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THE HERCULES TOWER.
erected since 1809, and must be of inestimable value to mariners, as it is seen from an immense distance, and marks the common entrance to the harbours of Corunna and Ferrol; but what adds still greater interest to it in the eye of the traveller, is the fact of its enclosing within its massive walls, one of the most interesting monuments of antiquity- the pharos of Hercules, the oldest existing specimen of this kind in Europe, and amongst the very few now any where to be found.
The origin of this (the original tower) and its name are involved in much obscurity. The tradition here is, that it was built by Hercules himself. Humboldt mentions, that Laborde had discovered an inscription near its foundation, stating, that “this pharos was constructed by Caius Severus Lupus, architect of the city of Aqua Flavia (Cheves); and that it was dedicated to Mars. Strabo, indeed, affirms that Galicia, the country of the Galici, had been peopled by Greek colonies. According to an extract from the geographies of Spain, by Asclepiades, the Myrlean, an ancient tradition stated that the companions of .. Hercules settled in these countries." . . .
To the Irish antiquarian this building must be of considerable interest, from its supposed connection with the early history of this country, and its reputed Phænician origin. Since the first edition of this work was published, Sir William Betham has stated, in his Etruria Celtica, that he has discovered references made to this tower in the Eugubian Tables, translated by him into Irish ;—the passage to which he alludes in the seventy-eighth line of Table VI.—“ mi) e tin ar, a thousand from the FIRE steering,” refers, he supposes, “to the ship leaving the coast of Spain for the Turn (Carne), and mentions the fire kept up. on the land for the guidance of mariners; and also in Table VI., line 119, the words tri bri rin e, three mountains there from, point out Cape Ortegal too plainly to be mistaken.” In another place Sir William says, “The name of Corunna, and the Groyne, are both derived from the river on which the town stands, Garonne, or garb abar na, the rough or boisterous river, as the Garonne of France.” Corunna, however, does not stand on any river, and the only one in its neighbourhood is not the Groyne, or Garonne, but the Rio Burgo; the Groyne being a term sometimes applied to this bay.
Again, “there is,” says my friend, “some incongruity be
on the river ugene om boisterous moterstand on
ITS PHENICIAN ORIGIN.
tween the accounts of Mr. Wilde and Laborde. The latter says the light-house is situated upon a very high mountain, a league from the harbour;”” and I have stated its position to be about a mile to the S.W. of the town, on a rock by the water's edge. Any one, however, at all acquainted with the locality knows that there is no such mountain in this vicinity as that described by Laborde, and the position of the Hercules tower can easily be ascertained by referring to any of the Admiralty's charts of the coast; and moreover, a light on "a very high mountain, a league from the harbour,” would be of little service for nautical purposes. The same authority doubts the circumstance of the original Pharos being enclosed within the modern tower. Having, however, communicated on this subject with the British cousul at Corunna, I have just received the most confirmatory proof of the fact, in the two original drawings kindly forwarded to me by him, from which the accompanying 'illustrations have been made.
That to the left represents the old Pharos as it stood in 1797, the date marked on the drawing, under which we find the follow10
THE HERCULES TOWER.
ing inscription : “ Perspectiva que de muestra el estado de la torre antiqua llamada de Hercules quando se emprendio sureedificacion, y revestimiento de canteria por orden del Real consulado du la Coruna,"_“View exhibiting the condition of the ancient tower called Hercules when its rebuilding and facing with cut stone were undertaken by order of the royal consulate of Corunna ;” and beneath this the line—" Fecit Trueva Alumnus Academiæ ex Civitate portus Brigantini, anno, 1797.”*
* “ The most remarkable circumstance attending this tower is the coincidence of an account of its building being preserved in the oldest Irish MSS., and the most remote traditional history of Ireland, which appears to be but an allegorical account of the acts of the Phænicians. The Gadelians are, in Irish history, stated to have migrated over all the known world of the ancients, 'from their original country to Egypt, from thence to Crete, from Crete to Scythia, from thence to Gothia, then to Spain, from thence to Scythia, again to Egypt, then to Thrace, then to Gothia, again to Spain, and then to Ireland.' This apparent rigmarole, in other words means nothing more than that the Celtæ, or Gadelians, carried on commercial navigation to and from all these countries, and eventually found their way to Ireland. This is related by Giolla Keavin, an Irish poet, who lived about A.D. 1072, in a poem called Reim re Riogh, or the Race of Kings.
• Braha the son of worthy Deyaha
“Braha is said to have had a son Breogan, who had a son Galamh, or the victorious, who was afterwards in Irish history called Milespan, or Milesius. It is related of Breogan that he built a watch tower in Galicia in Spain, and that there had been traffic between Spain and Ireland previously to the building of this tower, which was for the purpose of assisting in the intercourse between the two countries. Ith, the son of Breogan, is said to have seen Ireland, like a cloud in a winter's evening, from the top of Breogan's Tower. That is, in inore simple language, he contemplated the direct passage across the sea, even in the winter, by means of the lighthouse erected on the Bri gan, bri, mountain, gan, extreme, or the farthest mountain to the north. Whether there was ever such a man as Breogan, or whether he obtained the name from building the tower, is a question not necessary to inquire into, but the fact of such a tower still existing in this spot, and there being the same tradition its CONNECTION WITH IRELAND.
The height of this tower is about 139 English feet; the architecture bespeaks it of no older period than that of the Romans, and tends to support the view taken of it by Humboldt and Laborde already referred to. The inclined marks on the exterior appear to have been the remains of an external winding stair, although the tower itself was hollow. The right-hand figure exhibits the appearance of the present modern tower, or "facing with cut stone,” that surrounds the antique building, from a sketch made in 1829, and in which the original plan of the pharos is preserved. There can, I think, be little doubt but that the earliest beacon—that mentioned by Sir W.Betham, in the translation of the Etruscan tables and the Irish records—stood likewise upon this spot, which is one of the most valuable and
respecting it in Galicia is a strong corroboration of the truth of the Irish historical tradition.
"In the Annals of the Four Masters is an account of this tower, and also in the Book of Ballymote, in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, is the following passage :
“Baj mac maith ag brath .. breogan aga noernaó tor mbreagan 7 in catair .j. briganoga a hainm a orr breozain .o. 40 ceas crir ifeascur geaimrig J. ojoċe jarna 40 condairc ich mc breogain arıyl ro can gilla caeman in oran.
** Brath had a noble son, viz. Breogan, by whom was built the Tower of Breogan, and the city called Brigandsia. From the tower of Breogan, by the bye, Ireland was beheld, on a winter's evening, namely, on the night of Laman (i. e. All-Hallows.) Ith, the son of Breogan beheld it, as Giolla Caemban has sung :
By him was founded Brigandsia. “ The meaning of the name Brigandsia, is the mountain most remote, bri gand ria, and the founding alluded to the tower, rather than a 12
THE HERCULES TOWER.
most commanding sites for a lighthouse in the world ; and it is of the highest interest to find so much recorded in history and so well established by the actual existence and preservation in situ, of one of the most curious relics of antiquity in Europe.
There are many traditions in this part of Spain about Hercules and his companions; and at Betanzos, a few leagues hence, there is some curious old architecture, and also a museum, where they go so far as to exhibit the very arms of the hero, and the leather money used in his time! There can be no doubt, how. ever, that the Hercules here referred to was the Phænician, and not the Grecian. Orosirus, a writer of the fifth century, gives an account of a very fine column or pharos, which tradition in his day said had been erected by Hercules on the coast of the Celtiberian Galicia, as a guide to ships coming there from Britain. Mr. G. Higgins supposes the town of Corunna took its name from this column, and says, “there is every reason'to believe that the sea coast was possessed by the Sidonian race the whole way from Sidon to Corunna, with the exception perhaps of the Delta of Egypt. Under these circumstances, it is very evident that a voyage to Britain must have been very easy, even
town. The same account is to be found in Leabhar Gabhaltas, or Book of Conquests, a History of Ireland of good reputation. · "The authority of Keating has been so much stigmatised, by the translation pablished by Dermod O'Connor, that I have been unwilling to quote any thing from him, but the original is written in an honest spirit, free from the many absurdities and amplifications of the translator The translation by W. Haliday is much better. Henry O'Hart, a schoolmaster in the county Sligo, about 1686, made a good translation, the original of which is in my possession. The following extract from it shows that he considered Corunna and Breoghain's Tower the same, though Peter Walsh makes it Compostella :
“« Then Lughaigh, the son of Ith, went to Tuir Breoghan, or Corunna, and showed his father's dead body unto the posterity of Breoghain, &c.'
“ Again_ Then they ship themselves at Corunna, or Tuir Breoghain, in Galicia, (leaving Spain among the forraigners, like a boane among a company of quarrelling curres,) and to sea they goe in thirty shippes, each whereof carried thirty valiant men, besides their women, and a number of the vulgar sorte under their forty-nine commanders, viz. eight sons of Breoghain, viz. Breagha, from whom Magh Breaghe, or Meath,” &c. &c.
[Etruria Celtica-Etruscan Literature and Antiquities investigated, by Sir William Betham. 2 vols. 8vo. Dublin, 1842.)