another at once." I am happy to say that, without such solicitation on our part, many Irish gentlemen have done us this kindness, and have obtained not one, but many orders from their friends. I confidently hope that many more will exert themselves in a similar manner, for the still wider dissemination of the Second Edition. It is a time, beyond all others, when Irish history should be thoroughly known and carefully studied. It is a disgrace to Irishmen not to know their history perfectly, and this with no mere outline view, but completely and in detail. It is very much to be regretted that Irish history is not made a distinct study in schools and colleges, both in England and Ireland. What should be thought of a school where English history was not taught? and is Irish history of less importance? I have had very serious letters complaining of this deficiency from the heads of several colleges, where our history has been introduced as a class-book.[A]

There are some few Irish Catholics who appear to think that Irishmen should not study their history—some because they imagine that our history is a painful subject; others, because they imagine that its record of wrongs cannot fail to excite violent feelings, which may lead to violent deeds. I cannot for one moment admit that our history is either so very sorrowful, or that we have cause to do anything but rejoice in it. If we consider temporal prosperity to be the summum bonum of our existence, no doubt we may say with truth, like the Apostle, that of all peoples we are "most miserable;" but we have again and again renounced temporal advantages, and discarded temporal prosperity, to secure eternal gain; and we have the promise of the Eternal Truth that we shall attain all that we have desired. Our history, then, far from being a history of failures, has been a history of the most triumphant success—of the most brilliant victories. I believe the Irish are the only nation on earth of whom it can be truly said that they have never apostatized nationally. Even the most Catholic countries of the Continent have had their periods of religious revolution, however temporary. Ireland has been deluged with blood again and again; she has been defeated in a temporal point of view again and again; but spiritually—NEVER! Is this a history to be ashamed of? Is this a history to regret? Is this a history to lament? Is it not rather a history over which the angels in heaven rejoice, and of which the best, the holiest, and the noblest of the human race may justly be proud?

On the second count, I shall briefly say that if Irish history were taught in our Irish colleges and schools to children while still young, and while the teacher could impress on his charge the duty of forgiveness of enemies, of patient endurance, of the mighty power of moral force, which has effected even for Ireland at times what more violent measures have failed to accomplish, then there could be no danger in the study. Perhaps the greatest human preservative of the faith, for those whose lot may be cast hereafter in other lands, would be to inculcate a great reverence for our history, and a true appreciation of its value. The taunt of belonging to a despised nation, has led many a youth of brilliant promise to feel ashamed of his country, and almost inevitably to feel ashamed of his faith. A properly directed study of Irish history would tend much to remove this danger. During the debate on the Irish Church question, Mr. Maguire, M.P. for Cork, significantly remarked on the effect produced by the "deliberate exclusion" of any instruction in Irish history from National schools. It does seem curious that national history should be a forbidden subject in National schools, and this fact makes the appellation of "National" seem rather a misnomer. The result of this deliberate exclusion was graphically described by the honorable member. The youth comes forth educated, and at a most impressible age he reads for the first time the history of his country, and burns with indignant desire to avenge her many wrongs. The consequences are patent to all. It is, then, for the advantage of England, as well as of Ireland, that Irish history should be made the earliest study of Irish youth; nor is it of less importance that Irish history should be thoroughly known by Englishmen. It is the duty of every Englishman who has a vote to give, to make himself acquainted with the subjects on which his representative will give, in his name, that final decision which makes his political opinion the law of the land. I suppose no one will deny that the Irish Question is the question of the day. The prosperity of England, as well as the prosperity of Ireland, is involved in it. No educated man, however humble his station, has a right to assist in returning a member to Parliament without clearly comprehending the principles of his representative. But unless he has some comprehension of the principles themselves, it is of little use for him to record his vote. I do not say that every English voter is bound to study Irish history in detail, but I do say that, at the present day, he is bound to know what the Irish themselves demand from England; and if he considers their demands reasonable, he should record his vote only for those who will do their utmost to obtain the concessions demanded. A man is unworthy of the privilege of voting, if he is deficient either in the intellect or the inclination to understand the subject on which he votes.

But it is of still more importance that members of Parliament should read—and not only read, but carefully study—the history of Ireland. Irishmen have a right to demand that they shall do so. If they undertake to legislate for us, they are bound in conscience and in honour to know what we require, to know our past and our present state. Englishmen pride themselves on their honour; but it is neither honorable to undertake to govern without a thorough knowledge of the governed, or to misrepresent their circumstances to others whose influence may decide their future.

It was manifest from the speech of her Majesty's minister, on the night of the all-important division on the Irish Church question, that he either had not studied Irish history, or that he had forgotten its details. If his statements are correctly reported by the press, they are inconceivably wild. It may be said that the circumstances in which he found himself obliged him to speak as he did, but is this an excuse worthy of such an honorable position? The Normans, he is reported to have said, conquered the land in Ireland, but in England they conquered completely. The most cursory acquaintance with Irish history would have informed the right honorable gentleman, that the Normans did not conquer the land in Ireland—no man has as yet been rash enough to assert that they conquered the people. The Normans obtained possession of a small portion, a very small portion of Irish land; and if the reader will glance at the map of the Pale, which will be appended to this edition, at the proper place, he will see precisely what extent of country the English held for a few hundred years. Even that portion they could scarcely have been said to have conquered, for they barely held it from day to day at the point of the sword. Morally Ireland was never conquered, for he would be a bold man who dared to say that the Irish people ever submitted nationally to the English Church established by law. In fact, so rash does the attempt seem even to those who most desire to make it, that they are fain to find refuge and consolation in the supposed introduction of Protestantism into Ireland by St. Patrick, a thousand years and more before that modern phase of religious thought appeared to divide the Christian world.

But I deny that Ireland has ever been really conquered; and even should the most sanguinary suggestions proposed in a nineteenth-century serial be carried out, I am certain she could not be. Ireland has never been permanently subdued by Dane or Norman, Dutchman or Saxon; nor has she ever been really united to England. A man is surely not united to a jailer because he is bound to him by an iron chain which his jailer has forged for his safe keeping. This is not union; and the term "United Kingdom" is in fact a most miserable misnomer. Unity requires something more than a mere material approximation. I believe it to be possible that England and Ireland may become united; and if ever this should be accomplished, let no man forget that the first link in the golden chain issued from the hands of the right honorable member for South Lancashire, when he proposed equality of government on religious questions—the first step towards that equality of government which alone can effect a moral union of the two countries. It might be treasonable to hint that some noble-hearted men, who loved their country not wisely but too well, and who are paying in lifelong anguish the penalty of their patriotism, had anything to do with the formation of this golden chain—so I shall not hint it.

I believe the Fenian movement, at one time scouted as a mere ebullition, at another time treated as a dangerous and terrible rebellion, has done at least this one good to England—it has compelled honest and honorable men to inquire each for himself what are the grievances of Ireland, and why she continues disaffected to English rule. For men who are honest and honorable to make such inquiries, is the first step, and a certain step, towards their remedy; and as I glanced down the list of the ayes in the division, I could see the names of men who, in England, have been distinguished during years for their private and public virtues, and who have been lavish in their charities whenever their own countrymen required their assistance.

There can be little doubt that a new era has dawned upon old Erinn's shores. It remains to be proved if her sons shall be as faithful in prosperity as they have been in adversity. It remains to be proved, if opportunities are afforded us of obtaining higher intellectual culture without the danger of the moral deterioration which might have attended that culture under other circumstances, whether we shall avail ourselves of them to the full. May we not hope that Ireland will become once more famous both for learning and sanctity. The future of our nation is in the hands of the Irish hierarchy. No government dare refuse anything which they may demand perseveringly and unitedly. The people who have been guided by them, and saved by them for so many centuries, will follow as they lead. If their tone of intellectual culture is elevated, the people will become elevated also; and we shall hear no more of those reproaches, which are a disgrace to those who utter them, rather than to those of whom they are uttered. Let our people be taught to appreciate something higher than a mere ephemeral literature; let them be taught to take an interest in the antiquities and the glorious past of their nation; and then let them learn the history of other peoples and of other races. A high ecclesiastical authority has declared recently that "ecclesiastics do not cease to be citizens," and that they do not consider anything which affects the common weal of their country is remote from their duty. The clergy of the diocese of Limerick, headed by their Dean, and, it must be presumed, with the sanction of their Bishop, have given a tangible proof that they coincide in opinion with his Grace the Archbishop of Westminster. The letter addressed to Earl Grey by that prelate, should be in the hands of every Irishman; and it is with no ordinary gratification that we acknowledge the kindness and condescension of his Grace in favouring us with an early copy of it.

This letter treats of the two great questions of the day with admirable discretion. As I hope that every one who reads these pages possesses a copy of the pamphlet, I shall merely draw attention to two paragraphs in it: one in which Fenianism is treated of in that rational spirit which appears to have been completely lost sight of in the storm of angry discussion which it has excited. On this subject his Grace writes: "It would be blindness not to see, and madness to deny, that we have entered into another crisis in the relation of England and Ireland, of which '98, '28, and '48 were precursors;" and he argues with clearness and authority, that when Englishmen once have granted justice to Ireland, Ireland will cease to accuse England of injustice.

To one other paragraph in this remarkable letter, I shall briefly allude: "I do not think Englishmen are enough aware of the harm some among us do by a contemptuous, satirical, disrespectful, defiant, language in speaking of Ireland and the Irish people." From peculiar circumstances, the present writer has had more than ordinary opportunities of verifying the truth of this statement. The wound caused by a sarcastic expression may often fester far longer than the wound caused by a hasty blow. The evil caused by such language is by no means confined entirely to Protestants. There are, indeed, but few English Catholics who speak contemptuously of Ireland, of its people, or of its history; but, if I am to credit statements which have been made to me on unquestionable authority, there are some who are not free from this injustice. A half-commiserating tone of patronage is quite as offensive as open contempt; and yet there have been instances where English Catholic writers, while obliged to show some deference to Ireland and the Irish, in order to secure the patronage and support of that country for their publications, have at the same time, when they dared, thrown out insinuations against peculiarities of Irish character, and made efforts to discredit Irish historical documents.

I had intended, in preparing the Second Edition of the "Illustrated History of Ireland," to omit the original Preface, in order to leave more space for the historical portion of the work. When this intention was mentioned, several laymen and ecclesiastics expostulated so earnestly against it, that I have been obliged to yield to their request. I am aware that some few persons objected to my remarks on the state of land laws in Ireland, or rather on the want of proper land laws; but the opinion of those interested in maintaining an evil, will always be averse to its exposure; and I cannot conceive how any one who desires an injustice to be removed, can object to a fair and impartial discussion of the subject. An English writer, also, has made some childish remarks about the materials for Irish history not being yet complete, and inferred that in consequence an Irish history could not yet be written. His observations are too puerile to need refutation. I have been informed also that some objection has been made to a "political preface;" and that one gentleman, whose name I have not had the honour of hearing, has designated the work as a "political pamphlet." Even were not Irish history exceptional, I confess myself perplexed to understand how history and politics can be severed. An author may certainly write a perfectly colourless history, but he must state the opinions of different parties, and the acts consequent on those opinions, even should he do so without any observation of his own. I never for a moment entertained the intention of writing such a history, though I freely confess I have exercised considerable self-restraint as to the expression of my own opinion when writing some portions of the present work. You might as well attempt to write an ecclesiastical history without the slightest reference to different religious opinions, as attempt to write the history of any nation, and, above all, of Ireland, without special and distinct reference to the present and past political opinions of the different sections of which the nation is composed. Such suggestions are only worthy of those who, when facts are painful, try to avert the wound they cause by turning on the framer of the weapon which has driven these facts a little deeper than usual into their intellectual conception; or of those uneducated, or low-minded, even if educated persons, who consider that a woman cannot write a history, and would confine her literary efforts to sensation novels and childish tales. I am thankful, and I hope I am not unduly proud, that men of the highest intellectual culture, both in England and Ireland, on the Continent of Europe, and in America, have pronounced a very different judgment on the present work, and on the desire of the writer to raise her countrywomen to higher mental efforts than are required by the almost exclusive perusal of works of fiction. If women may excel as painters and sculptors, why may not a woman attempt to excel as an historian? Men of cultivated intellect, far from wishing to depreciate such efforts, will be the first to encourage them with more than ordinary warmth; the opinions of other persons, whatever may be their position, are of little value.

On the Irish Church question I feel it unnecessary to say more than a word of congratulation to my countrymen, and of hearty thanks for the noble conduct of so many Englishmen at this important crisis. Irish Protestants have been quite as national as Irish Catholics; and now that the fatal bane of religious dissension has been removed, we may hope that Irishmen, of all classes and creeds, will work together harmoniously for the good of their common country: and thus one great means of Irish prosperity will be opened. The Irish are eminently a justice-loving people. Let justice once be granted to them, and there is that in their national character which will make them accept as a boon what others might accept as a right.

In concluding the Preface to this Edition, I cannot omit to express my grateful thanks to Sir William Wilde, and other members of the Royal Irish Academy, through whose kindness I obtained the special favour of being permitted to copy some of the most valuable illustrations of Irish antiquities contained in their Catalogue, and which has enabled the reader, for the first time, to have an Irish history illustrated with Irish antiquities—a favour which it is hoped an increase of cultivated taste amongst our people will enable them to appreciate more and more. To John O'Hagan, Esq., Q.C., I owe a debt of gratitude which cannot easily be repaid, for the time he bestowed on the correction of the proofs of the First Edition, and for many kind suggestions, and much valuable advice. I am indebted, also, to M.J. Rhodes, Esq., of Hoddersfield, for a liberal use of his library, perhaps one of the most valuable private libraries in Ireland, and for permitting me to retain, for a year and more, some of its most costly treasures. The same kindness was also granted by the Rev. D. M'Carthy, Professor of Sacred Scripture and Hebrew at Maynooth, who is himself doing so much for its ecclesiastical students by his valuable literary labours, and who was one of the first to urge me to undertake this work. In preparing the Second Edition, I am not a little indebted to the Rev. James Gaffney, C.C., M.R.I.A., of Clontarf, who, even during the heavy pressure of Lenten parochial duties, has found time to give me the benefit of many important suggestions, and to show his love of Ireland by deeming no effort too great to further a knowledge of her glorious history. I am also indebted to the Rev. John Shearman, C.C., M.R.I.A., of Howth, for the valuable paper read before the R.I.A., on the "Inscribed Stones at Killeen Cormac;" and to many other authors who have presented me with their works; amongst the number, none were more acceptable than the poems of Dr. Ferguson, and the beautiful and gracefully written Irish before the Conquest, of Mrs. Ferguson, whose gifts are all the more treasured for the peculiar kindness with which they were presented.

To my old friend, Denis Florence MacCarthy, Esq., M.R.I.A., who should be the laureate of Ireland—and why should not Ireland, that land of song, have her laureate?—I can only offer my affectionate thanks, for his kindnesses are too numerous to record, and are so frequent that they would scarcely bear enumeration. At this moment, Roderick O'Flanagan, Esq., M.R.I.A., has found, or rather made, leisure, amongst his many professional and literary occupations, to prepare the valuable and important map of Irish families, which will be given gratis to all subscribers, and in which W.H. Hennessy, Esq., M.R.I.A., at present employed by Government on the important work of publishing ancient Irish MS., will also give his assistance.

To many of the gentlemen in Cork, and principally to Nicholas Murphy, Esq., of Norwood, and Eugene M'Sweeny, Esq., I cannot fail to offer my best thanks, for the generous help they have given in promoting the sale of the First Edition, and for over-payments of subscriptions, made unasked, and with the most considerate kindness, when they found the heavy cost of the First Edition was likely to prove a loss to the convent, in consequence of expenses which could scarcely be foreseen in the increased size of the work, and the high class of engravings used, which demanded an immense outlay in their production. The subscribers to the Second Edition are indebted to not a few of the subscribers to the First, many of them priests with limited incomes, for the generosity which has enabled them to obtain this new issue on such favourable terms. It is with feelings of no ordinary pleasure that I add also the names of the Superioresses of nearly all the convents of the order of Our Lady of Mercy and of the order of the Presentation, to the list of our benefactors. With the exception of, perhaps, two or three convents of each order, they have been unanimous in their generous efforts to assist the circulation of the Irish History, and of all our publications; and this kindness has been felt by us all the more deeply, because from our own poverty, and the poverty of the district in which we live, we have been unable to make them any return, or to assist them even by the sale of tickets for their bazaars. Such disinterested charity is, indeed, rare; and the efforts made by these religious—the true centres of civilization in Ireland—to promote the education and to improve the moral and intellectual tone of the lower and middle classes, are beyond all praise, combined, as these efforts are, with never-ceasing labour for the spiritual and temporal good of the poor in their respective districts. Nor should I omit a word for the friends across the wide Atlantic, to whom the very name of Ireland is so precious, and to whom Irish history is so dear. The Most Rev. Dr. Purcell, Archbishop of Cincinnati, has pronounced the work to be the only Irish history worthy of the name. John Mitchel has proclaimed, in the Irish Citizen, that a woman has accomplished what men have failed to do; and Alderman Ternan, at a banquet in New Fork, has uttered the same verdict, and declares that there, at least, no other history can compete with ours, although Moore and D'Arcy Magee have preceded us in their efforts to promote the knowledge of what Ireland has been, and the hope of what Ireland may yet become.



[A] The Rev. U. Burke, of St. Jarlath's College, Tuam, has a note on this subject, in a work which he is at this moment passing through the press, and which he kindly permits me to publish. He says: "This book [the "Illustrated History of Ireland"] ought to be in the hands of every young student and of every young Irish maiden attending the convent schools. Oh, for ten thousand Irish ladies knowing the history of Ireland! How few know anything of it! The present volume, by Sister Francis Clare, is an atoning sacrifice for this sin of neglect."

I am aware that the price of the "Illustrated History of Ireland," even in its present form, although it is offered at a sacrifice which no bookseller would make, is an obstacle to its extensive use as a school history. We purpose, however, before long, to publish a history for the use of schools, at a very low price, and yet of a size to admit of sufficient expansion for the purpose. Our countrymen must, however, remember that only a very large number of orders can enable the work to be published as cheaply as it should be. It would save immense trouble and expense, if priests, managers of schools, and the heads of colleges, would send orders for a certain number of copies at once. If every priest, convent, and college, ordered twelve copies for their schools, the work could be put in hands immediately.



The history of the different races who form an integral portion of the British Empire, should be one of the most carefully cultivated studies of every member of that nation. To be ignorant of our own history, is a disgrace; to be ignorant of the history of those whom we govern, is an injustice. We can neither govern ourselves nor others without a thorough knowledge of peculiarities of disposition which may require restraint, and of peculiarities of temperament which may require development. We must know that water can extinguish fire, before it occurs to us to put out a fire by the use of water. We must know that fire, when properly used, is a beneficent element of nature, and one which can be used to our advantage when properly controlled, before we shall attempt to avail ourselves of it for a general or a particular benefit. I believe a time has come when the Irish are more than ever anxious to study their national history. I believe a time has come when the English nation, or at least a majority of the English nation, are willing to read that history without prejudice, and to consider it with impartiality.

When first I proposed to write a History of Ireland, at the earnest request of persons to whose opinion. I felt bound to defer, I was assured by many that it was useless; that Irishmen did not support Irish literature; above all, that the Irish clergy were indifferent to it, and to literature in general. I have since ascertained, by personal experience, that this charge is utterly unfounded, though I am free to admit it was made on what appeared to be good authority. It is certainly to be wished that there was a more general love of reading cultivated amongst the Catholics of Ireland, but the deficiency is on a fair way to amendment. As a body, the Irish priesthood may not be devoted to literature; but as a body, unquestionably they are devoted—nobly devoted—to the spread of education amongst their people.

With regard to Englishmen, I cannot do better than quote the speech of an English member of Parliament, Alderman Salomons, who has just addressed his constituents at Greenwich in these words:—

"The state of Ireland will, doubtless, be a prominent subject of discussion next session. Any one who sympathizes with distressed nationalities in their struggles, must, when he hears of the existence of a conspiracy in Ireland, similar to those combinations which used to be instituted in Poland in opposition to Russian oppression, be deeply humiliated. Let the grievances of the Irish people be probed, and let them be remedied when their true nature is discovered. Fenianism is rife, not only in Ireland, but also in England, and an armed police required, which is an insult to our liberty. I did not know much of the Irish land question, but I know that measures have been over and over again brought into the House of Commons with a view to its settlement, and over and over again they have been cushioned or silently withdrawn. If the question can be satisfactorily settled, why let it be so, and let us conciliate the people of Ireland by wise and honorable means. The subject of the Irish Church must also be considered. I hold in my hand an extract from the report of the commissioner of the Dublin Freeman's Journal, who is now examining the question. It stated what will be to you almost incredible—namely, that the population of the united dioceses of Cashel, Emly, Waterford, and Lismore is 370,978, and that of those only 13,000 are members of the Established Church, while 340,000 are Roman Catholics. If you had read of this state of things existing in any other country, you would call out loudly against it. Such a condition of things, in which large revenues are devoted, not for the good of the many, but the few, if it does not justify Fenianism, certainly does justify a large measure of discontent. I am aware of the difficulties in the way of settling the question, owing to the fear of a collision between Protestants and Catholics; but I think Parliament ought to have the power to make the Irish people contented."

This speech, I believe, affords a fair idea of the opinion of educated and unprejudiced Englishmen on the Irish question. They do not know much about Irish history; they have heard a great deal about Irish grievances, and they have a vague idea that there is something wrong about the landlords, and something wrong about the ecclesiastical arrangements of the country. I believe a careful study of Irish history is essential to the comprehension of the Irish question; and it is obviously the moral duty of every man who has a voice in the government of the nation, to make himself master of the subject. I believe there are honest and honorable men in England, who would stand aghast with horror if they thoroughly understood the injustices to which Ireland has been and still is subject. The English, as a nation, profess the most ardent veneration for liberty. To be a patriot, to desire to free one's country, unless, indeed, that country happen to have some very close connexion with their own, is the surest way to obtain ovations and applause. It is said that circumstances alter cases; they certainly alter opinions, but they do not alter facts. An Englishman applauds and assists insurrection in countries where they profess to have for their object the freedom of the individual or of the nation; he imprisons and stifles it at home, where the motive is precisely similar, and the cause, in the eyes of the insurgents at least, incomparably more valid. But I do not wish to raise a vexed question, or to enter on political discussions; my object in this Preface is simply to bring before the minds of Englishmen that they have a duty to perform towards Ireland—a duty which they cannot cast aside on others—a duty which it may be for their interest, as well as for their honour, to fulfil. I wish to draw the attention of Englishmen to those Irish grievances which are generally admitted to exist, and which can only be fully understood by a careful and unprejudiced perusal of Irish history, past and present. Until grievances are thoroughly understood, they are not likely to be thoroughly remedied. While they continue to exist, there can be no real peace in Ireland, and English prosperity must suffer in a degree from Irish disaffection.

It is generally admitted by all, except those who are specially interested in the denial, that the Land question and the Church question are the two great subjects which lie at the bottom of the Irish difficulty. The difficulties of the Land question commenced in the reign of Henry II.; the difficulties of the Church question commenced in the reign of Henry VIII. I shall request your attention briefly to the standpoints in Irish history from which we may take a clear view of these subjects. I shall commence with the Land question, because I believe it to be the more important of the two, and because I hope to show that the Church question is intimately connected with it.

In the reign of Henry II., certain Anglo-Norman nobles came to Ireland, and, partly by force and partly by intermarriages, obtained estates in that country. Their tenure was the tenure of the sword. By the sword they expelled persons whose families had possessed those lands for centuries; and by the sword they compelled these persons, through poverty, consequent on loss of property, to take the position of inferiors where they had been masters. You will observe that this first English settlement in Ireland was simply a colonization on a very small scale. Under such circumstances, if the native population are averse to the colonization, and if the new and the old races do not amalgamate, a settled feeling of aversion, more or less strong, is established on both sides. The natives hate the colonist, because he has done them a grievous injury by taking possession of their lands; the colonist hates the natives, because they are in his way; and, if he be possessed of "land hunger," they are an impediment to the gratification of his desires. It should be observed that there is a wide difference between colonization and conquest The Saxons conquered what we may presume to have been the aboriginal inhabitants of England; the Normans conquered the Saxon: the conquest in both cases was sufficiently complete to amalgamate the races—the interest of the different nationalities became one. The Norman lord scorned the Saxon churl quite as contemptuously as he scorned the Irish Celt; but there was this very important difference—the interests of the noble and the churl soon became one; they worked for the prosperity of their common country. In Ireland, on the contrary, the interests were opposite. The Norman noble hated the Celt as a people whom he could not subdue, but desired most ardently to dispossess; the Celt hated the invader as a man most naturally will hate the individual who is just strong enough to keep a wound open by his struggles, and not strong enough to end the suffering by killing the victim.

The land question commenced when Strongbow set his foot on Irish soil; the land question will remain a disgrace to England, and a source of misery to Ireland, until the whole system inaugurated by Strongbow has been reversed. "At the commencement of the connexion between England and Ireland," says Mr. Goldwin Smith, "the foundation was inevitably laid for the fatal system of ascendency—a system under which the dominant party were paid for their services in keeping down rebels by a monopoly of power and emolument, and thereby strongly tempted to take care that there should always be rebels to keep down." There is a fallacy or two in this statement; but let it pass. The Irish were not rebels then, certainly, for they were not under English dominion; but it is something to find English writers expatiating on Irish wrongs; and if they would only act as generously and as boldly as they speak, the Irish question would receive an early and a most happy settlement.

For centuries Ireland was left to the mercy and the selfishness of colonists. Thus, with each succeeding generation, the feeling of hatred towards the English was intensified with each new act of injustice, and such acts were part of the normal rule of the invaders. A lord deputy was sent after a time to rule the country. Perhaps a more unfortunate form of government could not have been selected for Ireland. The lord deputy knew that he was subject to recall at any moment; he had neither a personal nor a hereditary interest in the country. He came to make his fortune there, or to increase it. He came to rule for his own benefit, or for the benefit of his nation. The worst of kings has, at least, an hereditary interest in the country which he governs; the best of lord deputies might say that, if he did not oppress and plunder for himself, other men would do it for themselves: why, then, should he be the loser, when the people would not be gainers by his loss?

When parliaments began to be held, and when laws were enacted, every possible arrangement was made to keep the two nations at variance, and to intensify the hostility which already existed. The clergy were set at variance. Irish priests were forbidden to enter certain monasteries, which were reserved for the use of their English brethren; Irish ecclesiastics were refused admission to certain Church properties in Ireland, that English ecclesiastics might have the benefit of them. Lionel, Duke of Clarence, when Viceroy of Ireland, issued a proclamation, forbidding the "Irish by birth" even to come near his army, until he found that he could not do without soldiers, even should they have the misfortune to be Irish. The Irish and English were forbidden to intermarry several centuries before the same bar was placed against the union of Catholics and Protestants. The last and not the least of the fearful series of injustices enacted, in the name of justice, at the Parliament of Kilkenny, was the statute which denied, which positively refused, the benefit of English law to Irishmen, and equally forbid them to use the Brehon law, which is even now the admiration of jurists, and which had been the law of the land for many centuries.

If law could be said to enact that there should be no law, this was precisely what was done at the memorable Parliament of Kilkenny. If Irishmen had done this, it would have been laughed at as a Hibernicism, or scorned as the basest villany; but it was the work of Englishmen, and the Irish nation were treated as rebels if they attempted to resist. The confiscation of Church property in the reign of Henry VIII., added a new sting to the land grievance, and introduced a new feature in its injustice. Church property had been used for the benefit of the poor far more than for the benefit of its possessors. It is generally admitted that the monks of the middle ages were the best and most considerate landlords. Thousands of families were now cast upon the mercy of the new proprietors, whose will was their only law; and a considerable number of persons were deprived of the alms which these religious so freely distributed to the sick and the aged. Poverty multiplied fearfully, and discontent in proportion. You will see, by a careful perusal of this history, that the descendants of the very men who had driven out the original proprietors of Irish estates, were in turn driven out themselves by the next set of colonists. It was a just retribution, but it was none the less terrible. Banishments and confiscations were the rule by which Irish property was administered. Can you be surprised that the Irish looked on English adventurers as little better than robbers, and treated them as such? If the English Government had made just and equitable land laws for Ireland at or immediately after the Union, all the miseries which have occurred since then might have been prevented. Unfortunately, the men who had to legislate for Ireland are interested in the maintenance of the unjust system; and there is an old proverb, as true as it is old, about the blindness of those who do not wish to see. Irish landlords, or at least a considerable number of Irish landlords, are quite willing to admit that the existence of the Established Church is a grievance. Irish Protestant clergymen, who are not possessed by an anti-Popery crochet—and, thank God, there are few afflicted with that unfortunate disease now—are quite free to admit that it is a grievance for a tenant to be subject to ejection by his landlord, even if he pays his rent punctually.

I believe the majority of Englishmen have not the faintest idea of the way in which the Irish tenant is oppressed, not by individuals, for there are many landlords in Ireland devoted to their tenantry, but by a system. There are, however, it cannot be denied, cases of individual oppression, which, if they occurred in any part of Great Britain, and were publicly known, would raise a storm, from the Land's End to John o' Groat's House, that would take something more than revolvers to settle. As one of the great objects of studying the history of our own country, is to enable us to understand and to enact such regulations as shall be best suited to the genius of each race and their peculiar circumstances, I believe it to be my duty as an historian, on however humble a scale, not only to show how our present history is affected by the past, but also to give you such a knowledge of our present history as may enable you to judge how much the country is still suffering from present grievances, occasioned by past maladministration. Englishmen are quite aware that thousands of Irishmen leave their homes every year for a foreign country; but they have little idea of the cause of this emigration. Englishmen are quite aware that from time to time insurrections break out in Ireland, which seem to them very absurd, if not very wicked; but they do not know how much grave cause there is for discontent in Ireland. The very able and valuable pamphlets which have been written on these subjects by Mr. Butt and Mr. Levey, and on the Church question by Mr. De Vere, do not reach the English middle classes, or probably even the upper classes, unless their attention is directed to them individually. The details of the sufferings and ejectments of the Irish peasantry, which are given from time to time in the Irish papers, and principally in the Irish local papers, are never even known across the Channel. How, then, can the condition of Ireland, or of the Irish people, be estimated as it should? I believe there is a love of fair play and manly justice in the English nation, which only needs to be excited in order to be brought to act.

But ignorance on this subject is not wholly confined to the English. I fear there are many persons, even in Ireland, who are but imperfectly acquainted with the working of their own land laws, if, indeed, what sanctions injustice deserves the name of law. To avoid prolixity, I shall state very briefly the position of an Irish tenant at the present day, and I shall show (1) how this position leads to misery, (2) how misery leads to emigration, and (3) how this injustice recoils upon the heads of the perpetrators by leading to rebellion. First, the position of an Irish tenant is simply this: he is rather worse off than a slave. I speak advisedly. In Russia, the proprietors of large estates worked by slaves, are obliged to feed and clothe their slaves; in Ireland, it quite depends on the will of the proprietor whether he will let his lands to his tenants on terms which will enable them to feed their families on the coarsest food, and to clothe them in the coarsest raiment If a famine occurs—and in some parts of Ireland famines are of annual occurrence—the landlord is not obliged to do anything for his tenant, but the tenant must pay his rent. I admit there are humane landlords in Ireland; but these are questions of fact, not of feeling. It is a most flagrant injustice that Irish landlords should have the power of dispossessing their tenants if they pay their rents. But this is not all; although the penal laws have been repealed, the power of the landlord over the conscience of his tenant is unlimited. It is true he cannot apply bodily torture, except, indeed, the torture of starvation, but he can apply mental torture. It is in the power of an Irish landlord to eject his tenant if he does not vote according to his wishes. A man who has no conscience, has no moral right to vote; a man who tyrannizes over the conscience of another, should have no legal right. But there is yet a deeper depth. I believe you will be lost in amazement at what is yet to come, and will say, as Mr. Young said of penal laws in the last century, that they were more "fitted for the meridian of Barbary." You have heard, no doubt, of wholesale evictions; they are of frequent occurrence in Ireland—sometimes from political motives, because the poor man will not vote with his landlord; sometimes from religious motives, because the poor man will not worship God according to his landlord's conscience; sometimes from selfish motives, because his landlord wishes to enlarge his domain, or to graze more cattle. The motive does not matter much to the poor victim. He is flung out upon the roadside; if he is very poor, he may die there, or he may go to the workhouse, but he must not be taken in, even for a time, by any other family on the estate. The Irish Celt, with his warm heart and generous impulses, would, at all risks to himself, take in the poor outcasts, and share his poverty with them; but the landlord could not allow this. The commission of one evil deed necessitates the commission of another. An Irish gentleman, who has no personal interest in land, and is therefore able to look calmly on the question, has been at the pains to collect instances of this tyranny, in his Plea for the Celtic Race. I shall only mention one as a sample. In the year 1851, on an estate which was at the time supposed to be one of the most fairly treated in Ireland, "the agent of the property had given public notice to the tenantry that expulsion from their farms would be the penalty inflicted on them, if they harboured any one not resident on the estate. The penalty was enforced against a widow, for giving food and shelter to a destitute grandson of twelve years old. The child's mother at one time held a little dwelling, from which she was expelled; his father was dead. He found a refuge with his grandmother, who was ejected from her farm for harbouring the poor boy." When such things can occur, we should not hear anything more about the Irish having only "sentimental grievances." The poor child was eventually driven from house to house. He stole a shilling and a hen—poor fellow!—what else could he be expected to do? He wandered about, looking in vain for shelter from those who dared not give it. He was expelled with circumstances of peculiar cruelty from one cabin. He was found next morning, cold, stiff, and dead, on the ground outside. The poor people who had refused him shelter, were tried for their lives. They were found guilty of manslaughter only, in consideration of the agent's order. The agent was not found guilty of anything, nor even tried. The landlord was supposed to be a model landlord, and his estates were held up at the very time as models; yet evictions had been fearfully and constantly carried out on them. Mr. Butt has well observed: "The rules of the estate are often the most arbitrary and the most sternly enforced upon great estates, the property of men of the highest station, upon which rents are moderate, and no harshness practised to the tenantry, who implicitly submit." Such landlords generally consider emigration the great remedy for the evils of Ireland. They point to their own well-regulated and well-weeded estates; but they do not tell you all the human suffering it cost to exile those who were turned out to make room for large dairy farms, or all the quiet tyranny exercised over those who still remain. Neither does it occur to them that their successors may raise these moderate rents at a moment's notice; and if their demands are not complied with, he may eject these "comfortable farmers" without one farthing of compensation for all their improvements and their years of labour.

I have shown how the serfdom of the Irish tenant leads to misery. But the subject is one which would require a volume. No one can understand the depth of Irish misery who has not lived in Ireland, and taken pains to become acquainted with the habits and manner of life of the lower orders. The tenant who is kept at starvation point to pay his landlord's rent, has no means of providing for his family. He cannot encourage trade; his sons cannot get work to do, if they are taught trades. Emigration or the workhouse is the only resource. I think the efforts which are made by the poor in Ireland to get work are absolutely unexampled, and it is a cruel thing that a man who is willing to work should not be able to get it. I know an instance in which a girl belonging to a comparatively respectable family was taken into service, and it was discovered that for years her only food, and the only food of her family, was dry bread, and, as an occasional luxury, weak tea. So accustomed had she become to this wretched fare, that she actually could not even eat an egg. She and her family have gone to America; and I have no doubt, after a few years, that the weakened organs will recover their proper tone, with the gradual use of proper food.

There is another ingredient in Irish misery which has not met with the consideration it deserves. If the landlord happens to be humane, he may interest himself in the welfare of the families of his tenantry. He may also send a few pounds to them for coals at Christmas, or for clothing; but such instances are unhappily rare, and the alms given is comparatively nothing. In England the case is precisely the reverse. On this subject I speak from personal knowledge. There is scarcely a little village in England, however poor, where there is not a committee of ladies, assisted by the neighbouring gentry, who distribute coals, blankets, and clothing in winter; and at all times, where there is distress, give bread, tea, and meat. Well may the poor Irish come home discontented after they have been to work in England, and see how differently the poor are treated there. I admit, and I repeat it again, that there are instances in which the landlord takes an interest in his tenantry, but those instances are exceptions. Many of these gentlemen, who possess the largest tracts of land in Ireland, have also large estates in England, and they seldom, sometimes never, visit their Irish estates. They leave it to their agent. Every application for relief is referred to the agent. The agent, however humane, cannot be expected to have the same interest in the people as a landlord ought to have. The agent is the instrument used to draw out the last farthing from the poor; he is constantly in collision with them. They naturally dislike him; and he, not unnaturally, dislikes them.

The burden, therefore, of giving that relief to the poor, which they always require in times of sickness, and when they cannot get work, falls almost exclusively upon the priests and the convents. Were it not for the exertions made by the priests and nuns throughout Ireland for the support of the poor, and to obtain work for them, and the immense sums of money sent to Ireland by emigrants, for the support of aged fathers and mothers, I believe the destitution would be something appalling, and that landlords would find it even more difficult than at present to get the high rents which they demand. Yet, some of these same landlords, getting perhaps L20,000 or L40,000 a-year from their Irish estates, will not give the slightest help to establish industrial schools in connexion with convents, or to assist them when they are established, though they are the means of helping their own tenants to pay their rent. There are in Ireland about two hundred conventual establishments. Nearly all of these convents have poor schools, where the poor are taught, either at a most trifling expense, or altogether without charge. The majority of these convents feed and clothe a considerable number of poor children, and many of them have established industrial schools, where a few girls at least can earn what will almost support a whole family in comfort. I give the statistics of one convent as a sample of others. I believe there are a few, but perhaps only a very few other places, where the statistics would rise higher; but there are many convents where the children are fed and clothed, and where work is done on a smaller scale. If such institutions were encouraged by the landlords, much more could be done. The convent to which I allude was founded at the close of the year 1861. There was a national school in the little town (in England it would be called a village), with an attendance of about forty children. The numbers rose rapidly year by year, after the arrival of the nuns, and at present the average daily attendance is just 400. It would be very much higher, were it not for the steady decrease in the population, caused by emigration. The emigration would have been very much greater, had not the parish priest given employment to a considerable number of men, by building a new church, convent, and convent schools. The poorest of the children, and, in Ireland, none but the very poorest will accept such alms, get a breakfast of Indian meal and milk all the year round. The comfort of this hot meal to them, when they come in half-clad and starving of a winter morning, can only be estimated by those who have seen the children partake of it, and heard the cries of delight of the babies of a year old, and the quiet expression of thankfulness of the elder children. Before they go home they get a piece of dry bread, and this is their dinner—a dinner the poorest English child would almost refuse. The number of meals given at present is 350 per diem. The totals of meals given per annum since 1862 are as follows:—

During the year 1862 ...... 36,400 " " 1863 ...... 45,800 " " 1864 ...... 46,700 " " 1865 ...... 49,000 " " 1866 ...... 70,000 " " 1867 ...... 73,000

Making a total of 320,900

There were also 1,035 suits of clothing given.

The Industrial School was established in 1863. It has been principally supported by English ladies and Protestants. The little town where the convent is situated, is visited by tourists during the summer months; and many who have visited the convent have been so much struck by the good they saw done there, that they have actually devoted themselves to selling work amongst their English friends for the poor children.

The returns of work sold in the Industrial School are as follows:—

L s. d. Work sold in 1863 ..... 70 3 6-1/2 " " 1864 ..... 109 18 5 " " 1805 ..... 276 1 3-1/2 " " 1866 ..... 421 16 3 " " 1867 ..... 350 2 4-1/2 ___

Making a total of L1,228 1 10-1/2

The falling off in 1867 has been accounted for partly from the Fenian panic, which prevented tourists visiting Ireland as numerously as in other years, and partly from the attraction of the French Exhibition having drawn tourists in that direction. I have been exact in giving these details, because they form an important subject for consideration in regard to the present history of Ireland. They show at once the poverty of the people, their love of industry, and their eagerness to do work when they can get it. In this, and in other convent schools throughout Ireland, the youngest children are trained to habits of industry. They are paid even for their first imperfect attempts, to encourage them to go on; and they treasure up the few weekly pence they earn as a lady would her jewels. One child had in this way nearly saved up enough to buy herself a pair of shoes—a luxury she had not as yet possessed; but before the whole amount was procured she went to her eternal home, where there is no want, and her last words were a message of love and gratitude to the nuns who had taught her.

The causes of emigration, as one should think, are patent to all. Landlords do not deny that they are anxious to see the people leave the country. They give them every assistance to do so. Their object is to get more land into their own hands, but the policy will eventually prove suicidal. A revolutionary spirit is spreading fast through Europe. Already the standing subject of public addresses to the people in England, is the injustice of certain individuals being allowed to hold such immense tracts of country in their possession. We all know what came of the selfish policy of the landowners in France before the Revolution, which consigned them by hundreds to the guillotine. A little self-sacrifice, which, in the end, would have been for their own benefit, might have saved all this. The attempt to depopulate Ireland has been tried over and over again, and has failed signally. It is not more likely to succeed in the nineteenth century than at any preceding period. Even were it possible that wholesale emigration could benefit any country, it is quite clear that Irish emigration cannot benefit England. It is a plan to get rid of a temporary difficulty at a terrific future cost. Emigration has ceased to be confined to paupers. Respectable farmers are emigrating, and taking with them to America bitter memories of the cruel injustice which has compelled them to leave their native land.

Second, How misery leads to emigration. The poor are leaving the country, because they have no employment. The more respectable classes are leaving the country, because they prefer living in a free land, where they can feel sure that their hard earnings will be their own, and not their landlord's, and where they are not subject to the miserable political and religious tyranny which reigns supreme in Ireland. In the evidence given before the Land Tenure Committee of 1864, we find the following statements made by Dr. Keane, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cloyne. His Lordship is a man of more than ordinary intelligence, and of more than ordinary patriotism. He has made the subject of emigration his special study, partly from a deep devotion to all that concerns the welfare of his country, and partly from the circumstance of his residence being at Queenstown, the port from which Irishmen leave their native shores, and the place where wails of the emigrants continually resound. I subjoin a few of his replies to the questions proposed:—

"I attribute emigration principally to the want of employment."

"A man who has only ten or twelve acres, and who is a tenant-at-will, finding that the land requires improvement, is afraid to waste it [his money], and he goes away. I see many of these poor people in Queenstown every day."

"I have made inquiries over and over again in Queenstown and elsewhere, and I never yet heard that a single farmer emigrated and left the country who had a lease."

Well might Mr. Heron say, in a paper read before the Irish Statistical Society, in May, 1864: "Under the present laws, no Irish peasant able to read and write ought to remain in Ireland. If Ireland were an independent country, in the present state of things there would be a bloody insurrection in every county, and the peasantry would ultimately obtain the property in land, as they have obtained it in Switzerland and in France." That the Irish people will eventually become the masters of the Irish property, from which every effort has been made to dispossess them, by fair means and by foul, since the Norman invasion of Ireland, I have not the slightest doubt. The only doubt is whether the matter will be settled by the law or by the sword. But I have hope that the settlement will be peaceful, when I find English members of Parliament treating thus of the subject, and ministers declaring, at least when they are out of office, that something should be done for Ireland.

Mr. Stuart Mill writes: "The land of Ireland, the land of every country, belongs to the people of that country. The individuals called landowners have no right, in morality or justice, to anything but the rent, or compensation for its saleable value. When the inhabitants of a country quit the country en masse, because the Government will not make it a place fit for them to live in, the Government is judged and condemned, It is the duty of Parliament to reform the landed tenure of Ireland."

More than twenty years ago Mr. Disraeli said: "He wished to see a public man come forward and say what the Irish question was. Let them consider Ireland as they would any other country similarly circumstanced. They had a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, an alien Church, and, in addition, the weakest executive in the world. This was the Irish question. What would gentlemen say on hearing of a country in such a position? They would say at once, in such case, the remedy is revolution—not the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. But the connexion with England prevented it: therefore England was logically in the active position of being the cause of all the misery of Ireland. What, then, was the duty of an English minister? To effect by policy all the changes which a revolution would do by force." If these words had been acted upon in 1848, we should not have had a Fenian insurrection in 1867. If a peaceful revolution is to be accomplished a few persons must suffer, though, in truth, it is difficult to see what Irish landlords could lose by a fair land law, except the power to exercise a tyrannical control over their tenants. I believe, if many English absentee landlords had even the slightest idea of the evil deeds done in their names by their agents, that they would not tolerate it for a day. If a complaint is made to the landlord, he refers it to his agent. It is pretty much as if you required the man who inflicted the injury to be the judge of his own conduct. The agent easily excuses himself to the landlord; but the unfortunate man who had presumed to lift up his voice, is henceforth a marked object of vengeance; and he is made an example to his fellows, that they may not dare to imitate him. The truth is, that the real state of Ireland, and the real feelings of the Irish people, can only be known by personal intercourse with the lower orders. Gentlemen making a hurried tour through the country, may see a good deal of misery, if they have not come for the purpose of not seeing it; but they can never know the real wretchedness of the Irish poor unless they remain stationary in some district long enough to win the confidence of the people, and to let them feel that they can tell their sorrows and their wrongs without fear that they shall be increased by the disclosure.

Third, one brief word of how this injustice recoils upon the heads of the perpetrators, and I shall have ended. It recoils upon them indirectly, by causing a feeling of hostility between the governors and the governed. A man cannot be expected to revere and love his landlord, when he finds that his only object is to get all he can from him—when he finds him utterly reckless of his misery, and still more indifferent to his feelings. A gentleman considers himself a model of humanity if he pays the emigration expenses of the family whom he wishes to eject from the holding which their ancestors have possessed for centuries. He is amazed at the fearful ingratitude of the poor man, who cannot feel overwhelmed with joy at his benevolent offer. But the gentleman considers he has done his duty, and consoles himself with the reflection that the Irish are an ungrateful race. Of all the peoples on the face of the globe, the Irish Celts are the most attached to their families and to their lands. God only knows the broken hearts that go over the ocean strangers to a strange land. The young girls who leave their aged mothers, the noble, brave young fellows who leave their old fathers, act not from a selfish wish to better themselves, but from the hope, soon to be realized, that they may be able to earn in another land what they cannot earn in their own. I saw a lad once parting from his aged father. I wish I had not seen it. I heard the agonized cries of the old man: "My God! he's gone! he's gone!" I wish I had not heard it. I heard the wild wailing cry with which the Celt mourns for his dead, and glanced impulsively to the window. It was not death, but departure that prompts that agony of grief. A car was driving off rapidly on the mountain road which led to the nearest port. The car was soon out of sight. The father and the son had looked their last look into each other's eyes—had clasped the last clasp of each other's hands. An hour had passed, and still the old man lay upon the ground, where he had flung himself in his heart's bitter anguish; and still the wail rung out from time to time: "My God! he's gone! he's gone!"

Those who have seen the departure of emigrants at the Irish seaports, are not surprised at Irish disaffection—are not surprised that the expatriated youth joins the first wild scheme, which promises to release his country from such cruel scenes, and shares his money equally between his starving relatives at home, and the men who, sometimes as deceivers, and sometimes with a patriotism like his own, live only for one object—to obtain for Ireland by the sword, the justice which is denied to her by the law.

I conclude with statistics which are undeniable proofs of Irish misery. The emigration at present amounts to 100,000 per annum.

From the 1st of May, 1851, to the 31st of December, 1865, 1,630,722 persons emigrated. As the emigrants generally leave their young children after them for a time, and as aged and imbecile persons do not emigrate, the consequence is, that, from 1851 to 1861, the number of deaf and dumb increased from 5,180 to 5,653; the number of blind, from 5,787 to 6,879; and the number of lunatics and idiots, from 9,980 to 14,098. In 1841, the estimated value of crops in Ireland was L50,000,000; in 1851, it was reduced to L43,000,000; and in 1861, to L35,000,000. The number of gentlemen engaged in the learned professions is steadily decreasing; the traffic on Irish railways and the returns are steadily decreasing; the live stock in cattle, which was to have supplied and compensated for the live stock in men, is fearfully decreasing; the imports and exports are steadily decreasing. The decrease in cultivated lands, from 1862 to 1863, amounted to 138,841 acres.

While the Preface to the Second Edition was passing through the press, my attention was called to an article, in the Pall Mall Gazette, on the Right Rev. Dr. Manning's Letter to Earl Grey. The writer of this article strongly recommends his Grace to publish a new edition of his Letter, omitting the last sixteen pages. We have been advised, also, to issue a new edition of our HISTORY, to omit the Preface, and any remarks or facts that might tend to show that the Irish tenant was not the happiest and most contented being in God's creation.

The Pall Mall Gazette argues—if, indeed, mere assertion can be called argument—first, "that Dr. Manning has obviously never examined the subject for himself, but takes his ideas and beliefs from the universal statements of angry and ignorant sufferers whom he has met in England, or from intemperate and utterly untrustworthy party speeches and pamphlets, whose assertions he receives as gospel;" yet Dr. Manning has given statements of facts, and the writer has not attempted to disprove them. Second, he says: "Dr. Manning echoes the thoughtless complaints of those who cry out against emigration as a great evil and a grievous wrong, when he might have known, if he had thought or inquired at all about the matter, not only that this emigration has been the greatest conceivable blessing to the emigrants, but was an absolutely indispensable step towards improving the condition of those who remained at home;" and then the old calumnies are resuscitated about the Irish being "obstinately idle and wilfully improvident," as if it had not been proved again and again that the only ground on which such appellations can be applied to them in Ireland is, that their obstinacy consists in objecting to work without fair remuneration for their labour, and their improvidence in declining to labour for the benefit of their masters. It is the old story, "you are idle, you are idle,"—it is the old demand, "make bricks without straw,"—and then, by way of climax, we are assured that these "poor creatures" are assisted to emigrate with the tenderest consideration, and that, in fact, emigration is a boon for which they are grateful.

It is quite true that many landlords pay their tenants to emigrate, and send persons to see them safe out of the country; but it is absolutely false that the people emigrate willingly. No one who has witnessed the departure of emigrants dare make such an assertion. They are offered their choice between starvation and emigration, and they emigrate. If a man were offered his choice between penal servitude and hanging, it is probable he would prefer penal servitude, but that would not make him appreciate the joys of prison life. The Irish parish priest alone can tell what the Irish suffer at home, and how unwillingly they go abroad. A pamphlet has just been published on this very subject, by the Very Rev. P. Malone, P.P., V.F., of Belmullet, co. Mayo, and in this he says: "I have seen the son, standing upon the deck of the emigrant ship, divest himself of his only coat, and place it upon his father's shoulders, saying, 'Father, take you this; I will soon earn the price of a coat in the land I am going to.'" Such instances, which might be recorded by the hundred, and the amount of money sent to Ireland by emigrants for the support of aged parents, and to pay the passage out of younger members of the family, are the best refutation of the old falsehood that Irishmen are either idle or improvident.




Celtic Literature—Antiquity of our Annals—Moore—How we should estimate Tradition—The Materials for Irish History—List of the Lost Books—The Cuilmenn—The Saltair of Tara, &c.—The Saltair of Cashel—Important MSS. preserved in Trinity College—By the Royal Irish Academy—In Belgium.

The study of Celtic literature, which is daily becoming of increased importance to the philologist, has proved a matter of no inconsiderable value to the Irish historian. When Moore visited O'Curry, and found him surrounded with such works as the Books of Ballymote and Lecain, the Speckled Book, the Annals of the Four Masters, and other treasures of Gaedhilic lore, he turned to Dr. Petrie, and exclaimed: "These large tomes could not have been written by fools or for any foolish purpose. I never knew anything about them before, and I had no right to have undertaken the History of Ireland." His publishers, who had less scruples, or more utilitarian views, insisted on the completion of his task. Whatever their motives may have been, we may thank them for the result. Though Moore's history cannot now be quoted as an authority, it accomplished its work for the time, and promoted an interest in the history of one of the most ancient nations of the human race.

There are two sources from whence the early history of a nation may be safely derived: the first internal—the self-consciousness of the individual; the second external—the knowledge of its existence by others—the ego sum and the tu es; and our acceptance of the statements of each on matters of fact, should depend on their mutual agreement.

The first question, then, for the historian should be, What accounts does this nation give of its early history? the second, What account of this nation's early history can be obtained ab extra? By stating and comparing these accounts with such critical acumen as the writer may be able to command, we may obtain something approaching to authentic history. The history of ancient peoples must have its basis on tradition. The name tradition unfortunately gives an a priori impression of untruthfulness, and hence the difficulty of accepting tradition as an element of truth in historic research. But tradition is not necessarily either a pure myth or a falsified account of facts. The traditions of a nation are like an aged man's recollection of his childhood, and should be treated as such. If we would know his early history, we let him tell the tale in his own fashion. It may be he will dwell long upon occurrences interesting to himself, and apart from the object of our inquiries; it may be he will equivocate unintentionally if cross-examined in detail; but truth will underlie his garrulous story, and by patient analysis we may sift it out, and obtain the information we desire.

A nation does not begin to write its history at the first moment of its existence. Hence, when the chronicle is compiled which first embodies its story, tradition forms the basis. None but an inspired historian can commence In principio. The nation has passed through several generations, the people already begin to talk of "old times;" but as they are nearer these "old times" by some thousands of years than we are, they are only burdened with the traditions of a few centuries at the most; and unless there is evidence of a wilful object or intent to falsify their chronicles, we may in the main depend on their accuracy. Let us see how this applies to Gaedhilic history. The labours of the late lamented Eugene O'Curry have made this an easy task. He took to his work a critical acumen not often attained by the self-educated, and a noble patriotism not often maintained by the gifted scions of a country whose people and whose literature have been alike trodden down and despised for centuries. The result of his researches is embodied in a work[1] which should be in the hands of every student of Irish history, and of every Irishman who can afford to procure it. This volume proves that the early history of Ireland has yet to be written; that it should be a work of magnitude, and undertaken by one gifted with special qualifications, which the present writer certainly does not possess; and that it will probably require many years of patient labour from the "host of Erinn's sons," before the necessary materials for such a history can be prepared.

The manuscript materials for ancient Irish history may be divided into two classes: the historical, which purports to be a narrative of facts, in which we include books of laws, genealogies, and pedigrees; and the legendary, comprising tales, poems, and legends. The latter, though not necessarily true, are generally founded on fact, and contain a mass of most important information, regarding the ancient customs and manner of life among our ancestors. For the present we must devote our attention to the historical documents. These, again, may be divided into two classes—the lost books and those which still remain. Of the former class the principal are the CUILMENN, i.e., the great book written on skins; the SALTAIR OF TARA; the BOOK OF THE UACHONGBHAIL (pron. "ooa cong-wall"); the CIN DROMA SNECHTA; and the SALTAIR OF CASHEL. Besides these, a host of works are lost, of lesser importance as far as we can now judge, which, if preserved, might have thrown a flood of light not only upon our annals, but also on the social, historical, and ethnographic condition of other countries. The principal works which have been preserved are: the ANNALS OF TIGHERNACH (pron. "Teernagh"); the ANNALS OF ULSTER; the ANNALS OF INIS MAC NERINN; the ANNALS OF INNISFALLEN; the ANNALS OF BOYLE; the CHRONICUM SCOTORUM, so ably edited by Mr. Hennessy; the world-famous ANNALS OF THE FOUR MASTERS; the BOOK OF LEINSTER; the BOOK OF LAWS (the Brehon Laws), now edited by Dr. Todd, and many books of genealogies and pedigrees.

For the present it must suffice to say, that these documents have been examined by the ordinary rules of literary criticism, perhaps with more than ordinary care, and that the result has been to place their authenticity and their antiquity beyond cavil.

Let us see, then, what statements we can find which may throw light on our early history, first in the fragments that remain of the lost books, and then in those which are still preserved.

The CUILMENN is the first of the lost books which we mentioned. It is thus referred to in the Book of Leinster:[2] "The files [bards] of Erinn were now called together by Senchan Torpeist [about A.D. 580], to know if they remembered the Tain bo Chuailgne in full; and they said that they knew of it but fragments only. Senchan then spoke to his pupils to know which of them would go into the countries of Letha to learn the Tain which the Sai had taken 'eastwards' after the Cuilmenn. Emine, the grandson of Ninine, and Muirgen, Senchan's own son, set out to go to the East."

Here we have simply an indication of the existence of this ancient work, and of the fact that in the earliest, if not in pre-Christian times, Irish manuscripts travelled to the Continent with Irish scholars—Letha being the name by which Italy, and especially what are now called the Papal States, was then designated by Irish writers.

The SALTAIR OF TARA next claims our attention; and we may safely affirm, merely judging from the fragments which remain, that a nation which could produce such a work had attained no ordinary pitch of civilization and literary culture. The Book of Ballymote,[3] and the Yellow Book of Lecan,[4] attribute this work to Cormac Mac Art: "A noble work was performed by Cormac at that time, namely, the compilation of Cormac's Saltair, which was composed by him and the Seanchaidhe [Historians] of Erinn, including Fintan, son of Bochra, and Fithil, the poet and judge. And their synchronisms and genealogies, the succession of their kings and monarchs, their battles, their contests, and their antiquities, from the world's beginning down to that time, were written; and this is the Saltair of Temair [pron. "Tara," almost as it is called now], which is the origin and fountain of the Historians of Erinn from that period down to this time. This is taken from the Book of the Uachongbhail."[5]

As we shall speak of Cormac's reign and noble qualities in detail at a later period, it is only necessary to record here that his panegyric, as king, warrior, judge, and philosopher, has been pronounced by almost contemporary writers, as well as by those of later date. The name Saltair has been objected to as more likely to denote a composition of Christian times. This objection, however, is easily removed: first, the name was probably applied after the appellation had been introduced in Christian times; second, we have no reason to suppose that King Cormac designated his noble work by this name; and third, even could this be proven, the much maligned Keating removes any difficulty by the simple and obvious remark, that "it is because of its having been written in poetic metre, the chief book which was in the custody of the Ollamh of the King of Erinn, was called the Saltair of Temair; and the Chronicle of holy Cormac Mac Cullinan, Saltair of Cashel; and the Chronicle of Aengus Ceile De [the Culdee], Saltair-na-Rann [that is, Saltair of the Poems or Verses], because a Salm and a Poem are the same, and therefore a Salterium and a Duanaire [book of poems] are the same."[6]

The oldest reference to this famous compilation is found in a poem on the site of ancient Tara, by Cuan O'Lochain, a distinguished scholar, and native of Westmeath, who died in the year 1024. The quotation given below is taken from the Book of Ballymote, a magnificent volume, compiled in the year 1391, now in possession of the Royal Irish Academy:—

Temair, choicest of hills, For [possession of] which Erinn is now devastated,[7] The noble city of Cormac, son of Art, Who was the son of great Conn of the hundred battles: Cormac, the prudent and good, Was a sage, a file [poet], a prince: Was a righteous judge of the Fene-men,[8] Was a good friend and companion. Cormac gained fifty battles: He compiled the Saltair of Temur. In that Saltair is contained The best summary of history; It is that Saltair which assigns Seven chief kings to Erinn of harbours; They consisted of the five kings of the provinces,— The Monarch of Erinn and his Deputy. In it are (written) on either side, What each provincial king is entitled to, From the king of each great musical province. The synchronisms and chronology of all, The kings, with each other [one with another] all; The boundaries of each brave province, From a cantred up to a great chieftaincy.

From this valuable extract we obtain a clear idea of the importance and the subject of the famous Saltair, and a not less clear knowledge of the admirable legal and social institutions by which Erinn was then governed.

The CIN OF DROM SNECHTA is quoted in the Book of Ballymote, in support of the ancient legend of the antediluvian occupation of Erinn by the Lady Banbha, called in other books Cesair (pron. "kesar"). The Book of Lecan quotes it for the same purpose, and also for the genealogies of the chieftains of the ancient Rudrician race of Ulster. Keating gives the descent of the Milesian colonists from Magog, the son of Japhet, on the authority of the Cin of Drom Snechta, which, he states, was compiled before St. Patrick's mission to Erinn.[9] We must conclude this part of our subject with a curious extract from the same work, taken from the Book of Leinster: "From the Cin of Drom Snechta, this below. Historians say that there were exiles of Hebrew women in Erinn at the coming of the sons of Milesius, who had been driven by a sea tempest into the ocean by the Tirren Sea. They were in Erinn before the sons of Milesius. They said, however, to the sons of Milesius [who, it would appear, pressed marriage on them], that they preferred their own country, and that they would not abandon it without receiving dowry for alliance with them. It is from this circumstance that it is the men that purchase wives in Erinn for ever, whilst it is the husbands that are purchased by the wives throughout the world besides."[10] The SALTAIR OF CASHEL was compiled by Cormac Mac Cullinan King of Munster, and Archbishop of Cashel. He was killed in the year 903. This loss of the work is most painful to the student of the early history of Erinn. It is believed that the ancient compilation known as Cormac's Glossary, was compiled from the interlined gloss to the Saltair; and the references therein to our ancient history, laws, mythology, and social customs, are such as to indicate the richness of the mine of ancient lore. A copy was in existence in 1454, as there is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (Laud, 610) a copy of such portions as could be deciphered at the time. This copy was made by Shane O'Clery for Mac Richard Butler.

The subjoined list of the lost books is taken from O'Curry's MS. Materials, page 20. It may be useful to the philologist and interesting to our own people, as a proof of the devotion to learning so early manifested in Erinn:—

"In the first place must be enumerated again the Cuilmenn; the Saltair of Tara; the Cin Droma Snechta; the Book of St. Mochta; the Book of Cuana; the Book of Dubhdaleithe; and the Saltair of Cashel. Besides these we find mention of the Leabhar buidhe Slaine or Yellow Book of Slane; the original Leabhar na h-Uidhre; the Books of Eochaidh O'Flannagain; a certain book known as the Book eaten by the poor people in the desert; the Book of Inis an Duin; the Short Book of St. Buithe's Monastery (or Monasterboice); the Books of Flann of the same Monastery; the Book of Flann of Dungeimhin (Dungiven, co. Derry); the Book of Dun da Leth Ghlas (or Downpatrick); the Book of Doire (Derry); the Book of Sabhall Phatraic (or Saull, co. Down); the Book of the Uachongbhail (Navan, probably); the Leabhar dubh Molaga, or Black Book of St. Molaga; the Leabhar buidhe Moling, or Yellow Book of St. Moling; the Leabhar buidhe Mhic Murchadha, or Yellow Book of Mac Murrach; the Leabhar Arda Macha, or Book of Armagh (quoted by Keating); the Leabhar ruadh Mhic Aedhagain, or Red Book of Mac Aegan; the Leabhar breac Mhic Aedhagain, or Speckled Book of Mac Aegan; the Leabhar fada Leithghlinne, or Long Book of Leithghlinn, or Leithlin; the Books of O'Scoba of Cluain Mic Nois (or Clonmacnois); the Duil Droma Ceata, or Book of Drom Ceat; and the Book of Clonsost (in Leix, in the Queen's County)."

(temp. St. Patrick, circa A.D. 430.)]

Happily, however, a valuable collection of ancient MSS. are still preserved, despite the "drowning" of the Danes, and the "burning" of the Saxon. The researches of continental scholars are adding daily to our store; and the hundreds of Celtic MSS., so long entombed in the libraries of Belgium and Italy, will, when published, throw additional light upon the brightness of the past, and, it may be, enhance the glories of the future, which we must believe are still in reserve for the island of saints and sages.[11]

The list of works given above are supposed by O'Curry to have existed anterior to the year 1100. Of the books which Keating refers to in his History, written about 1630, only one is known to be extant—the Saltair-na-Rann, written by Aengus Ceile De.

The principal Celtic MSS. which are still preserved to us, may be consulted in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, and in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy. The latter, though founded at a much later period, is by far the more extensive, if not the more important, collection. Perhaps, few countries have been so happy as to possess a body of men so devoted to its archaeology, so ardent in their preservation of all that can be found to illustrate it, and so capable of elucidating its history by their erudition, which, severally and collectively, they have brought to bear on every department of its ethnology. The collection in Trinity College consists of more than 140 volumes, several of them are vellum,[12] dating from the early part of the twelfth to the middle of the last century. The collection of the Royal Irish Academy also contains several works written on vellum, with treatises of history, science, laws, and commerce; there are also many theological and ecclesiastical compositions, which have been pronounced by competent authorities to be written in the purest style that the ancient Gaedhilic language ever attained. There are also a considerable number of translations from Greek, Latin, and other languages. These are of considerable importance, as they enable the critical student of our language to determine the meaning of many obscure or obsolete words or phrases, by reference to the originals; nor are they of less value as indicating the high state of literary culture which prevailed in Ireland during the early Christian and the Middle Ages. Poetry, mythology, history, and the classic literature of Greece and Rome, may be found amongst these translations; so that, as O'Curry well remarks, "any one well read in the comparatively few existing fragments of our Gaedhilic literature, and whose education had been confined solely to this source, would find that there are but very few, indeed, of the great events in the history of the world with which he was not acquainted."[13] He then mentions, by way of illustration of classical subjects, Celtic versions of the Argonautic Expedition, the Siege of Troy, the Life of Alexander the Great; and of such subjects as cannot be classed under this head, the Destruction of Jerusalem; the Wars of Charlemagne, including the History of Roland the Brave; the History of the Lombards, and the almost contemporary translation of the Travels of Marco Polo.

There is also a large collection of MSS. in the British Museum, a few volumes in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, besides the well-known, though inaccessible, Stowe collection.[14]

The treasures of Celtic literature still preserved on the Continent, can only be briefly mentioned here. It is probable that the active researches of philologists will exhume many more of these long-hidden volumes, and obtain for our race the place it has always deserved in the history of nations.

The Louvain collection, formed chiefly by Fathers Hugh Ward, John Colgan, and Michael O'Clery, between the years 1620 and 1640, was widely scattered at the French Revolution. The most valuable portion is in the College of St. Isidore in Rome. The Burgundian Library at Brussels also possesses many of these treasures. A valuable resume of the MSS. which are preserved there was given by Mr. Bindon, and printed in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy in the year 1847. There are also many Latin MSS. with Irish glosses, which have been largely used by Zeuss in his world-famed Grammatica Celtica. The date of one of these—a codex containing some of Venerable Bede's works—is fixed by an entry of the death of Aed, King of Ireland, in the year 817. This most important work belonged to the Irish monastery of Reichenau, and is now preserved at Carlsruhe. A codex is also preserved at Cambray, which contains a fragment of an Irish sermon, and the canons of an Irish council held A.D. 684.


[1] Work.Lectures on the MS. Materials of Ancient Irish History. This work was published at the sole cost of the Catholic University of Ireland, and will be an eternal monument of their patriotism and devotion to literature. A chair of Irish History and Archaeology was also founded at the very commencement of the University; and yet the "Queen's Colleges" are discarding this study, while an English professor in Oxford is warmly advocating its promotion. Is the value of a chair to be estimated by the number of pupils who surround it, or by the contributions to science of the professor who holds it?

[2] Leinster.—Book of Leinster, H.2.18, T.C.D. See O'Curry, p. 8.

[3] Ballymote.—Library R.I.A., at fol. 145, a.a.

[4] Lecan.—Trinity College, Dublin, classed H.2.16.

[5] Uachongbhail.—O'Curry's MS. Materials, p. 11.

[6] Same.—Ibid. p. 12. The Psalms derived their name from the musical instrument to which they were sung. This was called in Hebrew nebel. It obtained the name from its resemblance to a bottle or flagon. Psaltery is the Greek translation, and hence the name psalm.

[7] Devastated.—This was probably written in the year 1001, when Brian Boroimhe had deposed Malachy.

[8] Fene-men.—The farmers, who were not Fenians then certainly, for "Cormac was a righteous judge of the Agraria Lex of the Gaels."

[9] Erinn.—Keating says: "We will set down here the branching off of the races of Magog, according to the Book of Invasions (of Ireland), which was called the Cin of Drom Snechta; and it was before the coming of Patrick to Ireland the author of that book existed."—See Keating, page 109, in O'Connor's translation. It is most unfortunate that this devoted priest and ardent lover of his country did not bring the critical acumen to his work which would have made its veracity unquestionable. He tells us that it is "the business of his history to be particular," and speaks of having "faithfully collected and transcribed." But until recent investigations manifested the real antiquity and value of the MS. Materials of Ancient Irish History, his work was looked on as a mere collection of legends. The quotation at present under consideration is a case in point. He must have had a copy of the Cin of Drom Snechta in his possession, and he must have known who was the author of the original, as he states so distinctly the time of its compilation. Keating's accuracy in matters of fact and transcription, however, is daily becoming more apparent. This statement might have been considered a mere conjecture of his own, had not Mr. O'Curry discovered the name of the author in a partially effaced memorandum in the Book of Leinster, which he reads thus: "[Ernin, son of] Duach [that is], son of the King of Connacht, an Ollamh, and a prophet, and a professor in history, and a professor in wisdom: it was he that collected the Genealogies and Histories of the men of Erinn in one book, that is, the Cin Droma Snechta." Duach was the son of Brian, son of the monarch Eochaidh, who died A.D. 305.

[10] Besides.—O'Curry, page 16.

[11] Sages.—M. Nigra, the Italian Ambassador at Paris, is at this moment engaged in publishing continental MSS.

[12] Vellum.—The use of vellum is an indication that the MSS. must be of some antiquity. The word "paper" is derived from papyrus, the most ancient material for writing, if we except the rocks used for runes, or the wood for oghams. Papyrus, the pith of a reed, was used until the discovery of parchment, about 190 B.C. A MS. of the Antiquities of Josephus on papyrus, was among the treasures seized by Buonaparte in Italy.

[13] Acquainted.—O'Curry's MS. Materials, page 24.

[14] Collection.-A recent writer in the Cornhill says that Lord Ashburnham refuses access to this collection, now in his possession, fearing that its contents may be depreciated so as to lessen its value at a future sale. We should hope this statement can scarcely be accurate. Unhappily, it is at least certain that access to the MSS. is denied, from whatever motive.

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