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I.EOT. xix. » Timer, Cuehulainn's wife, came out next.—' A safe journey jie«ows to thee, O Emer, daughter of For gall Manach\ said Brierind: among the 'thou wife of the best man in Erinn: Emer of the beautiful women; jjair. The kings and the princes of Erinn are at enmity about thee. As far as the sun excels the stars of heaven, so far dost thou excel the women of the whole world, in face, and in shape, and in family, in youth and in lustre, in fame and in dignity, and in eloquence'. So, though great the flattering praise he bestowed on the other women, he lavished twice as much upon Emer.
"The three women moved on then till they reached the same place, that is, three ridges from the house; and none of them knew that the other had been spoken to by Brierind. They returned to the house then. They passed over the first ridge with a quiet, graceful, dignified carnage; hardly did any one of them put one foot beyond another. In the second ridge their steps were closer and quicker. The ridge nearest to the house [in getting over it] each woman sought to forcibly take the lead of her companions; and they even took up their dresses to the calves of their legs, vying with each other who should enter the house first; because what Brierind said to each, unknown to the others, was, that she who should first enter the house should be queen of the whole province. And such was the noise they made in their contest to enter the kingly house, that it was like the rush of fifty chariots arriving there; so that they shook the whole kingly house, and the champions started up for their arms, each striking his face against the other throughout the house.
"'Stop', said Sencha, [the judge], 'they are not foes that have come there; but it is Brierind that has raised a contest between the women since they have gone out. I swear by the oaths of my territory', said he, ' that if the house is not closed against them, their dead will be more numerous than their living'. So the door-keepers shut the door immediately. But Emer, the daughter of Forgall Manach and wife of Cuchulainn, advanced in speed before the other women, and put her back to the door, and hurled the door-keepers from it before the other women came up. Then their husbands stood up in the house, each of them anxious to open the door before his wife, that his own wife should so be the first to enter the house. 4 This will be an evil night', said Conckobar the king. Then he struck his silver pin against the bronze post of his couch; and all immediately took their seats. 'Be quiet', said Sencha [the judge]; 'it is not a battle with arms that shall prevail here, but a battle of words'. Each woman then put herself under the protection of her husband outside: and it was then they delivered those I.ect. xtx. speeches which are called by the poets the Briat/iarchath Ban the BriaihUladh, the ' battle-speeches of the women of Ulster'". C*km;
We must for the present pass over these long-celebrated speeches, remarkable though they are in point of mere language, as examples of the copiousness and delicacy of the ancient Gaedhehc tongue in terms of laudation, such as these three princesses of Ulster lavished on their husbands on this occasion.
At the conclusion of the harangues, the champions LaeghairS Buadhach and Conall Cearnaeh rushed suddenly at the wooden wall of the house, and, knocking a plank out of it, brought in their wives. Not so Cucliulainn; "he raised up", the story tells us, " that part of the house which was opposite his couch, so that the stars of heaven were visible from beneath the wall; and it was through this opening that his wife came in to him". And the tale goes on to say that, " Cucliulainn then let the house fall down suddenly again, so that he shook the whole fabric, and laid Bricrind'e grianan prostrate on the ground, so that Bricrind himself and his wife were cast into the mire, among the dogs. Then Bricrind harangued the Ultonians, and conjured them to restore his house to its original position, as it still remained inclined to one side. And all the champions of the Ultonians united their strength and exerted themselves to restore the balance of the house, but without effect". They then begged of Cuchulainn to try his own strength on it, which he did, and alone restored the house to its perpendicular.
This is an extravagant tale in form; and a great part of it may at first sight appear somewhat irrelevant to the purpose of this Lecture. It was proper, however, to give so much at least of the story as to explain the occasion of the singular performance attributed, in the exaggerated language of the poet, to the hero Cuchulainn, who fills completely the part of Hercules in our ancient tales. And it happens that none of the other great houses already mentioned have been described, in some respects, with the same minuteness as to form, material, preparation for building, furniture, and internal arrangement, as this celebrated house and grianan of Bricrind. For instance: we BHcrinf are told that there were six horses to carry home every post or of"8 plank of the walls; that it took seven of the stoutest men in J^"' Ulster to weave or interlace between the upright posts, each of the stout rods which, like basket-work, filled up the space between these posts; and there were thirty builders or carpenters besides. The rods thus used were, I believe, uniformly of hazle, perhaps because that was the smoothest of all the forest
I.ect. xix. trees. Again, we are told, that this house was supplied with glass windows; and that it was supplied, as well as Bricrind'a own grianan, with coverlets, beds, and pillows. And we learn that the panels and posts of these beds or couches, (for they answered both purposes,) were gorgeously adorned and emblazoned. So that, making due allowance for the poetry of the description, this house of Bricrind must have been an elegant, as well as a commodious building; and though we must not take the description as representing more than the poet's ideal of what he would have regarded as a splendid house in his own time, still there can be no doubt but that such edifices as that described, were in their main characteristics the prevailing form of house in ancient times in this country; and in fact the use of the wooden basket-work building, with its decorations, came down, as we shall soon see, to a comparatively late period of our history .(10)
[do) ggg Introduction on the similar houses of the Gauls and the illustrations from the Colonne Antonine in the Louvre, Figs. 64, 55.]
[Dcllrend ISth July,
(VII.) Of Buildings, Fcrnitcbe, Etc.; (continued). The descriptions of buildings in our ancient MSS., even when poetical in form, and not strictly accurate as to date, are still valuable for the object of these lectures. Veracity of the evidence respecting the " Great Banqueting Hall" of Tara in the time of Cormac Mac Airt, as given by Dr. Petrie; no record of the changes which took place at Tara subsequent to that time. Residences of the monarchs of Krinn after the desertion of Tara. Desertion of other celebrated royal residences,—Emania, Cruachan, etc. Division of the people into classes: this division did not Impose perpetuity of caste; increase of wealth enabled a man to pass from one rank to another; crime alone barred this advancement; the qualifications as to furniture and houses of the several classes of Airts or landholders; fines for injury to the house of the AirtReirt Breithe; of the Airt Desa; of the Airt-Ard; of the Airt Forgaitl; of the king of a territory. Law against damage or disfigurement of buildings and furniture: of the house of a Bo-Airt; of the house of an Airt-Desa; of the house of an Airt-Tuise; of the house of an Airt-Ard. Law directing the provision to be made for aged men. Shape of houses in ancient Krinn; construction of the round house; reference to the building of such a house in an Irish life of St. Colman Ela; a similar story told of St. Cumin Fada. No instance recorded of an ecclesiastical edifice built of wicker work; two instances of the building of oratories of wood;—story of the oratory of St. Moling; quatrain of Rumand Mac Colman on the oratory of Rethan Ua Suanaigh; account of Rumand writing a poem for the Galls of Dublin; he carries his wealth to fill Belaigh; statement of seven streets of Galls or foreigners at that place; importance of the account of Rumand.
It is of very little moment to the history of the country whether the descriptions, preserved in our ancient manuscripts, of the " Great Houses" of the Royal Branch, of Emania, in Ulster; of the " Great House" into which Fraech, the son of Fidhadh, was ushered with his followers, at Cruachan, in Connacht; or of the " Great House" which Bricrind built at Rath Rudhraidhi, in Ulster (all these accounts referring to the period of the Incarnation), be strictly correct in all their dates, or tinged with somewhat of the story-teller's exaggeration. The imagination of writers say of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries must have been grounded, at least, on what they were accustomed to see about them; and they must have described (be it indeed with some colouring as to accessories) merely that state of things which still continued in vivid recollection, if not in actual existence, in their time In this way even the most poetic accounts are important to history; just as those of Homer are so with reference to similar matters, although mixed up with so much of the fabulous and the impossible in action.
Jlkct xx. As to the character of the " Great House of the Thousands of Soldiers", and the Great Banqueting House at Tara, in the time of Corinac Mac Airt (that is, in the middle of the third century), and in the reign of Laeghairk Mac Neill (that is, at the time of the coming of Saint Patrick in the fifth century), no candid reader will for a moment refuse credence to the evidences of them published by Dr. Petrie in his admirable Essay on the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill, at least to the extent to which their probable veracity is measured by that thoughtful and most cautious writer.
Of the changes or improvements, if any, in the mansions of Tara, between the death of Laeghaire" Mac Neill and its total desertion as a royal residence and seat of the central government of the kingdom (about the middle of the sixth century), no record has come down to us, as far as I know. Neither have we any account, that I have seen, of the style or particular character of the dwellings of the monarchs, or of the provincial kings of Erinn, who succeeded Diarmait, the son of Fergus Cerrbhioil, the last occupier of the Great House of Tara, down to the final overthrow of the monarchy in the twelfth century. Residences For, after the desertion of the ancient seat of the supreme niwurcin ..f royalty, each of the succeeding monarchs fixed his residence in thermion somc part of his own provincial territories; so, the Clann of Turn. Colmain, or Southern Ui-Neill, who were the hereditary princes of Tara and Meath, and who subsequently took the name of O'Maeilsheachlainn, had their chief seat at Dun-na-Sciath, on the bank of Loch Aininn (now called Loch Ennel, near Mullingar, in Westmeath); whilst the northern Ui-Neill, subsequently represented by the O'Neills, whenever they succeeded to the monarchy, held their court and residence at the ancient provincial palace of Aileach, near Deny, of which mention was made in the last Lecture; and when Brian Borumlia came to the supreme throne in the year 1002, he continued to reside at the celebrated Ceann-Coradh (a name which signifies literally, the "Head of the Weir", at the place now called Killaloe, in the county of Clare), a place about a mile south by east from Grianan-Lachtna, near Craig-Liath, the once noble residence of his great-grandfather Lachtna, some traces of which even still remain.
So also, when Torloch M6r O'Conor, and his son Rudhraidhe after him, became monarchs, in the first part of the twelfth century, they had their residence on the bank of Loch En (a place now represented, I believe, by the castle of Roscommon). This is sufficiently shown in the Annals of the Four Masters, at the year 1225. For, it appears that, in that