This section is from the book "Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, And Superstitions Of Ireland", by Jane Francesca Wilde. Also available from Amazon: Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, And Superstitions Of Ireland.
It appears to me that one of our great difficulties in Ireland has been the want of fusion-not only of races, but of opinions and sentiments, in what may be called a " give and take" system. As regards the intermixture, I think there cannot be a better one than the Saxon with the Celt. The Anglo-Normans, however, partially fused with the native Irish; for Strongbow married Eva the daughter of King Dermot ; and from this marriage it has been clearly shown that Her Most Gracious Majesty the present Queen of Ireland and Great Britain is lineally descended. Several of the noble warriors who came over about that period have established great and widespread names in Ireland, among whom I may mention the Geraldines in Leinster, the De Burgos in Connaught, and the Butlers in Munster; and they and their descendants became, according to the old Latin adage, " more Irish than the Irish themselves."
Look what the intermixture of races has done for us in Ireland; the Firbolg brought us agriculture; the Danann the chemistry and mechanics of metal work ; the Milesians beauty and governing power ; the Danes commerce and navigation; the Anglo-Normans chivalry and organized government; and, in later times, the French emigrants taught us an improved art of weaving.
It would be more political than ethnological were I to enter upon the discussion of that subsequent period which would conduct us to the days of Cromwell or the Boyne, or, perhaps, to later periods, involving questions not pertinent to the present subject.
But I must here say a word or two respecting Irish art. In architecture, in decorative tone-work, from archaic markings that gave a tone and character to all subsequent art, in our beauteous crosses, in our early metal work, in gold and bronze, carried on from the pagan to the Christian period, and in our gorgeously illuminated MS. books, we have got a style of art that is specially and peculiarly Irish, and that has no exact parallel elsewhere, and was only slightly modified by Norman or Frankish design.
Time passed, and events accumulated ; political affairs intermingle, but the anthropologist should try and keep clear of them. At the end of the reign of Elizabeth a considerable immigration of English took place into the south of Ireland. Subsequently the historic episode of the "Flight of the Earls," O'Neil and O'Donnell, brought matters to a climax ; and the early part of the reign of the first James is memorable for the "Plantation of Ulster," when a number of Celtic Scots with some Saxons returned to their brethren across the water ; and about the same time the London companies occupied large portions of this fertile province, and the early Irish race were transplanted by the Protector to the West, as I have already stated. It must not be imagined that this was the first immigration. The
Picts passed through Ireland, and no doubt left a remnant behind them. And in consequence of contiguity, the Scottish people must early have settled upon our northern coasts. When the adventurous Edward Bruce made that marvellous inroad into Ireland at the end of the fourteenth century and advanced into the bowels of the land, he carried with him a Gaelic population cognate with our own people, and in all probability left a residue in Ulster, thus leavening the original Firbolgs, Tuatha-de-Danann, and Milesians, with the exception of the county of Donegal, which still holds a large Celtic population speaking the old Irish tongue, and retaining the special characters of that people as I have already described them. This Scotic race, as it now exists in Ulster, and of which we have specimens before us, I would sum up with three characteristics. That they were courageous is proved by their shutting the gates and defending the walls of Derry ; that they were independent and lovers of justice has been shown by their establishment of tenant right ; and that they were industrious and energetic is manifest by the manufactures of Belfast Do not, I entreat my brethren of Ulster, allow these manufactures to be jeopardized, either by masters or men, by any disagreements, which must lead to the decay of the fairest and wealthiest province and one of the most beautiful cities in this our native land.
UNWIN BROTHERS, THE GRES Ji AM PRESS, CHILWORTH AND LONDON.