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The pretensions of Ireland to Ossian proceed from another quarter. There are handeddown, in that country, traditional poems, concerning the Fiona, or the heroes of Fion Mac Comnal. This Fion, say the Irish annalists, was general of the militia of Ireland, in the reign of Cormac, in the third century. Where Keating and O'Flaherty learned., that Ireland had an embodied militia so early, is not easy for me to determine. Their information certainly did not come from the Irish poems, concerning Fion. I have just now, in my hands, all that remain, of those compositions ; but, unluckily for the antiquities of Ireland , they appear to be the work of a very modern period. Every stanza, may almost every line, affords striking proofs, that they cannot be three centuries old. Their allusions to the manners and customs of the fifteenth century, are so many, that it is matter of wonder to me, how any one could dream of their antiquity. They are entirely writ in that romantic taste, which prevail. ed two ages ago.—Giants, enchanted castles, dwarfs, palfreys, witches and magicians form
With one foot on Cromleach his brow,
Cromleach and Crommal were two mountains in the neighbourhood of one another, in Ulster , and the river Lubar ran through the intermediate valley. The property of such a monster as this Fion, I should never have disputed with any nation. But the bard himself, in the poem, from which the above quotation is taken , cedes him to Scotland. to the public. But this ought to be the work of a native of Ireland. To draw forth, from obscurity, the poems of my own country has afforded ample employment to me; besides, I am too diffident of my own abilities, to undertake such a work. A gentleman in Dublin accused me to the public, of committing blunders and absurdities, in translating the language of my own country, and that before any translation of mine appeared (1). How the gentleman came to
Were it allowable to contradićt the authority of a bard, at this distance of time, I should have given as my opinion, that this enormous Fion was of the race of the Hibernian giants, of Ruanus, or some other celebrated name, rather than a native of Caledonia, whose inhabitants , now at least, are not remarkable for their stature.
(1) In Faulkner's Dublin Journal, of the 1st December, 1761, appeared the following Advertisement:
Speedily will be published, by a gentleman of this kingdom , who hath been , for some time
Originally wrote in the Irish or Erse language. In the preface to which , the translator, who is a perfeót master of the Irish tongue, will give an account of the manners and customs of the antient Irish or Scotch; and , therefore , most humbly intreats the public, to wait for his edition, which will appear in a short time, as he will set forth all the blunders and absurdities in the edition now printing in London, and shew the ignorance of the English translator, in his 1:nowledge of Irish grammar, not understanding any part of that accidence.