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a date to the great inclosure already described, it must be confessed there is really nothing beyond conjecture to be found as a guide,—conjecture, however, which may so far be restrained by a general reference to authentic history, that, in the absence of more definite information, it may now be offered for consideration.
It will scarcely have been forgotten that Aengus king of Munster granted permission to St. Enna to build a monastery on Inishmore, and this act of regal bounty would not unnaturally perpetuate his name in connexion with any extensive monument of human labour that existed on the island at a time its sanctity was acknowledged. We know how readily historical fictions of this kind have been engrafted upon British history, how impudently monkish chroniclers have invented stories, and how slavishly succeeding writers have copied them. Nay, facts are often so distorted by the most accredited of authors, that it is exceedingly difficult to establish the truth. Thus, too, to take another sort of illustration, the habit has sprung up of making the founders of religious houses and the actual builders identical. We can, however, correct such mistakes as this, by our present knowledge of the comparative ages of Gothic mouldings, and so far we are independent of the assistance of history; in short, we can teach ourselves the date of a structure by the evidence supplied by itself.
Unluckily there is no clue of this kind afforded by the uncemented masonry of Dun Aengus, and the other remains of the same nature. Yet, upon reviewing the circumstances under which these islands were granted to St. Enna, and knowing that it was no unusual thing for those who had bound themselves by a monastic vow, or devoted themselves to a holy solitude, to protect the buildings in which they worshipped, or the localities they venerated,—knowing that this was a common practice, as we learn from the history given us by Beda of St. Cuthbert's monastic establishment in the island of Farne, and as we also learn from the ancient tripartite life of St. Patrick, there is great reason to believe that all of these Duns, Cathairs, or Cashels, were erected as defences around the sacred buildings where the pious of those early times performed their devotions.
It would occupy too much space on the present occasion to adduce corroboration of this idea; and it must be enough to say that, although pagan forts were occasionally given up by the native rulers of Ireland for the use of a Christian community, they were also frequently erected specially for the purpose. The biographers of Caillin, of Mochuda, of Molaise, of Mac Duagh and Patrick, amid all the nonsense of the miraculous attributes they have ascribed to them, are entitled to confidence, like Beda, when they confine themselves simply to local descriptions,—descriptions in which this custom is fully mentioned,—a custom, moreover, commemorated by the poets of the day, and recorded in the authentic Annals of the Four Masters. Thus we read, that in 1091 the Rath of Armagh was burned: in an ancient poem attributed to Flann, that Aodh Finn, on his conversion to Christianity by Caillin, had given up his Cathair to him, in order to erect his monastic buildings within it: and, again, the tripartite life of St. Patrick, speaking of the group of Christian churches near Armagh, mentions the earthen inclosure round them, and that the usual measurement adopted by St. Patrick in all such works was 140 feet in diameter. These illustrations, for which I am indebted to the Ecclesiastical Architecture of Dr. Petrie, are in my opinion highly conclusive in establishing the intention of these remarkable monuments, and which, as Christian monuments, are both the most ancient, and beyond all comparison the most gigantic and curious, of any others of the same age existing elsewhere. Such a Cathair, Rath, Dun, Lis, or Cashel,—for they are all the same,—is mentioned by these writers as having existed at Armagh, and at Lismore; and those of Inishmurray, Inishmore and Inishmaan were most probably erected for the same specific purposes, and at a time much anterior to the first regular intercourse between England and Ireland,—perhaps very little later than the period during which St. Enna himself flourished.5
I have made reference to the actions of these celebrated personages, because there can be no doubt of the great services they rendered in spreading a knowledge of Christianity during the fifth and sixth centuries. It is impossible, in fact, to look into the history of the Irish Church during these early years, without seeing how much was effected by their exertions. The memory of St. Patrick, therefore, will ever be justly endeared to the best sympathies of Ireland. It is indissolubly united with all its traditionary usages, its names, its anniversaries, its monastic ruins, and the popular usages of its people.6 Nor, though less influential, is there the least reason for disbelieving the missionary labours of this great man's associates. The names of St. Ailbe, Declan, Kiaran7 and Ibar, will always excite respectful recollection; and with equal unsuperstitious reverence, we shall bear honourable testimony to the missionary labours of St. Columba and Columbanus. But at the same time, it is our duty to separate what is fabulous from what is accredited by the just laws of historic criticism; and, though acknowledging the existence of the reputed saint, not to give credence to the childish and ridiculous legends by which his life is disfigured. And thus the holy wells which so frequently occur, or the kitchens and beds associated with hagiological names, will be viewed merely as a portion of the mythology of the middle ages.
Having however thus discarded from our consideration those miraculous actions which are manifestly incredible, we need not, as Protestants, fear retreating upon the real history of those early, or still more early, times, to show that the faith we profess was then held without the corruptions which the Church of Rome has since engrafted. For
s Magradin says in his Life that Endeus or Enna surrounded the monastery he built at Cillaine with deep ditches.—Colgan, p. 706.
6 King's valuable " Church History of Ireland," i. p. 16.
f The biographer of St. Endeus says that Kieran passed seven years in Aran.—Colgan, p. 708.
to adduce no other example than that given by Patrick himself, who found Christians in the country when he first arrived,—the Word of God was then diligently studied,— both he and his companions were ignorant of purgatory,— the priesthood was allowed to marry, and the Irish Church was under no obedience to the see of Rome. Nor was it until the twelfth century, when the kingdom passed under the dominion of Henry II., that it submitted to this ignominious and unchristian thraldom.
But to wander no longer from concluding a description already too diffusely related, we may be allowed to draw a contrast between the first and the present condition of Inishmore. The pilgrims who for ages frequented this land of reputed sanctity have passed away. I saw the bones of some withering in the damp recesses of the Seven Churches. The monastic establishments founded by Enna have gone into utter ruin,—the conical houses of Mac Duach's8 monks have yielded to decay,—the holy wells are choked up, and the wayside crosses have fallen; in short every material vestige of its ancient celebrity except Dun Aengus and the other stone cashels is extinct. Yet is there still a clear light remaining to guide these simple Aranites on their heavenward journey. The little unpretending church, lately consecrated at Kilronan by the Bishop of Tuam, by God's blessing upon the pastoral labours of its minister, may become the means of diffusing a brighter knowledge of Divine truth, and by the instrumentality of his teaching, they may learn, whilst looking with charity, I hope, upon the errors of their Roman Catholic neighbours, to feel thankful for their own possession of the pure Word of God, as well as for the higher degree of religious liberty they enjoy.
Charles Henry Hartshorne.
8 Colman, or Mac Duach, we are gravely informed by his biographer, had no other earthly possessions than a cock to wake him to prayer, a mouse to bite him lest he should sleep too long, and a gnat to point out the part at which he had been interrupted in his reading. —Colgan, p. 244.
Cambrian Irrljaenlngual tonriatinn.
SEVENTH ANNUAL MEETING, BRECON,
SEPTEMBER 12th To 16th, 1853.
Monday, September 12th.
In the absence of the Hon. R. H. Clive, the Rev. W. Basil Jones moved that Sir Joseph Bailey, Bart., M.P., should take the chair. The motion having been seconded, and carried by acclamation,
Sir Joseph Bailey rose and said that his friend Mr. Clive had personally told him that, from particular engagements, it would be out of his power to attend the meeting in Brecon. As far as he himself was concerned, the members were aware that the pursuits of his life were quite foreign in their nature to the objects of the Association. That Association, however, had excited so great interest, not only in Wales, but in England also, that if he could be a humble instrument in forwarding its objects, it would give him very great pleasure to do so. The antiquities of the town and district had been tolerably well described by historians, but he had no doubt that they would receive additional illustration from the members of this Association. He regretted that, from the state of his health, he should not have it in his power to attend the whole of the meeting; but he was happy to say that his place would be more efficiently filled by his much valued friend Mr. Powell, the mayor of that borough. Few men were more willing, or more able, to be of service to the Association; and, as Mr. Powell had been kind enough to say that he would enumerate and explain the objects to be visited, he should beg the favour of his doing so.
Mr. Powell said that, although he could not but feel gratified by the flattering manner in which his honourable friend, the Member for the County and the President of this Association, had mentioned his name, he regretted that the duties of the office were destined to fall on one so utterly inadequate to discharge them efficiently. At the same time, as far as his feeble efforts could be rendered useful, they would be placed most heartily at their service. The object of the present Association in common with other Archaeological Societies