Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The History of Ireland (Author: Geoffrey Keating)

Section 6


Dr. Hanmer states in his chronicle that it was Bartholinus who was leader of the Gaels at their coming into Ireland, and it is to Partholon he calls Bartholinus here. However, according to the ancient record of Ireland, there were more than seven hundred years between the coming of Partholon and the


coming of the children of Mileadh to Ireland. For at the end of three hundred years after the deluge came Partholon, and at the end of a thousand and four score years after the deluge came the sons of Mileadh to Ireland. And in the opinion of Camden, it is more fitting to rely on the history of Ireland in this matter than on the words of Hanmer. Here is what he says:—Let its due respect be given to antiquity in these things, {In his detur sua antiquitati venia.}’’

(says he): and if it should be given to any record in the world on the score of being ancient, the antiquity of Ireland is indeed worthy of respect, according to the same Camden, in the book which is called Camden's Britannia, where he says, speaking of Ireland:— Not unjustifiably was this island called ‘Ogygia’ by Plutarch, i.e. most ancient. {Non immerito haec insula Ogygia, id est perantiqua, Plutarcho dicta fuit.}’’

Camden furnishes a reason for this, and here is what he says:—From the most profound memory of antiquity they derive, their own history (speaking of the Irish), insomuch that there is not in all antiquity of all other nations but newness or almost infancy, {A profundissima enim antiquitatis memoria historias suas auspicantur, adeo ut prae illis omnis omnium gentium antiquitas sit novitas aut quodammodo infantia.}’’

beside the antiquity of Ireland: and, therefore, that it is more fitting to rely on it than on Dr. Hanmer, who never saw the old record of Ireland.

The same author says that it was a king of Scandinavia, whose name was Froto, was king of Ireland when Christ was born; however, that is not true for him, for according to the ancient bistory, it is during the time of Criomhthann Nia Náir being in the sovereignty of Ireland that Christ was


born; and according to that, it was not Froto, king of Scandinavia, who was king of Ireland at that time. It is marvellous how Hanmer, an Englishman, who never either saw or understood the history of Ireland, should know who was king of Ireland at the time Christ was born, he being without definite information as to who was king of Great Britain itself. For Samuel Daniel, Gildas, Rider, and Nennius, and many other authors who have written the history of Great Britain, acknowledge that the old account they have themselves on the ancient condition of Britain was inexact, because the Romans and Saxons deprived them of their records and their ancient texts; insomuch that they had but a conjecture or an opinion to offer concerning the ancient affairs of Britain before the Saxons and the Romans: and, therefore, the learned Camden himself says that he knew not whence it was that Britain was called Britannia, but to give his opinion like any man. He says also that he did not know when the Picts came to inhabit the northern part of Great Britain; and since there were many of the ancient transactions of Great Britain obscure to him, it was no wonder their being still more obscure to Hanmer, and that there should be greater obscurity than that in his case concerning the ancient affairs of Ireland: and, accordingly, he is not a trustworthy warrant as regards the king of Scandinavia having been king of Ireland at the time of the birth of Christ.

He says, likewise, that it is not Patrick, the apostle of Ireland (he by whom the Catholic faith was first propagated in the country), who discovered the cave of Patricks purgatory in the island of purgatory, but another Patrick, an abbot,


who lived in the year of the Lord, eight hundred and fifty. Nevertheless, this is not true for him according to holy Caesarius, who lived within six hundred years of Christ, and consequently flourished two centuries and a half before this second Patrick. Here is what he says in the thirty-eighth chapter of the twelfth book he wrote, entitled Liber dialogorum:—Whoever casts doubt on purgatory, let him proceed to Ireland, let him enter the purgatory of Patrick, and he will have no doubt of the pains of purgatory thence-forward. {Qui de purgatorio dubitat, Scotiam pergat, purgatorium Sancti Patricii intret, et de purgatorii poenis amplius non dubitabit.}’’

From this it may be understood that it is not that second Patrick whom Hanmer mentions, who discovered Patrick's purgatory in the beginning, but the first Patrick. For how could it be possible that it should have been the second Patrick who discovered it, seeing that two centuries and a half elapsed from the time Caesarius wrote on the purgatory of Patrick to the time the second Patrick lived; and moreover, we have the record and the tradition of Ireland stating, that it was Patrick the apostle who discovered purgatory at first in Ireland. Wherefore, it is clear that it is a malicious lie Hanmer has stated here, in hope that thereby the Irish would have less veneration for the cave of Patrick.

Another thing he says, in his twenty-fourth page, that Fionn, son of Cumhall, was of the Scandinavians of Denmark; though this is not true for him, according to the chronicle, but he is of the posterity of Nuadha Neacht, king of Leinster, who came from Eireamhón, son of Mileadh. He says also, in the twenty-fifth page, that the person whom authors call Gillamar, king of Ireland, was son to the king of Thomond; howbeit, we deem the confutation we have already given this thing sufficient.


I think that it is mockingly Hanmer inserts the battle of Ventry, deceitfully ridiculing the antiquaries, so that he might give the reader to understand that there is no validity in the history of Ireland, but like the battle of Ventry. However, it is clear that the 'shanachies' do not, and did not, regard the battle of Ventry as a true history, but that they are assured that it is a poetical romance, which was invented as a pastime. The same answer I give to every other story he recounts concerning the Fianna. It is untrue for him also where he says that Sláinghe, son of Deala, was thirty years in the sovereignty of Ireland, whereas, according to the record, he reigned but one year only.

It is untrue, likewise, for him to say that the archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction over the clergy of Ireland from the time of Augustine the monk. For it is certain that the archbishop of Canterbury had no jurisdiction over the clergy of Ireland until the time of William the Conqueror, and even then he had not jurisdiction, except over the clergy of Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, and Limerick; and it is those clergy themselves who placed themselves under the control of the archbishop of Canterbury, through affection of kinship with, the people of Normandy, they being themselves of the remnant of the Danes usually called Normans, and also through dislike of the Irish;, and I do not think there was authority over those same (clerics), but during the time of three archbishops who were in Canterbury, namely, Radulph, Lanfranc, and Anselm. Therefore it is false for him to say that the archbishop of Canterbury had jurisdiction


over the clergy of Ireland from the time of Augustine the monk.

It is also false what he says that Murchadh Mac Cochlain was king of Ireland in the year of the Lord one thousand one hundred and sixty-six, for it is certain that it was Ruaidhri Ua Conchubhair who was at that time assuming the headship of Ireland, and that that time was four years before the Norman invasion.

Again, he says, that it is in Great Britain Comhghall, abbot of Beannchar in the Aird of Ulster, was born: yet that is not true for him, for it is read in his life that it was in Dal n-aruidhe in the north of Ulster he was born, and that he was of the race called Dal n-aruidhe. It is wherefore Hanmer thought to make a Briton of Comhghall, because that it was Comhghall founded the abbey of Beannchar in the Aird of Ulster, which was the mother of the abbeys of all Europe, and that he founded another abbey in England beside west Chester, which is called Bangor: and if it should happen to Hanmer to convince the reader that Comhghall was a Briton, that he would give him consequently to understand that every excellence which adorned the abbey of Beannchar of Ulster would tend to the renown of the Britons in regard to Comhghall belonging to them; or that all the fame which Beannchar of Ulster had earned would be imputed to the abbey named Bangor, which is in England.

Hanmer says that Fursa, Faolan, and Ultan were bastard children of a king of Leinster; although truly they were children of Aodh Beannan, king of Munster, according to the account of the saints of Ireland. So also for many other of


the lies of Hanmer writing on Ireland, and I pass on without pursuing them further, because it would be tedious to mention them all.