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much to boast ; none of its people ranked as “merchant princes.” Its Liffey was not crowded with shipping which brought in the produce of other lands, or bore away the growth and manufacture of its own. The risk incurred in crossing the bar from the sea, except at certain times of the tide, together with the scanty demands for articles of which there was not a home supply, made the arrival of a foreign vessel an “event” as great as was the visit of a European òr American ship at Hawaii or Tahiti fifty years ago. The Eblani had pasturage for cattle and sheep. They were also engaged in agriculture, though of a somewhat humble order, the Irish plough being, centuries later, a small wooden instrument tied to the tail of an ox or a “hobby." Fishing was common. Their boats were of two kinds ; one, a canoe formed out of the trunk of a tree and called a " Cotti," of which a specimen is to be seen in the Royal Dublin Society's Museum. The other, called a Corragh,” consisted of a frame of wicker-work covered with hides ; larger, longer, and otherwise more adapted for sea-work, but in materials and structure like the "corracles" still used on rivers in Wales and adjoining parts. It was in a "corragh” that Columba with his twelve companions went from Ireland to Iona in the sixth century.
Learning and refinement among the Eblani can be judged of only from what is known of the Irish in general of those times, and even
that information is scanty and precarious. The Ogham inscriptions are of a very high antiquity. We are told of schools at Tarah, where youths were trained for sacred and civic duties. The Irish warriors were “sworn to be the protectors of the fair, and avengers of their wrongs ; and to be polite in word and address to their greatest enemies."
“A character without guile or deceit, was esteemed the highest that could be given among the ancient Irish ; and the favourite panegyric of a bard to his hero would be that he had a heart incapable of guile.” The Irish were early acquainted with the game of chess. Their harp and song, too, have attained a world-wide fame. The former is believed to have been kept “sacredly unaltered” from the ages we are speaking of down to comparatively modern date when Drayton wrote
“ The Irish I admire,
As our muse's mother,
Apollo's such another." Bacon pronounced, “No harp hath the sound so melting and prolonged as the Irish harp;" and Evelyn wrote Such music before or since did 'I never hear, that instrument being neglected for its extraordinary difficulty ; but in my judgment being far superior to the lute itself, or whatever speaks with strings." Ancient Erin was the home of poetic genius. Feargus, called “Fionbell, or the Sweet-voiced," was one of its most distinguished bards. An
ode of his composition, delivered extempore, is said to have succeeded in blending in peace and friendship two chiefs, “Gaul the son of Morni" and "Finn of the flowing locks,” who, with their respective followers, had met on a field of strife to contend for spoils they had jointly won from a common foe. The following lines from a translation of his "War Ode" to Osgar the Son of Ossian, at the battle of Gaura, when leading on his troops against Cairbre the monarch of Ireland, towards the close of the third century, present a thought truly sublime :
“ Thine be the battle, thine the sway! On, on to Cairbre hew thy conquering way, And let thy deathful arm dash safety from his side!
As the proud wave, on whose broad back
The storm its burden heaves,
Its ruin leaves;
Fierce, resistless, rapid, strong ;
The Cromlechs in the neighbourhood of Dublin-one near the Hill of Howth, another on the south of Killiney Hill, and another at Cabinteely about a mile westward-show that Druidism was the religion of the Eblani, as it was of other parts of the country. In due form and solemnity their priests ministered at the altar within the circle of stones, presenting on behalf of the congregation outside the sacred inclosure, sacrifices and other homages to their Baalim, the sun, the moon, and the host of heaven. Holocausts of human beings were among the rites prescribed by that superstition. Fire was an object of worship, perhaps by tradition from the Shechinah. Mountains and trees, also, are said to have had divine honours paid to them. Groves of the oak were not wanting to aid devotion and afford growth to the mistletoe. Then, as now, the faith of the people hung pieces of cloth on branches near a "holy well,” to imbibe from the presence there a virtue which might be carried away and applied for the removal of disease, or for some other useful purpose. Moreover, the invisible but, when angered, desolating Wind, was held in awe and propitiated, lest, neglected, it should break forth in fury and spread havoc around. It was a prevailing opinion that the Round Towers, of which there is one at Clondalkin, about three miles west of Dublin, and another at Swords, six miles north of the city, were Fire-temples. But Dr. Petrie seems to have exhausted the argument upon the subject, and concludes that they are buildings connected with Christianity.
It is certain that the gospel had found its way into Ireland previously to the fifth century, in the early part of which, as Prosper's Chronicle records, Palladius was sent by Celestine, bishop of Rome, "to the Scots believing in Christ," Ireland being then called Scotia," and its inhabitants 16 Scoti,” or Scots. How, when, or by whom, the Christian faith first came into the country we know not, but the honour of converting the Irish nation is commonly ascribed to St. Patrick, who came to evangelize them, shortly after the mission and death of Palladius. Sir William Betham, however, than whom few antiquaries have given more attention to the question, thinks that the true Patrick, whose. labours so eminently contributed to Christianize the people, lived and did his work long before Palladius existed. Without entering upon that inquiry, we may notice the account which a tradition gives of the gospel being brought to Dublin. It is, that Patrick, having preached with great success in Ulster and Connaught, came into Meath and Leinster, and took Dublin on his way southward; that having crossed the Finglass river to the rising ground within a mile of the city, perhaps near the site of Phibbsborough, he pronounced upon it a prophetic benediction, affirming that the city "should increase in riches and dignities, until at length it should be lifted up unto the throne of the kingdom ;" that when he reached Dublin he preached to the king, Alphin Mac Eochaid, and his subjects, who received the Divine message, and were baptized at a well, south of the city; and that the saint founded a church near this well, where now stands St. Patrick's cathedral. This is said to have occurred in the year