Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

received the homage of the assembled people. At the same time the Danes everywhere endeavoured to settle themselves in the country. They launched ships even on the lakes, with which they coerced the people dwelling around their shores. In the tenth century (continues the Irish scholar Duald Mac Firbis, in his unpublished treatise respecting “ The Fomorians and Lochlanns," written about A.D. 1650) « Erinn was filled with ships (or adventurers), viz., the ships of Birn, the ships of Odvin, the ships of Grifin (or Grisin), the ships of Suatgar, the ships of Lagmann, the ships of Earbalbh, the ships of Sitric (?), the ships of Buidin, the ships of Bernin, the ships of the Crioslachs, the ships of Torberd Roe, the ships of Snimin, the ships of Suainin, the ships of Barun, the ships of Mileadh Lua, the ships of the Inghean Roe (Red Maiden). All the evils which befel Erinn until then were as nothing; for the Galls spread themselves over all Erinn, and they built Cahirs (Caers) and Cashels (or Castles), and they showed respect to no one; and they used to kill her (Erinn's) kings, and carry her queens and noble ladies over the sea into bondage.

“ A fleet the like of which was never seen, came with Jomar More, grandson of Jomar, and his three sons, viz., Dubhgall, Cualladh, and Aralt; and they took Inis Sibtonn in the harbour of Limerick, and forced submission from the Galls who had come before.

• The Galls then ordered a king on every territory, a chief on every chieftaincy, an abbot in every church, a bailiff in every town, a soldier in every house, so that not one of the men of Erinn had power over anything of his own from even the hen's clutch to the hundred milch cows. And they dared not show their kindness nor generosity to father, mother, bishop, ollave, spiritual director, those in sickness nor disease, nor to the infant one night old. If there was but one cow in the possession of any one of the men of Erinn, her broth should be given to the soldier the night that no milk could be procured from her. And an

innge of gold, or silver, of Fionndruine (a carved ornament of white metal) for the king's rent every year, and the person who would not be able to pay that should go himself into bondage, or have his nose cut off.”

As the Irish chronicles give in this manner embellished and exaggerated pictures of the victories and power of the Norwegians in Ireland, so also they frequently depict the defeats of the “ Danes ” in colours that are too vivid. The ancient chronicle before mentioned concerning “ The Wars of the Irish and the Northmen” states, for instance, that some time before the battle of Clontarf a desperate conflict took place at Glennmama, in the neighbourhood of Dublin, between the Irish king, Brian Boroimha, and the Danes in Dublin; with which latter were united the inhabitants of Leinster, who had shortly before entered “ the Danish precinct of Dublin.” King Brian was victorious in the battle; "and then there was not a threshing-spot from Howth to Brandon in Kerry without an ensclaved Dane threshing on it, nor a quern without a Danish woman grinding on it.”

Very different are the accounts given by the Scandinavian Sagas relative to the Norwegians in Ireland. It was to be expected that the Irishman, endowed with a southern vivacity, and at the same time thrown into deep anxiety by the Norwegian expeditions, should have regarded them in quite a different light from the tranquil Norwegian himself, who in the conquests in Ireland beheld only a repetition of what was occurring at the same time in so many other countries. The Scandinavian accounts are in general shorter than the Irish, and confine themselves merely to the relation of single events. Ireland is usually treated of incidentally, nay almost accidentally. According to the Sagas, we should almost be inclined to think that the dominion of the Norwegians in Ireland was much less in extent and duration than was actually the case, so little have the writers of them thought of magnifying their countrymen's renown at the expense of historical truth. What, therefore, the Sagas, and the rest of the Scandinavian chronicles relate about Ireland is, for the most part, very trustworthy, and at all events agrees with the representations at that time current amongst the Irish themselves. It is quite evident that the writers of the Sagas bad either been in Ireland, or at all events derived their knowledge from men who knew the country well, either through Viking expeditions or trading voyages. The accuracy with which different places in Ireland are described affords a very remarkable proof of this. Thus the ancient seat of royalty “ Teamor," or Tara, which is also celebrated for its delightful situation, is mentioned in the “ Kongespeil " under the name of “Themar;” and it is added that “the people knew no finer city on the earth.” In the same place it is further stated that the town and castle sunk suddenly into the earth, because a king pronounced an unjust judgment—a tradition common in Ireland to the present day.

Places in Ireland mentioned in the Sagas, but which formerly could not be traced, have recently been pointed out by the aid of the Irish records. The “ Kongespeil " states, for instance, that Saint Diermitius had a church on a small island, “ Misdredan” or “ Inisdredan,” in the lake “Logherne.” This island is evidently “ Inisdreckan” in Lough Erne, where formerly St. Diermitius actually had a church. Subsequent transcribers of the book have clearly enough transformed Inisdreckan into Inisdredan, Misdredan, &c. The same has been the case with the celebrated King Brian Boroimha's castle, which, by a mistake in copying, is called in the Sagas“ Kanntaraborg” or “Kunjáttaborg," instead of “ Kanncaraborg." Brian Boroimha's castle, so celebrated in the Irish songs and legends, was called in Irish “ Ceann-Caraidh " (pronounced Cancara), and was situated on the river Shannon, not far from Limerick. To the Irish Cancara the Norwegians, therefore, only added the Scandinavian termination “ borg.” Again, it is stated in the Sagas that one could sail from

Reykjanes in Iceland to “ Jöllduhlaup” in Ireland, in about eight days, or, according to some readings, even in a much shorter time. Formerly this place was sought on Lough Swilley, near Cape Malin, in the north of Ireland. But Jöllduhlaup, which signifies “the course or breaking of the waves," is merely a translation into Icelandic of the Gaelic name “ Corrybracan" (Coire Breacain), whereby the Gaels denote a whirlpool between the little island of Rathlin (or Raghrin) and the north-easternmost part of Ireland (the county of Antrim). That the ancient Icelanders designated this precise spot in Ireland is owing in all probability to the circumstance that the island of Ratlin was in the olden times the chief station in the passage from Ireland to Scotland, and as such the rendezvous for a number of merchants and other travellers. Lastly, Snorre Sturleson relates that in the beginning of the eleventh century a desperate naval battle was fought between the Orkney jarl Einar and the Irish king “Konofögr," in Ulfrek’s, or Ulfkel's, Fiord, on the coast of Ireland. The situation of this fiord, or firth, was entirely unknown until it was lately discovered that in a document issued by the English-Irish king John in the year 1210, the Firth Lough Larne, on the east coast of Ireland, about fourteen miles north of Belfast, was at that time still called “Wulvricheforð," which agrees most accurately with the Icelandic name “Ulfreksfjörðr.” By a remarkable coincidence, a skeleton was dug up a little while previously just on the shores of Lough Larne, together with a pretty large iron sword, having a short guard and a large triangular pommel at the end of the hilt; the form of which sword (as I shall prove) was not Irish, hut pure Scandinavian, like that of the swords used towards the close of heathenism in the North. There is every probability that the skeleton and sword belong to one of the Scandinavian warriors who fell in the above-mentioned battle, and who was afterwards buried on the shore. Thus both the exhumed antiquities, and the lost but re-discovered name of the place, contribute to corroborate the credibility of Snorre Sturleson's account.

Both the Irish and the Scandinavian records agree that Norwegians and Danes were settled in Ireland at a very early period. The Vikings are said to have ravaged its coasts for the first time in the year 795 ; and in the ninth century many of them were already settled in the country. Amongst the men who, at the close of the ninth and beginning of the tenth century, first colonized Iceland, several Irishmen, or rather deseendants of Norwegians settled in Ireland, are mentioned ; as, for instance, Thormod and Ketil Bufa, Haskel Hnokkan, who was descended from the Irish king Kjarval, besides others. Intermarriages between the Norwegians in Ireland and the native Irish seem to have taken place from the very first; which explains the circumstance that many men in Iceland bore at an early period Irish names, such as Kjaran and Niel or Njäll.

The Norwegians in Ireland, like their Danish kinsmen in England, were obliged to begin by settling on the coasts; whence, both by warlike and peaceful means, they gradually extended their dominion over the country. Besides this continually.increasing and more peaceful colonization, roving Scandinavian Vikings continued their attacks in different parts of Ireland, whereby the power of the Irish was considerably weakened. A pause took place, however, in the tenth century, both in the expeditions of the Vikings, and in the progress of the Scandinavian settlements in Ireland. It is even stated that for about forty years “the strangers ” (the Galls) were entirely driven out of the country; but this is probably an exaggeration. This diminution of the power of the Norwegians in Ireland occurred about the same time with the decrease of the Danish power in England, and appears to have been produced by the same causes; namely, internal commotions in the mother-country of Scandinavia, which prevented the

« НазадПродовжити »