19/11/2019

Irish literature and the historiography of 18th-century Ireland

The lecture below was read by me to the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland on 26 September 2019. Figure 6 was not available at the time and has been added since.

There is an Irish proverb that runs ‘a scéal féin scéal gach aon duine’; literally, ‘everyone’s story is their own story’, or more loosely, ‘everyone likes to be talking about themselves’. In keeping with this piece of folk wisdom, I’d like to begin tonight’s lecture by taking a few minutes to talk about my own initiation into the use of the vernacular literature as a historical source.

Figure 1: Hugh MacCurtin, A Brief Discourse in Vindication of the Antiquity of Ireland (Dublin, 1717)
     Some twenty-eight years ago, in 1991, I was researching a thesis for the degree of M.Phil. in Irish studies in UCD. My thesis was originally conceived as a study of Hugh MacCurtin’s Brief Discourse in Vindication of the Antiquity of Ireland, a history based on native sources that was published at Dublin in 1717. I wanted to include an introductory chapter on the author, who was also a prolific poet and is perhaps better known under the Irish form of his name, Aodh Buí Mac Cruitín. In trying to piece together a summary biography, I encountered a number of problems—one of which is of relevance to the subject of tonight’s lecture. MacCurtin was the author of a poem in which he anticipated forthcoming Christmas festivities among the soldiers of the Régiment de Clare—an Irish regiment in the French service. This poem strongly suggests, but does not explicitly state, that the poet was himself a soldier in the regiment. The final verse reads as follows:

Figure 2: NUIM MS. Murphy 11, pages 268 (line 1) and 269 (lines 2-4)
That is:
Is dóigh má ghabhaimse an cóta dearg so leo go rachad tar sáile,
a scóda leathan, a seolta scartha is an sról ’na mbratachaibh arda;
cóir ná ceannach ní gheobhaid ó Ghallaibh go dtógaid sealbh a n-áitreabh,
Is Seoirse a thachtadh le corda casta is is ceolmhar screadfas an chláirseach.

(I suppose if I put on this red coat, I’ll go with them over the sea, with sheets spread, sails deployed and silk in their banners on high; no justice or recompense will they obtain from the English til they take possession of their dwellings and strangle George with a twisted rope, and musically the harp will sound.)
As with any work of literature, it is possible that the author may have given free rein to his imagination: if a poet chooses to speak in the voice of a soldier, it cannot be assumed that he really was a soldier. In any event, it may be noted that the crucial phrase in the poem is qualified: ghabhaimse an cóta dearg so’ (‘if I put on this red coat’). This leaves open the possibility that the poet never put on a red coat. Yet precisely such a claim occurs in one of the manuscript copies (RIA MS. 23 C 8) where the scribe’s introduction reads as follows: ‘Aodha baoi mc Cruitín cct ⁊ é a bhflóndras, a ccaith thighearna an chláir ⁊ súil aco re teacht go héirinn do bhain a bhfearann dúthchais do ghallaibh isan mbliain 1693’ (‘Aodh Buí Mac Cruitín composed when he was in Flanders, in Lord Clare’s regiment, and they hoping to come to Ireland to take their native land from the English in the year 1693’). My confidence in this scribal note was somewhat impaired by the date quoted: the king of England was not called ‘George’ in 1693. Furthermore, from other evidence, I knew that the poet was born circa 1680 and could hardly have enlisted at twelve or thirteen years of age. None the less, my feeling was that the poem had an authentic ring and that the poet really had put on the red coat of a soldier. With the energy and enthusiasm of youth—this was almost thirty years ago—I concluded that there was only one course open to me. Rather than leave such an important biographical question unresolved, I decided to visit the French military archives—then, as now, located in the Chateau de Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris. On the second day of my research there, I found what I was looking for in the muster roll of the Régiment de Clare:

Figure 3: Service historique de la Défense MS. 1Yc 257, folio 114 verso
This evidence established that MacCurtin enlisted on 12 October 1728 and was discharged on 20 August 1729, information entirely consistent with other biographical details that were known to me. For example, a book by MacCurtin entitled The Elements of the Irish Language Grammatically Explained in English had already been published at Louvain in 1728, and he would subsequently be named as a collaborator on the title page of Conchobhar Ó Beaglaoich’s The English Irish Dictionary which appeared at Paris in 1732.

Figure 4: Conchobhar Ó Beaglaoich, The English Irish Dictionary (Paris, 1732)
Furthermore, the soldier in the muster roll was aged 48 years—exceptionally old for an enlisted man but exactly what I expected for the poet. As final confirmation of the soldier’s identity, I was able to establish that in 1728 the Régiment de Clare was stationed at the town of Béthune in the province of Artois, about midway between Louvain and Paris. To summarise: an entry made by anonymous officers in a muster roll in 1728-9, had transformed a literary composition of questionable evidential value into a unique historical text composed by a rank-and-file Irish soldier in the French service. This was a formative experience for me, and it left me with an enduring belief that the vernacular literature provides a window into the views and lives of important social strata that are not otherwise represented in the historical record.

     This belief places me in a small minority among historians of eighteenth-century Ireland. Almost invariably, historians of the period confine their research to sources in English and avoid any engagement with the vernacular literature. Yet Irish-language texts from the century are both extensive and varied. While only five hundred manuscripts in the language have survived from before 1700, about a thousand manuscripts are extant from the eighteenth century, many of them running to hundreds of pages. There are a further three thousand manuscripts from the first half of the nineteenth century, many of which contain texts composed during the previous century. These manuscripts provide a unique insight into the culture of the society in which they were produced—a more sensitive insight than could ever have been provided by printed sources because the barriers to manuscript production were so much lower. Essentially, manuscript production required only literacy, some paper, a bottle of ink and a goose quill. There was no need to engage a printer, to solicit subscriptions, or to arrange for distribution. Furthermore, while publications in English were monitored by the state, and their authors, printers, distributors and retailers were all liable to prosecution for seditious libel, it was comparatively easy for Irish-language authors and the scribes who recorded their work to evade detection. The vernacular sources are therefore much more unguarded than sources in English on such sensitive issues as the legitimacy of the reigning dynasty, the orthodoxy of the established church, or Ireland’s constitutional status. Although there were some instances of Irish-language authors being prosecuted, a small amount of discretion ensured that the risk was low and, for practical purposes, vernacular compositions of the period can be regarded as uncensored expressions of their authors’ opinions. It may be noted, however, that the scribe who penned the copy of MacCurtin’s poem in NUIM MS. Murphy 11 took the precaution of abbreviating the potentially incriminating words ‘Gallaibh’ and ‘Seoirse’.

Figure 5: Two examples of scribal discretion in NUIM MS. Murphy 11
     More than a century ago, Eoin MacNeill, the eminent historian of early Ireland, surveyed the contents of the O’Laverty manuscript collection held in Saint Malachy’s College, Belfast (see Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge, November 1906, pp. 226-7). This collection contained 333 discrete compositions which MacNeill classified as follows: eighty-five items were religious and a further seven were ‘purely controversial’, a description which probably signified sectarian polemics; thirty-eight items were heroic in nature and mainly concerned tales of Fionn mac Cumhaill and his fianna; seventeen items related to ‘contemporary politics’, and a further sixteen dealt with ‘past history’; twenty-six compositions were described as ‘amorous’, some of which MacNeill judged to be ‘indecent’; ‘humorous literature’ was represented by eighteen compositions and a further eleven were described as ‘satirical’; twenty items praised persons who were recently deceased, and seven were composed in honour of living subjects. MacNeill’s sample was small and a northern bias is likely, given the provenance of the manuscripts, but I cannot cite a more recent or representative analysis of the manuscript literature as the subject has not attracted the attention of later historians.

Figure 6: Eoin MacNeill's analysis of literary texts in the O'Laverty manuscripts
     One must pose the question: why is this so? If the divide between the Irish-speaking and English-speaking communities in the eighteenth century were merely geographic—comparable to that between the French-speaking and German-speaking cantons of Switzerland—historians’ neglect of the Irish sources would still be difficult to understand given the large volume and broad range of the material available. But the divide between the linguistic communities in Ireland was not merely regional: in 18th-century Ireland, the linguistic division correlated strongly with ethnic, political, religious and social divisions of critical importance. Historians who restrict their research to sources in English, systematically privilege voices that are overwhelmingly English or Anglo-Irish, Protestant, loyal to the establishment, and drawn from the upper layers of society. To follow such an unbalanced research methodology is to engage in the retrospective anglicisation of eighteenth-century Ireland. It is to fabricate an image of an English-speaking Georgian Ireland that never existed in reality, for the age of Swift and Goldsmith was also the age of Ó Rathaille and Merriman. On the other hand, to adopt a bilingual research methodology is to engage with the voices of the rural populace, of plebeian Catholics, of the politically disaffected, of social layers that had no access to print media. Given this background, then, why do historians of the period consistently fail to utilise the Irish sources? In the next part of this lecture I would like to interrogate various explanations that have been offered by academic historians.

Figure 7: Two books by R. B. McDowell from 1944 and 1997
     Comments by R. B. McDowell in the preface to his Irish Public Opinion 1750-1800, a much praised monograph published in 1944, give some insight into the views of historians at that time. Dated though they are, McDowell’s arguments provide a benchmark against which the views of more recent historians can be assessed. The author anticipated some criticism of his failure to use sources in Irish and defended his exclusively anglophone methodology in the following terms:
It may be said that too much attention has been paid to the opinions of ‘the thinking few’ (to borrow an expression from theological controversy) and that the outlook of the masses has been neglected. But perhaps it scarcely requires to be emphasized that the great bulk of the people were restricted by poverty and persecution to political speculations of the simplest kind ... the great output of Gaelic poetry through which they expressed their feelings does not contain any formulated political ideas.
Irish Public Opinion 1750-1800 (1944), pp. 5-6.
This is an extraordinary claim. In effect, McDowell dismissed the political and historical significance of the views held by the majority of the Irish population on such subjects as the American revolution, the Volunteer movement, the Rightboy agitation against tithes, Penal legislation, and the French revolution. Furthermore, he did so without ever examining the sources in which those views were expressed. In a second book, Crisis and Decline: The Fate of Southern Unionists, published as recently as 1997, McDowell was equally dismissive of the Irish-language sources:
Within Trinity the courses and teaching closely resembled those in a British university—I nearly wrote, ‘in other British universities’. However, there was a school of Celtic studies and courses in Irish, and the comparatively few undergraduates who studied Irish were prone to assert vigorously the immense value, especially to Irishmen, of their own subject. Their assertions left me cold or, on controversial occasions, heated. I felt no impulse to learn Irish. My ancestral connections with the language, if they existed, were very distant; I was not a good linguist and my slight acquaintance with Gaelic literature, gained from translation, did not stimulate me to attempt to master the language.
Crisis and Decline: The Fate of Southern Unionists (1997), pp. 205-6.
Once again, this is an extraordinary argument. As professional scholars, historians should be able to transcend their family backgrounds, their political sympathies and their personal aptitudes. For any historian, the need to familiarise oneself with the full range of sources relevant to the subject being investigated should be paramount. Instead, McDowell dismissed, unread, all of the sources produced by one of the two linguistic communities in eighteenth-century Ireland. His monograph was mistitled: in reality, the subject of his study was not Irish opinion, but rather Anglo-Irish opinion.

Figure 8: S. J. Connolly, Religion, Law and Power: The Making of Protestant Ireland 1660-1760 (1992)
     Although his academic career spanned more than fifty years, it should be acknowledged that R. B. McDowell’s views were formed in the 1940s and it might be thought that attitudes would have evolved in the intervening period. This is true to some extent, but arguments that minimise the importance of sources in Irish continue to be advanced. Professor S. J. Connolly, who recently retired from the chair of Irish history at Queens University Belfast, is prominent among those who dispute the historical value of vernacular sources. In his Religion, Law and Power: The Making of Protestant Ireland 1660-1760, a work which was well received on its appearance in 1992, he argued that the vernacular literature of the later eighteenth century expressed ‘fossilized’ ideas that ‘should perhaps be considered part of a society’s folklore rather than its politics’. However, the only evidence advanced in support of this contention was a song entitled ‘Tá an cruatan ar Sheoirse’ (‘George is in distress’) composed by the County Kerry poet Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin during the American revolutionary war. Professor Connolly dismissed Ó Súilleabháin’s song in the following terms:
When the County Kerry labourer Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin (1748-84) composed a poem on the American War of Independence, for example, his delight in the difficulties engulfing the Hanoverian dynasty was conveyed in a web of confused and inconsistent images, in which the American colonists were not mentioned at all, while ‘the Emperor’ was somehow imagined to be among Britain’s enemies.
Religion, Law and Power: The Making of Protestant Ireland 1660-1760 (1992), p. 248.
The truth is rather different. In reality, it was the historian, not the poet, who showed a lack of familiarity with the contemporary diplomatic and military contexts. The entry of France into the American war coincided with growing tensions between Austria, a French ally since the ‘diplomatic revolution’ of 1756, and Prussia. These tensions culminated in the War of Bavarian Succession in 1778-9. In Ireland, as elsewhere in Europe, it was widely expected that the two wars—that between France and Britain in the Atlantic, and that between Austria and Prussia in Germany—would merge into a wider conflict, much as the colonial War of Jenkins’ Ear had previously merged with the War of Austrian Succession. In April 1778, shortly after the formal breach between Britain and France, Finn’s Leinster Journal reported that French forces had entered Brussels, capital of the Austrian Netherlands, and continued:
we foresaw this might take place in consequence of a convention between the courts of Vienna and Versaille, according to which the French were to occupy the Austrian Netherlands as soon as the Emperor’s troops had retired from them.
Finn’s Leinster Journal, 8 April 1778.
In its next issue (11 April 1778), the same newspaper advised its readers that George III’s continental possessions were about to be overrun by Austrian forces: ‘The Emperor is putting himself at the head of his army ... and Brunswick and Hanover are certainly to be the seat of war’. That Britain did not become involved in a German war can be attributed to two factors: first, the French were determined not to fight on two fronts; second, Russian opposition to Austrian claims in Bavaria persuaded the emperor to bring the war to an early conclusion. The War of Bavarian Succession is now a minor historical footnote, but at the time it was widely assumed that it would develop into a general European war involving all the major powers. Austria’s accession to the anti-British alliance was not only anticipated, but was reported as an accomplished fact in the Irish press. Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin’s song accurately reflects this expectation. Further references in the song to Comte d’Estaing, the French naval commander, and to Russian rejection of British overtures, show the poet to have been a well informed observer of contemporary European developments. His song vividly captures the sense of anticipation which spread among the Irish-speaking population of Munster in May 1778 as Germany teetered on the brink of war, as the French fleet put to sea, and as British hopes of a Russian alliance foundered. Far from being ‘confused and inconsistent’, Ó Súilleabháin’s song is an essential text for any historian who would trace the evolution of Irish opinion during the American revolution.

Figure 9: Single-author anthologies of 18th-century verse in Irish only (on left) and with English translations (on right)
     Writing in the American Historical Review in 1999, Jane Ohlmeyer, currently professor of modern history in TCD, put forward a different argument. Unlike McDowell and Connolly, she did not dismiss the historical value of sources in Irish. Instead, she argued that the availability of English translations made a knowledge of the language unnecessary:
For many, the linguistic barrier remains a very real one; however, given the wealth of material that has been translated into English by bodies like the Irish Texts Society, it should not be an insurmountable one.
American Historical Review, April 1999, p. 450.
This argument is simply untenable. The greater part, by far, of the vernacular literature of the eighteenth century has never been published in Irish—much less translated into English. It is preserved in manuscripts; those who would read it require a knowledge not just of the Irish language but also of Irish palaeography. The minuscule proportion of material available in English can be gauged by considering the large number of eighteenth-century poets, anthologies of whose work have been published without translations. In contrast, I can think of just one prolific poet from the eighteenth century whose corpus is available in translation: namely, Aogán Ó Rathaille. There are, of course, many individual poems and songs that have been translated, but these are invariably chosen for their literary merit and not for their historical value. Indeed, I suspect that there may be an inverse correlation between the two: good literature commonly concerns itself with universal, timeless themes, whereas useful primary sources for the student of history are invariably situated in a particular historical conjuncture. In fairness to Professor Ohlmeyer, her period is the seventeenth rather than the eighteenth century, and translations from the earlier period are somewhat more plentiful. None the less, when two members of the Irish department in TCD (Damian McManus and Eoghan Ó Raghallaigh) edited an anthology of five hundred previously unpublished bardic poems in 2010, their collection included approximately one hundred and fifty texts from the 17th century and none of these were translated.

Figure 10: The Popular Mind in Eighteenth-century Ireland was reviewed in History Ireland, July-August 2017
     Reviewing my Popular Mind in Eighteenth-century Ireland for History Ireland, Jim Smyth, emeritus professor of Irish history at the University of Notre Dame, concluded as follows:
The high value of Irish-language sources is demonstrated conclusively. The tractability of such evidence remains problematic, however. To what extent did poets write for each other? How representative were their views? Imagine, by analogy, extrapolating later twentieth-century popular political beliefs from those encoded in a stylised literary genre of that era—academic history?
History Ireland, July-August 2017, p. 63.
While apparently conceding the importance of the vernacular sources, Smyth questioned whether the views they express were really representative of the wider Irish-speaking community and drew a parallel between the Irish-language authors of the eighteenth century and academic historians of the present day. Clearly, the latter cannot be regarded as representative of society. Recruited largely from the upper middle class, they are subjected to intensive instruction for three to four years as undergraduates, followed by practical training for four to six years as they research master’s and doctoral theses. This allows ample opportunity for the historical profession to reproduce itself in its own image: to guide young historians into approved areas of research, to familiarise them with the conventional wisdom of their elders, and to advise them which sources are essential and which sources are merely optional—or even deprecated. Given such a long process of formation, it may well be possible to inculcate a professional viewpoint which differs from that of the wider society. But whether this is true or not, it can have no bearing on eighteenth-century literature in Irish. The authors of that period were all amateurs and received no professional training. Furthermore, they were socially differentiated and widely dispersed geographically. For example, it seems likely that songs from Munster had little currency in north Leinster or Ulster, and the reverse also seems to be true—although this is one of many important issues that await investigation. While some poets of the period undoubtedly received payments for individual compositions, none of them were employed by patrons or by institutions. The glib comparison drawn between their circumstances and those of modern professional historians is therefore devoid of merit and can be dismissed out of hand. The vernacular authors of the eighteenth century were recruited from, and commonly composed for, the Irish-speaking population at large.

Figure 11: Volume 3 of The Cambridge History of Ireland (Cambridge, 2018)
     In his preface to the third volume of the Cambridge History of Ireland which appeared last year, Professor James Kelly of DCU commented as follows:
It is fashionable, in certain circles, to argue that the limits of this [state] archive can be made good by appealing to the corpus of Irish-language material, and recent work utilising its primary component—Gaelic poetry—has demonstrated its potential in divining the popular mind, but it has less to offer on economic, social, gender, intellectual, recreational and other aspects of Irish society with which historians also seek to engage and, inter alia, address here.
The Cambridge History of Ireland, III (2018), p. 14.
I suspect that Professor Kelly may be correct in relation to economic history, provided this is narrowly defined in terms of trade statistics, availability of specie, fluctuations of wages and prices, etc. But I am baffled as to why he imagines that sources in Irish are unimportant for those who would investigate social, gender, intellectual or recreational aspects of the Irish past. In relation to social history, the vernacular sources shed essential light on such key topics as penal legislation, landlordism and agrarian unrest. In relation to gender history, let us recall that Eoin MacNeill described twenty-six of the 333 compositions in the O’Laverty manuscripts—some eight per cent of the total—as ‘amorous’ or ‘indecent’. Can it seriously be argued that such works have nothing to tell us about gender relations at the time of their composition? Again, the long series of poems by multiple authors on the cross-dressing Seon Anna Prior must surely be of relevance to any historian of gender fluidity in the eighteenth-century. Kelly’s inclusion of intellectual history among the areas where the Irish sources have little to offer is more perplexing still because, in the very first chapter of volume 3 of the Cambridge History, literary compositions in Irish are the principal source used to characterise the ideology of Irish Jacobitism; I am the author of that chapter and Professor Kelly commissioned me to write it! Strangest of all is his inclusion of recreation among the areas in which the vernacular sources are found wanting. It should surely be evident that eighteenth-century texts in Irish represent our principal source for the popular literary culture of the period. They also shed incidental light on such topics as music and song, storytelling, dancing, card games, alcohol consumption, etc. I would have thought that even those who dispute the importance of the Irish sources for the political historian would at least accept their importance for the historian of popular culture.

Figure 12: Taxation, Politics, and Protest in Ireland, 1662-2016 (2019)
     A collection of essays entitled Taxation, Politics, and Protest in Ireland, 1662-2016, was published earlier this year. One of the editors, Patrick Walsh, is a lecturer in history at TCD and he quoted a taxation-related verse from a poem by the County Sligo author Seán Ó Gadhra that was translated by me in The Popular Mind in Eighteenth-century Ireland. He then added the following observation:
Such commentaries on taxation in the Irish language sources are rare, making this an especially valuable source, revealing as it does some insight into popular attitudes to taxation, attitudes that were rarely verbalised in the surviving documentation. Instead historians have been largely obliged to infer popular attitudes to taxation from instances of illicit distillation, protest, riot, or smuggling.
Taxation, Politics, and Protest in Ireland, 1662-2016 (2019), p. 90.
I have now almost thirty years experience of working on eighteenth-century literature, and it does not seem to me that the vernacular authors of the period were particularly reticent on the topic of taxation. On the contrary, I feel that references to the subject are quite plentiful. In addition to the term that is now standard, ‘cáin’, other terms for taxation used in the literature of the period include ‘cíos’, which can also mean ‘rent’; ‘ráta’, which is often a land tax; ‘sraith’, which corresponds to ‘cess’ in English;  ‘deachú’, the tithes payable to the established church; and the generic ‘íoc’ or ‘payment’. Furthermore, ‘tax’ is itself used as a borrowing from English; indeed, I suspect that it must be one of the most common English words in the Irish-language literature of the eighteenth century. But if references to taxation are not uncommon in the manuscripts, it probably is the case that they have rarely been translated. This is not difficult to explain: on the one hand, the dry-as-dust subject of taxation is unlikely to either attract or retain the attention of literary scholars; on the other, historians continue to avoid any serious engagement with the Irish sources.

Figure 13: Books by Michael Stanford (1994) and Michael Howard (1991)
     As the views of the six historians quoted above show, there has been some shift in attitudes over time. While there is a clear line of continuity between R. B. McDowell’s claim that the Irish sources do ‘not contain any formulated political ideas’ and S. J. Connolly’s argument that the ideas they contain should be considered ‘part of a society’s folklore rather than its politics’, more recent comments by other historians have been less dismissive. None the less, they continue to minimise the significance of the vernacular sources by arguing that much of the material is available in translation, that the views they express are unrepresentative, or that they have little to contribute in certain specified areas. Varied though these arguments are, they all point to the same conclusion: that a purely anglophone research methodology is perfectly adequate for historians of eighteenth-century Ireland. In this, they diverge from the practice of historians in other countries. Let me quote from a popular textbook on historical methods, Michael Stanford’s A Companion to the Study of History:
Languages ... act as a filter for the evidence. Any historian of Europe needs to be able to read several languages. Indeed, it is often necessary even for one’s own country. The history of the port of Bristol (a modest piece of local history, one might suppose) calls for, at least, English, French, Latin and Spanish.
A Companion to the Study of History (1994), p. 150.
Another English author, the distinguished military historian Micheal Howard, has written as follows in The Lessons of History:
we cannot know too many languages. We need them not so much in order to make ourselves understood but in order to understand. Without knowing the languages that shape and express their thought, our comprehension of other cultural communities will be dim and unreliable, however great in the abstract may be our knowledge of their past.
The Lessons of History (1991), pp. 12-13.
Howard and Stanford are surely correct: an ability to read multiple languages is an important part of the professional historian’s craft. The historian of eighteenth-century Ireland needs to be (at least) bilingual because Irish society of the period was bilingual and the sources it has left to posterity were composed in two languages.

     A monolingual historian who approaches the history of eighteenth-century Ireland can be likened to a profoundly deaf film critic. Such a critic could give detailed descriptions of the sets, costumes, make-up and lighting, and provide a reasonably accurate account of who did what to whom, when, where and how. But a deaf movie critic would be reduced to speculation when trying to answer the most important question of all: ‘why?’ If we cannot understand the dialogue, if we cannot listen to the characters expressing themselves, their motivations must remain obscure to us. As if to confirm this view, academic historians of eighteenth-century Ireland have seriously maintained that we cannot know how plebeian Catholics felt about the Penal laws, that Jacobite sentiment dissipated quickly after Culloden, that the Whiteboys of the 1760s were loyal to George III, that the Catholic population supported the British war effort during the American revolution. But none of these propositions will survive engagement with the Irish sources. A profoundly deaf movie critic would have a second handicap that should also be mentioned: such a critic would be unable to hear the soundtrack which is so important for creating a mood or atmosphere: whether it be one of tension or calm, grief or joy, fear or expectation. Societies too have their soundtracks, soundtracks that manipulate the emotions of their populations. The soundtrack we hear today is provided, in large part, by the mass media—whether it be the legacy ‘mainstream media’ or newer digital media. But in eighteenth-century Ireland, the soundtrack heard by most people in the greater part of the island consisted largely of song and verse in Irish. While much of this material has been lost, a considerable proportion of it is preserved in the literary manuscripts. Familiarity with this soundtrack is not an optional extra for historians of the eighteenth-century; it is an essential requirement without which their understanding of Irish society during the period must remain, in Michael Howard’s words, ‘dim and unreliable’.

07/09/2019

Sliocht eile as Caibidil 2

Mar a geallas an mhí seo caite, seo daoibh sliocht eile as Caibidil 2 den leabhar atá á scríobh agam faoi láthair, caibidil ina bhfuil cuntas ar an tréimhse idir 400 agus 795. Sé roinn ar fad atá i gCaibidil 2 agus baineann siad leis na hábhair seo a leanas:

  • Saol na coitiantachta
  • An córas sóisialta
  • Teacht na Críostaíochta
  • Forbairt na heaglaise
  • An cultúr luath-Chríostaí
  • Ruireacha agus cogaí

Foilsíodh ‘Teacht na Críostaíochta’ anseo cheana agus tá ‘Forbairt na heaglaise’ le leamh thíos. Is í an eaglais mar institiúid atá faoi chaibidil sa sliocht seo: tá tionchar an chreidimh nua ar an tsochaí pléite agam sa roinn dar teideal ‘An cultúr luath-Chríostaí’. 

Táim i ndóchas go mbeidh sliocht as Caibidil 3 le léamh anseo go luath san athbhliain.

Forbairt na heaglaise


Tá fianaise luachmhar ar fhorbairt na heaglaise le fáil sna canónacha a d’eisigh sionad luath a raibh triúr easpag páirteach ann, más fíor: is iad na heaspaig atá luaite leis an sionad ná Pádraig, Auxilius agus Iserninus. Ní féidir dáta cruinn a chur leis na canónacha ach is léir gur cumadh iad ag am nuair a bhí eagar curtha ar struchtúr na heaglaise cé gur mhionlach fós iad na Críostaithe. Is é is dóichí gur tionóladh an sionad i dtreo dheireadh an 5ú céad i gcúige Laighean, cúige a bhí chun tosaigh maidir le fás an chreidimh nua. Aithníodh go raibh údarás ag gach easpag ar chléir a dheoise – arbh ionann í agus an tuath (is é ‘plebs’ an téarma Laidine a úsáideadh). Cuireadh toirmeasc ar chléirigh fhánacha (canóin 3) agus bhí crosadh ar chléirigh aistriú ó thuath amháin go tuath eile gan chead na n-easpag cuí (canónacha 24, 27, 33). Mar an gcéanna, bhí sé coiscthe ar mhanaigh imeacht le fán gan chead na n-abaí (canóin 34). Dá dtógfadh sagart eaglais nua, chaithfeadh easpag na tuaithe í a choisreacan sula léifí aifreann inti don chéad uair (canóin 23). Tugadh aird ar chló an tsagairt: b’éigean dó a chuid gruaige a bhearradh de réir nós na Róimhe (‘more Romano’) agus b’éigean dá bhean chéile caille a chaitheamh (canóin 6), rud a chinntigh go mbeidís so-aitheanta do Chríostaithe agus do ghintlithe ar aon. Tá sé le tuiscint ó chanónacha an tsionaid go raibh ré na misinéireachta thart agus gurbh institiúid í an eaglais cheana féin. Os a choinne sin, choisc an sionad ar Chríostaithe cásanna cúirte a thabhairt os comhair breithimh mura mbeadh cead na heaglaise faighte roimh ré (canóin 1) agus chuir sé iallach ar Chríostaithe achrainn eatarthu féin a réiteach laistigh den eaglais seachas in airecht tuaithe (canóin 21). Tugann na forálacha seo le fios go raibh an eaglais fós ag feidhmiú laistigh de shochaí a bhí págánach. Struchtúr easpagóideach a bhí ag an eaglais luath, ach bhí manaigh agus abaí ann chomh maith. Cé gur tugadh tús áite don ghnáthchléir i gcanónacha an tsionaid, ní gá go mbeadh an coibhneas céanna idir iad agus an chléir rialta ar fud na hÉireann: is de réir a chéile a scaip an creideamh agus bhí an chléir rialta lárnach sa phróiseas in áiteanna. Ní nach ionadh, bhí éagsúlacht le brath ar rialú na heaglaise. Má bhí baill den ghnáthchléir ina n-easpaig i gceantair áirithe, bhí abaí – nó manaigh nárbh abaí iad – ina n-easpaig i gceantair eile. Ar a shon sin, is cinnte gur fhás líon na mainistreacha go mór ó lár an 6ú céad amach.
Mainistreacha a bhí tábhachtach sa 6ú céad agus sa 7ú céad
     Bunaíodh roinnt de na mainistreacha ba thábhachtaí roimh lár an 6ú céad. Ar na mainistreacha luatha seo bhí Naondroim, Árainn, Tuaim agus Inis Cathaigh – tithe a bhunaigh Caolán (Mochaoi), Éanna, Iarfhlaith agus Seanán faoi seach. Is díol suntais é go raibh mná chun tosaigh sa ghluaiseacht in ainneoin na laincisí dlí a bhí orthu: mar shampla, bhunaigh Bríghid agus Dairerca (Moninne) abthithe ag Cill Dara agus ag Cill Shléibhe faoi seach. D’éag sciar nár bheag de mhuintir na hÉireann i ráig den phlá bhúbónach a bhí forleathan sna blianta 544-9 agus níor thaise don chléir rialta é: ar na héarlaimh a fuair bás lena linn bhí Bearchán (Mobhí) Ghlas Naíon, Ciarán Chluain Mhic Nóis, Tighearnach Chluain Eois, Colum Thír Dhá Ghlas, agus Colum Inis Cealtra. Ach in ainneoin na tubaiste seo, tháinig fás rábach faoin manachas sa tréimhse idir plá seo an Impire Iustinianus agus an chéad ráig eile den ghalar a thosaigh sa bhliain 664. Níl sé as an áireamh go raibh nasc idir an aicíd agus fás na mainistreacha. Thit an daonra de bharr na plá, rud a chuirfeadh lagmhisneach ar an bpobal i gcoitinne, ach b’fhéidir gur lú an éifeacht a bhí aici ar chomhluadair na mainistreacha: bhí foirne móra iontu, rud a chinntigh nár fágadh folamh iad nuair a tréigeadh mórán feirmeacha a bhain le teaghlaigh aonaracha. Lena chois sin, níor chúis iontais é dá n-iompódh daoine áirithe ar an gcreideamh tar éis dóibh teacht slán as an bplá. Ar na héarlaimh ba mhó le rá a bhunaigh mainistreacha sa tréimhse idir an dá phlá bhí: Breandán Chluain Fearta, Comhghall Bheannchair, Breandán Bhiorra, Ciarán Shaighre, Fionnán Mhaigh Bhile, Fionntán Chluain Eidhneach, Colmán mac Léníne Chluain Uamha, Fionnbharr Chorcaí agus Caoimhghin Ghleann Dá Loch. Thar aon duine eile, áfach, is é Colum Cille is mó a d’fhág a lorg ar an saol manachúil in Éirinn – agus in Albain.

     Timpeall na bliana 521 a rugadh Colum Cille, nó ‘Criomhthann’ mar a bhí air i dtús a shaoil. Garmhac le Conall Gulban ba ea a athair, rud a chiallaigh gur bhall é de theaghlach ríoga Chinéal gConaill. Tamall gairid roimh an gcéad phlá a chuir Colum Cille mainistir ar bun i nDoire, de réir dealraimh, agus bhunaigh sé mainistir eile ag Darú thart ar an mbliain 556. Thug sé aghaidh ar Albain sa bhliain 563, áfach, agus is ann a chaith sé formhór a shaoil gur éag sé sa bhliain 597. Níl aon amhras ach gurbh í an mhainistir a bhunaigh sé ar oileán Í, inis bheag ar chósta thiar oileán Mhuile, an mhainistir ba thábhachtaí dá fhairche. Tugadh ‘fairche’, téarma a tháinig ó ‘paruchia’ na Laidine, ar mhainistreacha a raibh an t-éarlamh céanna acu. Níorbh é Colum Cille an t-aon Éireannach a bhunaigh mainistir in Albain sa 6ú céad: bhí mainistir ar Eileach an Naoimh, inis bheag idir Muile agus Diùra, a bhunaigh Breandán Chluain Fearta, agus bhí mainistir eile ar oileán Thiriodh a bhunaigh Comhghall Bheannchair. Bhíodh daoine ag síoraistriú anonn is anall trasna Shruth na Maoile i rith na réamhstaire, ach i dtreo dheireadh an 5ú céad d’éirigh le Fearghus Mór mac Earca († 503), rí Dhál Riada, na Gaeil a bhí lonnaithe ar chósta Earraghaidheal a thabhairt faoina smacht. Bheadh fearann ag Dál Riada ar an dá bhruach de Shruth na Maoile feasta. Go deimhin, ba threise an leathríocht in Albain ná an leathríocht in Éirinn faoi lár an 6ú céad. Bhí Conall mac Comhghaill, mac garmhic le Fearghus Mór, ina rí ar Dhál Riada nuair a chuaigh Colum Cille go hAlbain agus ba é a bhronn oileán Í air. Nuair a d’éag Conall sa bhliain 574, ba é Colum Cille a d’oirnigh col ceathrair leis, Aodhán mac Gabhráin, ina rí. Cuireadh snaidhm idir comharbaí Choluim Chille agus comharbaí Aodháin: má chuir an tacaíocht eaglasta le gradam ríthe Dhál Riada, chinntigh tacaíocht na ríthe go mbeadh páirt lárnach ag mainistir Í sa mhisean chun an soiscéal a theagasc do na Cruithnigh a mhair lastoir de Dhroim Alban. Ba as an síol seo a d’fhásfadh ríocht na hAlban le himeacht aimsire.

     Ní dhearna Colum Cille neamhshuim den eaglais ina thír dhúchais nuair a chuir sé faoi in Albain agus d’fhás mogall mainistreacha in Éirinn a bhí i gcomhfhairche agus a raibh Í Choluim Cille mar annóid (‘máthair-theach’) acu. Níor tháinig deireadh le fás na fairche nuair a d’éag a héarlamh sa bhliain 597: is cosúil gur luigh plá mhór na mblianta 664-668 go trom ar na heaglaisí nár mhainistreacha iad agus gur thapaigh mainistir Í – agus annóidí eile freisin – an deis chun na fairchí a bhí acu a mhéadú. Bhí Cluain Mhic Nóis, Cill Dara agus Beannchar ar na hannóidí a chuir lena dtionchar. Is cosúil go raibh eaglaisí na gnáthchléire faoi mhíbhuntáiste le hais na mainistreacha toisc go raibh a dtioncharsan srianta d’aon tuath amháin. Os a choinne sin, ní raibh teorainn le fairchí na mainistreacha ach leithead na dtailte a bronnadh orthu agus d’iompaigh roinnt eaglaisí a bunaíodh mar chathaoireacha d’easpaig ina mainistreacha i gcaitheamh an 7ú céad. D’áitigh an chléir i gceann amháin díobh seo, Ard Mhacha, gur bhain gach cathaoir easpaig agus gach ‘domhnach’ lena bhfairche féin toisc gurbh é ardeaspag Ard Mhacha comharba Phádraig agus gurbh é Pádraig éarlamh na hÉireann uile. Chuir annóidí eile i gcoinne éileamh Ard Mhacha, ach d’fhás fairche Phádraig de réir a chéile: chuaigh líon na n-eaglaisí dalta i méid agus, faoi thús an 8ú céad, ba í eaglais Ard Mhacha an láthair eaglasta ba chumhachtaí agus ba mhó gradam in Éirinn. D’éiligh sí údarás spioradálta ar gach eaglais eile agus ba é an pápa sa Róimh an t-aon údarás seachtrach a d’aithin sí.
Cailís Ardach (ar chlé) agus cailís Dhoire na bhFlann (ar dheis)
     Ba í an eaglais an t-aon institiúid in Éirinn na linne. D’éag gach rí, chuaigh ríshleachta i léig, nascadh agus roinneadh tuatha, ach bhí bonn buan faoin eaglais. Na gabháltais a bronnadh ar an eaglais, níor scaoil sí leo arís. Is ag dul i méid a bhí a cuid maoine ó ghlúin go glúin agus níorbh fhada go raibh tailte fairsinge i seilbh na mainistreacha. Ba láithreacha eaglasta agus léinn iad, ach ba láithreacha talmhaíochta, ceardaíochta agus sóisialta iad chomh maith. Bhíodar chun tosaigh in úsáid an mhuilinn uisce; thugadar fostaíocht d’oibrithe feirme agus pátrunacht do cheardaithe; agus bhí trácht ag an bpobal orthu le haghaidh seirbhísí, idir spioradálta agus shaolta. Is samplaí iad cailís Ardach agus cailís Dhoire na bhFlann den ardchaighdeán miotalóireachta a bhí ag ceardaithe na hÉireann faoi dheireadh an 8ú céad. Lárionad don dúiche mháguaird ba ea an mhainistir agus bhain roinnt de na feidhmeanna léi in Éirinn a bhain leis an mbaile sna tíortha iar-Rómhánacha. Foirgnimh déanta as adhmad is mó a bhí sna mainistreacha luatha – b’ainm coitianta ar shéipéal é ‘dairtheach’ – ach tógadh clocháin nuair a bhí adhmad in easnamh. Léiríonn fianaise na seandálaíochta gur tosaíodh ar chlaíocha a bhí déanta as fóid nó as clocha a chur timpeall na mainistreacha ó lár an 6ú céad amach. I gcásanna áirithe, tógadh dhá chlaí nó trí chlaí a bhí comhlárnach. Níorbh fhálta cosanta iad na claíocha seo, ach teorainneacha siombalacha idir ceartlár na mainistreach, a bhí tiomnaithe do dheasghnátha an chreidimh, agus na stráicí imeallacha ar lú a naofacht. Ba ghnáth cealla na manach agus proinnteach (comhfhocal de ‘prandium’ na Laidine agus ‘teach’ na Gaeilge) an chomhluadair a thógáil lastall d’fhaiche a bhí suite os comhair na heaglaise. Níos faide amuigh fós bhí ceardlanna agus tithe na n-oibrithe, agus ar chiumhais an ‘civitas’ nó na ‘cathrach’ bhí stráice talún ar oscailt don saol mór. Bhí cosc ar fhoréigean laistigh de chlaí críche nó ‘terminus’ na mainistreach, agus is ón bhfocal Laidine sin a tháinig ‘tearmann’ na Gaeilge. Mar an gcéanna, tháinig ‘reilig’ ó ‘reliquiae’, focal a thagair do thaisí éarlamh na mainistreach ar dtús, ach ón 7ú céad amach ba nós coitianta é baill den uasaicme a adhlacadh i dtalamh coisricthe agus in aon reilig leis an éarlamh.
Mainistir Naondroma, Contae an Dúin
     Má bhí tábhacht shóisialta na mainistreacha ag méadú i rith an ama, bhí díograis na gcomhluadar iontu ag fuarú. Faoin 7ú céad, ar a dhéanaí, ba chuid mhór de ‘mhuintir’ gach mainistreach iad manaigh phósta nach raibh móid chrábhaidh tugtha acu; úsáideadh na téarmaí ‘fíormhanaigh’ agus ‘tuathmhanaigh’ uaireanta chun an dá shaghas a dhealú. Lena chois sin, bhí abaí nár shagairt iad coitianta faoin 8ú céad. Ní nach ionadh, tharraing acmhainní agus daonra na mainistreacha aird na bhflatha úd a bhí ag iarraidh cur lena gcumhacht. Is iomaí rí uaillmhianach a chuir fear gaoil suas mar ab nó mar ‘airchinneach’ – ba mhaor é an t-airchinneach a stiúir obair na mainistreach cé nár ghá dó bheith ina chléireach. Ba straitéiseach an beart é seo a chinntigh go mbeadh tacaíocht le fáil ag an bhflaith ó mhuintir na mainistreach feasta. Bhí mainistreacha sáite i gcogaí na linne roimh dheireadh an 8ú céad. Tá an iontráil seo a leanas le léamh in Annála Uladh faoin mbliain 764:
Bellum Arggamain inter familiam Cluana Moccu Nois & Dermaighi ubi ceciderunt Diarmait Dub m. Domnaill & Dighlach m. Duib Liss & .cc. viri de familia Dermaige. Bresal m. Murchada victor exstetit cum familia Cluana.

(Cath Argamain idir muintir Chluain Mhic Nóis agus muintir Dharú, inar thit Diarmaid Dubh mac Domhnaill agus Díoghlach mac Duibh Lis, agus dhá chéad fear de mhuintir Dharú. Ba é Breasal mac Murchadha a tháinig as mar bhuaiteoir in éineacht le muintir Chluana.)
Nuair a d’éag Domhnall mac Murchadha, rí Chlann Cholmáin agus na Mí, sa bhliain 763 chuaigh mac leis, Diarmaid Dubh, agus deartháir leis, Breasal mac Murchadha, in iomaíocht don chomharbas. D’éirigh leo beirt tacaíocht a fháil ó mhainistir thábhachtach: thacaigh Darú, a bhí suite gar do theorainn na Mí le cúige Laighean, le Diarmaid Dubh, agus thacaigh Cluain Mhic Nóis, a bhí suite ar an teorainn idir an Mhí agus cúige Chonnacht, le Breasal. Níor leor an cuidiú eaglasta do cheachtar den bheirt éilitheoirí: cé go bhfuair Breasal an lámh in uachtar ar Dhiarmaid in 764, maraíodh é roimh dheireadh na bliana agus ba é Donnchadh mac Domhnaill, deartháir le Diarmaid Dubh, a tháinig i gcomharbas ar a athair sa deireadh. Aithníodh é mar rí na Teamhrach cúpla bliain dár gcionn.

     Le himeacht aimsire, d’éirigh baill den chléir míshásta le heaspa dúthrachta na mainistreacha sean-bhunaithe. Tháinig Céilí Dé chun cinn sa dara leath den 8ú céad; manaigh ba ea iad seo a chuir béim ar leith ar chúram tréadach a sholáthar don phobal agus ar staidéar na diagachta. Ina theannta sin, bhí riail níos déine acu ná mar a bhí ag manaigh eile. Céile Dé ba ea Maolruain († 792), an té a bhunaigh mainistir Thamhlachta i gcontae Átha Cliath sa bhliain 774, agus thug sé freagra giorraisc ar Chéile Dé eile a shíl nár mhiste cead a thabhairt do chomhluadar na mainistreach beoir a ól um Cháisc, um Nollaig agus um Chincís:
Dolluid iarum duiblitir dochum maolrúoin do urail fair combed tuaslucud do muindtir ar na tri soldomnaib. cenibed iarum na riam. Is sed asbert maolrúoin. ‘cene conmesarsa’ olseseom ‘⁊ céne connoither mo thimnasa insin purtsa, níconibthar lind dermait dé and.’

(Ansin tháinig Duibhlitir chuig Maolruain is d’fhoráil air go mbeadh tuaslagadh dá mhuintir ar na trí shollúin, cé nach mbeadh iar sin ná roimhe. Is é adúirt Maolruain: ‘céin ordaímse’ ar seisean ‘agus céin coinnítear mo thiomnasa sa phort seo, ní ibhfear leann dearmaid Dé ann’.)
Mar aon le Tamhlacht, tháinig na mainistreacha ag Fionnghlas, ag Doire na bhFlann agus ag Tír Dhá Ghlas go mór faoi anáil na gluaiseachta. Léiríonn an comhrá thuas idir Maolruain, ab Thamhlachta, agus Duibhlitir († 796), ab Fhionnghlaise, go raibh tuairimí éagsúla i measc na gCéilí Dé, ach ba mhó fós an éagsúlacht i measc na cléire i gcoitinne.

     Bhain ceann de na conspóidí ab íogaire le dáta na Cásca. Bhí modhanna éagsúla in úsáid san eaglais luath chun dáta na féile a shocrú; ba chnámh spairne é seo faoin 7ú céad toisc nárbh ionann an modh a chleacht na Gaeil agus an modh a bhí in úsáid ar mhór-thír na hEorpa. Nuair a bhailigh ceannairí eaglasta an deiscirt le chéile timpeall na bliana 630 chun an t-ábhar a phlé, chinn an sionad go gcuirfí toscaireacht chun na Róimhe. Trí bliana dár gcionn, agus breith na Róimhe ar an gceist tugtha, sheol Cuimín Fada, ab Chluain Fearta agus comharba Bhréanainn, sheol sé litir chuig ab Í Choluim Chille inar impigh sé air nós na Róimhe a leanúint feasta. Bhí drogall ar an gcléir i dtuaisceart na hÉireann agus in Albain glacadh le treoir na Róimhe, áfach, agus cháin an Pápa Eoin IV iad i litir a scríobh sé sa bhliain 640. Seoladh an litir chuig abaí Ard Mhacha, Chluain Ioraird, Naondroma, Choinnire agus Chluain Mhic Nóis – abaí arbh easpaig iad – agus chuig abaí Mhaigh Bhile, Bheannchair, Dhaimhinse agus Í Choluim Chille – abaí ar shagairt iad. Is údar suntais é gur tugadh tús áite do chomharba Phádraig i litir an Phápa: tá sé le tuiscint go raibh Ard Mhacha aitheanta ag an Róimh mar phríomheaglais na hÉireann faoin taca seo. Go deimhin, bhí Cuimín Fada sásta ‘papa noster’ (‘ár bpápa’) a thabhairt ar Phádraig mac Calprainn ina litir féin, cé gur Mhuimhneach é ó dhúchas. Dá mba é Pádraig pápa na hÉireann, ar ndóigh, luífeadh sé le réasún gurbh é Ard Mhacha Róimh na hÉireann. Ba mhall an próiseas é, ach bhí an Cháisc á coimeád go forleathan de réir nós na Róimhe roimh dheireadh an 7ú céad, cé nár ghlac mainistir Í agus roinnt mainistreacha eile i bhfairche Choluim Chille leis an nós Rómhánach go dtí tús an 8ú céad. Chothaigh an chonspóid faoin gCáisc easaontas i measc cléir na hÉireann ach níor scoilt an eaglais. Is é a mhalairt a tharla: de réir mar a glacadh le Pádraig mar éarlamh na hÉireann uile, de réir mar a aithníodh Ard Mhacha mar phríomheaglais an oileáin, is amhlaidh gur snaidhmeadh na heaglaisí áitiúla le chéile. Mar shampla, d’éirigh le hab Fhionnghlaise, mainistir a bhí suite gar don teorainn idir Uí Néill an Deiscirt agus cúige Laighean, d’éirigh leis cléir ón dá thaobh den teorainn a thabhairt le chéile i gcomhdháil a tionóladh faoi choimirce rí na Teamhrach, Donnchadh mac Domhnaill. Tá an nóta seo a leanas le léamh in Annála Uladh faoin mbliain 780:
Congressio senodorum Nepotum Neill Laginentiumque in oppido Temro ubi fuerunt ancorite ⁊ scribe multi, quibus dux erat Dublitter.

(Comhdháil de shionaid Ua Néill agus Laighean i mBaile na Teamhrach, mar a raibh mórán ancairí is scríobhaithe, agus ba é Duibhlitir a gceannaire.)
Ní dócha go raibh lonnaíocht bhuan i dTeamhair ag an am, ach ba shiombail den fhlaitheas é an cnoc. Thairis sin, bhí cosúlacht nár bheag idir an tosaíocht a d’éiligh rí na Teamhrach i measc ríthe na hÉireann, agus an tosaíocht a bhain comharba Phádraig amach i measc abaí agus easpaig na hÉireann. Is go mall a chuaigh an ‘ghintleacht’ – téarma comhaimseartha ar an bpágántacht – i léig, ach bhí an creideamh nua i réim ar fud na hÉireann faoi dheireadh an 8ú céad. Uair éigin timpeall na bliana 800, chum Aonghus, Céile Dé agus manach i mainistir Thamhlachta, chum sé dán inar mhór sé bua na Críostaíochta. Bhí seanchathracha na págántachta ar fad (luaigh sé Teamhair, Ráth Cruachain, Dún Ailinne agus Eamhain Mhacha) folamh tréigthe, ach bhí cathracha nua na Críostaíochta (luaigh sé Ard Mhacha, Cluain Mhic Nóis, Cill Dara agus Gleann Dá Loch) faoi bhláth agus na mílte ag tarraingt orthu:
Ro milled in gentlecht
cíarbo lígdae lethan,
ro lín flaith Dé Athar
nem, talam la trethan.

(Do milleadh an ghintleacht,
cé gur líoga leathan í,
do líon flaitheas an Athar
neamh, talamh is treathan.)
Bhí an cath bainte ag an eaglais in Éirinn; níorbh fhada go mbeadh sí á buaireamh ag gintlithe ón iasacht.

03/08/2019

Sliocht as Caibidil 2

Tá an chéad dréacht den dara caibidil ón leabhar atá á scríobh agam réidh – mí níos déanaí ná mar a bhí beartaithe ach ‘is fearr déanach ná go brách’. Baineann an chaibidil seo leis an tréimhse idir 400 agus 795. Tá réamhfhocal gairid ag tús na caibidle agus tá sé roinn ina dhiaidh sin ar na hábhair seo a leanas: 
  • Saol na coitiantachta 
  • An córas sóisialta 
  • Teacht na Críostaíochta 
  • Forbairt na heaglaise 
  • An cultúr luath-Chríostaí 
  • Ruireacha agus cogaí 
Foilseofar an dá roinn atá lárnach sa chaibidil (agus don chaibidil) ar ‘Chúrsaí Staire’. Tá ‘Teacht na Críostaíochta’ le léamh anseo thíos agus beidh ‘Forbairt na heaglaise’ le fáil amach anseo. Beidh oraibh an leabhar a cheannach chun na ranna eile sa chaibidil a léamh ...

Teacht na Críostaíochta


Ní féidir mórán a rá faoi chúrsaí creidimh in Éirinn roimh theacht na Críostaíochta ach is eol dúinn go raibh iliomad déithe ag na Gaeil, amhail ciníocha eile in iarthar na hEorpa. Caithfidh gur chuidigh sé seo le fás na Críostaíochta i dtús ama: ní móide go gcuirfeadh dia amháin sa bhreis as do chine a bhí cleachtach ar an ildiachas. Is féidir roinnt de na pearsana ba thábhachtaí i measc na ndéithe dúchasacha a ainmniú toisc gur charachtair iad i litríocht mhiotaseolaíoch na Sean-Ghaeilge. Orthu seo tá: an Daghdha, a bhí luaite leis an ngrian is an spéir; Danu, bandia a bhí luaite leis an talamh; Lugh, a bhí luaite leis an bhfómhar agus a thug a ainm d’fhéile Lúnasa; Manannán, a bhí luaite leis an bhfarraige; Goibhniu, a bhí luaite leis an miotalóireacht; agus Oghma, a bhí luaite leis an líofacht chainte. Bhí déithe logánta ann freisin: bhain na déithe áitiúla seo le láithreacha deasghnátha nó le gnéithe aiceanta na tíre. Bhí na bandéithe Macha agus Meadhbh luaite le hEamhain Macha agus le Ráth Cruachain faoi seach, mar shampla, agus ba bhandéithe iad Bóinn agus Sionainn a bhí luaite leis na haibhneacha den ainm céanna. Bhí cléir phágánach ann, na draoithe, a bhain leis na neimhidh sular thóg an chléir Chríostaí a n-áit. Arís, ní féidir mórán a rá le cinnteacht faoina gcleachtais, ach creideadh go raibh cumhachtaí draíochta acu: is ón bhfocal ‘draoi’ a tháinig an focal ‘draíocht’. Creideadh go raibh bua na fáistine acu agus go bhféadfaidís galair áirithe a leigheas. Maidir le deasghnátha an chreidimh, scríobh Pádraig mac Calprainn go mbíodh na Gaeil ag adhradh na gréine agus ‘idola et inmunda’ (‘íola agus nithe neamhghlana’) sular fógraíodh an soiscéal ina measc.

Dhá chíoch an bhandia darbh ainm ‘Danu’ nó ‘Anu’
     Bhí Críostaithe sa Bhreatain chomh luath leis an mbliain 200 agus bhí eaglais fhoirmiúil ag feidhmiú san oileán úd faoin mbliain 300. Is áirithe go raibh Críostaithe in Éirinn faoin tráth sin: luadh i gCaibidil 1 thuas gur ghnáthnós adhlactha é sa 4ú céad an marbh a chur ar a dhroim san uaigh, an nós céanna a bhí á chleachtadh ag Críostaithe sa Bhreatain. Ní chruthaíonn sé seo go raibh Críostaithe líonmhar in Éirinn, ach is leid dúinn é go raibh cur amach éigin ag na Gaeil ar an gcreideamh nua – ní nach ionadh mar is iomaí sclábhaí Briotanach a fuadaíodh ón uair a thosaigh cumhacht na Róimhe ag meath. Thairis sin, bhí ceannaithe Éireannacha agus Rómhánacha ag taisteal anonn agus anall idir Éire agus an impireacht i gcaitheamh an ama. Bunaíodh coilíneachtaí Éireannacha ar chósta thiar na Breataine roimh dheireadh an 4ú céad agus luífeadh sé le réasún go nglacfadh roinnt de na coilínithe le creideamh an phobail dhúchasaigh. Is suntasach an ní é gur chuir aingeal ó neamh a bheannacht ar Chonall Corc sa seanchas a bhaineann le bunú Chaisil mar lárionad ríoga na Mumhan. Thiocfadh dó gur láthair Chríostaí é Caiseal ón uair a ghabh na hEoghanachta é uair éigin timpeall na bliana 400.

An Pápa Caelestinus mar a samhlaíodh é sa 19ú céad
     Luath go leor sa 5ú céad, d’éirigh ceannairí na heaglaise ar an mór-roinn imníoch faoin tionchar a bhí ag diagaire darbh ainm Pelagius ar Chríostaithe sa Bhreatain. Mhúin Pelagius go raibh toil shaor ag gach duine agus go bhféadfaidís an peaca a sheachaint as a stuaim féin; de réir theagasc na heaglaise, áfach, ní thig leis an duine a anam a shlánú gan chabhair a fháil ó ghrásta Dé. Sa bhliain 429, sheol an Pápa Caelestinus misean chun na Breataine faoi stiúir Germanus, easpag Auxerre, le cur i gcoinne na heiriceachta agus an teagasc ceartchreidmheach a chur chun cinn. Dhá bhliain dár gcionn, choisric an pápa céanna deagánach darbh ainm Palladius ina easpag agus sheol go hÉirinn é. Seo mar a scríobh Prosper Tiro, manach agus annálaí, san iontráil don bhliain 431:
Ad Scottos in Christo credentes ordinatus a papa Caelestino Palladius primus episcopus mittitur.

(Seoltar Palladius ar choisric an Pápa Caelestinus é mar chéad easpag chuig na Gaeil a chreid i gCríost.) 
Bhí an t-annálaí ag scríobh timpeall na bliana 433. Tá sé le tuiscint ón ráiteas thuas go raibh comhphobal Críostaí in Éirinn agus gurbh iad, seachas págánaigh an oileáin, a bheadh faoi chúram an easpaig nua. I saothar eile leis, shamhlaigh Prosper Tiro an cúram a fágadh ar Palladius in Éirinn le cúram Germanus sa Bhreatain, agus mhol sé an pápa a chuir an bheirt easpag chuig na hoileáin:
dum romanam insulam studet servare catholicam, fecit etiam barbaram christianam.

(agus é ag iarraidh an t-oileán Rómhánach a choinneáil Caitliceach, rinne sé an ceann barbartha Críostaí.) 
Níor fhág Palladius a rian ar Éirinn, más ea, ná níor mhair iomrá air sa naomhsheanchas. Ach tháinig easpaig eile ina dhiaidh atá luaite leis na heaglaisí a bhunaíodar. Orthu seo tá: Secundinus, a bhunaigh Domhnach Seachnaill (‘Dún Seachlainn’ an lae inniu) i gcontae na Mí; Auxilius, a bhunaigh Cill Uasaille i gcontae Chill Dara; agus Iserninus, a bhunaigh Cill Chuillinn i gcontae Chill Dara. Is cosúil gur bunaíodh roinnt de na heaglaisí luatha i ngar do láithreacha ríoga: tá Domhnach Seachnaill agus Cill Chuillinn suite in aice le Teamhair agus le Dún Ailinne, mar shampla, agus tógadh eaglaisí luatha eile ag Ard Mhacha agus ag Baislic, contae Ros Comáin, áiteanna a bhí gar d’Eamhain Mhacha agus do Ráth Cruachain faoi seach. Ní móide gur tharla sé seo de thaisme, ach ní fios an ag iarraidh aitheantas a thabhairt don réimeas bunaithe a bhíothas, nó ag iarraidh dúshlán lucht páirte an tseanchreidimh a thabhairt. Tháinig na téarmaí ‘domhnach’ agus ‘cill’ ó ‘dominicum’ (focal a chiallaíonn ‘teach an tiarna’) agus ó ‘cella’ na Laidine. Bhí ‘domhnach’ in úsáid i rith an 5ú céad ach d’éirigh sé neamhchoitianta ina dhiaidh sin, rud a chuidíonn linn roinnt de na heaglaisí is luaithe a aithint. Is díol suime é go bhfuil an focal gann in iarthar na hÉireann. Bheifí ag súil go scaipfeadh an Chríostaíocht ar dtús sna réigiúin a raibh teagmháil dhíreach acu leis an mBreatain nó le mór-roinn na hEorpa, agus ní cúis iontais é go bhfuil ‘domhnach’ coitianta sa Mhumhain, i gcúige Laighean agus i bhflaitheas Uí Néill an Deiscirt. Tá an focal chomh coitianta céanna i logainmneacha Oirghiall, áfach, agus tacaíonn an fhianaise seo leis an tuairim go raibh misean rathúil faoi lánseol sa tuaisceart roimh dheireadh an 5ú céad.

Na logainmneacha a bhfuil an focal 'domhnach' iontu de réir www.logainm.ie
     Níl scoláirí ar aon fhocal faoin mbliain ná faoin áit inar rugadh Pádraig mac Calprainn. De réir an Confessio a scríobh sé féin, bhí cónaí air gar do bhaile darbh ainm ‘Bannavem Taburniae’ mar a raibh a athair, Calpornius, ina decurion – is é sin, ina bhall de chomhairle an bhaile. Glactar leis go raibh Bannavem Taburniae suite in iarthar na Breataine, i gceann de na réigiún a bhí faoi ionsaí ag creachadóirí as Éirinn sa chéad leath den 4ú céad. Ach níl aon chinnteacht faoi shuíomh an bhaile: d’fhéadfadh sé a bheith chomh fada ó dheas le hinbhir na Sabhrainne, nó chomh fada ó thuaidh le Cumbria. Baineann éiginnteacht le dátaí Phádraig freisin, ach tá dealramh leis an tuairim gur rugadh é timpeall na bliana 415. De réir a chuntais féin, fuadaíodh é nuair a bhí sé nach mór sé bliana déag d’aois ach d’éirigh leis éalú tar éis dó sé bliana a chaitheamh ina sclábhaí in Éirinn. Sa Bhreatain dó arís, chuaigh sé le sagartacht agus bhí sé ina easpag nuair a chinn sé filleadh ar Éirinn. De réir an naomhsheanchais, bhí Laoghaire mac Néill († 461/3) ina rí ar Theamhair ag an am; más féidir brath ar an tuairisc seo – agus níl sé lánchinnte gur féidir – chiallódh sé gur chuir Pádraig tús lena mhisean i gcaogaidí an 5ú céad nuair a bhí sé timpeall daichead bliain d’aois. Ní ar Chríostaithe an deiscirt agus an oirthir a chaith sé a dhua go príomha, ach ar na págánaigh a mhair i gceantair nár chualathas an soiscéal iontu cheana. Seo mar a chosain sé an cur chuige a bhí aige sa Confessio:
Ego impendi pro vobis ut me caperent, et inter vos et ubique pergebam causa vestra in multis periculis etiam usque ad exteras partes, ubi nemo ultra erat et ubi numquam aliquis pervenerat qui baptizaret aut clericos ordinaret aut populum consummaret: donante Domino diligenter et libentissime pro salute vestra omnia generavi.

(Is é an chaoi ar chaith mé airgead ar bhur son ionas go nglacfaí liom; agus chuaigh mé in bhur measc agus i gcontúirt go minic, fiú sna ceantair ab iargúlta nach raibh aon duine laistiar díobh, áiteanna nár tháinig aon duine riamh chun baisteadh, chun cléir a oirniú, nó chun an pobal a chóineartú. B’é tabhartas an Tiarna go ndearna mé gach ní go cúramach agus go díograiseach ar son bhur slánaithe.) 
Ba dháinséarach an obair í agus b’éigean don mhisinéir cosaint a cheannach ó ríthe agus ó bhreithiúna na dtuath trínar thaistil sé. Rinne sé iarracht ar leith cairdeas a dhéanamh leis an nglúin óg:
Interim praemia dabam regibus praeter quod dabam mercedem filiis ipsorum qui mecum ambulant ... Vos autem experti estis quantum ego erogavi illis qui iudicabant per omnes regiones quos ego frequentius visitabam. Censeo enim non minimum quam pretium quindecim hominum distribui illis ...

(Thugainn bronntanais do ríthe uaireanta, mar aon leis an tuarastal a thugainn dá gclann mhac a bhíonn ag taisteal i mo theannta ... Ach tuigeann sibh féin an méid atá íoctha agam le breithiúna na gceantar uile mar a mbíodh mo thriall go rialta. Áirím go bhfuil luach cúig dhuine dhéag ar a laghad roinnte agam orthu ...) 
Tá gach cosúlacht air go raibh misean Phádraig dírithe ar cheantair i Leath Choinn a raibh Críostaithe gann iontu. Tá sé sa naomhsheanchas gur chaith sé seal cois Bóinne, agus dhearbhaigh sé féin gur thug sé aghaidh ar áiteanna iargúlta san iarthar ‘nach raibh aon duine laistiar díobh’, ach tá fianaise ann gur éirigh níos fearr leis in Oirghialla agus in Ultaibh. Tá a ainm luaite le heaglaisí luatha a tógadh ag Ard Mhacha agus ag Dún Lethglaise (Dún Pádraig an lae inniu), mar shampla, agus is féidir gurbh é a bhunaigh iad cé nach bhfuil a chruthúnas ar fáil.

Íomhánna traidisiúnta de Phádraig mac Calprainn
     Mar aon leis an Confessio, tháinig téacs amháin eile le Pádraig anuas chugainn: is é atá ann litir inar cháin sé ceannasaí míleata ón mBreatain ar ar thug sé ‘Coroticus’ sa Laidin (‘Ceredig’ sa Bhreatnais). Thug Ceredig agus a lucht leanúna ruathar ar Éirinn agus mharaigh nó d’fhuadaigh siad líon mór Críostaithe a bhí baiste ag Pádraig:
Ritu hostili in morte vivunt, socii Scottorum atque Pictorum apostatarumque, sanguilentos sanguinare de sanguine innocentium Xristianorum, quos ego innumerum Deo genui atque in Xristo confirmavi ... Xristiani in servitute redacti sunt, praesertim indignissimorum pessimorum apostatarumque Pictorum.

(Mar naimhde, maireann siad ar an mbás, i bpáirt le Gaeil is le Cruithnigh a shéan an creideamh, iad fuilteach agus ar maos le fuil na gCríostaithe córa ar bhaisteas an oiread díobh do Dhia agus ar chóineartaíos iad i gCríost ... tá Críostaithe gafa sa sclábhaíocht, go háirithe ag Cruithnigh náireacha dhuáilceacha a shéan an creideamh.) 
Tugann na tagairtí do Chruithnigh le fios gur anall thar Shruth na Maoile a tháinig Ceredig: cé gur Bhriotanach é féin, bhí idir Chruithnigh agus Ghaeil páirteach ina bhuíon creachadóirí. Tá fear luaite i gcraobh ghinealais ríthe Shrath Chluaidh a raibh ‘Ceritic guletic’ air agus tá seans maith gurbh eisean an té a cáineadh i litir Phádraig. Faoin am a scríobhadh an litir, bhí Pádraig anonn in aois agus bhí pobal daingean Críostaí ag teacht i dtreis ó thuaidh mar thoradh ar a chuid oibre. Mhaígh sé go raibh manaigh is mná rialta de bhunadh na nGael chomh líonmhar sin nárbh fhéidir iad a chomhaireamh; ní amháin sin, ach bhí iníonacha le ríthe tuaithe ina measc. Is é ‘regulus’ nó ‘mion-rí’ an téarma a d’úsáid sé sa litir, cé gur scríobh sé sa Confessio go dtugadh sé bronntanais ‘do ríthe’ (‘regibus’). Níorbh ionann an gradam a thug sé don rí tuaithe, fear nach raibh ann ach taoiseach áitiúil i ndáiríre, agus an gradam a thug sé don ruire nó don rí cúige, flatha a raibh an teideal oirirc ‘rex’ ag dul dóibh. De réir na n-annála, d’éag Pádraig sa bhliain 493. Cé nár chóir mórán muiníne a chur i ndátaí na n-annála roimh lár an 6ú céad, d’fhéadfadh an ceann seo a bheith cruinn go leor.

06/06/2019

An Normainn agus na Normannaigh

Ionradh na Normainne, an 6 Meitheamh 1944
Cothrom an lae seo cúig bliana is seachtó ó shin, an 6 Meitheamh 1944, tharla an t-ionradh farraige ba mhó riamh nuair a chuaigh airm na Breataine, na Stát Aontaithe agus Cheanada – móide buíon amháin de commandos na Fraince – i dtír ar chósta na Normainne. Is nós coitianta é anois ‘ionradh’ nó ‘invasion’ a thabhairt ar imeachtaí an ‘lae ab fhaide’. Mar shampla, tá an ráiteas seo a leanas le léamh ar shuíomh gréasáin an bhealaigh teilifíse History: ‘The Allied invasion of Normandy was among the largest military operations ever staged’.  Mar an gcéanna, tá leathanach dar teideal ‘Invasion of Normandy’ ar shuíomh Wikipedia agus tá alt dar teideal ‘Normandy Invasion’ ar shuíomh idirlín an Encyclopædia Britannica. Ní bhíonn drogall ar staraithe gairmiúla an téarma ‘invasion’ a úsáid ach oiread. Seo mar a scríobh Richard Evans:
Resistance was also mounting in the west, and particularly in France, where the Maquis now numbered scores of thousands of men and women, engaged in sabotaging German military installations in preparation for the invasion of France across the English Channel.
Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich at War (Londain, 2008), 623
Ach is cosúil nach mbeadh an tAthair F. X. Martin, iar-ollamh le stair in UCD nach maireann, sásta ‘invasion’ a thabhairt ar operation Overlord ...
An tOllamh F. X. Martin agus caibidil leis
     Seo mar a chuir an tOllamh Martin tús le caibidil dar teideal ‘Diarmait Mac Murchada and the coming of the Anglo-Normans’ sa New History of Ireland:
Few events in Irish history have been so consistently misrepresented as the coming of the Anglo-Normans to the country. Irish nationalist and British historians, with rare unanimity, agree in describing the event as ‘the Norman invasion of Ireland’. In fact, the Anglo-Normans came not as invaders but by invitation.
Art Cosgrove (eag.), A New History of Ireland, imleabhar II (Oxford, 1987), 43.
Más féidir an tOllamh Martin a chreidiúint, níor chóir ‘invasion’ a thabhairt ar ghluaiseacht mhíleata ó chríoch amháin go críoch eile más amhlaidh gur tugadh cuireadh isteach do na hionróirí roimh ré. Ach is sainmhíniú pearsanta dá chuid féin é sin agus níl a leithéid d’eisceacht luaite san Oxford English Dictionary, foclóir údarásach ina mínítear an focal mar ‘an entrance or incursion with armed force’; féach The Oxford English Dictionary, imleabhar VIII (Oxford, 1989), leathanach 37. Dá nglacfaí le sainmhíniú an Ollaimh Martin, ní fhéadfaí ‘invasion’ a thabhairt ar imeachtaí D-Day (nó ‘le jour J’ mar adeir na Francaigh). Faoi Mheitheamh na bliana 1944, bhí an Gouvernement provisoire de la République française (GPRF) – Rialtas Sealadach Phoblacht na Fraince – ag feidhmiú san Ailgéir. Bhí an chuid ba mhó ar fad d’impireacht na Fraince dílis dó, bhí oileán na Corsaice faoina smacht, agus d’aithin gach eite den résistance inmheánach an GPRF mar rialtas dlisteanach na Fraince. Thug an GPRF tacaíocht iomlán don débarquement sa Normainn. Seo mar a labhair an Ginearál de Gaulle, uachtarán an GPRF, le muintir na Fraince ar raidío an BBC, cothrom an lae seo cúig bliana is seachtó ó shin:
La bataille suprême est engagée. Après tant de combats, de fureur, de douleurs, voici venu le choc décisif, le choc tant espéré. Bien entendu, c’est la bataille de France et c’est la bataille de la France.

[Tá an cath is tábhachtaí tosaithe. Tar éis an oiread comhraic, fíochmhaire agus dobróin, seo é an buille cinniúnach, an buille a rabhthas ag dréim leis. An cath seo sa bhFrainc, is dearbh gur cath na Fraince é.]
Is leor an méid sin le cruthú go raibh cuireadh isteach faighte ag airm na gcomhghuaillithe ó dhream a raibh tacaíocht nár bheag acu laistigh den Fhrainc. D’fhéadfaí a mhaíomh, gan amhras, gurbh é an Marascal Philippe Pétain ceannaire an rialtais dhlíthiúil agus gur reibiliúnaí é an Ginearál de Gaulle, ach chreid an tOllamh Martin gur leor cuireadh ó Dhiarmait Mac Murchada chun ‘teacht na nGall’ a dhéanamh de ‘ionradh na nGall’ cé go raibh Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair fós ina ard-rí ar Éirinn nuair a tharraing Strongbow agus a lucht leanúna chun cladaigh.

     Níl i scéal an ionraidh, dar leis an Ollamh Martin, ach ‘nationalist myth’.  Ina dhiaidh sin is uile, mhaígh sé gur deineadh ‘massive invasion’ ar Éirinn sa réamhstair. Cérbh iad na hionróirí? Cé eile ach na Ceiltigh:

'Ionradh ollmhór na gCeilteach'?
Níl an ráiteas thuas bunaithe ar fhianaise na staire ná na seandálaíochta agus níl de bhunús leis ach samhlaíocht an údair. Go deimhin, bheinn sásta ‘miotas frith-náisiúnaíoch’ a thabhairt air. Leathnaigh lucht labhartha na hInd-Eorpaise trasna na hEorpa ag tús na Cré-Umhaoise agus shroicheadar Éire uair éigin timpeall na bliana 2400 R.Ch. Ar an drochuair, ní heol dúinn an raibh cuireadh faighte acu roimh ré; ní hamháin sin, ach níl a fhios againn ar dheineadar concas míleata ar Éirinn nó ar tháinig buíonta beaga i dtír, diaidh ar ndiaidh, anseo is ansiúd. Bíodh sin mar atá, níl aon dealramh leis an tuairim gur dhein lucht labhartha na Ceiltise ‘ionradh ollmhór’ ar Éirinn: is dóichí ná a mhalairt gur fhás an Cheiltis ó chanúint Ind-Eorpach a bhí á labhairt ar fud iarthuaisceart na hEorpa sa dara míle roimh Chríost.

Póstaer na comhdhála
     Is fiú súil a chaitheamh ar théarma eile a d’úsáid an tOllamh Martin sa chaibidil leis ar imeachtaí na bliana 1169: mar atá, ‘the Anglo-Normans’. Caithfear a rá go mbíonn an téarma seo in úsáid ag cuid mhaith staraithe. Mar shampla, bhí sé le léamh ar phóstaer na comhdhála a bhí ar siúl i gColáiste na Tríonóide ag tús na míosa seo caite – tabhair faoi deara gurbh é ‘Invasion 1169’ teideal na comhdhála! Bhíos i láthair ar an Déardaoin agus ar an Aoine, ach níorbh fhéidir liom freastal ar sheisiúin an tSathairn de bharr cúraimí eile a bhí orm. Bhí caighdeán na bpáipéir a chualas thar a bheith ard agus táim ag súil go mór leis na himeachtaí a léamh i bhfoirm leabhair amach anseo. Thugas suntas ar leith do chaint Colin Veach, léachtóir sinsearach le stair na Meánaoise in Ollscoil Hull, a d’áitigh go neamhbhalbh gur Shasanaigh iad na hionróirí. Agus seo mar a scríobh Seán Duffy, ollamh le stair na Meánaoise i gColáiste na Tríonóide agus duine den fhoireann a d’eagraigh an chomhdháil, in alt atá i gcló san eagrán reatha de History Ireland:
We call them ‘Normans’ (although many had never set foot in Normandy), a term that became fashionable only in the nineteenth century through the popularity of works like Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe (1819). Or we do what all jargon-makers do when they want to make something sound complicated: we hyphenate, so that they become ‘Anglo-Normans’ or ‘Cambro-Normans’ (since some came via Wales) or ‘Anglo-French’.
     The truth, however, is that those who began conquering and colonising in Ireland in 1169 were none of these and did not believe themselves in need of hyphenation. They called themselves – surprise, surprise! - English.
Agus sin é lomchlár na fírinne.

     Bhí Anraí II ina dhiúc ar an Normainn, ar ndóigh, ach ní déarfadh aon duine go raibh an teideal sin níos tábhachtaí ná coróin Shasana. Ní ar dhiúc na Normainne a bhronn an Pápa Adrian flaitheas na hÉireann, ach ar rí Shasana. Seo mar a chuir an pápa tús leis an mbulla a sheol sé chuig an rí:
Adrianus episcopus servus servorum Dei carissimo in Christo filio illustri Anglorum regi salutem et apostolicam benediccionem.

[Fáilte agus beannacht aspalda ó Adrian easpag, searbhónta shearbhóntaí Dé, dá mhac ró-dhil i gCríost, rí oirirc na Sasanach.]
Níl an Normainn ná na Normannaigh luaite ó thús deireadh an bhulla, ach tá tagairt do rex Anglorum – ‘rí na Sasanach’ – sa chéad abairt. Agus is suntasach an ní go bhfuil foinsí comhaimseartha a scríobh an dá chine ag réiteach lena chéile. Seo sliocht as La Geste des Engleis en Yrlande, dán fada faoin ionradh a scríobhadh i bhFraincis:
Quant le baruns erent venuz
E Dermod les ad conuz,
En conseil les ad li rei menez
Si lur ad trestut cuntez
Que de Osserie les Irreis
Mult doterent les Engleis.

[Nuair a bhí na barúin tagtha
agus fáilte curtha ag Diarmait rompu,
chuaigh sé i gcomhairle leo
is thug sé tuairisc dóibh
go raibh na Gaeil in Osraí
scanraithe go mór roimh na Sasanaigh.]
Mar an gcéanna, breacadh an sliocht seo a leanas in Annála Uladh faoin mbliain 1172:
Tigernan h-Ua Ruairc, ri Breifne ⁊ Conmaicne, fer cumachta more fhri ré fhota, do marbadh do Shaxanaibh ...

[Tighearnán Ó Ruairc, rí Bhréifne agus Conmaicne, fear a raibh cumhacht mhór aige le fada, dá mharú ag Sasanaigh ...]
Is léir gur thug Gaeil na linne ‘Sasanaigh’ ar na hionróirí.

     Baineann tábhacht le húsáid na bhfocal i gcónaí. Ní cóir sainmhíniú nua a thabhairt do théarma atá mínithe ar bhealach eile sna dea-fhoclóirí, ná ní cóir téarma nua a chumadh má tá téarma comhaimseartha le fáil don choincheap atá i gceist. Má bhriseann staraí na rialacha seo, má chuireann sé míniú corr le focal nó má úsáideann sé téarma atá mí-stairiúil, is leid láidir é don léitheoir go bhfuil níos mó ar siúl ná scríobh na staire.

18/03/2019

Fear tuí a bhfuil m’ainm air

Fear tuí a bhfuil m'ainm air
Baineadh stangadh asam le déanaí nuair a tháinig leabhar a foilsíodh anuraidh faoi mo bhráid. Popular Protest and Policing in Ascendancy Ireland, 1691-1761 an teideal atá air agus is é Timothy D. Watt an t‑údar. Is iad Boydell & Brewer, foilsitheoirí acadúla i Sasana, a d’eisigh. Ón méid atá scríofa sa réamhrá, is cosúil go bhfuil an leabhar bunaithe ar thráchtas dochtúireachta a scríobhadh in Ollscoil na Ríona, Béal Feirste, agus gur chaith an t‑údar seal mar chomhalta iar-dhochtúireachta i gColáiste na hOllscoile, Baile Átha Cliath. Bhíos ag súil le saothar a mbeadh cruinneas agus stuaim ann. Chuir ar léas ann alltacht orm, áfach, mar tá roinnt tuairimí áiféiseacha curtha i mo leith ag an údar. Tuairimí is ea iad nár scríobhas riamh agus nach n-aontaím leo. Thairis sin, is tuairimí iad nach féidir a chosaint. Is ionann an bhrilléis seo a lua liom agus ceap magaidh a dhéanamh díom i súile na léitheoirí nach bhfuil cur amach acu ar mo shaothar. ‘Qui tacet consentit’ adeirtear. Nílim sásta leis na tuairimí baotha a chuir Watt i mo leith agus nílim chun fanacht i mo thost.

     Tá an sliocht thuas le léamh ar leathanach 8 de leabhar Watt. Más féidir an téacs a chreidiúint, tá staraithe a bhaineann úsáid as foinsí Béarla chun tuiscint a fháil ar mheon na coitiantachta san 18ú céad nó sa 19ú céad cáinte agam. Ina theannta sin, ar leathanach 9, thug Watt le tuiscint go bhfuil roinnt ‘inhibitions about using material from government sources’ agam. Ach níl bunús dá laghad leis na líomhaintí seo. Bheadh sé aisteach dá mbeadh a leithéid de cháineadh déanta agam, mar is minic a bhaineas féin leas as foinsí i mBéarla, nó as foinsí stáit, chun teacht ar eolas i dtaobh aigne an phobail. Mar shampla, tá caibidil liom dar teideal ‘Catholic disaffection and the oath of allegiance of 1774’ i gcló in imleabhar dar teideal People, Politics and Power a d’fhoilsigh Preas Choláiste Ollscoile Bhaile Átha Cliath sa bhliain 2009 agus tá téis na caibidle ag brath go huile is go hiomlán ar ailt as irisleabhar agus ar phaimfléid i mBéarla. Arís, bhaineas úsáid as réimse leathan de cháipéisí stáit – páipéir de chuid phríomhrúnaí na hÉireann agus tuairiscí ón War Office agus ón Admiralty san áireamh – chun solas a chaitheamh ar dhearcadh an phobail sa leabhar liom dar teideal Irish Opinion and the American Revolution, 1760-1783.

     Séanaim scun scan gur cháineas aon duine riamh as foinsí i mBéarla nó foinsí stáit a úsáid. Ní fhéadfadh scoláire a leithéid a dhéanamh: bíonn dualgas ar an staraí i gcónaí éisteacht chothrom a thabhairt don fhianaise go léir a bhaineann lena thaighde, beag beann ar an teanga inar scríobhadh an fhianaise nó ar chúlra an fhinné. Creidim, ar ndóigh, nár chóir don staraí neamhshuim a dhéanamh d’fhianaise na bhfoinsí Gaeilge, ach ní hionann neamart sna foinsí Gaeilge a cháineadh, rud a dheinim go rialta, agus neamart sna foinsí Béarla a mholadh, rud nach ndéanfainn go deo. An té nach n-aithníonn an difear idir an dá dhearcadh seo, tá lúb éigin ar lár ina chumas réasúnaíochta. Bheadh an líomhain thuas dona go leor, sílim, ach tá ceann eile le léamh ag bun an leathanaigh chéanna (féach an léaráid thíos).

     Tá na staraithe a chleachtann an ‘histoire événementielle’ cáinte agam chomh maith, más féidir cuntas Watt a chreidiúint. Ach tá sé imithe in iomrall arís. San aiste dheireanach liom a foilsíodh anseo i mí Eanáir, gheallas go dtabharfainn ‘aird chuí ar na trí scála ama a d’aithin Fernand Braudel’ sa leabhar atá ar na bacáin agam faoi láthair. Is iad na scálaí ama atá i gceist an histoire événementielle (‘stair na n-imeachtaí’), an histoire conjoncturelle (‘stair na dtosca’) agus an histoire structurale (‘stair na struchtúr’). Nó, i bhfocail eile, stair na bpearsan, stair na sochaí agus stair an dúlra faoi seach. Sa sliocht dar thagair Watt, mhíníos go mbíonn easpa leanúnachais le brath ar an histoire événementielle i gcónaí mar téann gach duine in úir, luath nó mall, agus bíonn clabhsúr ar gach scéal. Is suntasaí go mór an leanúnachas san histoire conjoncturelle, ámh, mar is go mall a athraíonn nósanna sóisialta is cultúrtha an phobail. Ní ag cáineadh an histoire événementielle a bhíos in aon chor, ach ag cáineadh siléig na staraithe san histoire conjoncturelle. Seo sliocht as an aiste liom a foilsíodh anseo i mí Eanáir:
Níl aon bhaol go ndéanfaidh mé neamart san histoire événementielle, is é sin le rá, i stair na bpearsan agus na n-eachtraí. Tuigim gur cuid riachtanach den stair í seo, cé nach leor í. Ach tabharfaidh mé suntas, leis, don histoire conjoncturelle, do stair na sochaí agus an chultúir. Admhaím go bhfuil luí ar leith agam leis an saghas seo staire, ach ní ligfidh mé an histoire structurale, stair an dúlra agus an ‘achair fhada’, i ndearmad ach oiread. 
Ar an drochuair, tá tuilleadh líomhaintí fós le teacht ...

     Más féidir Watt a chreidiúint, tá sé le tuiscint ó mo chuid scríbhinní go raibh treallchogaíocht ar son na Stíobhartach ar siúl in Éirinn san 18ú céad: féach an giota thuas atá le léamh ar leathanach 205 den leabhar. Is fíor nár thagair sé dom i gcorp an téacs, ach is mise údar an dá alt atá luaite i bhfonóta 11 ag bun an leathanaigh. Níl aon trácht ar threallchogaíocht i gceachtar den dá alt úd. Thairis sin, níl aon tagairt do threallchogaithe Seacaibíteacha in aon saothar eile liom. Go deimhin, tá caibidil liom dar teideal ‘Irish Jacobitism, 1691-1790’ i gcló sa Cambridge History of Ireland a foilsíodh anuraidh, agus níl aon trácht inti ar threallchogaíocht Sheacaibíteach. Tá cúis mhaith leis sin: tuigim go maith nár tharla a leithéid riamh. Seo mar a scríobhas:
In contrast [with Scotland], the section of the Irish population that was most sympathetic to Jacobitism was disarmed, leaderless and acutely aware of its impotence.
Cambridge History of Ireland, imleabhar III, 42.
Ba é dóchas na Seacaibíteach in Éirinn go bhfillfeadh na ‘géanna fiáine’ in éineacht le le harm Francach nó Spáinneach. Ní raibh seans dá laghad go dtarlódh éirí amach Seacaibíteach in Éirinn, mar a tharla faoi dhó in Albain. Níor thit ach dhá eachtra amach in Éirinn le linn an 18ú céad a d’fhéadfaí ‘cogaíocht’ a thabhairt orthu: mar atá, an t‑ionsaí a dhein na Francaigh ar Charraig Fhearghais sa bhliain 1760 agus éirí amach na bliana 1798. Is dócha go bhféadfaí ‘treallchogaíocht’ a thabhairt ar iarsma an éirí amach i gContae Chill Mhantáin, leis, ach níor phléas an t‑ábhar sin riamh.

     Tá an beachtú seo ag druidim chun deiridh ach tá líomhain amháin eile i leabhar Watt is cóir a lua. Dar leis, tá barúil agam gur imigh muintir na tuaithe isteach sna Buachaillí Bána d’fhonn an naimhdeas a bhí acu don eaglais bhunaithe agus don stát a chur in iúl: féach an sliocht thuas ó leathanach 206 dá leabhar. Is fíor gur scríobhas na focail idir comharthaí athfhriotail – ‘frank hostility to the establishment in both church and state’ – ach thóg Watt an abairt as comhthéacs. Cur síos is ea é ar an meon atá léirithe san amhrán dar tús ‘Cé fada dúinn fá dhaoirse’. Tá téacs iomlán an amhráin le fáil sa leabhar liom dar teideal The Popular Mind in Eighteenth-century Ireland agus seo daoibh blaiseadh beag de:
Beidh ceolta crot nár dtimpeall, aoibhneas is pléireacht,
     rince ar mhóin gach machaire, i dtigh an tábhairne gan gó,
is mise ag taobh an bhairille ’síor-radaireacht gan choimheascar
     ar intinn scéalta d’aithris ar sheanchas na dtreon;
is laoitheach léannta lannmhar na fearchoin ag téarnamh
     tar taoide i gcéin go treasúil, go hanfach ar seol,
ag tabhairt sceimhle is léin ar Ghallaphoic an mheabhail noch do chéas mé
     le dlíthe daora damanta agus taxanna gach ló.
Vincent Morley, The Popular Mind in Eighteenth-century Ireland, 204-6
Bhíodh sé de nós ag staraithe tagairt a dhéanamh don gháir ‘Long live King George 3rd and Queen Sive’, slua-ghairm a bhí coitianta i measc na mBuachaillí Bána sna 1760í, más fíor. Ar na húdair a luaigh an gháir seo bhí James Donnelly, Patrick Corish, Roy Foster, S.J. Connolly agus Jacqueline Hill. Ach in alt liom dar teideal George III, Queen Sadhbh and the historiansa foilsíodh ar Eighteenth-century Ireland: Iris an Dá Chultúr, 17 (2002), thaispeánas nach raibh d’fhianaise acu ach tuairisc dí-ainm amháin nach raibh cuma na dóchúlachta uirthi, agus go raibh bá leis na Stíobhartaigh léirithe sa litríocht Ghaeilge a bhain leis an ngluaiseacht. Is cosúil gur imigh an aiste sin i gcion ar na staraithe agus níl aon tagairt don ghean a bhí ag Buachailli Bána ar Sheoirse III feicthe agam le cúig bliana déag anuas. Maidir le cuspóirí na mBuachaillí Bána, níor thugas le tuiscint riamh go raibh spriocanna polaitiúla ag an dream a bhí gníomhach sna 1760í. Bhíos (agus táim) sásta leis an tuairim choitianta gur ghluaiseacht í a raibh éilimh eacnamaíocha aici, cé gur bhain na baill le haicme shóisialta a raibh luí aici leis an Seacaibíteachas. Bíodh sin mar atá, caithfear dealú a dhéanamh idir Buachaillí Bána na 1760í agus an ghluaiseacht úr den ainm céanna a d’eascair sna 1780í – dream a dtugtar Rightboys orthu go minic. Is fíor gur ionsaigh Buachaillí Bána na 1780í stádas na heaglaise bunaithe, rud a d’fhág go raibh gné pholaitiúil ag an ngluaiseacht. Fós féin, ba mhó an aird a thug na Rightboys ar an eacnamaíocht ná ar an gcreideamh. Admhaím go bhfuil mo thuairimí ar an gceist seo beagáinín casta, ach is ábhar casta í an stair agus bíonn caolchúis áirithe ag teastáil lena tuiscint.

     Ní mó ná sásta atá an Dr Watt le mo chuid scríbhinní. Dá bhfaigheadh sé locht ar na tuairimí atá agam, ní thógfainn air é. Bíonn gá le cur agus cúiteamh sa stair. D’fhéadfadh sé cur i gcoinne na tuairime atá agam go bhfuil neamart déanta ag staraithe i bhfoinsí Gaeilge an 18ú agus gur mithid deireadh a chur leis an neamart sin. Nó d’fhéadfadh sé cur i gcoinne na tuairime atá agam gur chóir béim níos mó a leagan ar an histoire conjoncturelle feasta. Nó d’fhéadfadh sé cur i gcoinne na tuairime atá agam go raibh súil ag Seacaibítigh na hÉireann le filleadh na ngéanna fiáine i gcaitheamh an chéad leath den 18ú céad. Nó d’fhéadfadh sé cur i gcoinne na tuairime atá agam nach raibh mórán measa ag Buachaillí Bána ar Sheoirse III. Ach ina ionad sin, chruthaigh sé fear tuí, chroch sé m’ainm thart ar a mhuinéal, agus chuir sé é ag spalpadh seafóide.