Obrázky na stránke

fee for each christening is two shillings or half-a-crown; besides which the sponsors usually give something more. Some small sum is generally given for visiting the sick. In some parts of the country, custom has established, that a certain quantity of hay and oats is sent by the more opulent parishioners to the clergyman ; and also that his turf should be cut, his corn reaped, his 'meadow mowed, &c. gratis. The retribution for each mass is dissimilar in different diocesses; in that of Cork it is two shillings. But if mass should be said at the house of a parishioner, at his oyn request, he usually gives the clergyman not less than a crown. The customary stipend of the curate is the third part of the general receipts of the parish.

Stations are half-yearly meetings at some commodious house, appointed by the priest, for the convenience of such people as live at a distance from the chapel, where he hears their confessions, gives them communion, catechizes the children, &c.; and it is at these meetings that he receives his Easter and Christmas dues, A dinner is prepared for the priest at every house in which he holds a station, to which the householder's friends are invited.

Besides the Roman Catholic clergy regularly appointed, there are some itinerant priests, who occasionally officiate, and marry, baptize, and perform other rites among the lower classes of the people. These, we believe, are few, and are decreasing in number ; but they are said to encourage among the populace many superstitious customs otherwise obsolete, and are held in great contempt by the more respectable Catholics of every district

Monasteries and convents are frequent in Ireland. Many of these institutions possess considerable funds, arising from charitable donations. The priests who reside in the monastic houses occasionally travel through different parts of the country, to collect money, grain, and various articles of provision, for the support of their respective establishments. The nunneries in general possess a fund, proceeding from the sums paid on the entrance of ladies into the religious state, which are seldom less in amount than three or four hundred pounds. They also constitute the principal places

of education for the daughters of catholic families, and derive considerable pecuniary advantage from that circumstance.

GOVERNMENT, AND PARLIAMENTARY REPRESENTATION.-The policy of Henry II. induced that prince to establish the office of viceroy in his Irish territories; and, under different denominations, a state officer of this description has been appointed in all succeeding reigns. The lord lieutenant general, and general governor of Ireland, acts as representative of majesty, an dconstitutes the head of the local government. The official income of this state personage is £30,000 per annum, and he maintains, at Dublin, the forms and ceremonies of a vice-regal court. Since the period of the Union, the political influence of the viceroy, and the splendour of his court, are necessarily much lessened.

The lord-lieutenant corresponds with the secretary of state for the home department; but the details of public business devolve on a secretary, appointed exclusively for this part of the united empire. This latter officer is a member of parliament, and has the high responsibility of forming the active agent in the administration of public affairs. His office is divided into two departments, military and civil; over each of which is placed an under-secretary

Ireland has a local privy-council, in which the lord-lieutenant presides.

The commander in chief of the forces is independent of the lord-lieutenant, and corresponds with the commander in chief in England.

According to the Act of Union, which took place in the year 1801, the parliamentary representation of Ireland consists of twenty-eight temporal peers, elected for life by the general body of the Irish peers ; four spiritual lords, elected from the bishops for one session of parliament; and one hundred commoners. be observed that the Irish peerage is necessarily a decreasing body, as, conformably to the Act of Union, no new peer is to be created, except on the extinction of three titles.

It may

[blocks in formation]


WITH TOPOGRAPHY AND ANTIQUITIES. IRELAND PREVIOUS TO THE ENTRY OF THE ENGLISH.-An extensive disquisition on national history would be evidently, misplaced in a work like the present. But the due illustration of topographical circumstances and the subjects of antiquarian research, requires a compendious review of those leading transactions which

may be said to act as the great land-marks in the annals of the country, and form the chronological link to which local anecdote has a continual reference.

The limited purpose of the present inquiry renders it necessary that we confine our remarks on the early population of Ireland, chiefly to such particulars as stand connected with the tangible vestigia of antiquity. It may, indeed, be presumed that the antiquary renders his best tribute to the muse of history when he endeavours to throw light on her pages (too often clouded and dubious, from unavoidable circumstances) by presenting to consideration those relics which admit of no literary sophistry, and are scarcely liable to literary misapprehension.

It cannot be doubted but that Ireland, in common with Britain and other parts of western Europe, was originally colonized by the CELTÆ. In the language of the country, and in the names applied to rivers, mountains, and other great objects of nature, we find indisputable evidence of this fact. The language is well known to be a dialect of the Celtic; and a recent erudite philologist has given a very extensive list of names applied to rivers and other natural objects, forming a comparative statement of such names in Ireland and Britain, with the meaning of each appellation, from the Celtic language.*

Those antiquities of the country, which from their rudeness

* Caledonia, by G. Chalmers, vol. i. p. 20 et seq. In a subsequent page Mr. Chalmers remarks that “ Ireland plainly preserves in her topography, a much greater proportion of Celtic names than the map of any other country; and next to it, in this respect, may be placed North-Britain. The names of towns, villages, churches, parishes, mountains, lakes, rivers, and of other places, and objects, in Ireland, are nearly all Gaelic.

must be ascribed to the most remote origin, uniformly approximate in character to the earliest vestiges discovered in Britain, where the Celtæ are known to have been the original settlers. Such are the axes and arrow-heads of stone, or flint, which are strewed so plentifully over the shores of Britain, and every other part of Europe formerly inhabited by Celtic tribes. Those tumuli and carns which constitute the earliest places of burial, agree in form with the same mounds of earth or stone in Britain ; and their contents evince similar modes of funeral ceremony.

In circles composed of upright stones, or simply of an earthen vallum ; in cromlechs, and the various other works often termed druidical, we have also proofs of a coincidence in · religious and civil customs between the inhabitants of Ireland and those of Britain, previous to the introduction of christianity, whether those works were actually carried into execution by the original Celtæ, or by the Belgic tribes which assisted in forming the early population of the island. Further testimony, as to the settlement of the Celtæ in this country, proceeds from the accounts transmitted by antient geographical writers.

Concerning the country whence the first settlers immediately passed into Ireland, several opinions have been formed ; and probable conjecture is all that the utmost labours of research and ingenuity can afford. It would appear to be indubitable that the great tide of population flowed from the east of Europe to the west ; and as there is fair reason for presuming that early colonists would proceed by land as far as was attainable, before they ventured on the perils of the ocean, many writers have supposed that Ireland received its first inhabitants from the neighbouring coast of Britain.

The aborigines were incapable of maintaining entire possession of the soil. They were disturbed by the Belgę (termed FIRBOLGS by the Irish) who came from the northern coast of Gaul, and effected in this country, as in Britain, a permanent settlement. The sympathy which we naturally, bestow on those who suffer from the incursions of an invading power, should, surely, be extended to this interference with the quiet occupation of those

who first profited by the rich pastures of so fair an island, and were the earliest dwellers amidst its romantic scenery. From the Belgæ or Firbolgs it is, however, probable that the Celtæ, as was the fact with their kindred tribes in the sister-island, obtained a knowledge of several arts which advance mankind in the scale of civilization, and add value to existence.

The Scots are mentioned by many historians as subsequent colonists, and are described by several writers as a Scythian people. “ It is conjectured," writes Dr. Ledwich, “ that the Scots came to our isle two or three centuries before the Nativity ; and as to their name, that seems not derived from a city or particular place, or ferocity or eminence in war, but from their original country, Scythia. Usher has shewn that they were distinguished by this appellation from the third to the twelfth century, and of course were the dominant people.” We have stated, in our remarks on the various names by which Ireland has been distinguished at different times, that this country was first recognised under the name of Scotia in the fourth century. No such word occurs in the map of Ptolemy, to be hereafter noticed. The difficulty obvious in the temporary cessation of a prevailing 'name, supposing that the Scots were, as has been usually supposed, a distinct nation, entering the island at the alleged early period, has not remained unnoticed by critical writers.

“ It is not easy,” remarks Lord Lyttelton, “ to give a satisfactory reason, why, if the Scots were a people of Scythian extraction, who came into Ireland from any part of Spain, in such very early times, that name which denoted their original country, should liave been lost and forgotten during so many ages, and revived about the middle of the fourth century, when (as appears by a passage of Ammianus Marcellinus) they were joined with the Picts in making war on the Britons."

A modern author suggests the following solution of this difficulty. Considering that Tacitus, and other writers previous to Porphyry, who flourished towards the close of the third century, mention nothing of the Scots, though they speak of the tribes inhabiting Ireland, Mr. Chalmers, in the work termed “ Caledo

« PredošláPokračovať »