Thursday, 23 July 2015

Irish Proverbs

The Milesian Irish believe that their ancient Kings, Brehons, and Fileas were men of great intelligence and wisdom, — that the sayings of Ollamh-fodhla, Fithil the wise, Moran, and Cormac Mac Art, were so many lessons of human wisdom, — that the venerable dicta of Finghin, Kicran, Columbkille, &c. were so many maxims of sacred truth, and their actions so many examples of virtue; and the wit of Goban Saér, the celebrated Deadalus of Ireland, is yet remembered and told with vivacity.

Amongst a people who entertain so high an opinion of the talent of their predecessors, it should be expected that some trace of this wisdom would still remain, and that a few at least of these proverbial sayings should be discovered; but whoever makes the enquiry, through the medium of books, will find that, amongst all the nations of the world, the proverbs of the Irish are the most vulgar, awkward, incoherent, and ridiculous, indicating a lowness of sentiment, and a total lack of mental refinement.

Proverbs owe their origin to the sayings of wise men, allusions of ancient poets, the customs and manners of nations, they are adapted to common use as ornaments of speech, set rules of instruction, arguments of wisdom, to which time has given assent, and maxims of undeniable truth. The peculiar veneration which the Irish have for their ancient proverbs, has given rise to a well known assertion: Ni feider an sean-fhocal do sharúghadh. It is impossible to contradict the old word (proverb.)
From this it will, I think, be granted, that a perfect list of the proverbs of any people is, as it were, an index to the national character, or the elements of the moral notions, customs, and manners of a people.

In Ray's splendid collection of English, Scotch, Italian, Spanish, Danish, and Oriental Proverbs, the following list of Irish ones are given, which shows how Ireland has been made known to the world, by the circulation of that learned and excellent work, as a nation of blunderers and blockheads!! And no Irishman has ever since come forward to defend the wisdom of Ollav Fodhla, by translating and publishing a list of genuine Irish proverbs!! Shame Ireland!

Ray says, "The following proverbs are presumed to be Irish:"

1. "She is like a Mullingar heifer, beef to the heels.
2. "He is like a Waterford merchant, up to the -------- in business.
3. "His eyes are like two burnt holes in a blanket.
4. "Full of fun and foustre, like Mooney's goose.
5. "He looks as angry as if he were vexed.
6. "'Tis as bad as cheating the devil in the dark, and two farthing candles for a halfpenny.
7. "He'd skin a louse, and send the hide and fat to market."

These are, without doubt, modern English-IRISH proverbs of the lowest order, and rudest nature, but they have no more to do with the wise sayings of the ancient Milesian Irish, than with the proverbs of Solomon, or the wise savings of the Brahmins; the following list of genuine Irish proverbs, translated principally from Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy, will satisfy the philosophic enquirer of national character, on this head:

1. An t-scod dofhaghála's i is áilne.
The rare jewel is the most beautiful.
2. Air li ni breith fear gan suilibh.
A blind man is no judge of colours.
3. Annair a bhidheann an cat a muigh bidheann na lacha a g rainnceadh.
When the cat is out, the mice dance.
4. Annair is cruadh dón chailligh caithfidh si rith.
When the old hag is in danger she must run.
5. Bidh ádh air Amadán.
Even a fool has luck.
6. Beul eidhin a's croidhe cuilinn.
A mouth of ivy, a heart of holly.
[The leaves of ivy are soft and smooth, those of holly rough and prickly — a metaphorical proverb.]
7. Beatha an Staraidhe firinne.
The historian's food is truth.
8. Bidh borb fo sgeimh.
Fierceness is often hidden under beauty.
9. Bidh boirbeacht i n-geal ghaire.
There is often anger in a laugh.
10. Bidh cluanaidhe a n-deagh-chulaidh.
A good dress often hides a deceiver.
11. Buaine clá na saoghal.
Fame is more lasting than life.
12. Briathar baoth baothantacht.
A foolish word is folly.
13. Bocht an Eaglais bhios gan cheol.
The church that has no music is poor indeed.
14. Cnuasaigh an am oireamhmach.
Lay up in time.
15. Caoin re ccannsa.
Mild to the meek.
16. Briseann an duthchas tre shíalibh an chait.
Cat after kind.
"Da mheid Eolais, radhare is foghlaim
"Do gheibheann an cóbach, mac an Daoi
"Briseann an duthchas tres an m-bruid
"Tar eis gach cúrsa do chur a g-crích.
Whatever knowledge, education, or learning.
The clown, son of the low-bred man, acquires.
His own congenial nature still appears,
After passing through every course.
17. Claoidheann neart ceart.
Force overcomes justice.
18. Caomhnann dochas ant-ingreamach.
Hope consoles the persecuted.
19. Ni thuigeann an Sáthach an seang.
The satiated forget the hungry.
20. Codlda fada spaideann leanbh.
Long sleep renders a child inert.
21. Deineacht gan luas.
Hurry without haste.
22. Dearbhralhair leadranachta olachán.
Drunkenness is the brother of robbery.
23. Dóchas liagh gach anró.
Hope is the physician of each misery.
24. Duilghe an t-uaibhreach do cheannsughadh.
It is difficult to tame the proud.
25. Diomhaoineas mian amadain.
Idleness is the desire of a fool.
26. Dearc sul leimir.
Look before you leap.
27. Dearbh caraid roimh riachtanas.
Prove a friend before necessity (poverty.)
28. Eadtrom ór ag Amadan.
Gold is light with a fool.
29. Feárr deire fleidhe 'ná tus bruighne.
The end of a feast is better than the beginning of a quarrel.
30. Feárr dreoilin i n-dorn 'ná corr air cairde.
A wren in the hand is better than a crane out of it.
31. An te Chidheann amiúgh fuaruigheann a chuid.
He who is out, his supper cools.
32. Fada cuimhne sein-leinbh.
The memory of an old child is long.
33. Foillsighthear gach nidh re haimsir.
Every thing is revealed by time.
34. Féadann Cat dearcadh for righ.
A cat can look at a king.
35. Foighid leigheas sean-ghalair.
Patience is the cure of an inveterate disease.
36. Foghlaim mian gach Eagnaidhe.
Learning is the desire of the wise.
37. Fearŕ clú 'ná conach.
Character is better than wealth.
38. Gan oileamhain, gan mhodh.
Without education, without manners, i.e. he who is without education, is also &c.
39. Gan lon, gan charaid.
Without treasure, without friends.
40. Gan chiste is fuar an chlu.
Without treasure, character is cold.
41. Gach nidh ghabhthar go holc imthigheam go holc.
Whatever is ill acquired, passes away ill; or whatever is got on the devil's back, falls under his belly.
42. Gnidheann bladar caradas.
Flattery procures friendship.
43. Gnath ocrach fiochmhar.
A hungry man is angry, (peevish.)
44. Gach am ni h-eagnach savi.
No man is wise at all times.
45. Gach ni daor mian gach mná.
Every dear article is woman's desire.
46. Is treise gliocas 'ná neart.
Wisdom exceeds strength.
47. Is milis fion, is scarbh a ioc.
Wine is sweet; to pay for it bitter.
48. Iomhaigh am bháis codhla.
Sleep is the image of death.
49. Is sodh daochain.
Enough is a feast.
50. Is Dall an gradh baoth.
Foolish love is blind.
51. Is fearr an mhaith a ta 'na an mhaith a bhi.
Present good is better than past good.
52. Is eagnach deaghdhuine.
A good man is a wise man.
53. Loiteann aoradh mor-chlá.
Satire wounds a great character.
54. Lnidheann proimpeallan for otrach.
A BETTLE buries himself in DUNG.
55. Luidheann cruadhtan for dhiomhaoineas.
Hardship attends idleness.
56. Liagh gach boicht bas.
Death is the physician of the poor.
57. Mairg dárb ceilc baothan borb.
Woe to her whose husband is a surly fool.
58. Mairg fheallas air a charaid.
Woe to him who betrays his friend.
59. Mairg a threigeas a thighearna.
Woe to him who abandons his lord.
60. Má's maith leat a bheith buan caith fuar agus TEITH.
If you wish to be long-lived eat cold and hot; or if you wish to be long-lived eat cold and flee. (fuge.)
The ambiguity lies in the last word, which signifies either the adjective hot, or the imperative form of the verb to fly.
[This is not properly speaking a proverb; but we must admit it affords a striking instance of the happy inventive powers, comprehension, and shrewdness, of the lower classes of the Irish: perhaps few instances could be adduced more happy in conception, or successful in application than this sentence, as will appear from the circumstance from which it is said to have originated. It was given as a friendly advice, a long time since, to a celebrated Irish freebooter in the town of Naas. The freebooter it appears called at an inn and ordered a hot dinner to be prepared for him, but the innkeeper recognized the freebooter, and, as a good member of the community, he deemed it his duty to send for the authorities in order to have him secured; fortunately for the freebooter, it happened that the waiter, who was preparing the dinner, had been heretofore his intimate friend and companion in many a desperate and perilous enterprize of misguided valour, but as the master was present, the waiter was afraid to inform the freebooter in plain terms that his enemies were at hand; he therefore gave him the hint as conveyed in the above ambiguous sentence, which the freebooter (being a man of the quickest apprehension) immediately comprehending, mounted his horse, which had on many previous occasions borne him in safety from his pursuers, and flying with the swiftness of the Arabian steed escaped, for that time, the strong arm of justice.]
61. Ni fhuil gaol ag aon re saoi gan seun.
No one is related to a man without prosperity.
62. Ni car gach bladaire.
Every flatterer is not a friend.
63. Ni uaisleacht gan subhailce.
There is no nobility without virtue.
64. Ni fhuil ro aosta re foghuim crionachta.
Never too old to learn wisdom.
65. Ni fhuil saoi gan locht.
There is no one without fault.
Nemo sine crimine visit.
66. Or iodhal na santach.
Gold is the idol of the covetous.
67. Olc síon nach maith d'aon.
That weather is bad which is not good for some person.
68. Otracht sodh an Liaigh.
Sickness is the physician's feast.
69. Righ miofhoghlamtha is asal corónta.
An ignorant king is a crowned ass.
70. Saruigheann Eagna gach saidhbhreas.
Wisdom exceeds riches.
71. Soightheach folamh is mo torann.
An empty vessel makes most noise.
[Applied to a talkative man.]
72. Saidhbhreas sior subhailce.
Virtue is eternal wealth.
73. Sgeitheann fion firinne.
In vino veritas.
Wine pours out the truth.
[Applied to a drunken man who foolishly blabs out his secrets.]
74. Tig grian a n-diaidh na fearthana.
Sunshine follows rain; i.e. joy succeeds affliction.
75. Tig iomchar re foghlaim
From education comes conduct.
76. Tos mhaith leath na h-oibre.
A good beginning is half the work.
77. Tosach coille a's deirc móna.
The beginning of a wood; the end of a bog.
78. Umhlacht d' uaisleacht.
Obedience to nobility.
79. Fion a n-diu, uisge amarach.
Wine to-day, water to-morrow.
80. Buail an ceann a's seachain an muineul.
Strike the head, but touch not the neck; i.e. there are two ways for killing a man.

OF WEATHER.
81. Dearg aniar is ionann a's Grian.
Red in the west portends sunshine; i.e. when, after the setting of the sun, the west appears red, it portends that the next day will be fine.
82. Dearg anoir is ianann a's sioc.
Red in the east is a sign of frost.
83. Bogha fliuch na maidne, bogha tirm na trathnona.
Rainbow in the morning is a sign of rain; in the evening, of dry weather.*
84. "Mathair eatha oigh.
"A thair sailla sneachta.
"Tuarfola fleacha.
"Tuar teadma tart.
"Deach do sionuibh ceb'
"Acht do mhuir ni torthach torann."
                              Cormac Mac Art.
Frost favours the growth of corn; (i.e. it prepares the earth for its production.)
Snow favours the growth of trees.†
Much rain is an omen of blood.
Drought is an omen of plague.
Fog is good for the seasons.
Thunder destroys the fertility of the sea.
                            JOHN O'DONOVAN.

* A rainbow can only occur when the clouds, containing or depositing the rain, are opposite to the sun, and in the evening the rainbow in the east, and in the morning in the west; and as our heavy [--?--] this climate, are usually brought by the westerly wind, a rainbow in the west indicates that the bad weather is on the road, by [--?--] us; whereas the rainbow in the east, proves that rain in thes[--?--] passing from us. -- Salmonia.
La nieve per otto di é madre allaterra da indi in la é matrig[--?--] Snow for a se'ennight is a mother to the earth, for ever after a step-mother.


Source: The Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 20 (Nov. 10, 1832), pp. 158-159

Thursday, 16 July 2015

King O'Toole and St. Kevin - A Legend of Glendalough


"By that lake, whose gloomy shore
Sky-lark never warbles o'er.
Where the cliff hangs high and steep
Young St. Kevin stole to sleep. – Moore.

Who has not read of St. Kevin, celebrated as he has been by Moore in the melodies of his native land, with whose wild and impassioned music he has so intimately entwined his name? Through him, in the beautiful ballad, whence the epigraph of this story is quoted, the world already knows that the sky-lark, through the intervention of the saint, never startles the morning with its joyous note in the lonely valley of Glendalough. In the same ballad, the unhappy passion which the saint inspired, and the "unholy blue" eyes of Kathleen, and the melancholy fate of the heroine, by the saint's being "unused to the melting mood," are also celebrated; as well as the superstitious finale of the legend, in the spectral appearance of the love-lorn maiden.
"And her ghost was seen to glide
Gently o'er the fatal tide."
Thus has Moore given, within the limits of a ballad, the spirit of two legends of Glendalough, which otherwise the reader might have been put to the trouble of reaching after a more round-about fashion. But luckily for those coming after him, one legend he has left to be
"------ touched by a hand more unworthy" –
and instead of a lyrical essence, the raw material in prose is offered, nearly verbatim as it was furnished to me by that celebrated guide and bore, Joe Irwin, who traces his descent in a direct line from the old Irish kings, and warns the public in general that "there's a power of them spalpeens sthravaigin' about, 'sthrivin' to put their comether upon the quality, [quality – the Irish gentry generally call the higher orders 'quality,'] and callin' themselves Irwin, (knowin', the thieves o' the world, how his name had gone far and near, as the rale guide,) for to deceive dacent people; but never to b'lieve the likes – for it was only mulvatherin people they wor." For my part, I promised never to put faith in any but himself; and the old rogue's self-love being satisfied, we set out to explore the wonders of Glendalough. On arriving at a small ruin, situated on the south-eastern side of the lake, my guide assumed an air of importance, and led me into the ivy-covered remains, through a small square door-way, whose simple structure gave evidence of its early date; a lintel of stone lay across two upright supporters, after the fashion of such religious remains in Ireland.

"This, Sir," said my guide, puttiug himself into an attitude, "is the chapel of King O'Toole – av coorse y'iv often heerd o' King O'Toole, your honor?"

"Never," said I.

"Musha, thin, do you tell me so?" said he, "I thought all the world far and near, heerd o' KiDg O'Toole – well, well!! but the darkness of mankind is ontellible! Well, Sir, you must know, as you didn't hear it afore, that there was wonst a king, called King O'Toole, who was a fine ould king in the ould ancient times, long ago; and it was him that ownded the churches in the airly days."

"Surely," said I, "the churches were not in King O'Toole's time?"

"Oh, by no manes, yer honour – troth, it's yourself that's right enough there; but you know the place is called 'The Churches,' bekase they wor built afther by St. Kavin, and wint by the name o' the churches iver more; and therefore, av coorse, the place bein' so called, I say that the king ownded the churches – and why not Sir, seein' 'twas his birth-right, time out o' mind, beyant the flood? Well, the king you see was the right sort – he was the rale boy, and loved sport as he loved his life, and huntin' in partic'lar; and from the risin' o' the sun, up he got, and away he wint over the mountains beyant afther the deer: and the fine times them wor; for the deer was as plinty thin, aye throth, far plintyer than the sheep is now; and that's the way it was with the king, from the crow o' the cock to the song o' the redbreast."

"In this counthry, Sir," added he, speaking parenthetically in an under tone, "we think it onlooky to kill the redbreast, for the robin is God's own bird."

Then, elevating his voice to its former pitch he proceeded. –

"Well, it was all mighty good, as long as the king had his health; but, you see, in coorse o' time, the king grewn owld, by raison he was stiff in his limbs, and when he got sthricken in years, his heart failed him, and he was lost intirely for want o' divarshin, bekase he couldn't go a huntin', no longer; and, by dad, the poor king was obleeged at last for to get a goose to divart him."

Here an involuntary smile was produced by this regal mode of recreation, "the royal game of goose."

"Oh, you may laugh, if you like," said he, half affronted, "but it's truth I'm tellin' you; and the way the goose diverted him was this-a-way: you see, the goose used for to swim across the lake, and go down divin' for throut, (and not finer throut in all Ireland than the same throut,) and cotch fish an a Friday for the king, and flew every other day round about the lake, divartin' the poor king, that you'd think he'd break his sides laughin' at the frolicksome tricks av his goose; so in coorse o' time the goose was the greatest pet in the counthry, and the biggest rogue, and diverted the king to no end, and the poor king was as happy as the day was long. So that's the way it was; and all went on mighty well, antil, by dad, the goose got sthricken in years, as well as the king, and grewn stiff in his limbs, like her masther, and could'nt divert him no longer; and then it was that the poor king was lost complete, and did'nt know what in the wide world to do, seein' he was done out of all divarshin, by raison that the goose was no more in the flower of her blume.

"Well; the king was nigh hand broken hearted, and melancholy intirely, and was walkin' one mornin' by the edge of the lake, lamentin' his cruel fate, an' thiukin' o' drownin' himself, that could'nt got no divarshin in life, when all of a suddint, turnin' round the corner beyant, who should he meet but a mighty dacent young man comin' up to him.

"'God save you,' says the king (for the king was a civil-spoken gintleman, by all accounts,) 'God save you,' says he to the young man.

"'God save you, kindly,' says the young man to him, back again, 'God save you,' says he, 'King O'Toole.'

"'Thrue for you,' says the king, 'I am King O'Toole,' says he, 'prince and plennypounytinchery o' these parts,' says he; 'but how kem you to know that?' says he.

"'O, never mind,' says Saint Kavin.

"For you see," said old Joe, in his under tone again, and looking very knowingly, "it was Saint Kavin, sure enough – the saint himself in disguise, and no body else.' 'Oh, never mind,' says he, 'I know more than that,' says he, 'nor twice that.'

"'And who are you?' said the king, 'that makes so bowld – who are you at all at all?'

"'Oh never you mind,' says Saint Kavin, 'who I am; you'll know more o' me before we part, King O'Toole,' says he.

"'I'll be proud o' the knowledge o' your acquaintance, sir,' says the king, mighty polite.

"'Troth you may say that,' says Saint Kavin. 'And, now, may I make bowld to ax, how is your goose, King O'Toole?" says he.

"'Blur-an-agers, how kem you to know about my goose?" says the king.

"'O, no matther; I was given to undherstand it,' says Saint Kavin.

"'Oh, that's a folly to talk,' says the king; 'bekase myself and my goose is private frinds,' says he; 'and no one could tell you,' says he, 'barrin the fairies.'

"'Oh thin, it was'nt the fairies,' says Saint Kavin; 'for I'd have you to know,' says he, 'that I don't keep the likes of sitch company.'

"'You might do worse then, my gay fellow,' says the king; 'for it's they could show you a crock o' money, as aisy as kiss hand; and that's not to be sneezed at,' says the king, 'by a poor man,' says he.

"'Maybe I've a betther way of making money myself,' says the saint.

"'By gor,' says the king, 'barrin' you're a coiner,' says he, 'that's impossible!'

"'I'd scorn to be the like, my lord!' says Saint Kavin, mighty high, 'I'd scorn to be the like,' says he.

"'Then, what are you?' says the king, 'that makes money so aisy, by your own account.'

"'I'm an honest man,' says Saint Kavin.

"'Well, honest man,' says the king, 'and how is it you make your money so aisy?'. -

"'By makin' ould things as good as new,' says Saint Kavin.

"'Blur-an-ouns, is it a tinker you are?' says the king.

"'No,' says the saint, 'I'm no tinker by thrade, King O'Toole; Ive a betther thrade than a tinker,' says he 'what, would you say,' says he, 'if I made your ould goose as good as new.'

"My dear, at the word o'mankin' his goose as good as new, you'd think the poor ould king's eyes was ready to jump out iv his head, 'and,' says he – 'troth thin I'd give you more money nor you could count,' says he, 'if you did the like: and I'd be behoulden to you into the bargain.'

"'I scorn your dirty money,' says Saint Kavin.

"'Faith then, I'm thinkin' a thrifle o' change would do you no harm,' says the king, lookin' up sly at the ould caubeen that Saint Kavin had an him.

"'I have a vow agin it,' says the Saint; and I am book sworn,' says he, 'never to have goold, silver, or brass in my company.'

"'Barrin' the thrifle you can't help,' says the king, mighty cute, and looking him straight in the face.

"'You just hot it,' says Saint Kavin; 'but though I can't take money,' says he, 'I could take a few acres o' land, if you'd give them to me.'

"'With all the veins o' my heart,' says the king, 'if you can do what you say.'

"'Thry me!' says Saint Kavin. 'Call down your goose here,' says he, 'and I'll see what I can do for her.'

"With that, the king whistled, and down kem the poor goose, all as one as a hound, waddlin' up to the poor ould cripple, her masther, and as like him as two pups. The minute the saint clapped his eyes on the goose, 'I'll do the job for you,' says he, 'King O'Toole!'

"'By Jaminee," says King O'Toole, 'if you do, but I'll say you're the cleverest fellow in the sivin parishes.'

"'Oh, by dad,' says Saint Kavin, 'you must say more nor that – my horn's not so soft all out,' says he, 'as to repair your ould goose' for nothin'; what'll you gi' me, if I do the job for you? – that's the chat,' says St. Kavin.

"'I'll give you whatever you ax,' says the king; 'isn't that fair?'

"'Divil a fairer,' says the saint; 'that's the way to do business. Now,' says he, 'this is the bargain I'll make with you, King O'Toole; will you gi' me all the ground the goose flies over, the first offer afther I make her as good as new?'

"'I will,' says the king.

"'You won't go back o' your word,' says Saint Kavin.

"'Honor bright!' says King O'Toole, howldin' out his fist.

"'Honor bright,' says Saint Kavin, back agin, 'its a bargin.' says he. 'Come here!' says he to the poor ould goose – 'come here you unfortunate ould cripple,' says he, 'and its I that 'ill make you the sportin' bird.'

"With that, my dear, he tuk up the goose by the two wings – 'criss o' my crass an you,' says he, markin' her to grace with the blessed sign at the same minute – and throwin' her up in the air, 'whew!' says he, jist givin' her a blast to help her: and with that, my jewel, she took to her heels, fly-in' like one o' the aigles themselves, and cuttin' as many capers as a swallow before a shower of rain. Away she wint down there, right foreninst you, along the side o' the clift, and flew over St. Kavin's bed, (that is where St. Kavin's bed is now, but was not thin, by raison it was'nt made, but was conthrived after by Saint Kavin himself, that the women might lave him alone,) and on with her under Lugduff, and round the end iv the lake there, far beyant where you see the watherfall, (though indeed it's no watherfall at all now, but only a poor dhribble iv a thing; but if you seen it in the winther, it id do your heart good, and it roaring like mad, and as white as the dhriven snow, and rowlin' down the big rocks before it, all as one as childher playing marbles,) – and on with her thin right over the lead mines o' Luganure, (that is where the lead mines is now, but was not thin, by raison they wor'nt discovered, but was all goold in Saint Kanin's time.) Well over the ind o' Luganure she flew, stout and sturdy, and round the other ind ay the little lake, by the churches, (that is, av coorse where the churches is now, but was not thin, by raison they wor not built, but aftherwards by Saint Kavin,) and over the big hill here over your head, where you see the big clift; (and that clift in the mountain was made by Fin Ma Cool, where he cut it across with a big sword, that he got made a purpose by a blacksmith out o' Rathdrum, a cousin av his own, for to fight a joyant [giant] that darr'd him an the Curragh o' Kildare; and he thried the sword first an the mountain, and cut it down into a gap, as is plain to this day; and faith, sure enough, it's the same sauce he sarv'd the joyant, soon and suddent, and chopped him in two like a pratie, for the glory of his sowl and owld Ireland;) well, down she flew over the clift, and fluttherin' over the wood there at Poulanass, (where I showed you the purty watherfall; and by the same token, last Thursday, was a twelve-month sence, a young lady, Miss Rafferty by name, fell into the same watherfall, and was nigh hand drownded; and indeed would be to this day, but for a young man that jumped in afther her; indeed a smart slip iv a young man he was; he was out o' Francis-street, I hear, and coorted her sence, and they wor married, I'm given to undherstand; and indeed a purty couple they wor.) Well, as I said, afther flutterin' over the wood a little bit, to place herself, the goose flew down, and lit at the fut o' the king, as fresh as a daisy, afther flyin' roun' his dominions, just as if she had'nt flew three perch. Well, my dear, it was a beautiful sight to see the king standin' with his mouth open, lookin' at his poor ould goose flyin' as light as a lark, and betther nor ever she was; and when she lit at his fut, he patted her an' the head, and 'ma vourneen,' says he, 'but you are the darlint o' the world.'

"'And what do you say to me,' says Saint Kavin, 'for makin' her the like?' 'I say,' says the king, 'that nothin' bates the art o' man, burrin' the bees.' 'And do you say no more nor that?' says St. Kavin. 'And that I'm behoulden to you,' says the king. 'But will you gie me all the ground the goose flewn over?' says St. Kavin. 'I will,' says King O'Toole, 'and you're welkim to it,' says he, 'though it's the last acre I have to give.' 'It's well for you,' says St. Kavin, mighty sharp, 'for if you did'nt say that word, the devil receave the bit o' your goose id ever fly again!' says St. Kavin.

"Well, whin the king was as good as his word, St. Kavin was plazed with him, and says he, 'King O'Toole, you're a dacent man, I only came here to thry you. You don't know me,' says he, 'I'm deceavin' you all out, I'm not myself at all!' 'Blur-an-agers thin,' says the king, 'if you are not yourself, who are you?' 'I'm Saint Kavin,' said the saint, blessin' himself. 'Oh, queen iv heaven,' says the king, makin' the crass betume his eyes, and fallin' down an his kness before the saint, 'is it the great Saint Kavin,' says he, 'that I've been discoorsin' all this time, without knowing it,' says he, 'all as one as if he was a lump iv a gossoon? and so you're a saint,' says the king. 'I am,' says Saint Kavin, 'the greatest of all the saints!' For Saint Kavin, you must know, Sir,' said Joe, 'is counted the greatest of all the saints, bekase he went to school with the prophet Jeremiah.

"Well, my dear, that's the way that the place came all at wanst into the hands of Saint Kavin; for the goose flewn round every individyal acre o' King O'Toole's property, bein' let into the saycret by St. Kavin, who was mighty cute; and the king had his goose as good as new, and the saint supported him, afther he kern into his property, antil the day av his death; and when he was gone, Saint Kavin gave him an illigant wake and a beautiful berrin;' and more betoken, he said mass for his sowl, an' tuk care av his goose."


Source: The Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Jun. 30, 1832)
Image: St. Kevin’s Bed and the Church of the Rock, Upper Lake Glendalough





Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Poteen


Ireland has long been famous, or, as the Temperance Society men would say, infamous, for her love of the bottle. Now, without declaring ourselves on the side of the abstinent folks — without saying that we ought never to take a drop, and without binding ourselves never to be hearty over a tumbler of whiskey punch — we may venture to say, that it would be decidedly better for Ireland, in the long run, if she never had a distillery in the island. We say this on looking at the mischief which ardent spirits have always created in our isle. The misery, the degradation, the fightings, and even the murders, which it has been the fatal origin of, may well justify such a wish — if our countrymen could be brought just to take it temperately. A great alteration for the better has already taken place in this respect; and we sincerely trust that the improvement will be progressive. We extract the following account of a visit to a Poteen Distiller from "Sketches in Ireland," published by Curry and Co. of Dublin, and printed in 1827.

"One morning in July, as I was dressing myself to walk out before breakfast, I heard a noise at my back door, and observed one of my people remonstrating with a man who was anxiously pressing into the house. I went down and met the man whose demi-genteel dress and peculiar cut marked him to be a guager. 'O! for mercy's sake,' cried the man when he saw me, 'let me into your house; lock me up somewhere; hide me, save me, or my life is lost.' So I brought him in, begged of him to sit down, and offering him some refreshment, requested him to recover his courage, and come to himself, for there was no danger. While I was speaking, an immense crowd came up to the house, and surrounded it; and one man more forward than the rest, came up to the door, and demanded admission. On my speaking to him out of the window, and inquiring what his business was, he replied, 'We find you have got Mr.---------, the guager, in your house: you must deliver him up to us; we want him.'
'What do you want him for?' 'Oh, Doctor, that's no business for you to meddle in; we want him and must have him.' "Indeed that I cannot allow; he is under my roof; he has come, claiming my hospitality, and I must and will afford it to him.' 'Doctor there are two words to that bargain: you ought to have consulted us before you promised; but to be plain with you, we really respect you very much; you are a quiet and a good man, and mind your own business; and we would make the man sore and sorry that would touch the hair of your head. But you must give us the guager; to be at a word with you doctor, we must tear open, or tear down your house, or get him.' What was I to do? What could I do? — nothing, I had not a gun or pistol in my house; 'so,' says I, 'boys, you must, it seems, do as you like, and mind I protest against what you are about; but since you must have your own way, as you are Irishmen, I demand fair play at your hands. The man had ten minutes law of you when he came to my house: let him have the same law still; let him not be the worse of the shelter he has taken here; do you, therefore, return to the hill at the rere of the house; and I will let him out at the hall door, and let him have his ten minutes law.' I thought that in those ten minutes, as he was young and healthy, that he would reach the river Lennan, about a quarter of a mile off, in front of the house, and swimming over it, escape. So they all agreed that the proposal was a fair one; at any rate, they promised to abide by it; and the man seeing the necessity of the case, consented to leave the house; I enlarged him at the hall door, the pursuers all true to their pledged honour, stood on a hill about two hundred yards in the rere of the house, a hanging lawn sloped down towards a small river that in all places at that season of the year was fordable; about a quarter of a mile further off still, in front of the house, the larger river, Lennan, ran deep and broad between high and rocky banks. The guager started off, like a buck, and as a hunted deer he ran his best, for he ran for his life, he passed the little river in excellent style, and just as he had ascended its further bank and was rising the hilly ridge that divided the smaller from the broader stream, his pursuers broke loose, all highland men, tall, loose, agile, young; with breast and sinews strong to breast a mountain; men who many a time and oft, over bog and brae, had run from the guager, and now they were after him with fast foot and full cry. From the hall door the whole hunt could be seen — they helter skelter down the lawn rushing — he toiling up the opposite hill and straining to crown its summit; at length he got but of sight, he passed the ridge and rushed down to the Lennan; here, out of breath, without time to strip, without time to choose a convenient place, he took the soil in the hunting phrase, and made his plunge, — at all times a had swimmer — now out of breath, encumbered with his clothes, the water rushing dark, deep, and rapid, amidst surrounding rocks; through whirls and currents, and drowning holes, the poor man struggled for life; in another minute he would have sunk for ever, when his pursuers came up, and two or three of the most active and hast swimmers rushed in and saved him from a watery grave. The whole party immediately got about him, they rolled him about until they got the water out of his stomach, wiped him with their frize coats: twenty warm hands were employed rubbing him into warmth, they did every thing humanity could suggest to bring him to himself. Reader, please to recollect, that we are not describing the feats or fortunes of Captain Rock or his myrmidons; we are not about to detail the minutiae of a cold-blooded, long calculated murder; we are not describing the actions of men who are more careful of the life of a pig than of a human creature. No, the Donegal mountaineers had a deed to do, but not of death; they were about a deliberate work, but not of murder. The moment the guager was restored to himself, and in order to contribute to it an ample dose of the poteen that he had persecuted was poured down his throat, they proceeded to tie a bandage over his eyes, and they mounted him on a rahery, or mountain pony, and off they set with their captive towards the mountains. For a whole day they paraded him up and down, through glens and defiles, and over mountain sides, and at length, towards the close of a summer's evening, they brought him to the solitary and secluded Glen Veagh; here they embarked him in a curragh, or wicker boat, and after rowing him up and down for some hours in the lake they landed him on a little island where was a hut that had often served as a shelter for the fowler, as he watched his aim at the wild water birds of the lake, and still oftener as the still-house for the manufacture of irrepressible, unconquerable poteen; and here, under the care of two trusty men was he left, the bandage carefully kept on his eyes, and well fed on trout, grouse, hares, and chickens; plenty of poteen mixed with the pure water of the lake was his portion to drink, and for six weeks was he thus kept cooped in the dark like a fattening fowl, and at the expiration of that time his keepers one morning took him under the arm, and desired him to accompany them; then brought him to a boat, rowed him up and down, wafted him from island to island, conveyed him to shore, mounted him on the pony, brought him as before for the length of a day here and there through glen and mountain, and towards the close of night, the liberated guager finds himself alone on the high road to Letterkenny. The poor man returned that night to his family, who had given him over as either murdered, or gone to America. But he stood not as a grimly ghost at the door, but as fat and sleek, and as happy as ever.

Now wherefore all this trouble; why all those pains to catch a guager, fatten him, and let him loose? Oh, it was of much and important consequence to these poor mountaineers. A lawless act it surely was; but taking into view that it was an act big with consequences affecting their future ruin or prosperity, it might almost be pardonable. Amidst the numerous parliamentary enactments that the revenue department of the country caused to he passed in order to repress the system of illicit distillation in Ireland, one was a law as contrary to the spirit of the British legislation as to the common principles of equity and conventional right — a law punishing the innocent in substitution for the guilty. This law made the townland in which the still was found, or any part of the process of distillation detected, liable to a heavy fine, to be levied indiscriminately on all its landholders. the consequence of this law was, that the whole North of Ireland was involved in one common confiscation. It was the fiscal triumph of guagers and informers over the landlords and proprietors of the country. They were reaping their harvest of ruin, under a bonus offered for avarice, treachery, and perjury. Acting on this anti-social system, the guager of the district in question had informations to the amount of £7,000 against the respective townlands of which it was composed. These informations were to be passed or otherwise at the approaching assizes, and there was no doubt but that the guager could substantiate them according to the existing law — and thus effect the total ruin of the people.

Under those circumstances the plot for the seizure and abduction of the revenue-officer was laid. It was known that on a certain day about a month prior to the assizes he was to pass through the district on his way to the coast — it was known that he kept those informations about his person, and therefore they waylaid him, and succeeded in keeping him out of sight until the assizes were over, and shortly after this imprudent and unconstitutional law was repealed.

But to return to Glen Veagh: as we were rambling along its rocky strand, admiring the stillness of its waters — the sublime solitariness of its mountain shore; here a ravine, climbing up amongst the hills; its chasms and its dancing waterfalls, fringed with birch and stunted oak; there a white silicious peak, protruding itself on high, over which the hawk cowered, as if priding itself on its inaccessible nest; before us the sleeping lake, extended itself —
"Blue, dark, and deep, round many an isle."

and these isles' set like precious gems, with just enough of trees for ornament: the birch, the rowan ash, the service, the holly; and high from the central, largest, and most distant island, arose a blue and wreathed smoke, that bespoke the manufacture of mountain dew; the smoke certainly added much to the picturesque accompaniment of the scene, and we could just discern a small cabin or shading in the island, half concealed amidst the copsewood in which it was enveloped.

Gather up the pots and the old tin can; And the mash, and the corn, the barley, and the bran;
And then run like the devil from the excise man; Keep the smoke from rising, Barney

I could not help expressing a wish to see the process whereby this admired liquor was compounded, that in the estimation of avery Irishman — aye, and high born Englishmen too — is so superior in sweetness, salubrity, and gusto, to all that machinery, science and capital can produce in the legalized way, and which verifies the observation of the wise man, "that stolen waters are sweet." Just as we were conversing in this way, a man turning the point of a rock, stood unexpectedly within a few yards of us. He was one of the largest men I have ever seen amongst the Irish commonality. He was tall, that is not unusual; but he was lusty, his bones and muscles were covered with flesh; there was a trunk-like swell in his chest, and a massiveness in his body, a pillar-like formation of limbs bespeaking that he was a man moulded to be a giant, and was fed up to the full exercise and capability of his frame. He had a bull-like contour of head and neck short and crisp curls appeared from under a small hat which seemed unable to settle itself over his ears, from the full development of the organ of combativeness that protruded itself in this region of his cranium.

The man stood before us with the assured look of one who was prepared saucily to say, what business have you here; two grey hounds were at his heels, and a lurking grisly cur, half bull-dog, half terrier, shewed his white teeth and began to growl. 'Oh, how are you Teigue?' cried my friend (who, I believe, knows every one in Donegal) 'how are you, my gay fellow; I am glad to see you, for you are just the man in all these mountains that I wanted to see.' 'Why, then, your honour, I am entirely obliged to you; and in troth when I just came upon you now, I did not know your honour; for as I was just walking over the mountain, I saw some strange unco people, and I only slipt down to see the cut of their countenances.' 'Ah, Teigue,! I know rightly you do not like unco people, for fear that a guager might be amongst them.' 'Ah, then, now, is it I fear a guager? Teigue O'Gallagher fear a guager! — no, nor a commissioner from Dublin Customhouse, barring he had army and guns at his back — not I by my troth, for it's little I'd matter just taking one of them by the waistband of the breeches and filipping him, do you see, into the middle of the lake, and there leave him to keep company with the trouts — no, no; but the likes of you — no offence master, the likes of you I mean, not in the inside, but the teeth outwards, might come and give information, and put dacent people to trouble, and be after bringing the army here to this quiet place, and put us out of our way and all that.'

'Well, Teigue, you know me, don't you?' — 'I do, your honour, and am certain sure that you are true, and of the right sort, and every inch about you honest.' — 'Well, Teigue; I want to get this gentleman who is a friend of mine, on the lake; he desires to get into a boat to see its beauties more conveniently, besides he has a longing wish to see how the hearty drop is made, can you indulge him?' 'That I will, and a thousand welcomes;' so away he wint towards the point of the rock, which jutted out into the water, and putting his finger to his mouth, he sent forth a whistle that sounded over the lake, and thus reverberating, echoed from bay to bay, and multiplied itself through the glens and gorges of the mountains; at the same time he made some telegraphic signal, and in a minute we saw a boat push off from the island of Smoke, While Teigue was absent, I asked my friend who he was? — Why, says he, that is one of the most comfortable and independent follows in all this mountain district — he exerts a muscular and moral influence over the people; he has a great deal of sense, a great deal of determination; a constant view to his own interest and luckily he considers that interest best promoted, by keeping the country in peace. Those that fall out he beats into good humour, and when the weight of his argument cannot prevail, the weight of his fist enforces compliance with his wishes. Then he is the patron of illicit distillation — he is co-partner in the adventure, and is the watchful guardian over its process; there is not a movement of a gauger that he does not make himself acquainted with; there is not a detachment leaves a village or town that he has not under watch, and before a policeman or a red coat, comes within three miles of these waters, all would be prepared for them; still and worm sunk, malt buried, barrels and coolers disposed of, and the boat scuttled. There is not a man in Ireland lives better in his own way than Teigue: his chests are full of meal, the roof of his kitchen is festooned with bacon, his byre is full of cows, his sheep range on a hundred hills: as a countryman said to me the other day, "Teigue O'Gallagher is the only man of his sort in Donegal that eats white bread, toasted, buttered, and washed down with tea for his breakfast."

In the mean time the boat came near, and Teigue joined us, and after some difficulty in getting aboard from the rocks, and adjusting ourselves in proper trim in the most frail bark that perhaps was over launched on water, we rowed out into the lake; and here really the apparent peril of our situation, deprived me of the pleasure that might otherwise be enjoyed in the picturesque scenery around; the bottom of the boat was covered with water, which nosed in through a sod of turf, that served as a plug to the hole in its bottom, the size of my head; and Teigue O'Gallagher, who sat at the head of the boat surrounded by his dripping dogs, almost sunk it to the gunwale, and every now and then, the dogs uneasy at their confinement, tumbled about and disturbed our equilibrium; if a gust of wind had come, as often as it does on a sudden from the hills, we should have been in a perilous state. As it was, the two young men who rowed us, and who, it is to be supposed, could swim, enjoyed our nervous state, and out of fun told us stories of sudden hurricanes, and of the dangers and deaths that have happened to navigators on this lake; we, therefore, declined a protracted expedition, and only desired to he landed on the island, where we arrived in a short time, and then had opportunity of witnessing the arcana of illicit distillation. The island that at a distance looked so pretty with its copsewood, its sheeling, and its wreathing smoke, when we reached it, presented us ugly and disgusting a detail as possible; and a Teniers or a Cruikshank, could only do justice to the scene, and present a lively picture of its uncouth accompaniments.

A half roofed cabin, in which was a raging fire, over which was suspended the pot with its connected head and worm; two of the filthiest of human beings, half naked, squalid unhealthy looking creatures, with skins encrusted with filth, hair long, uncombed, and matted, whore vermin of all Borts seemed to quarter themselves and nidificate; and whore (as Burns says,) "horn or bone ne'er dare unsettle their thick plantations;" these were the operatives of the filthy process which seemed in all its details, to he carried on in nastiness.
John Barleycorn, though hero bold,
     Of noble enterprise;
When Irishman distil his blood.
     They cleanliness despise.

The whole area of the island was one dunghill composed of fermenting grains; there were about twenty immense hogs either feeding or snoring on the food that lay beneath them; and so alive with rats was the whole concern that one of the boatmen compared them in number and intrusiveness to flocks of sparrows on the side of a shelling-hill adjoining a corn-mill. I asked one of the boatmen where the men who attended the still slept. "Och, where should they sleep but on the grains with the pigs; they have never been off the island these six months, they have never changed their clothes, and, I believe, though they are convenient enough to the water, they have never washed themselves." "And are they not afraid?" "Why, who would they be afraid of but the rats." "And do they never go to divine worship?" "Ah, that they don't, it's little they care about religion — one of them is a Protestant, and he curses so much that it's enough to keep ghost, angel, or devil off the place — and in troth the Catholic is not much better, maybe the Priest wont have work enough with him yet."

I was truly disgusted with the whole scene, and anxious to quit it.* I was vexed and disappointed to find such a romantic and beautiful spot so defiled, so desecrated, I might say, by a manufacture that has proved of incalculable mischief to the peaceful habits, the moral character, and religious duties of the people of the country — but we would not be allowed to part before we partook of the produce of the pot. With all his faults, Pat is not deficient in generosity, and he is ever ready to share — yes, and often to waste the liquor which he has a peculiar delight in manufacturing: because, perhaps, the undertaking is attended with risk, and gives birth to adventurous engagements, and escapes; and, as the song says,
"An Irishman all in his glory is there,"

To the above description, we add a few reflections from Letters from the Irish Highlands:—

"Among all the striking peculiarities which arrest the attention of an English stranger, on his first visit to Ireland, there is none, I have often thought, that must at once excite such surprise, and lead the mind to such sad and sober reflections, as the hostile feelings of the majority of the people towards the law of the land. They will make use of its strong arm occasionally to oppress an inferior, or to wreak their vengence on an equal; but they never look to it with the feelings which an Englishman cherishes; they have not learned to regard it as the protector of their persons and properties, and the guardian of their dearest rights and liberties. From the rebellious code of Ribandism, which dooms him to destruction who ventures to appeal to the tribunals of justice against the hand of midnight violence, to the easy good nature of the peasant, who, without advantage to himself, assists his neighbour, in concealing the keg of illicit whiskey, or the bale of smuggled tobacco, the spirit is the same. The hand of the law has been against every man — and now, every man's hand is, in turn, raised against the law. But it is not for me to lead you back in the trodden path of history, to point out the wrongs which poor Ireland has received at the hands of her conquerors. You know that her sons were once limited like wild beasts, through the woods of Connaught; and where is the wonder then, if they failed to recognise a benefactor, when they beheld, it is true, law's and civilization in one hand, but in the other a frightful accompaniment of whips and scourges? Need I remind you that until the reign of James I. who, perhaps never more truly than on this point deserved the title of the English Solomon, the poor Irish pleaded in vain to be governed by the English law? This was a favour granted only to a few, while the majority of the natives, the mere Irish, as they were disdainfully termed, were denied a participation in the rights and privileges of English subjects, and were thus compelled to govern themselves by their own barbarous usages and customs, while they were exposed, almost without protection, to the outrages of their more favored neighbours.

A more enlightened policy has at length succeeded to these days of darkness; and let us hope that after a time the governors and the governed will form but one people. As they carried on a continual warfare against the law, and all its ministers, it became necessary that they should be acquainted with its intricacies, and estimate well the terrors of its sanctions. And this they have done. The lower orders of Irish, though an uneducated, are not an uninformed people, and upon this subject, which is of such vital importance to them they often show a knowledge, not only of the common points, but also of the technical niceties, which is far beyond any thing that would be met with in an English peasant. They understand exactly how far they may go without hazarding the animadversion of a magistrate; and often as they exceed the bounds of moderation, yet still oftener do they venture upon the very verge, and there stop short, to the surprise and admiration of all spectators."


* The the visit to Glen Veagh, took place some years ago. I have reason to believe, that in consequence of better arrangements in the revenue department, illicit distillation has ceased long ago in Glen Veagh.


Source: The Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 6 (Aug. 4, 1832)





Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Country's Call - Response of Irish Presbyterians (to the Great War)

MODERATOR'S PASTORAL LETTER.


Rev. Thomas M. Hamill
The following letter has been addressed by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (Right Rev. Professor Hamill, D.D.) to the ministers of the Church:–

Dear Brethren. – As we all know, there is a widespread and rapidly growing desire that in this great crisis of our country's history every man and woman should hear the call, and be afforded opportunity to take share in National Service, and so hasten the day of victory. When the report of its Committee on Social Service came before the General Assembly ten days ago, one of the resolutions unanimously adopted expressed the views of the Assembly on one aspect of this most important matter. That resolution leads as follows:–
"It having been reported that young men in rural districts are not joining the ranks in sufficient numbers, the Assembly directs ministers to make a special appeal from their pulpits setting forth the duty of citizens of suitable age to offer their services in this time of the country's need, and requests the Moderator to issue a pastoral letter on the subject."
In trying to fulfil the duty thus laid upon me, I venture to address this letter to you, and through you, to all the members of our Church. We all know that the British Empire is engaged in the greatest war of history, and that we are fighting for our very existence. It is on our part no war of aggression. It was forced on us and our Allies. When our strongest desire was for peace, in defence of national truth and honour and liberty, we were compelled to draw the sword. With unexampled unanimity and enthusiasm all the peoples owing allegiance to our King have thrown themselves into the conflict. From every part of the Empire the flower of its manhood is rallying round the Flag. Already the largest and finest army of volunteers ever enrolled is at the front, or training for the field. And there has been no more loyal or spontaneous response to the call than that given by the young men of our Irish Presbyterian Church.

SUPREME EFFORT DEMANDED.

But enough has not yet been done: for one thing the sacredness and imperativeness of the call for men seems to be not even yet fully realised. The crisis demands a supreme effort. From the trampled fields and ruined cities of Belgium and France, from the desolate homes and exiled people, from outraged womanhood and murdered childhood, come voices clear and loud, warning us as to what will surely be our doom should the brutal German aggressors set foot on our shores. By God's help, they never will; but in order that they may not we are called on to exert all our might, and to be prepared for every sacrifice. It is, indeed, a supreme sacrifice for fathers and mothers and wives and sisters to send forth to battle the young men who are their pride and hope and joy. Yet, how can they hesitate when what should he dearer to us all them life itself is at stake – our homes, our Fatherland, our religion, the liberty of Europe and the world.

We are pleading with God that the war may speedily end, that its terrible ravages may cease, and victory crown our banners. But should we not also ask what He would have each man and woman of us to do to bring about this happy consummation? It is only when we, all of us, do our very best, keeping back nothing, not even our lives or the lives of our best beloved, that we can with humble confidence look to Him to give us victory, and to fill our hearts with gladness through the fulfilment to us of the promise given long ago to His people – "And the work or righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and confidence for ever. And My people shall abide in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places."

Trusting, dear brethren, that you will bring this solemn and momentous matter before your people in whatever way you may each think best,  – I am, yours very sincerely,

THOMAS M. HAMILL,
Moderator of Assembly.


From The Witness, 2 July 1915



Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Ulster's Sacrifice



Ah! fair July of tear and sigh
Sad was the news you brought
To many an ancient noble Hall,
And humble peasants’ cot,
Within our old courageous land
Of honour, truth and worth
Grave Ulster of the Iron Will,
Proud Province of the North.

H. G. Gallagher.



From With the Ulster Division in France: A Story of the 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (South Antrim Volunteers), by Arthur Purefoy Irwin Samuels Dorothy Gage Samuels


Thursday, 25 June 2015

Rebellion of Silken Thomas

The story of "Silken Thomas" has a moral and warning that resonates more today than ever it did in the 16th century. His rebellion began because of lies and rumour-mongering and his belief in it.

In this world of social media where a Facebook post or a tweet can go viral in minutes how many lives have been ruined by an angry word, vindictive comment, jealous outbreak or the malicious behaviour of a troll.  Mark Twain once said "The report of my death was an exaggeration" when he was confused in a newspaper report with his cousin – a sentiment that is shared by Axl Rose, Miley Cyrus, Betty White, Lil Wayne and Jackie Chan to name but a few of the celebrities killed of by social media rumour.

Next time you you see a social media post disparaging a friend, reporting the latest celebrity death or rant that Facebook is selling your computer, take a moment and think before hitting repost...

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The Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 5.

Thomas, 10th Earl of Kildare
GERALD, Lord Deputy, being, as related in our last number, summoned to give an account of his administration before the Council board of England, left his son to act in his stead; and before he sailed, took occasion to warn the young lord of the arduous nature of the charge committed to his care. The earl's speech to his son is preserved in Holingshed, and is full of good counsel and anxious forewarnings. It would have been well if the father's example had afforded as good a model for imitation, as his parting words. It is of little use for the mother crab to tell its daughter to walk straight, while she herself has all her life moved crooked. In the present instance the recommendation of the old Geraldine to the young lord to be ruled by the advice of his council was not long observed, for the new made Deputy had penetration enough to find that those who were placed as his counsellors, were but his secret foes, and that it was but their policy to lead him into error and extravagance, and then to rejoice over the consequences of his imprudence. The two Allens — the Archbishop, and the Master of the Rolls — were peculiarly his enemies, and their secret animosities soon broke out into open taunts and sarcasms. Allen, the Master of the Rolls, at a castle banquet, and at a moment, when the conversation turned upon the heraldic decorations, observed that the Lord Deputy's supporters, the marmousets or monkeys were in the habit of eating their tails. To which the Geraldine replied, "yes, master Allen, I may have been fed by my tail, but of this I shall take care, that my tail (meaning his council) shall never feed upon me!" On another occasion, the Archbishop pertly complained, in the hearing of Lord Thomas, that it was intolerable for the council to be kept waiting for a boy, which keenly offended the young deputy, and he took care to let the prelate know that he had heard him. In the midst of these jealousies, the enemies of the Geraldine, at the instigation, as is supposed, of the Allens, spread the report that the Earl of Kildare, on his arrival in London, had been committed to the tower, and beheaded. This was communicated to the son, who at once fell into the trap laid for him, and confederating with some Milesian lords then in Dublin, he summoned together all the men at arms he could collect, rode through the city in martial array, crossed the Liffey, and proceeded, boiling with anger, and supported by the shouts of his followers, to St. Mary's Abbey where the Privy Council was at that time sitting, attended by his noisy rabble. Lord Thomas rushed into the chamber, and casting the sword of state on the table, he addressed the council in a speech, part of which is as as follows:

"This sword of state is yours, not mine. I received it with an oath — I used it to your benefit — I should stain mine own honour if I turned the same to your annoyance. Now I have need of mine own sword, which I dare trust. As for the common sword, it flattereth me with a painted scabbard, but it hath indeed a pestilent edge, bathed in the Geraldine's blood. Therefore, save yourselves from us as from open enemies. I am none of Henry's Deputies — I am his foe. I have more mind to conquer than to govern — to meet him in the field, than to serve him in office."

The irritation of the incensed lord was not assuaged by the speech that archbishop Allen made to stay him from his purpose. The entreaties he made use of were felt to be hollow — the tears he was seen to shed were considered to be crocodile's, and the Irish bard was not checked in his ill manners, who, while the prelate was delivering his laboured harangue, sung out his Irish verses in commendation of the bravery, the prowess, and the martial bearing of the Geraldine, whom he dubbed with the title of SILKEN THOMAS, because his numerous horsemen's accoutrements were gorgeously embroidered with silk.

Here then we observe a curious and unheard of change in the character of an individual — at one moment Chief Governor of Ireland — at another, a rebel in arms, and for a time a vigorous aud successful one too. In vain the privy council sent orders to the city to have Lord Thomas arrested as he passed through the town: the citizens either could not or would not. On the contrary, so great was the success of the rebel, that the whole country was raised in his favour, the city supplies were cut off; it was placed in a state of siege; and the Archbishop and Baron Finglass obliged to shut themselves up in the castle, and stand to their defence.

Lord Thomas seems to have left no stone unturned to secure success to his cause. He sent an ambassador to the Pope; another to the King of Spain with a present of hawks and hobbies; and lost no time in invading the territory of the Butlers, who remained faithful to the king; and in overthrowing the Lord Ossory and his adherents; he then returned to Dublin and proffered security and protection to the city, provided they would allow him to besiege the castle; this the citizens, with the concurrence of the constable of the castle, consented to do, but at the same time, to shew their loyalty, and that their hearts were not with the Geraldine, they amply provisioned the fortress, which Lord Thomas resented by encouraging the Tooles and Byrnes to ravage Fingal, the source from whence the city drew its supplies; the castle, then, being about to be besieged, the Archbishop afraid of the success of his bitter foe, got on board of a small vessel at Dames gate, with the hope of escaping to England; but the ship was stranded at Clontarf, and the prelate retiring to Artane, was in the middle of the night dragged out of bed, and, barefooted and almost naked, brought before Lord Thomas, before whom he fell on his knees and besought him for the love of God to shew pity on a Christian and an Archbishop. It is universally supposed that Fitzgerald, moved with compassion, and intending only to have the prelate imprisoned, cried out to the people in Irish, ber owm a buddagh — "Take away the clown," but the attendants wilfully misconstruing their master's words, beat out the bishop's brains, and thus committed as monstrous an act of sacrilege as Irish History records. It was observed that Archbishop Allen, as the perpetrator of sacrilege, deservedly became its victim; and that he who was the ready tool of Henry's spoliation of the monastic establishments in England, met in due recompense his murderous fate; at all events his assassins left a revenge on themselves, for the two actual perpetrators shortly died of most loathsome diseases, and we shall soon see the fate that attended Silken Thomas himself, his father, and all his uncles.

Woodcut of Silken Thomas attack on Dublin Castle

The awful excommunication is still extant that was fulminated against these murderers; and the interdict was long held over the unhappy place where the murder was committed. In the meanwhile, Lord Thomas taking advantage of the citizens allowance to besiege the city, proceeded to plant his falcons (a species of cannon) against the castle, and it is likely he would have taken it, had not one of the city aldermen returned from London with a positive order from the king for the city to break faith with Fitzgerald; and to aid the garrison of the castle in driving him off from its walls. In revenge for this, Lord Thomas seized on the children of the chief citizens, who were at school in the country, and declared that he would place them in front of his men, exposed to the fire of the castle artillery. But the citizens, with Roman devotedness, refused any negociation with the insurgent, and prepared not only to defend the king's castle, but their own bulwarks against the common foe. Fitzgerald then attempted after cutting off the supply of water from the city, to besiege the caatle on the side of Ship-street; but was driven from his attempt by a wild fire invented by White, the constable of the fortress — which burned all his machines, and caused a fearful conflagration of the thatched and wooden houses that gave him sheltering. He then assaulted the city, by endeavouring to force the Newgate, which stood where Francis-street now joins Thomas-street. And having with his cannon pierced the gate, and killed some of the citizens inside, he was sanguine of an immediate surrender; but Richard Staunton, the gaoler of Newgate, (for this ancient bulwark was not only a city gate but a prison) seeing through a loophole, one of the gunners levelling his piece, not only fired, and shot him in the head, but he had the hardihood to rush out by the postern and actually strip the fallen foe of his arms and accoutrements. This inspirited the citizens so much that they instantly made a sally, and that with such success, that they forced Fitzgerald to raise the siege, leaving an hundred Gallowglasses slain, and their falcon in the hands of the citizens.

Still Lord Thomas was not put down, for with an activity worthy of a better cause, he hastened to fortify all the Geraldine castles, especially Maynooth; he defeated at Clontarf a considerable force that had landed from England; his pirate, as he was called, Captain Rouks, was active and successful in intercepting supplies; and trusting to his friends amongst the gentry and nobility of the pale, and to the strength of his castles, he proceeded to Ulster and Connaught to strengthen his party — and to urge into active co-operation O'Neil and O'Connor. While absent on this expedition, the new Lord Deputy, Sir William Skeffington, having proclaimed lord Thomas a traitor not only in Dublin, but at the high cross of Drogheda, proceeded to besiege the Geraldine's principal fortress at Maynooth, and planting his battery on the park hill at the north side of the fortress, he summoned it to surrender; to which summons, as mine author has it, "a scoffing and ludibrious answer was returned after the Irish manner;" and therefore the siege went on, but with little success, for what with the bravery and good appointment of the garrison, and the ignorance that then prevailed in the use of artillery — for though the Lord Deputy, from having been master of the ordnance, was nicknamed the gunner, it would appear that he could make no great use in this instance of his guns — therefore in all probability the fortress would have held out until its master returned to raise the siege, were it not for the perfidy of the governor, Christopher Parese, whose name has descended to posterity along with that of Luttrell and Moriarty,* because he broke one of the strongest ties that can bind an Irishman, for he was the foster-brother of Lord Thomas — this "white-livered traitor resolved to purchase his own security with his lord's ruin;" and therefore sent a letter to the Lord Deputy, signifying that he would betray the castle, on conditions; and here the devil betrayed the betrayer, for in making terms for his purse's-profit, he forgot to include his person's safety. The Lord Deputy readily accepted his offer, and accordingly, the garrison having gained some success in a sally, and being encouraged by the governor in a deep joyous carouse, they became dead drunk; and sunk in liquor and sleep, the ward of the tower was neglected — the traitorous signal given, and the English scaled the walls. Captain Holland, being the first to enter, plunged into a pipe of feathers, and stuck there like a bird of prey that was caught in a pigeon house. Sir William Brereton got in after him, and shouted out "St. George, St. George!" whereat one of the guards awakening, observed Captain Holland floundering in the feather barrel, and fired at him, but the flying about of the feathers marred his aim, and he fell himself by the hands of the assailants. Sir William Brereton soon advanced his standard on the top of the turret; the stronghold was won — the garrison put to the sword — all except two singing men who prostrating themselves before the Deputy, warbled a sweet sonnet called dulcis amica, and their melody saved their lives.

The spoil and plunder of the castle was immense, for being well appointed with all warlike munition, it was accounted the best furnished house belonging to any subject in the king's dominions.

Parese expecting some great reward, with impudent familiarity presented himself before the Deputy, who addressed him as follows: "Master Parese thou hast certainly saved our lord the king much charge, and many of his subjects' lives, but that I may better know to advise his highness how to reward thee, I would ascertain what the lord Thomas Fitzgerald hath done for thee?" Parese highly elevated at this discourse, recounted even to the most minute circumstance all the favours that the Geraldine, even from his youth up, had conferred on him. To which the Deputy replied, "and how Parese couldst thou find it in thy heart to betray the castle of so kind a lord? Here, Mr. Treasurer, pay down the money that he has covenanted for — and here also executioner, without delay as soon as the money is counted out, chop off his head!" "Oh, (quoth Parese) had I known this, your lordship should not have had the castle so easily." Whereupon one Mr. Boice, a secret friend of the Fitzgerald, a bystander, cried out, "Auntraugh," i.e. "too late," which occasioned a proverbial saying, long afterwards used in Ireland — "too late quoth Boice." In the mean while Fitzgerald had got together, by the assistance of O'Connor, a considerable army, but his troops finding the stronghold taken, shortly after deserted, and though with considerable activity, great personal bravery, and no small mental resources, he shewed himself a dangerous Guerrilla enemy, and held possession of one of the strongest counties for such a warfare in Ireland, yet eventually he was induced to surrender to the new Lord deputy, lord Grey, and rode in amicable guise side by side with him, into Dublin; some writers say that lord Grey, before the Geraldine surrendered, promised him the King's pardon. Others assert, that he gave himself up unconditionally — the result was, he was forwarded along with his uncles to England, through which he travelled as if under no accusation; but on their approach to Windsor, they were arrested as prisoners, and on February 3d, 1539, were all hanged at Tyburn. It is right to mention that Lord Thomas became Earl of Kildare before his execution — for his fathers hearing of his misfortunes, died in the Tower, prior to his son's surrender, of a broken heart.

Capture of the FitzGeralds – Illustration from Cassell's Illustrated History of England

Before we conclude this narrative of the Geraldine, we must give the reader some account of the last male branch of the family, Gerald, who at the period of the catastrophe of his brother, his uncles and his father, was a boy of ten years of age, and had been luckily committed to the care and tuition of a good and faithful ecclesiastic, Thomas Leverhouse, afterwards Bishop of Kildare — he, on the apprehension of the uncles, took the boy in his arms, though in the full fever of the small pox, and wrapping him up warm, had him conveyed in a cleeve or basket into the fastnesses of Ophaly, and on his recovery carried him off to the county of Cork, to the Lady Elinor Fitzgerald, the widow of Mc Carty Riagh. She soon afterwards marrying O'Donnel of Tyrconnell, made it an article of her marriage settlement, that the northern chieftain should protect the Geraldine, which he faithfully promised but they were not a year in Ulster until he entered into a treaty with the Lord Deputy, to deliver up the boy, whereupon she shipped him off privately from Donegal to France, and when he was safe off, and provided with all the money she could procure, she then upbraided O'Donnel with his treachery, and told him "that nothing but the preservation of her nephew could have prevailed on her to marry such a clownish curmudgeon." Then, as he had acted as a false traitor, she would stay with him no longer; and she kept her word, for he nevar saw her more.

The young Geraldine did not remain long in France, for Henry being at peace with Francis I., claimed his subject, so he had to fly into Flanders, and from thence to Italy, where he came under the protection of his kinsman Cardinal Pole; who it appears reared him well, and he did credit to his birth and education; for he did valiantly against the Turks in the service of the Knights of Malta, and became master of horse to the Duke of Tuscany. In this honorable service, as he was hunting in company with the Cardinal Farnese, he fell into a pit 60 feet deep, and had the good fortune, when within a few feet of the bottom, to catch some bushes, and gently descend on his horse, which lay dead at the bottom; here he stood for many hours up to his middle in water, and must have perished, had not his grif hound, missing his master, scented him to the pit, and then fell a howling, until the people attracted by the dog, came, and with a rope and basket drew him out. On the death of Henry VIII. he returned in disguise to England in the train of a foreign ambassador, and being at a ball, his finished manners, and beautiful person, captivated Mabel, the daughter of Sir Anthony Brown, Knight of the Garter, and marrying her, interest was made with the young monarch, who liberally restored him to his honours and estates.

* Irish tradition records the name of the former as having betrayed the pass at the siege of Limerick — of the latter as having betrayed the Earl of Desmond.



Text: The Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 5,


Sunday, 14 June 2015

On the Field of Waterloo

By Rev. ROBERT HUGH MORRIS, D.D.

At the present moment [June 1915], when the nations of Europe are in the throes of a world-embracing war, it may be of interest to read the following impression of Waterloo, written by the Rev. Dr. Morris, of Philadelphia, about two years ago, on the occasion of a visit to that classic spot. It is also of some interest to Belfast Presbyterians from the fact of the recent announcement that May Street congregation propose to present a unanimous call to the talented author of the verses.

The Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815 by Denis Dighton

This, then, is Waterloo,
     Beneath this rising mound, this Lion's seat,
Was the last stand of that Old Guard which knew
     All that it meant to die, but did not know defeat.

Here in this hollow road
    The mailed Cuirassier and his bold steed
Fell to their death where scarlet rivers flowed.
    And cannons roared above, and bullets shrieked their creed.

The Iron Duke here stood;
    And yonder field where now waves ripening wheat—
'Twas there Napoleon turning saw the flood
    Of victory ebb in one long wave of dark defeat.

This very dust below
    Mayhap was once instinct with valorous life;
Asleep and peaceful now are friend and foe;
    Who knows which dust was French, which English, in that strife?

O God! And this is war!
    Ten thousand widows weep on England's shore.
Ten thousand more upon the banks of Loire,
    Whilst orphan'd children cry for those who come no more.

O Christ! teach us to love
    Our brothers near at hand and those afar;
Rule, Prince of Peace, from Thy high throne above.
    And end this reign of Hate, with all its murderous war.

The Witness, 11th June 2015