Book Excerpts from Hand of History, Burden of Psuedo History
by Tom O Connor
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Initial inspiration came 60 years ago from intriguing stories heard round winter firesides of remnants of an ‘ancient city’ cum royal site, ancient roads and quarrels of grasping landlords & family disputes over the leveling of widespread vestiges of linear embankments across miles of countryside. Communal memory told not only of their ancient Fir Belg construction but of their landlord destruction in 19th century land improvement schemes. Specialized British history & Irish legendary history reveal a surprising connection between these linear embankments and the defensive system surrounding Belgic oppida in SE Britain. The excitement of discovering that at the centre of the linear embankments stood what 1st/2nd century A.D. Ptolemy of Alexandria recorded as a Royal Capital and extensive urban-like population centre in the West of Ireland (‘Claudii Ptolemaei Geographia’) prompted extensive research.
'History' is a stubborn, sanctimonious, sly, slippery serpent, notoriously so in Ireland. History does not lie. Not so Irish ‘historians’! They personify Samuel Butler's dictum that "though God cannot alter the past, ‘historians’ can.” Their ‘histories’ pulverized early Irish history. The hand of history weighs heavily on Ireland, the burden of pseudo-history infinitely more so.
The political geography of Ptolemy of Alexandria's 2nd century Irish record corresponds to that of the Ulidian Tales, Ireland's oldest record. It is totally at odds with that projected by Irish pseudo-history. Ptolemy is corroborated by the Ulidian Tales in projecting an Ireland dominated by 2 warring powers, Ulster and Connacht, the 2 provinces in which his 2 REGIA (Capitals) are located, Emain Macha in Ulster, and his Connacht Iron Age Oppidum of Regia E Te[mh]ra.
By 50 BC Southern Britain was dominated by Celtic Belgae, as Caesar affirmed. When Ptolemy produced his Irish record the Belgae (Fir Belg) had exerted their dominance over a considerable part of Ireland. “No discussion of pre-Christian Ireland could afford to ignore the history of the neighboring island. The Belgae occupied considerable parts of both countries.” Events which forced the Belgic exodus from the Continent to SE Britain led to their migration to Ireland.
Commius, a classically educated charismatic leader emerged on the Belgic stage. His sterling leadership qualities attracted Caesar's instant attention and respect. Having curbed Belgic Atrebaten resistance by expelling their anti-Roman chiefs, Caesar appointed Commius as their king. "Commius" he said "was a man both courageous and politic, a noble of great influence and learning." He also made him king of the Morini when their anti-Roman rulers fled. Commius had an astute ability to be accepted as a leader of diverse Celtic tribes. He was acceptable to all, a pan-Celtic international, the first true European.
Caesar's plan to invade Britain was formed in 57 BC while fighting the Continental Belgae. Belgic clans in Britain maintained contact with their mainland cousins, aiding them in the war against Caesar. This was the excuse for his invasion of Britain. He chose 10,000 legionaries for his invasion. He sent Commius to Britain to encourage submission to Rome. Caesar’s success depended on Commius.
Caesar's fleet ran aground 250 feet from shore at South Foreland on 25th August 55 BC. Celtic warriors massed along the cliff-tops, placed on high alert by Commius. Caesar’s heavily laden troops waded ashore through withering Celtic fire. War chariots with scythes fitted unnerved the Romans and mowed them down. Warriors engaged the invaders in hand to hand combat before darting back on chariots and racing away. Caesar’s artillery legion then turned its fire on the Celts who draw back, confused. Caesar ordered the VII Legion to reap crops ready for harvesting and plunder supplies from nearby settlements. It was set upon by Celtic war-chariots lying in ambush. He ordered his whole army to the scene of action to save his legion. This drew from Caesar a glowing account of the methods of Celtic chariot warfare that threw Roman ranks into confusion. As Caesar retreated, the Celts carried off large numbers of Roman prisoners. Caesar's much depleted army, without provisions, fled back to the Continent. From a military viewpoint the expedition was a disaster. As his war galley backed away, Caesar was already planning a 'full-scale conquest' of Britain with a vastly larger force.
50,000 Celtic warriors at Alesia were surrounded by 100,000 Roman legionaries and huge numbers of Germanic mercenaries. Caesar swore this would be Celtic Europe's swan song. His legions dug trenches & erected palisade siege-works in a vast circuit around the hill-top town with look-out posts at strategic points to observe enemy activity. Vercingetorix sent sallies to destroy what had been erected each night. Two lines of earth-works encircled Alesia, consisting of ramparts and ditches with hidden pointed stakes. This enormous engineering feat is still visible - the inner line to keep Vercingetorix pinned inside, the outer line to repel expected reinforcements. The grave of Celtic Gaul was dug.
Emperor Claudius ordered the invasion of Britain in 43 AD.
Suetonius stormed the Druid’s headquarters in Anglesey in N Wales. The druids were slain, their altars smashed. Celtic religion suffered its most devastating blow. Celtic gods were furious. Rebellion broke out across Britain. With Suetonius 250 miles away, a furious horde burst from the Iceni forests seeking revenge, at their head the multi-colour-tuniced, fiery-eyed Queen Boudicea, gold-broach-fastened cloak over her shoulder, a gold torc round her neck and flowing red hair falling to her hips. Chosen by the Iceni, Trinovantes and Catuvellauni as leader of the rebellion, she had nothing to lose, many wrongs to right. She marshaled 120,000 warriors. Her eloquent battle oration fanned their frenzied fury: “Day of retribution has dawned! Fear not the barbarous Romans hiding behind helmet, breastplate and stone palisade, trembling in fear. Show them that they are but hares and foxes trying to lord it over wolves and wardogs. Victory or death today!” In unison they roared “Boudicea” (‘Victory’).
The mob surged forth; their numbers multiplied as they descended on the Roman Capital, Camulo-dunum. Thunderous uproar sent shivers through Roman residents. Rumour spread that the statue of Victory had fallen, its back to the enemy as if in flight. Roman author Tacitus described the horrific scene: "Delirious women chanted the destruction at hand, outlandish yells reverberated through the senate; the theatre re-echoed with blood-curling shrieks; at the mouth of the Thames a ghost settlement was in ruins. The sea was blood-red, shapes like human corpses left by the tide littered the beaches..."
Boudicea's massed warriors crashed through the defenses. Claudius' temple was pulled down, the statue of the Emperor smashed. The 3 largest towns in Britain were destroyed & 70,000 people killed, "the worst disaster to have befallen a civil population in the Roman Empire for a very long time."
The Romans were furious, demonizing Boudicea for the fury of her back-lash. What else could one expect from a Queen who had witnessed the wanton way her people had been treated, who herself had been scourged almost unconscious and her daughters gang-raped in her presence by barbarous Romans! As M. Mackie noted, her violent rebellion came only after extreme provocation. “She had trusted the Romans.” It was only after their debauched behaviour “that she turned against them – as you would.”
Suetonius’ legions marched on Boudicea’s army. Her forces panniced, broke ranks and retreated. The Romans killed everything in sight, men, women, children and baggage animals. Horror of horrors! Massacre most foul! “Heaps of dead” (Tacitus’ words). 80,000 corpses piled high. Woe! Shame! “Sure Victory Day” turned into inglorious Dooms-Day for Celtic Britain by day’s downfall.
Britain was a corpse. Countless Celts were dead or had fled – to Ireland.
Having examined Belgic oppida on the Continent & in Britain, it is time to take stock of Belgic oppida in Ireland in areas where the Belgae (Fir Belg) established their primary settlements.
Following Caesar’s genocide of the Veneti, Celtic Manapi mariners took over the lucrative sea trade. Their settlements surrounded the seaports serving the 2 great capitals of Iron Age Ireland: Emain Macha’s sea ports were Newry & Downpatrick in Ulster; the Turoe/Knocknadala/Athenry seaport was Ath Clee Magh Ri in Galway Bay. In both areas the Manapi left their name on numerous townlands.
Gann (Commius in Roman records), king of the Atrebates and other Celtic tribes, a chosen leader of the pan-Celtic revolt against Caesar which made him Rome’s most wanted man, fled to SE Britain and for 20 years ruled over its Belgic tribes until 26 B.C. On persistent rumours of an imminent Roman invasion of Britain, he handed over to his son, Tincommius, and disappeared from Romano-British records. He led women, children and noncombatants to the West of Ireland out of harm’s way. Irish legend tells that Gann and Sengann (Tincommius in Roman records) led the Fir Belg (Belgic) invasion which “landed in Clare (and Limerick) at the Shannon mouth” precisely where Ptolemy located the Gangani (Gann’s followers), the one source corroborating the other. Belgic tribes from SE England, the Atrebates, Morini, Mac Umhoir and Domnann led by Gann’s family invaded along the West coast of Ireland in a northwards expansion.
One is amazed at the amount of surviving data regarding this invasion and its expansion.
Gann’s settlement area extended from Kerry Head to Spanish Point in Clare & expanded inland - archaeologically engraved in traces of the Belgic defensive system, the ‘Claidh Roo’ (Cleeroo).
Gann expanded his kingdom into the Golden Vale. This vast expansion in a short time-span underpins a huge influx of his followers from the Continent and SE England for whom he won new homelands. He had now secured the ritual landscape where his descendants, Eoghan Mor and early Munster kings, would reign.
THE DEATH OF THE GREAT HERO, GANN (COMMIUS), AFTER A GLORIOUS CAREER
After a heroic life, the great Gann (Commius) was laid to rest in Ferta na Ri in the shadow of the Sidh ar Femhin, the cairn on Slievenamon SE of Cashel, burial ground of early Munster kings.
‘Dindshenchas Medraige’ (Magh Ri) tells that Dela, great-grandson of Gann, with 2000 Fir Belg warriors landed at Ath Clee Magh Ri in Galway Bay. He went to Dal (Knocknadala) and established the Feis Temhró on Turoe. Lebor Gabala accepted this tradition that Dela was the first to establish the Feis Temhró. Dela made Turoe/Knocknadala his power base (Ptolemy’s Regia e Tera (REGIA E TE[mh]RA, Capital at Turoe) and NAG na TAL (Knocknadal). “To judge from Mac Liac’s list of places they occupied, the Fir Belg were particularly numerous to the East and South of Galway Bay” (General Tracts 82) where they had a powerful presence.
“Foras Feasa ar Eirinn” by Seathrun Ceitinn, “Lebor Mór nGenealach” by Dubhaltach Mac Fir Bhisigh & “Ogygia” by Ruaidhraidh Ua Flaithbhertaig list Ireland’s earliest divisions (‘Coiced’): P.83 Coiced Gann, al. C. Sengann, al. C. Genann, al. C. Medba (al. Coiced Ol nEchmacht, al. C. Connacht, al. C. Cruachna) extended from Limerick to Esruaid (Ballyshannon), (excluding the NE of Connacht centered on Rathcroghan of Roscommon, still an integral part of archaic Ulster)
‘Dindshenchas Medraige’s short genealogy of Dela’s grandson identifies Turoe as the Fir Belg Capital: “Fermhór (al. Ferach Mhór/Eochaid Fedhlech), son of Ercmon (Erc), son of Dela, son of Genann, son of Sengann, son of Gann…“ced Rí do shuidh ar thus I Temhróid de Fhearaibh Bolc” (“Fermhor/Ferach Mhor was the first king to set up his residence on Turoe of the Fir Belg”)…he went north from Fremand (“tar Fremaind adthuaidh”), where Gann died, to assume the Overkingship of Temhroit…Rath Fermhor (Ferach Mhor), in front of which stood the Turoe Stone, was the only residence on Turoe hill. It was named after Ferach Mhor (al. Eochaid Fedlech) mac Erc, father of Queen Medb, the first and only king to set up his royal residence on Turoe, as legendary history proclaims. Turoe accommodates this archaic claim.
THE EXTENT AND DIVISION OF COICED OL nECHMACHT (ARCHAIC CONNACHT)
Ferach Mhor divided Coiced Ol nEchmacht (archaic Connacht) into 3 parts among the Fir Belg tribes. He gave Fidech of the Fir Craibhe the territory from Rath Fidech (al. Caheradrine Fort near Clarinbridge) SW of Athenry to Limerick. He gave Eochaid Allat the territory from Galway River to Drobhais (Drowes) River (i.e. the western districts of Galway, Mayo and Sligo north to Ballyshannon, the territory of the Fir Domnann.
Tinni mac Conrach, a Domnann king wooing Eochaid Ferach Mhor’s daughter, Medb, erected the “fossa” earthworks enclosing Rath Cruacha of Athenry at Ferach Mhor’s request in record time with his Domnann tribe. For this feat, Ferach Mhor gave the middle kingdom from Rath Fidech (Caheradrine near Clarinbridge) to Temhar Brogha Nuadhat (Turoe; corrupt T. B. Niad) and east across the Suck to the Shannon at Athlone to Tinni mac Conrach. Seathrun Ceitinn and others (K 121b I, 137a; Of 269, 282; Lec190, 585; Rc xxi, 152) placed Temhar Brogha Nuadhat (corrupt Niad; Turoe) at the centre of this middle division of Ol nEchmacht, precisely where Turoe is sited. When Tinni quarreled with the other leaders, notably with Medb’s chief suitor, Fidech of the Fir Craibhe whom Tinni slew out of jealousy, Eochaid Ferach Mhor expelled him and gave the throne of Ol nEchmacht to his own daughter, Medb. Ailill mac Magach became Medb’s consort. They became the regents of Ol nEchmacht. They made Ceat mac Magach, hero of Main Magh (the plain around Turoe) the next king of the Fir Craibhe division of Ol nEchmacht (“ó Eascar Riada go Luimnech, ó Ath Claidh Magh Rí go Boroimhe agus go Leim Con .i. an tir for a rabadar Seantuatha Fir mBelg”) K 121b I, 137a.
They made Sanb mac Ceat mac Magach king of the middle kingdom. Medb, determined to defend her Fir Mallon lands E of the Shannon from the Cruthin, placed them under Sanb. She sent her Domnann warriors against Glaisni, son of Ulster’s king Conor mac Nessa, who was Cruthin king of Rathcroghan of Roscommon, her great enemy. She mustered the 3 divisions of Ol nEchmacht and sent them with bands of her 3000 Gaileoin mercenaries to aid Sanb against Glaisni from the east of the Shannon in a pincer movement. A massacre ensued. Medb’s forces east of the Shannon were annihilated. A great hosting of Ulstermen and their Cruthin kinsmen from Scotland attacked her Domnann warriors near Rathcroghan. Medb’s forces again suffered a frightful massacre. The Fir Belg were driven back to the River Suck (Roscommon/Galway boundary). Medb blamed Sanb for this fiasco and promptly made her own son Maine king of what remained of the middle kingdom from Rath Fidech to Temhar Brogha Nuadhat (Turoe) to Magh Senchenoil in East Galway…Queen Medb’s daughter, Fionndhabhair, was consort of Fraech mac Fidech, a later king of Ol nEchmacht.
Ulster carried out numerous hit & run raids on Rígrád Temhróit & Fir Belg capitals in Connacht and Munster. Cruthin king, Elim mac Conrach, slew 2 Rí Temhró Fir Belg kings, Feredach Finn Fachtnach & Fiachu Findola, grandfather & father of Tuathal Techtmhar, & became Rí Temhró. Tuathal went to the Roman Governor Agricola, then campaigning against the Cruthin (Picts) of Scotland, to seek his aid, but in vain. Aided instead by friendly British Celtic kings and faithful Fir Belg kings in Ireland, Tuathal returned, defeated Elim, was returned to his rightful throne as Rí Temhró, and held the Feis Temhró to celebrate his victory. A later king of Turoe was Conall of Clochar Chonail Cruachna (Clamperpark, Athenry), foster father of Conn of the Hundred Battles (“Conall Cruachna, robo ri ar tuathaibh Temhrach” in the ‘Dindshenchas Cnoc na Dala’).
T. F. O Rahilly (EIHM, p.75-84, 100) related how Lughaid mac Con, defeated by King Eoghan Mor at Cenn Abrat in Munster, fled to Scotland. From there he led a huge army to Ath Claidh Magh Ri in Galway Bay. At Magh Muccrama of Athenry he assassinated King Art, son of Conn Cedchatach (of the Hundred Battles) and usurped his title, Rí Temhró, Fir Belg Overking.
Pseudo-history manipulated Fir Belg origin-legends as part of a carefully engineered structural transformation of Iron Age tradition to bolster the Tara Myth, making the Fir Belg go first to the (alleged) High King at Tara but were then transferred to Connacht in the reign of Queen Medb under the weight of strong surviving tradition which recognized it was in Connacht that they had their primary settlements (Met D. iii, 442, 444; ‘Ogygia’ P.175 f). “This tradition was too strong and too persistent to be disregarded. This provided a hint as to how the Battle of Magh Tuired might be adapted by the compilers of the ‘Lebor Gabala’ to their new fictitious version of that battle” (EIHM, P.145 by O Rahilly).
This Chapter will reconstruct Ireland’s most imposing oppidum focused on Turoe, corroborated by Ptolemy’s Irish record, Ireland’s earliest stratum of legendary history and archaeological findings. Thrill to the ‘discovery’ of Ptolemy’s "most extensive acropolis in all Britannia" of one of the most massive oppida in the Celtic world (Ptolemy, ‘Geographica Hepegesis’, Irish Section).
Ptolemy located his Regia E Tera (Rígrád i Te[mh]ra) in central Galway where Turoe (Cnoc Temhro) stands. Ptolemy's Regia E Tera in Western Ireland is as close a rendition of the Irish Regia e Temhra (minus the silenced 'mh' = Capital at Turoe, e Temhra) as one could achieve in Greek letters.
O Rahilly had finally to humbly admit in his almost unnoticed ‘Additional Notes’ that at that time the power of the Ulaid (ancient Ulster) extended south of the Boyne and included Tara."
Lebor na Huidre’s 'Senchas na Releg' (Necropolis History) & 'Shighud Tellaig na Cruachna' (Cruachan Necropolis)preserve the geo-political essence of Iron Age Ireland totally at variance with the fraudulent projections of the pseudo-historians. They corroborate the evidence of Ptolemy & the Ulidian Tales that Ireland was divided between 2 great powers, each with its own Acropolis/Necropolis. They project the 2 'Priomh Relec' (Chief Necropoli) of Ireland, as Cruachu, burial place of the Kings of Connacht, & Tailtiu, burial place of the Kings of Ulster. Archaic Necropolis texts, Senchas na Releg, De Gabail an tSída, De Copur in da Muccida and Shíghud Tellaig na Cruachna anchor Ireland’s Chief Iron Age Necropolis, Relig na Rí lamh le Cruachain, at Athenry’s Sidhe Boidb, alias Sidh nOchaill, not at Rathcroghan of Roscommon as falsely claimed by 8th/9th century pseudo-historians. These tell that the Early Kings of Connacht, Rí Temhróit (Turoe), were interred there. Gods/goddesses of the Celtic Pantheon had their Otherworld Abodes (Sidhe) there, allotted to them in the Mountain (Cruachan) North, South, East & West complexes around Athenry by the Daghdha, father of the gods/ goddesses. Their names still ring out across the archaic Celtic landscape of Rath Cruachan of Athenry.
What is startling about the list of territories of Conor Mac Nessa’s ancient Ulster is Ulster’s massive extent - vastly more extensive than today’s Ulster - stretching down to the midlands and west across the Shannon into Connacht as far as the River Suck. "To Furbaide, Conor Mac Nessa’s son, was given North and South Tethba including Longford and the west half of Westmeath down to the Midlands. To Glaisni, son of Conor, was given Fir Maland and Findclair na Bredcha." Findclair na Bredcha was the territory west of the Shannon stretching from Athlone to the River Suck at Ballinasloe in Galway. It ran north, bounded by the Suck which formed the Galway/Roscommon border, to the Cruithintuatha na Chroghain district of Rathcroghan of Roscommon. The name Cruthintuatha na Chroghain denotes its possession by the Cruthin. Far indeed from Medb having her royal throne at Rathcroghan, it belonged to her bitter enemy, the Cruthin King of Rathcroghan. Glaisne, son of Conor Mac Nessa, later Over-king of Greater Ulster at Emain Macha, was king of this territory with its capital at Rathcroghan at the time of the Battle of Airtech. The vast extent of Ulster in Medb's time underpins the significance of the archaic name of Medb’s Fir Belg embryonic province of lower Connacht, Ól nÉcmacht, 'Embanked Enclave' surrounded by Cruthin territory, with its back to the sea.
The Book of Leinster preserves a detail with enormous implications for Iron-age Irish history. At Tara, Fedelm's son, Conor Mac Nessa's grandson, Erc, came to Conor who bestowed the Tara kingdom on him. That Conor, Cruthin King of Ulster, could bestow Tara on his grandson confirms that it was in his possession to do so. That this adverse detail for the political interests of Leinster, then beginning to make its own claims on Tara, is admitted by the Book of Leinster surely indicates that this was an indisputable fact of history. From Conor Mac Nessa's day until the Battle of Moyrath in 637, Ulster Cruthin regents alone reigned at Tara of Meath. Underscoring this fact, Erc, grandson of Conor Mac Nessa and king of Tara, took Cu Chulainn's daughter, Findscoth, in marriage. An all Ulster affair!
Close ties existed between the ruling Fir Belg tribes of Munster and Connacht descended from Gann, Sengann and Dela, and between them and the Manapi…Manapi princesses married into the Munster and Connacht aristocracy and vice versa…The mother of the 3 Munster Cairbres (sons of Conaire) was Sarait, daughter of Conn Cedchathach, Connacht Fir Belg Overking. In ‘De Maccaibh Conaire’, Conaire is a contemporary of Eoghan Mor, ancestor of the Eoghanacht dynasty of Munster, and son of Conn’s younger daughter Sadb, Oilill Olum’s Queen. Sadb first wed Lughaid Loigde (Laga) of the Corcu Loigde by whom she bore Lughaid mac Con (who) was fosterson and son to Oillil and Sadb and grandson of Conn Cedchatach. Eoghan Mor’s Queen was Moncha of the Manapi. Eoghan Mor’s grand-daughter, Mongfhind, wed Eochaid Muigh Mhaen, Fir Belg Overking, ancestor of Connacht’s medieval kings and dynasties.
As Fir Belg Overking, Conaire expelled the sons of Desa from Ireland for marauding. At sea they met a Conmaicne Manapi reaver, Ancel. With 5000 warriors they marched from Tracht Fuirbthi (Furbo in Galway Bay in the land of the Conmaicne, Connemara) along the Sli Mhannin to Turoe and assassinated Conaire at Bruiden Da Dhearg near Turoe. The Manapi threat of a takeover of the kingship was now real.
The Books of Lecan and Ballymote record that Eoghan Mor of Munster sojourned with Connacht’s Conn Cedchatach (of the Hundred Battles); to help curb the growing power of the Manapi, Eoghan set up a stronghold at Rath Fidech (Fidig, al. Caheradrine Fort near Clarinbridge SW of Athenry) at the heart of what had become a sprawling Manapi settlement stretching from Ath Claidh Magh Ri to Loughrea. Eoghan settled his bands of young warriors, the Oige Bethra, whom he brought from Crich Ealla (Duhallow in NW Cork) around Rath Fidech at the pivitol point of the 3 divisions of Ol nEchmacht (Laud 610; Ca 302; Lec 164).
In a dispute over the kingship Lughaid mac Con challenged Eoghan Mor to a battle. Eoghan was victor. Lughaid fled to Scotland to a king related to his own Manapi people who helped him assemble a vast army from various tribes, including Votadini (Fotad) and Manapi from MannauGoddodin. Lughaid led his vast army to Ath Claidh Magh Ri, slew Art son of Conn, Fir Belg Overking, together with Eoghan Mor and his sons at the Battle of Magh Muc Dhruime and marched to Temhar (Turoe) to usurp the title of Rí Temhróit.
‘Dendshenchas Medraige’ states that “the folk (Manapi and Fotads) of the ireful Lughaid Mac Con seized all the land around Magh Ri (Clarinbridge) and settled there, as corroborated by ‘Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae’ which further states (P.265) that they captured the lands of Maine and Fiachrach Aidhne (from the plain around Loughrea, centered on Turoe, to Galway Bay). King Cormac mac Art later expelled Lughaid mac Con and assumed his rightful throne as Rí Temhró, Overking of the Fir Belg tribes. Cormac fought 7 battles with the followers of Lughaid mac Con who went south into Munster to serve under Oillil Olum.
The chief historic feature of Cormac mac Art’s reign is his constant warfare with the Ulaid. Deciding enough was enough, he led the Fir Belg tribes of Southern Ireland in a massive invasion of Cruthin (Ulster) lands (as told by ‘Cath Crinna’). A careful analysis of ‘Cath Crinna’ shows that Tara and the territory south of the Boyne as far as the Tolka River flowing into Dublin Bay was still part of Ulster. Cormac planted his Fir Belg tribes on lands they each conquered from the Cruthin of Ulster along the new border running NW from the Tolka River in Dublin to Loch Ramor in Cavan and Loch Erne to the NW Connacht coast. No attempt was made to camouflage the fact that Tara was part of Ulster (still well within the Ulster Boundary). Professor F. J. Byrne sensed an interpolation in the title of Cormac as Rí Temhró of legendary history, a sly shift from Turoe to Tara of Meath. His qualification of “Cormac’s reign at Tara” by the use of the word ‘alleged’ explodes Cath Crinna’s insinuation that Cormac reigned at Tara of Meath. T.F. O Rahilly had to admit in his late “Additional Notes” that ‘Cath Crinna’ suggests that at that time the power of the Ulaid extended south of the Boyne, and consequently included Tara” (‘Early Irish History & Mythology’ p.485). His life was cut short before he had the time to absorb the full ramifications and vast implications of his all-too-late discovery.
Truth is often bitter, fact stranger than fiction. Tara, contrary to prevalent belief, was never the Capital of an Iron Age or medieval united Ireland. The projection of a High-Kingship of Ireland in St. Patrick’s time is pure fiction perpetrated for propaganda purposes. What was the root cause of the great medieval conspiracy which suppressed the archaic history of Turoe/Athenry oppidum in particular & of Ireland in general, in favour of Tara of Meath and Rathcroghan of Roscommon? These were glorified out of all proportion as the Royal Seats of the High-Kingship of Ireland and of Connacht respectively from time immemorial. Chapter 4 addresses the who-what-when-where-and-why of this hideous hoax.
While the historicity of the Iron Age Irish record remains open to question, the political geography of Tara and Rathcroghan as Capitals of Iron Age Ireland are taken for granted without question. Scholars look for evidence of a Celtic Iron Age Ireland in the wrong place, taking the political geography of pseudo-history for granted. By assuming that the stream of Irish history evolved and revolved around Tara from time immemorial, genuine history is sidetracked. Hence historians have thrown Irish pre-Christian history overboard as pure myth, having failed to find a place for it in the context of Tara and Rathcroghan. To see how Pseudo-History usurped the place of genuine history one must go back to the coming of the Celts. To analyze the manufacture of this myth in motion one must go back to Patrick's mission and re-examine how he was resurrected, inflated and elongated the length and breadth of Ireland by the blatantly ambitious monastic federation of Armagh for its own aggrandizement.
Muirchu (for Armagh’s monastic federation) and Adomnan (for Columcille’s) strove to outdo each other in the art of political propaganda to win over powerful patronage. Claims of High-kingship of Ireland for coveted patrons are blatant, politicized, patronage-seeking propaganda concocted by both clerics without the slightest foundation of historical truth, yet articulated in such a sophisticated manner as to confound astute scholars of history. Adomnan glorified the King of Northumbria as “Emperor of Britain” and Ui Neill kings as “ordained by God to be Over-kings of Ireland” to win their patronage. If Adomnan could get away with such highfaluting propaganda, just watch Muirchu! This cunning cleric would conjure up a subtly sophisticated scheming stew that would overawe the overtures of Adomnan and bowl over Ui Neill warlords. Indeed, all Ireland was bowled over and has still to recover its senses. In brewing the most sophisticated political propaganda ever devised in their war of words to win the hearts and minds of Ui Neill warlords, Adomnan and Muirchu became inebriated by the sheer exuberance of their own high-flown, bombastic language which had no relation to reality. Muirchu rose to heights hitherto undreamt of in glorified propagandist flattery that set Ui Neill hearts aflutter. He enlisted the supernatural power of a newly minted Moses-like Patrick. Hitherto Patrick’s cult was purely local in Armagh and Downpatrick districts and embarrassingly associated with the defeated Cruthin isolated in the petty kingdom around Downpatrick. Muirchu would change all that and aggrandize Armagh and Patrick. He minted an Ui Neill connection to Patrick that was like a dream almost too good to be true. Move over Adomnan!
Muirchu's manufacture of motifs as links to Patrick and manipulation of secular and Biblical history to boost his High-Kingship myth brewed the potent cocktail of pseudo-history. It went straight to the hearts of the Irish. This pseudo-historian took medieval Ireland by storm and holds all Ireland in thrall.
"Here, as elsewhere, one has to gasp at the political skill of Armagh’s 7th century politicians who contrived to gain the support of the powerful dynasties who were subjecting the old tribal communities throughout the country while bringing their tribal churches under her wing." Here was political brinkmanship at its dangerous and dizzy heights. Armagh was not satisfied with backing the winning horse - the Ui Neill dynasty, she determined to have as many thoroughbred dynasties as possible in her stables.
Catastrophic change took place in 6th/7th century Ireland as on the Continent. Independent kingdoms & their churches were part of a social, political, world that was rapidly collapsing, giving way to a brash new world. Political structures which supported Ireland's primary Christianity in the 5th century were being replaced in the 7th century. Major monasteries that had their origins in the 6th and 7th centuries rose to greatness on the patronage of the new expanding dynasties. In the Paschal Controversy of the same period Armagh again backed the winner, Rome. Thus she attracted to herself all those who called themselves 'Romani', while those in opposition, like Iona, Columcille's monastic federation, waned.
Muirchu embedded his Tara/Patrick fraud in such an enthralling saga that it etched itself on the soul of Ireland for all time. Nothing can erase this luscious lie burnt indelibly into the Irish psyche.
Muirchu stands at the source of the muddling of early Irish history and political geography. This evolved round the main axis of his 'Life of Patrick' based on the Patrick/King Laoghaire episode at Tara.
The manuscript history of Patrick’s 2 genuine writings has its own poignant story to tell. For his complete uncensored texts Ireland is dependent on those preserved on the Continent. Ferdomnach copied into the Book of Armagh a drastically censored version of Patrick’s ‘Confession’, the only one permitted in Ireland by Armagh, & suppressed his ‘Letter to Coroticus’. Yet, Armagh claimed it was the preserver of Patrick’s writings & early Irish history. The deliberate omission of the ‘Letter of Coroticus’ & the crude censoring of the ‘Confession’ were part of the ongoing monumental fraud being perpetrated by Armagh. It was a blatant suppression of the humble, holy, persecuted Patrick presented in the numerous uncensored sections of the ‘Confession’ which were anathema to Armagh’s conventional picture of a glorified Patrick triumphantly progressing like a conquering hero on his circuit of Ireland.
Continental influences on 7th century Irish ‘hagiographers’ led to the creation of the Tara/Patrick Myth. “Drawing on continental-style hagiography of the worst genre to produce a well-constructed narrative, Muirchu's 'Life of Patrick' became a trendsetter in spurious hagiography.” The most highly spurious models of continental hagiography, the fabulous Lives of St. Martin, were favoured by him. Armagh's newly-minted Patrick was elongated the length and breadth of Ireland to claim churches in his name in places the real St. Patrick never set foot, as was done in the spurious "Lives" of St. Martin
It was a time of major upheaval in Ireland as on the Continent. On cultural and political levels patterns were being created which reshaped Europe & molded its life and mentality for centuries to come. “Old tribal identities were being replaced by new national names. Gaul became the land of the Franks. For the first time in Europe from the mid 7th century, National Kingship was beginning to be established as a brand new institution, overruling tribal organizations and petty kingships. A similar trend is observable in the ecclesiastical realm.” No High Kingship of Ireland existed before then.
Ireland played a startlingly significant role in major political and ecclesiastical Continental changes. The episode of the enforced Irish exile of infant King Dagobert II shows the sheer depth of the involvement of Irish abbots in Frankish politics. They were as much involved in Continental politics as they were at home. A stream of inspiration flowed in from the Continent via Abbot Ultan to Muirchu and Tirechan who honed it to perfection in sharp contestation between them and the similarly inspired Adomnan.
Pippin II needed a strong Merovingian king to lend legitimacy to his own rule over the Franks. Abbot Ultan reminded him where to find a thoroughbred erudite Merovingian prince in the prime of life ready to hold of the reins of kingship. Pippin's uncle Grimoald had packed Dagobert off to exile in Ireland some 20 years earlier. Dagobert’s presence in Ireland was covered in utmost secrecy in Irish records. As patron of Ultan's monasteries, Pippin II called on Ultan to organize the safe return of the new King, Dagobert, from Ireland. This was carried out in the Spring of 676 and Dagobert was crowned King.
Crosspollination took place between France & Ireland. Pippin II’s national Over-kingship of the Franks had a profound impact on the growth of the Tara/Patrick Myth and the High Kingship of Ireland. His creation of the Frankish national monarchy was played out before acutely observant Irish eyes. Seizure of power by Pippin II was a violent attempt by the Carolingians to reign as sovereign monarchs of the Franks. Pippin II emerged as the most powerful man in the 3 kingdoms of the Franks. He became their Over-king, creating a national monarchy for the first time ever. Ultan and pro-Armagh Irishmen who witnessed the birth of this institution saw similar possibilities for Irish dynasts. National Over-kingship was an idea whose time had come. Armagh was raring to seize this raging bull by the horns to win over powerful Ui Neill war-lords as prized patrons. Muirchu adapted this idea to the developing situation in Ireland. The Ui Neill were only too willing to emulate the Pippinids. If one is appalled at the violent methods of Ui Neill warlords in their scramble for over-kingship, one has only to look closer to find an exemplar in the atrocity of the contemporary Frankish society. It was an ‘Era of Violence’.
What has all this to do with the lost capitals of the Belgic peoples of Ireland? Everything! For it was these same fabricators who deemed it expedient to suppress the facts about Palladius, sent by Pope Celestin in 431 as Rome's Apostolic Delegate to pastor the Irish believing in Christ, to make way for their glorified Patrick, who found it necessary to suppress the Fir Belg capitals of Turoe/Knocknadala and Rath Cruacha of Athenry to make way for their glorified Tara. Traditions of the former capitals of the Fir Belg were transferred to the newly minted 'Royal Capital of the High-Kingship of Ireland at Tara from time immemorial' just as the traditions of Palladius were transferred to Patrick.
“By the 11th/12th centuries ‘poet-historians’ had elaborated in full the concept of a monarchy of All Ireland and projected it back into the pre-Christian past, so that the High-kingship of Ireland took on the character of an immemorial tradition.”
Flann Mainistreach (+1056), canonized by Armagh and Ui Neill dynasts for high-handed manipulation of manuscript material in their best interests, had his censorial pen in every line he deemed anathema to the Tara/Patrick Myth. On pretext of gathering historical material he gained access to monastic libraries, even in enemy camps (hence his sobriquet, Flann of the Monasteries). He interpolated manuscripts in the interests of his royal patrons. In the name of syncretism, multiple pages of prestigious Annals and whole books of early history went missing. Perhaps he can explain how Connacht’s ‘Yellow Book of Lecan’ from which he lifted material found its way into Armagh’s strong room. Armagh made herself the Media Mogul and Official Censor responsible for ‘syncretising’ (= censoring) such material for her own ulterior motives. It began with Muirchu and Ferdomnach. It continued to Flann’s day. Nor was Flann alone. The reason for the disappearance of Connacht’s other Great Book, the Lebor Balb, is less enigmatic since this is spelt out by its nickname ‘Balb’ (= silenced). It was violently muffled simply because it contained too much material which flew in the face of ‘the new official doctrine’ of the pseudo-historians. Openly contradicting their fictitious concoctions, they had no option but to have it buried alive. Its sobriquet spells out the naked truth: it was silenced, suppressed, assassinated, buried in a bog.
Ambitions of becoming High King of Ireland won for Diarmait Mac Murchada so many enemies that in 1166 he fled to France to Henry II. Returning with a Norman army, he engaged ‘Historians’ to invent a new Leinster ‘official doctrine’, a radical ‘restructuring of history’ in Leinster’s favour. His resolve to overthrow Irish law & order extended to the Great Books to make way for his planned revolutionary take-over of Ireland. The Book of Leinster’s scribe was commissioned by him. His hand closely resembles the violently interpolating hand of H in other 12th century Annals such as ‘Lebor na hUidhre’. History withered. Pseudo-history prospered under Diarmait. The crude hand of the highly motivated interpolator, H, was rude and violent. Not only single lines, but whole pages have been erased by him (the membrane rubbed down into holes) & leaves intercalated to make way for the particular recensions he favoured. The hand of H appears again as an interpolator in the Annals of Tigernach, in 2 Clonmacnoise manuscripts & in those of Connacht. The Book of Leinster & manuscript material of this period produced substantially altered recensions of archaic history & saga (Táin Bó Cuailgne) redone in a Leinster context, making Tara the Capital of Leinster from time immemorial. It welded Connacht’s Regents, Ailill and Medb, to Leinster genealogy. It pulled the pedestal from under the Ui Neill/Armagh ‘official doctrine’ and created a Leinster layer of pseudo-history that has duped historians.
So much for the 'ecclesiastical primacy'/metropolitan status' of Armagh and the alleged High Kingship of a so-called united Ireland at Tara of Meath from time immemorial associated with it!
Frank Byrne (1990) asked the pertinent question, “Are we so blinded by the myths and half-myths that we can no longer recognise evil” and consequently reap “the harvest of hate”? We must topple the old myths that have lorded over us for too long. We must jettison the useless baggage of a nightmare journey that has led us into the dark tunnel of prejudice, bigotry and murder. Until that day dawns we will remain a petty (pitiful) people blinded by the dust of history and forever clutching at straws.”
This should be essential reading for student and specialist alike in order to counteract all the untold harm and misunderstanding created by Irish pseudo-history. Peace efforts without this historic insight will never succeed since these are approached with diametrically opposed expectations regarding the final outcome based on pseudo-historic misconceptions. Irish society, warped by naked bigoted sectarian hatred, has reaped the opprobrium of civilized society worldwide. Unless knowledge of the genuine pristine history of all Irish peoples, Celtic and Pre-Celtic alike, becomes widespread, as opposed to an enslaving pseudo-history which has brought only blood, death and destruction in its wake, Ireland will never experience true peace. That is, until the slippery slimy serpent of pseudo-history has done its wicked worst, until all Ireland can no longer endure the hurt, until Peace comes riding back on the clouds above. Until then, dare anyone say "Ireland is free!"
O Ireland, if only….
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