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Himilco in one of the temples of Carthage, and still existed in the fourth century, when Avienus, having access, as he mentions, to the Punic records, collected from thence those curious details which he has preserved in his lambics,* and which furnish by far the most interesting glimpse derived from antiquity of the early condition of Ireland. The Estrumnides, or Scilly Íslands, are described, in this sketch, as two days' sail from the larger Sacred Island, inhabited by the Hiberni; and in the neighbourhood of the latter, the island of the Albiones, it is said, extends. Though the description be somewhat obscure, yet the Celtic names of the two great Islands, and their relative position, as well to the Estrumnides as to each other, leave no doubt as to Britain and Ireland being the two places designated. The commerce carried on by the people of Gades with the Tin Isles is expressly mentioned by the writer, who adds, that " the husbandmen, or planters, of Carthage, as well as her common people, went to those isles,"—thus implying that she had established there a permanent colony.
In this short but circumstantial sketch, the features of Ireland are brought into view far more prominently than those of Britain. After a description of the hide-covered boats, or currachs, in which the inhabitants of those islands navigated their seas, the populousness of the isle of the Hiberni, and the turfy nature of its soil, are commemorated. But the remarkable fact contained in this record—itself of such antiquity—is, that Ireland was then, and had been from ancient times, designated “ The Sacred Island." This reference of the date of her carly renown, to times so remote as to be in Himilco's days ancient, carries the imagination, it must be owned, far back into the depths of the past, yet hardly farther than the steps of history will be found to accompany its fight. "Respecting the period of the expeditions of Hanno and Himilco, the opinions of the learned have differed; and by some their date is referred to so distant a period as 1000 years before the Christian era. I Combining the statement, however, of Pliny, that they took place during the most flourishing epoch of Carthage,with the internal evidence furnished by Hanno's own Periplus, there is no doubt that it was, at least, before the reign of Alex. Ander the Great that these two memorable expeditions occurred. Those "ancients," therefore, from whom the fame of the Sacred Island had been handed down, could have been no other than the Phænicians of Gades, and the Gallician coasts of Spain, who through so many centuries, had reigned alone in those secluded seas, and were the dispensers of religion, as well as of commerce, wherever they bent their course. ||
At how early a period this remarkable people began to spread themselves over the globe, the inscription legible, for many an age, on the two Pillars, near the Fount of the Magi, at Tanglers,—"We fy from the face of Joshua, the robber,”—bore striking testimony. T Nothing, indeed, can mark more vividly the remote date of even the maturity
* "Hæc nos ab imis Punicorum annalibus
Fest. Avienus, de Oris Maritim. It would appear from this, that the records to which Avienus bad access, were written in Punic,-a cir. cumstance which, if true, says Dodwell, would afford a probable reason for the name of Himilco having been so long unknown to the Greeks :-" Ea causa satis verisimilis esse potuit cur tamdiù Græcos lateurit Himilco, etiam eos qui college meminerint Hannonis."-Dissert. de Peripli Hannonis ætate.
[" “ Ast hinc duobus in Sacram, sic Insulam
Dixere prisci, solibus cursus rati est.
Agilans columnas hæc adibant æquora." One of the reasons assigned by Dodwell for rejecting the Periplus of Hanno, as a work fabricated, after his death. by some Sicilian Greek, is the occurrence of Greek names instead of Phænician for the different places mentioned in it. This objection, however, does not apply to the account of Himilco, as reported by Avienus, in which the old names Gadir, Albion, and Bibernia declare sufficiently their Phænician and Celtic original. Speaking of the Argonautics and the record of Himilco, Bishop Stillingfleet says,
" These are undoubted testimonies of the ancient peopling of Ireland, and of far greater authority than those domestic annals now 50 milch extolled. -- Antiquities of the British Churches, c. 5.
| Nous croyons donc, que celte expédition, a du précéder Hesiode de trente ou quarante ans, et qu'on peut la fixer vers mille ans avant l'ère Chrétienne.-Gosselin, Recherches sur la Gcographie des Anciens.
§ Et Hanno, Cartbaginis potentia florente, circumvectus a Gadibus ad finem Arabiæ, navigationem eam prodidit scripto: sicut ad extera Europæ noscenda missus eodem tempore Himilco.- Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. ii. c. 67.
| See, for a learned and luminous view of the relations of ancient Ireland with the East, Lord Rosse's Vindication of the Will of the Rt. Hon. Henry Flood.
Procop. Vandal. lib. 2. c. 10. -Even this is by Bishop Cumberland considered too stinted a range of time for their colonizations. "They seem to me," he says, "to have had much more time to make their planta. tions than that learned man (Bochart) thought of; for, as I understand their bistory, they had time from about Abraham's death, which was about 370 years before Joshua Invaded Canaan, from which Bochart begins."--Notes on the Synchronism of Canaan and Egypt.
of their empire, than the impressive fact, that the famed temple which they raised, at Gades, to their Hercules, was, in the time of the Romans, one of the inost memorable remains of ancient days.* Not to go back, however, as far as the period, little less than 1500 years before our era, when their colonies first began to swarm over the waters, we need but take their most prosperous epoch, which commenced with the reign of Solomon, and supposing their sails to have then first reached the Atlantic, the date of the probable colonization of that region must still be fixed high iu time. In the days of Herodotus, by whom first vaguely, and without any certain knowledge of a sea beyond the Straits, the importation of tin from the Cassiterides is mentioned, it is hardly too much to assume that the Phænicians had, for some time, formed a settlement in these islands. That they must have had a factory here is pretty generally conceded :t but a people, whose system it was to make colonization the basis of their power, were assuredly not likely to have left a position of such immense commercial importance unoccupied; and the policy, first taught by them to trading nations, of extending the circle of their customers by means of colonies, was shown in the barter, which they thenceforward maintained with the British Isles—exchanging their own earthen vessels, salt, and brass, for the tin, lead, and skios produced in these islands. I
There are grounds for believing, also, that to the Phænicians, and consequently to the Greeks, Ireland was known, if not earlier, at least more intimately, than Britain. have seen that, in the ancient Poem called the “ Argonautics,” supposed to have been written in the time of the Pisistratidæ, and by a poet instructed, it is thought, from Phenician sources, Ierne alone is mentioned, without any allusion whatever to Britain ; and in the record preserved by Himilco's voyage to these seas, while the characteristic features of the Sacred Isle are dwelt upon with some minuteness, a single line alone is allotted to the mere geographical statement that in her neighbourhood the Island of the Albiones extends.
Another proof of the earlier intimacy which the Phænician Spaniards maintained with Ireland, is to be found in the Geography of Plolemy, who wrote at the beginning of the second century, and derived chiefly, it is known, from Phænician authorities, his information respecting these islands. For while, in describing the places of Britain, more especially of its northern portion, this geographer has fallen into the grossest errors,— placing the Mull of Galloway to the north, and Cape Orcas or Dunsby Head to the eastell-in his account of Ireland, on the contrary, situated as she then was beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire, and hardly known within that circle to exist, he has shown considerable accuracy, not only with respect to the shores and promontories of the island, but in most of his details of the interior of the country, its various cities and tribes, lakes, rivers, and boundaries. It is worthy of remark, too, that while of the towns and places of Britain he has in general given but the new Roman names, those of Ireland still bear on his map their old Celtic titles; the city Hybernis still tells a tale of far distant times, and the Sacred Promontory, now known by the name of Carnsore Point, transports our imagination back to the old Phænician days.** When it is considered that Ptolemy, or rather Marinus of Tyre, the writer, whose steps he implicitly followed, is believed to have founded his geographical descriptions and maps on an ancient Tyrian Atlas,* this want of aboriginal names for the cities and places of Britain, and their predominance in the map of Ireland, prove how much more anciently and intimately the latter island must have been known to the geographers of Tyre than the former.
* Diodor. Sicul, lib. iv.
“ During this commerce, it can scarce be doubted that there might be established, on the different coasts, factories for the greater convenience of trading with the natives for skins, furs tín, and such other commodities as the respective countries then produced.”-Beauford, Druidism Revived, Collect. Hib. No. VII.
1 Μεταλλα δε εχοντες κατσιτερου και κολυβδου, κερα»ον αντι τουτων και των δερηστων διαλλαττονται, και αλας, και χαλκωφατα προς τους εκπορους.-Strab. Geograph. lib. iii.
$ It may appear inconsistent with the claim of Ireland to priority of reputation, that the whole of the Cassiterides were, in those days, called the Britannic Isles,-a circumstance which, taken as implying that the others had derived their litle from Britain, and had so far merged their reputation in bers, would doubtless indicate so far a pre-eminence on ber part. The name Britannia, however, which, in Celtic, means a land of metals, was applied generically to the whole cluster of the T'in Isles,-the Isle of Man and those of Scilly included, -and being, iherefore, a title common to all, could not imply. in itself, any superiority of one over anotber. Whether tin has been ever found in Ireland is doubtful; but lead mines, which were, at least, equally a source of lucre to the Phænicians, have been, not long since, discovered and worked.
I By an error in the geographical or astronomical observations preserved by Ftolemy, the latitudes north of this point (the Novantum Chersonesus, or Rens of Galloway) appear to have been mistaken for the longitudes, and consequently this part of Britain is thrown to the east."-Notes on Richard of Cirencester.
T " Ireland plainly preserves, in her topography, a much greater proportion of Celtic names than the map of any other country."-Chalmer's Caledonia, vol. i. book i chap. i.
* In the remote ages of Phænician commerce, all the western and south-western promontories of Europe were consecrated by the erection of pillars or ternples, and by religious names of Celiic and primæval anii. quity: this is expressly stated by Strabo. These sacred headlands multiplied in proportion as new discove. ries were made along the coasts."--Letters of Columbarus, by O'Connor, Letter Third. The learned writer adds in a note: _"The Sacrum Promontorium, or south western headland of Iberia Antiqua, was Cape St. Vincent. That of Ireland was Carne-soir point, as stated by Ptolemy." This headland of Carnsore would be the first to meet the eyes of the Phænician navigators in their way from Cornwall to Ireland.
But even this proof of her earlier intercourse with that people and their colonies, and her proportionate advance in the career of civilization, is hardly more strong than the remarkable testimony, to the same effect, of Tacitus, by whoin it is declared that, at the time when he wrote, “the waters and harbours of Ireland were better known, through the resort of commerce and navigators, than those of Britain.”+ From this it appears that, though scarce heard of, till within a short period, by the Romans, and almost as strange to the Greeks, this sequestered island was yet in possession of channels of intercourse distinct from either; and that while the Britons, shut out from the Continent by their Roman masters, saw themselves deprived of all that profitable intercourse which they had long maintained with the Vencti, and other people of Gaul, Ireland still continued to cultivate her old relations with Spain, and saw her barks venturing on their accustomed course, between the Celtic Cape and the Sacred Promontory, as they had done for centuries before.
Combining these proofs of an early intercourse between Ireland and the Phænician Spaniards, with the title of Sacred bestowed on this island in far distant times, it can hardly be doubted, that her pre-eminence in religion was the chief source of this distinction; and that she was, in all probability, the chosen depository of the Phænician worship in these seas. By the epithet Sacred, applied to a people among the ancients, it was always understood that there belonged to them some religious or sacerdotal character. In this sense it was, that the Argippæi, mentioned by Herodotus,were called a Holy People; and the claim of Ireland to such a designation was doubtless of the same venerable kind. It has been conjectured, not without strong grounds of probability, that it was a part of the policy of the Phænician priesthood to send out missions to their distant colonies, on much the same plan as that of the Jesuits at Paraguay, for the purpose of extending their spiritual power over those regions of which their merchants had possessed themselves ; and it is by no means unlikely that the title of Sacred, bestowed thus early upon Ireland, may have arisen from her having been chosen as the chief seat of such a mission.
The fact, that there existed an island devoted to religious rites in these regions, has been intimated by almost all the Greek writers who have treated of them; and the posi. tion, in every instance, assigned to it, answers perfectly to that of Ireland. By Plutarch) it is stated, that an envoy despatched by the Emperor Claudius to explore the British Isles, found on an island, in the neighbourhood of Britain, an order of Magi accounted holy by the people: and, in another work of the same writer, T some fabulous wonders are related of an island lying to the west of Britain, the inhabitants of which were a holy race; while, at the same time, a connexion between them and Carthage is indistinctly intimated. Diodorus Siculus also gives an account, on the authority of some ancient writers, of an island** situated, as he says, " over against Gaul;" and which, from its position and size, the rites of sun-worship practised by its people, their Round Temple, iheir study of the heavens, and the skill of their musicians on the harp, might sufficiently warrant the assumption that Ireland was the island so characterized, did not the too fanciful colouring of the whole description rather disqualify it for the purposes of sober testimony, and incline us to rank this Hyperborean island of the historian along with his Isle of Panchæa and other such fabulous marvels. At the same time, nothing is more probable, than that the vague, glimmering knowledge which the Greeks caught up occasionally frorn Phænician merchants, respecting the sun-worship and science of the Sacred Island, lerne, should have furnished the writers referred to by Diodorus with the groundwork of this fanciful tale. The size attributed to the island, which is described as “not less than Sicily," is, among the many coincidences with Ireland, not the least striking; and, with respect to its position and name, we find, that so late as the time of the poet Claudian, the Scoti or Irish were represented as in the immediate neighbourhood of the Hyperborean Seas.
* “It has been shown by Bremer (De Fontibus Geographorum Ptolemæi, &c.,) a writer quoted by IIeeren, "that Ptolemy's work itself, as well as the accompanying charts, usually attributed to a certain Agatho. dæmon, who lived at Alexandria in the fifth century, were, in reality, derived from Phænician or Tyrian sources;-in other words, that Ptolemy, or, more properly speaking, Marinus of 'Tyre, who lived but a short time before him, and whose work he only corrected, must have founded his geographical descriptions and maps on an ancient Tyrian Atlas."-See Heeren's Historical Researches, vol. iii. Append. C.
"Melius aditus portusque, per coinmercia et negociatores, cogniti."--Tacit. Agricol. c. 24. An attempt has been made, by some of the commentators, to deprive Ireland of most of the advantages of this testimony, by the suggestion of a new and barbarous reading, which transfers the word melius" to the preceding sentence, and is not less unjust to the elegant Latinity of the historian, than to the ancient claims of the country of which he treats. It is, however, gratifying to observe that, in spite of this effort, the old reading in general maintains its ground; though, with a feeling but too characteristic of a certain class of Irishinen, Arthur Murphy has, in his translation, adopted the new one. 1 Lib. ii.
"I believe it will be found that many of their regular priests, the Magi, or Gours, did (as the regulars of modern times and religions have done) settle inissions amongst the nations in those mosi distant parts."Wise's Inquiries concerning the First Inhabitants, Language. fc. of Europe. Sir Isaac Newton, too, as quoted by Pownall, says, “ With these Phænicians came a sort of men skilled in religious mysteries." || In Nimâ.
1 De Fac. in Orb. Lunæ. “Marcellus, who wrote a history of Ethiopian affairs, says, that such and so great an island (the Atalantis) once existed, is evinced by those who composed histories of things relative to the external sea. For they relate that, in those times, there were seven islands in the Atlantic Sea sacred to Proserpine."- Proclus on the Timaus. quoted in Clarke's Maritime Discoveries.!
See, for the traditions in India respecting the White Island of the West, Asiastic Transactions, vol. ii. "Hiran'ya and Su-varn'eya (says Major Wilford) are obviously the same with Erin and Juvernia,or Ireland. Another name for it is Surya-Dwipa, or the Island of the Sun, and it is probably the old Garden of Phæbus of tho western mythologists."-Essay on the Sacred Isles in the West.
** This island has been claimed on the part of several countries. The editor of Diodorus, in a short note on his Index, suggests that it may have been meant for Britain :-" Vide num de Anglia intelligi queat."
But the fragment of antiquity the most valuable for the light it throws upon this point, is that extracted from an ancient geographer, by Strabo, in which we are told of an island near Britain, where sacrifices were offered to Ceres and Proserpine, in the same manner as at Samothrace. From time immemorial, the small Isle of Samothrace, in the Ægean, was a favourite seat of idolatrous worship and resort; and on its shores the Cabiric Mysteries had been established by the Phænicians. These rites were dedicated to the deities who presided over navigation;and it was usual for mariners to stop at this island on their way to distant seas, and offer up a prayer at its shrines for propitious winds and skies. From the words of the geographer quoted by Strabo, combined with all the other evidence adduced, it may be inferred that Ireland had become the Samothrace, as it were, of the western seas; that thither the ancient Cabiric gods had been wafted by the early colonizers of that region ;8 and that, as the mariner used on his departure from the Mediterranean to breathe a prayer in the Sacred Island of the East, so, in the seas beyond the Pillars, he found another Sacred Island, where to the same tutelary deities of the deep his vows and thanks were offered on his safe arrival.
In addition to all this confluence of evidence from high authentic sources, we have likewise the traditions of Ireland herself,-pointing invariably in the same eastern direction,-her monuments, the names of her promontories and hills, her old usages and rites, all bearing indelibly the same oriental stamp. In speaking of traditions, I mean not the fables wbich may in later times have been grafted upon them; but those old, popular remembrances, transmitted from age to age, which, in all countries, furnish a track for the first footsteps of history, when cleared of those idle weeds of fiction by which in time they become overgrown.
According to Strabo, it was chiefly from Gades that the Phænicians fitted out their expeditions to the British Isles; but the traditions of the Irish look to Gallicia as the quarter from whence their colonies sailed, and vestiges of intercourse between that part of Spain and Ireland may be traced far into past times. The traditionary history of the latter country gives an account of an ancient Pharos, or light-house, erected in the neighbourhood of the port now called Corunna, for the use of navigators on their passage between that coast and Ireland ;ll and the names of the tribes marked by Ptolemy, as Rowland insists it can be no other than his own Isle of Anglesea ; while 'Toland fixes its site in the Western Isles of Scotland; and the great Swedish scholar Rudbeck, places it boldly in the peninsula of Scandinavia.
* Scotumque vago mucrone secutus
Fregit Hyperboreas remis audacibus undas.
1 Φησιν είναι νησον προσ τη Βρεττανικη, καθ' ην ομοια τους εν Σαμοθρακη τερι την Δημητραν και την Kogne se QOTOISITOS, lib. iv.
| L'ile de Samothrace acquit une grande célébrité chez toutes les nations maritimes, par la réputation qu'elle avoit d'être consacrées spécialement aux Divinités tutélaires des navigateurs. On alloit y prier les Dieux d'accorder des vents favourables, et solliciter des apparitions ou Epiphanies des Dioscurés."- Dupuis, Orig. de tous les Cultes, tom iv. première partie. See, for the appearance of these twin stars, or fires, to Orpheus and his Argonautic companions at Samothrace, Diodorus, lib. 4. In some of the old Irish tradi: tions, those African sea-rovers, called Fomorians, who are said to have visited these shores in ancient times, are represented as worshipping certain stars, wbich had “ derived a power from the God of the Sea." _See Keating, p. 87.
"That the Atlantian, or Cabiric, superstition prevailed in Ireland, there cannot be a doubt."- Rev. G. L. Faber, On the Cabiric Mysteries, vol. ii.
De III. Cons. Honor. v. 55.
| There is a remarkable coincidence between this tradition and an account given by Æthicus, the cosmo. grapher, of a lofty Pharos, or light house, standing formerly on the sea.coast of Gallicia, and serving as a beacon in the direction of Britain :-"Secundus angulus intendit, ubi Brigantia Civitas sita est Gallece, et altissimum Pharum, et inter pauca memorandi operis ad speculam Britanniæ." have given of the last three words of this passage convey their real meaning, I know not ; but they have heen hitherto pronounced unintelligible. The passage is thus noticed by Casaubon, in a note on Straho, lib. 3:-"Æthícus in Hispaniæ descriptione altissimi cujusdam Fari meminit."
Whether the translation I
inhabiting those parts of the Irish coast facing Gallicia, prove that there was a large infusion of Spanish population from that quarter.
So irresistible, indeed, is the force of tradition, in favour of a Spanish colonization, that every new propounder of an hypothesis on the subject is forced to admit this event as part of his scheme. Thus, Buchanan, in supposing colonies to have passed from Gaul to Ireland, contrives to carry them first to the west of Spain;* and the learned Welsh antiquary, Lhuyd, who traces the origin of the Irish to two distinct sources, admits one of those primitive sources to have been Spanish.f. In the same manner, a late writer, who, on account of the remarkable similarity which exists between his country's Round Towers and the Pillar-temples of Mazanderan, deduces the origin of the Irish nation from the banks of the Caspian, yields so far to the current of ancient tradition, as, in conducting his colony from Iran to the West, to give it Spain for a resting-place. Even Innes, s one of the most acute of those writers who have combated the Milesian preten. sions of the Irish, yet bows to the universal voice of tradition in that country, which, as be says, peremptorily declares in favour of a colonization from Spain.
ANTIQUITY OF THE IRISH PEOPLE.
In those parts of the Spanish coasts with which the Irish were early conversant, the Phænicians became intermixed with the original race, or Celts; and it would appear, from the mixed character of her ancient religion, that Ireland was also peopled from the same compound source.
The religion the Celts brought with them to this island, was the same, we may take for granted, with that which their kindred tribes introduced into Spain, Britain, and Gaul. That corruption of the primitive modes of adoration into which the Canaanites early lapsed, by converting into idols the rude stones and pillars set up by their fathers but as sacred memorials, and transferring to inanimate symbols of the Deity the veneration due only to himself-this most ancient superstition of which the annals of human faith bear record, is still traceable in the old traditions and monuments of Ireland. The sacred grove and well-the circle of erect stones surrounding either the altar or the judgmentseat-the hewn pillars, adored, as symbols of the Sun, by the Phænicians—the sacred heaps, or Carnes, dedicated to the same primitive worship—the tomb-altars, called Cromlech, supposed to have been places as well of sepulture as of sacrifice—and, lastly, those horrible rites in which children were the “burnt offerings," which the Jewish idolators perpetrated in a place called from thence the Valley of Shrieking,ll while, in Ireland, the scene of these frightful immolations borc the name of Magh-Sleacth, or the Place of
The opinion of Buchanan on the point will be found worthy of attention. “It is," he says, "an unvarying tradition, and with many marks of truth to confirm it, inat a multitude of Spaniards, whether driven from their homes by the more powerful among their fellow.countrymen, or, on account of the increase of population, emigrating of themselves, did pass over into Ireland, and take possession of the places neigh. bouring to that island." He adds farı her: "It is not probable that the Spaniards, leaving Ireland at their backs,-a country nearer to them, and of a milder temperature,--should have landed first in Albyn ; but rather that, first making their descent on Hibernia, they should afterwards have sent colonies to Britain.”Lib. ii. c. 17.
| Preface to his Glossography.-In one of his letters to Mr. Rowland, Lhuyd says, in speaking of the Irish, "For, notwithstanding Their histories (as those of the origin of other nations) be involved in fabulous accounts, yet that there came a Spanish colony into Ireland is very manifest.” O'Brien, also, in the Preface to his Dictionary, follows the same views : -" The fact of the old Spanish language having been brought very anciently into Ireland is not the less certain, and that by a colony of the old Spaniards, who co.inha. bited with the Gadelians."
| Popular History of Ireland, by Mr. Whitty, part i.
8 " Since the Irish tradition will absolutely have the inhabitants of that country come from Spain."Critcal Essay, vol. ii. dissert. i. chap. 3. A no less determined opponent of the Milesian history, though far inferior to innes in learning and sagacity, concedes, also, on this point to traditional authority. * At the same time, still farther be it from me to deny my assent to the tradition that a people, coming last from Spain, did settle here at a very early period." --Cambell's Slrictures on the Ecclesiastical and Literary History of Ireland, sect. 4.
| Jeremiah, vii. 31, 32. This valley was also named Tophet, from the practice of beating the drums, during the ceremony, to drown the cries of the children sacriticed in the fire to Moloch.