After the Flood, by Bill Cooper
'The Scots (originally Irish, but by now Scotch) were at this time inhabiting Ireland, having driven the Irish (Picts) out of Scotland; while the Picts (originally Scots) were now Irish...and vice versa. It is essential to keep these distinctions clearly in mind' (1)
When Sellar and Yeatman penned these satirical words on the history of the Irish (and Scots), they were not entirely joking. The early history of Ireland, any single clear fact of which is virtually untaught in England's schools and colleges (and in Ireland's too, I suspect), has lain under a cloak of almost inextricable confusion since Victorian times. And on those rare occasions when the subject is broached at all, it is invariably broached at that point in history that gave rise to the hilarious misunderstanding quoted above, the so-called Dark Ages. The student will be taught nothing concerning the chronicles and genealogies that have survived from the very earliest times. Irish history before the Saxon period, is given only in terms with which we are already familiar from the history of the early Britons and the Saxons, where we hear of this culture or that method of farming, this particular stone age or that particular glacial period, but where no attempt is made to give an account of the individuals of early Ireland whose names and deeds appear in such great abundance in the early Irish chronicles. Nor is any account given of the surprisingly detailed chronology that the pagan scholars of Ireland were careful to weave into their histories. By this stage in our enquiry, it is perhaps superfluous to ask why this should be. So we shall concentrate our attention on what exactly it is that the early Irish records reveal.
The records in which early Irish history has been preserved have been masterfully summarised by the scholar nun Cusack, (2) and for her history she drew upon an extensive number of manuscripts, many of which were known to her under such evocative names as The Book of Leinster (written ca AD 1130, and copied from the much older Saltair [Psalter] of Cashel); the Book of Ballymote (AD 1390); and the Annals of the Four Masters. But there are two others that received special mention, and they are the Chronicum Scotorum, and the even more important (because much earlier) Cin of Drom Snechta.
The Cin of Drom Snechta, otherwise known as The Book of Invasions, is now lost by all accounts, (3) but its contents were preserved by Keating, the Irish historian who wrote his own History from this and many other early manuscripts in about AD 1630. (4) The importance of the Cin of Drom Snechta, however, lies in the very early date of its compilation, concerning which a note in the 12th century Book of Leinster tells us:
'Ernîn, son of Duach, that is son of the King of Connacht...it was he that collected the Genealogies and Histories of the men of Erinn in one book, that is, the Cin of Drom Snechta.' (5)
The importance of this passage lies in the fact that Duach is known to have died in the year AD 365,6 which places Ernîn's gathering of the material well before the coming to Ireland of St Patrick (whose mission to Ireland took place in ca AD 432) and the later Christian monks whose sole business, some would have us believe, was to forge fake histories for the early nations of western Europe. Cusack provides further information from the Book of Leinster on another of these early chronicles inasmuch as the contents of the Cuilmenn (see Note 3 at the end of the chapter) were almost forgotten by as early as AD 580, showing that by that year it was already of great antiquity. (7)
Regarding the material of these early chronicles, however, whose contents were already of great age by the time Ernîn copied them down, Keating writes:
'We will set down here the branching off of the races of Magog, according to the Book of Invasions (of Ireland), which was called the Cin of Drom Snechta...' (8)
There later follows a succession of strange and ancient names, of which the table of descent that opens this chapter is a somewhat simplified extract. The important thing for us to notice in this table of descent, though, is the unequivocal statement that the decidedly pagan Irish traced their origins back to the biblical patriarch, Magog, the son of Japheth. This is in direct contrast to the claims of the Britons and other European nations, whose genealogies were traced back to Javan, another son of Japheth. Now, Magog, as we shall see in Appendix 3, was considered, with Ashchenaz, the father of the Scythian peoples, and the early Irish chroniclers were most emphatic in their insistence that the Irish were of Scythian stock. And there is good etymological evidence for this. The Irish were long referred to as Scots even before some of them migrated to the country that today bears their name, and as Brewer tells us:
'Scot (is) the same as Scythian in etymology; the root of both is Sct. The Greeks had no c, and would change t into th making the root skth, and by adding a phonetic vowel we get Skuthai (Scythians), and Skodiai (Skoths). The Welsh disliked s at the beginning of a word, and would change it to ys; they would also change c or k to g, and th to d; whence the Welsh root would be Ysgd, and Skuth or Skoth would become ysgod. Once more, the Saxons would cut off the Welsh y, and change the g back again to c, and the d to t, converting the Ysgod to Scot.'
It would be no strange thing to find Scythian peoples as far west as Ireland. After all, the land in Asia Minor known of old as Galatia, was populated by a migrating colony of Gallic Celts from whom the country got its name. St Paul wrote his famous epistle to their descendants. Many other examples from history are known of nations seemingly popping up in places where one would normally not expect to find them, so it requires no great stretch of the imagination to accept what the early Irish chroniclers so often insisted upon, namely their descent from the Scythian races.
But it is at this stage that we must notice those four particular patriarchs whose names we have already noted in the Table of European Nations passed down to us by Nennius. There we encountered the names of Baath, Iobaath, Izrau and Esra. And we see precisely the same names (allowing for linguistic variation) emerging from the early Irish genealogy, where they are rendered Baath, Jobbath, Easru and Sru. Now, it is known amongst archaeologists and ethnologists that the early Britons and many of the ancient peoples of Europe were Celts as were the early Irish. (The Saxons were not Celts. Hence the absence of these patriarchal names from the Saxon pedigree.) And this is known purely from archaeological evidence, without any reference whatever to these genealogies. Indeed, most modern scholars within these disciplines would scorn such a reference. So how do we account for the presence of these names in such diverse genealogies as the early British and the Irish?
There is one discrepancy. Nennius' Table of European Nations traces the descent of these four patriarchs from Javan, whereas the Irish genealogy traces them from Magog. Which is right? They both are. The discrepancy is explained by the fact that there was certainly a mixing of the various patriarchal lines before Babel. It was only after Babel that the nations were separated. From this moment in time, the pedigrees branched away from each other in a markedly emphatic way. But previously the families of mankind were uniting into a single people, which was their expressed intent of course, (10) and the dispersal of the nations as recorded in the Genesis account happened for the precise purpose of preventing this process of unification. Interestingly, the dispersal is depicted in Genesis as having occurred in the fifth generation after the Flood, and we note in these ancient genealogies that after the fifth generation the Irish and continental pedigrees diverge in a most pointed way in exact accordance with the Genesis account. The four patriarchs noted, then, were clearly the pre-Babel founders of both the British and the Irish Celts, which should give us some idea of the extreme antiquity of some of the material that is to be found in the early pagan Irish chronicles and Nennius' Table of European Nations.
The appearance of these names, however, may also go some way towards explaining another historical mystery, namely the origins of royalty, and the concept of hereditary royal families. The fact that all the royal families of Europe were, and indeed still are, interrelated is something that is accepted and well known. But what was the origin of these families (or rather this original family) who have always insisted that they were set above the common herd and entitled to rule their fellow man by a sort of divine right, a claim that cost Charles I of England, and the royal families of France and Russia, their very lives. Clearly, it was not a concept that was just thought up one day. Indeed, the aforementioned royal families took it so seriously that they pursued their right to the death. Rather, it has its roots right back in the very dawn of history, and was such an anciently established concept that the early Israelites felt somehow excluded from the rest of humanity because they did not have a royal family of their own. (11) So, were Baath, Iobaath, Izrau and Ezra the original stock from which the later royal families of Europe are descended? It would certainly seem to point in that direction. And what of Iobaath? Did his name become enshrined elsewhere in early European thought as Father Jove? It is all very intriguing.
The very notion of kingship was itself a decidedly pagan concept, where in Assyria, for example, the king was deemed to rule as a representative of the national god, the biblical Asshur, Assyria's founder, and in Egypt where the king was deemed to actually be a god himself, (12) as later were the Roman Caesars. This is what marked the Israelites' cry for a king to rule over them as a cry of apostasy. So it would seem that the concept of royalty and of a privileged status of divinely ordered nations with royal family whose rule was to embrace many. This belief originated initially amongst the pre-Babel patriarchs such as those noted above in the Irish and British genealogies, and was nurtured and developed as a unifying principle within and amongst the dispersed pagan societies. This would, of course, have been an act of open defiance towards God, and an attempt to repair or perhaps exploit the damage that was inflicted against a unifying of mankind at Babel.
Of further interest to us, however, is the pagan memory revealed in the early Irish chronicles, of the Creation and the Flood. These were remembered by the Irish as relatively recent and definitely historical events. Moreover, they reckoned the dates of other subsequent and successive historical events by counting the years since the Creation, and this is examined more closely in the following chapter. But for the moment, we need note only that, according to this chronology, the first colonisation of Ireland seems to have taken place ca 1484 BC (the 2520th year after the Creation). (13)
It was the colony led by one Partholan, which landed in the estuary of the river Kenmare. Partholan himself was to die thirty years later in about 1454 BC or Anno Mundi [the year of the world] 2550. Some three hundred years later, it is recorded that the colony was wiped out by a plague, 9000 men, women and children dying in one week alone. The name of the area in which they had settled was later called Tallaght, denoting a place where plague victims lie buried, and it is interesting to note that it is still littered with ancient burial mounds today. (14)
Of added interest are certain details that have been handed down to us by Geoffrey of Monmouth. (15) We are told by him how Partholan's colony consisted of thirty ships. Interestingly, Nennius makes no mention of the number of ships, but does tell us that the colony consisted of 1000 souls, which indicates that he and Geoffrey were working from different sources. (16) However, Geoffrey also tells us that the colony had recently. been expelled from the Spanish mainland, and moreover that they were called 'Basclenses', or Basques. Now, we know that the present-day Basques of northern Spain are of an entirely mysterious origin, and we also know that they speak a language that is quite unrelated to any known Indo-European tongue. In which context, it is interesting to note what Professor Mackie has written concerning the language of the early Picts who had more than a passing influence on both the early and later history of the Irish:
'The Picts certainly used a form of P-Celtic (the mother of Welsh, Cornish and Breton), with traces of Gaulish forms. However, it is clear, from the few scraps of evidence which survive, that the Picts also used another language, probably unrelated to any "Indo-European" tongue and therefore so different from modern European languages as to be incomprehensible to us.' (17)
Presumably, this information would not have been available to that allegedly incorrigible forger, Geoffrey of Monmouth, but it is instinctive to compare Mackie's remarks with a comment by Cusack, when she says:
'...those who have maintained the theory of a Gaulish colonisation of Ireland, have been obliged to make Spain the point of embarkation.' (18)
The next recorded invasion (or settlement) of Ireland took place, according to the chronicles, in Anno Mundi 2859, or ca 1145 BC in our terms. This colony was led by Nemedius (see genealogy), or Nemedh, and it is recorded that the people of Nemedh were credited with having built certain types of fort as well as clearing the land for a particular method of cultivation. A later outbreak of plague took its toll on the population, the remainder of whom are recorded as having fought off an invasion of Ireland by the Formorians, who, according to the Annals of Clonmacnois:
'...were a sept descended from Chain (i.e. Ham), the son of Noeh, ...(who) ...lived by pyracie and spoile of other nations, and were in those days very troublesome to the whole world.' (19)
This is of particular interest to us, as we know from the chronicles of the early Britons that the British mainland was at this time being settled by Brutus and his people in ca 1104 BC according to the British chronology. Now, although Brutus is said to have been the first coloniser of Britain, the chronicles do emphatically state that he had to displace an indigenous race of 'giants'. (20) Whether physical giantism is here intended cannot be certainly resolved, as the early British word 'gawr' (like the Hebrew gibbor) could mean simply a great warrior as well as a giant man. But we do know from the biblical record that giantism was a particular physical trait amongst certain of Ham's descendants, Goliath of Gath being the best known example, (21) which lends both the British and Irish accounts a degree of hitherto unsuspected corroboration. The Formorians, it seems, were the displaced natives of Britain who were trying to seek a foothold on the Irish mainland only to be repelled by the Nemedians, thereafter having to live, like many other displaced peoples, by scavenging and piracy.
After the repulsion of the Formorians, the few Nemedian survivors settled further inland, presumably for safety while they consolidated their numbers. They are then recorded as subsequently dividing themselves into three 'bands', each with their respective leaders. One of these groups migrated to northern Europe, where they founded a nation known later to the Irish as the Tuatha de Danann. A second group settled, intriguingly, in the northernmost parts of Britain, apparently the first Pictish settlement of what is now Scotland. This settlement of Picts from 'Scythia' (so states the British record--note etymological derivation given above of Scot from Scythian) into Albany, is recalled in the early British chronicles as having taken place under the Pictish king Soderic. The British chronology seems to have slipped somewhat at this point, but the event is real enough and accurately portrayed. (22)
The third group are named as the Firbolgs, who migrated to Greece and then returned to Ireland which they subsequently divided up into five provinces. However, in Anno Mundi 3303, or ca. 701 BC in our terms, the Firbolgs were subdued in their turn by the returning colony of Tuatha de Danaun.
The last colonisation of Ireland is then recorded under Anno Mundi 3500 (i.e. ca 504 BC):
'The fleet of the sons of Milidh came to Ireland at the end of this year, to take it from the Tuatha de Danann, and they fought the battle of Sliabh Mis with them on the third day after landing.' (23)
The children of Milidh, known to us as the Milesians, had landed unobserved in the mouth of the river Slaney in what is today the county of Wexford, from where they marched to Tara, the central seat of government. The word Milesian is still used (though with increasing rarity) to denote the Irish people themselves, or things pertaining to Ireland. And of further interest to our enquiry is the fact that the Milesians were newly arrived (via the Spanish peninsula) from the city of Miletus, whose ruins still stand on the Turkish mainland, and which was finally destroyed by the Persian army in the year 494 BC. Given that the Irish records state ca 504 BC for the landing of the Milesian colony in Ireland, this is a spontaneous and unexpected chronological correlation that is close enough to give us serious pause for thought. For there's many an Egyptologist who wishes that he could get that close with Egyptian chronology!
The lives of the people of Miletus had been made precarious for decades prior to the fall of their city due to the increasingly threatening ambitions of the Persian army, and nothing would have been more natural than that a colony of Milesians should decide to flee in search of a safe haven. They would seek a land that was sufficiently far away to be safe, was fertile, and which was well known to the Phoenician mariners of the eastern Mediterranean, as was Ireland. And that the city of Miletus should also be known to us as an Ionian outpost whose population consisted of, amongst other races, Scythians and Phoenicians, tells us that we should take the claims of the early Irish chroniclers very seriously indeed.
Moreover, with regard to the equally often stated Phoenician element of Irish descent, we should also note that the ancient Greeks once held that Phoenicia was founded by one Phoenix, whose brother Cadmus had invented the alphabet. Likewise, the early Irish recalled the time when they lived under a king named...Phenius, 'who devoted himself especially to the study of languages, and composed an alphabet and the elements of grammar.' (24) So it is clear that at the very least, the early Irish chroniclers were passing on an account, albeit garbled in places, of authentic historical events and personages, and of the equally historic descent of their own race from Phoenician and Scythian stock. And on the subject of that descent, Cusack adds yet again to our store of knowledge:
'As the Milesians were the last of the ancient colonists ... only their genealogies, with a few exceptions, have been preserved. The genealogical tree begins, therefore, with the brothers Eber and Eremon, the two surviving leaders of the expedition, whose ancestors are traced back to Magog, the son of Japhet. The great southern chieftains, such as the MacCarthys and O'Briens, claim descent from Eber; the northern families of O'Connor, O'Donnell, and O'Neill, claim Eremon as their head. There are also other families claiming descent from Emer, the son of Ir, brother to Eber and Eremon; as also from their cousin Lugaidh, the son of Ith. From these four sources the principle Celtic families of Ireland have sprung...' (25)
As we see in the genealogy, Eber and Eremon were able to trace their own descent from Gadelas, the father of the Gaels and the Gaelic languages, but just how seriously did the early Irish take the question of pedigree? Were they serious enough to take the trouble to keep accurate records over long periods of time? Once more, Cusack answers the question for us:
'The Books of Genealogies and Pedigrees form a most important element in Irish pagan history. For social and political reasons, the Irish Celt preserved his genealogical tree with scrupulous precision. The rights of property and the governing power were transmitted with patriarchal exactitude on strict claims of primogeniture, which claims could only be refused under certain conditions defined by law ... and in obedience to an ancient law, established long before the introduction of Christianity, all the provincial records, as well as those of the various chieftains, were required to be furnished every third year to the convocation at Tara, where they were compared and corrected.' (26) (Emphasis mine)
As in the case of the Norwegian and Danish Vikings (see previous chapter), it is easy to state, as many modernist articles do on the subject, that these patriarchal genealogies were hiked. But it is impossible to imagine this happening when we consider the natural temperament of these various peoples and the gravity with which they viewed the importance of the records that contained the detailed accounts of their own patriarchal descent. It is impossible to see how anyone could have deliberately or even accidentally contrived even a minor alteration to their pedigree without everyone else becoming immediately aware of the fact, and to imagine an alteration on the scale of that required to give substance to the modernist scenario of things, would bring us firmly into the realms of fantasy. Historically, the modernist view on this simply cannot be justified. Such an attempt at fraud or forgery would have brought the full force of the law, or rather the more immediate remedy of someone's sword, crashing down upon the culprit's head. These records may be relied upon, therefore, to be as accurate as any record can be.
1. Sellar and Yeatman, 1066 And All That, Penguin, 1962. p. 13.
2. Cusack, M.F., The Illustrated History of Ireland, 1868. Published in facsimile by Bracken Books, London. 1987.
3. Cusack tells us which Irish MSS were lost by her own day, and those which had survived. Those lost are: The Cuilmenn; the Saltair of Tara; The Book of the Uachongbhail; the Cin of Drom Snechta; and the Saltair of Cashel. Those surviving include: The Annals of Tighernach; The Annals of Ulster; The Annals of Inis Mac Nerinn; The Annals of Innisfallen; The Annals of Boyle; the Chronicum Scotorum; the Annals of the Four Masters; The Book of Laws (the Brehon laws), and 'many books of genealogies and pedigrees' (pp. 39-40).
4. Keating, G., (1634). The History of Ireland, Dublin. 1902-14. The Guildhall Library of London holds a copy of this intriguing work.
5. cit. Cusack, p. 43.
6. Cusack, p. 43n.
7. The Book of Leinster is kept in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, shelfmark H.2.18.
8. Keating, p. 109 and cit. Cusack. p. 43.
9. Brewer E.C., enl. ed., 1894. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, p. 1112.
10. Genesis 11:6. ....Behold the people is one, and they have all one language, and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.'
11. 1 Samuel 8:7: 'And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.'
12. See, for example, the article 'King, Kingship,' The New Bible Dictionary, InterVarsity Press, London, 1972. pp. 692-3.
13. This is according to the Annals of the Four Masters, See Cusack. p. 58.
14. Cusack, p. 59.
15. Thorpe, pp. 100-1.
16. Nennius §13.
17. Mackie, J.D., A History of Scotland, Penguin Books, p. 16.
18. Cusack, p. 71.
19. (Ir. Conell MacGeoghegan), cit. Cusack, p. 20.
20. See Geoffrey of Monmouth, pp. 72-3. Geoffrey's Gogmagog appears to be a corruption of the name Gawr Madoc, the giant or great warrior Madog. Of these 'giants', we read, ...though their stature is exaggerated, yet it will be remembered that the stature of the ancient Britons was thought gigantic by Romans.' Pope. p. 164.
21. 1 Samuel 17:4. See also New Bible Diet, pp. 466 & 481.
22. Geoffrey of Monmouth, p. 123.
23. The Annals of the Four Masters, cit. Cusack, p. 75.
24. Cusack, p. 69.
25. Cusack, p. 85.
26.Cusack, p. 82.