Turning to Irish Druidism, we may discern a meaning, when reading between the lines in Irish MSS., but the mystery is either not understood by the narrators, or is purposely beclouded so as to be unintelligible to the vulgar, and remove the writers (more or less ecclesiastics) from the censure of superiors in the Church. Elsewhere, in the chapter upon “Gods,” History, as seen in lives of Irish heroes and founders of tribes, is made the medium for the communication, in some way, of esoteric intelligence. If the Druids of Erin were in any degree associated with that assumed mythology, they come much nearer the wisdom of British Druids than is generally supposed, and were not the common jugglers and fortune-tellers of Irish authorities.
As the popular Professor O’Curry may be safely taken as one leading exponent of Irish opinion upon Irish Druids, a quotation from his able Lectures will indicate his view:–
“Our traditions,” says he, “of the Scottish and Irish Druids are evidently derived from a time when Christianity had long been established. These insular Druids are represented as being little better than conjurers, and their dignity is as much diminished as the power of the King is exaggerated. He is hedged with a royal majesty which never existed in fact. He is a Pharaoh or Belshazzar with a troop of wizards at command; his Druids are sorcerers and rain-doctors, who pretend to call down the storms and the snow, and frighten the people with the fluttering wisp, and other childish charms. They divined by the observation of sneezing and omens, by their dreams after holding a bull-feast, or chewing raw horseflesh in front of their idols, by the croaking of their ravens and chirping of tame wrens, or by the ceremony of licking the hot edge of bronze taken out of the rowan-tree faggot. They are like the Red Indian medicine men, or the Angekoks of the Eskimo, dressed up in bull’s-hide coats and bird-caps with waving wings. The chief or Arch-Druid of Tara is shown to us as a leaping juggler with ear clasps of gold, and a speckled cloak; he tosses swords and balls into the air, and like the buzzing of bees on a beautiful day is the motion of each passing the other.”
This, perhaps, the ordinary and most prosaic account of the Irish Druid, is to be gathered from the ecclesiastical annals of St. Patrick. The monkish writers had assuredly no high opinion of the Druid of tradition; and, doubtless, no respect for the memory of Taliesin or other members of the Craft.
Nevertheless, we should bear in mind that these same authorities took for granted all the stories floating about concerning transformations of men and women into beasts and birds, and all relations about gods of old.
O’Beirne Crowe has some doubt about Druid stories and primitive missionaries. He finds in the Hymn of St. Patrick the word Druid but once mentioned; and that it is absent alike in Brocan’s Life of St. Brigit, and in Colman’s Hymn. “Though Irish Druidism,” says he, “never attained to anything like organization, still its forms and practices, so far as they attained to order, were in the main the same as those of Gaul.”
Those Christian writers admitted that the Druids had a literature. The author of the Lecan declared that St. Patrick, at one time, burnt one hundred and eighty books of the Druids. “Such an example,” he said, “set the converted Christians to work in all parts, until, in the end, all the remains of the Druidic superstition were utterly destroyed.” Other writers mention the same fact as to this burning of heathen MSS. Certainly no such documents had, even in copies, any existence in historic times, though no one can deny the possibility of such a literature. The Welsh, however, claim the possession of Druidic works. But the earliest of these date from Christian times, bearing in their composition biblical references, and, by experts, are supposed to be of any period between the seventh and twelfth centuries. Villemarque dates the earliest Breton Bards from the sixth century; other French writers have them later.
At the same time, it must be allowed that early Irish MSS., which all date since Christianity came to the island, contain references of a mystical character, which might be styled Druidical. Most of the Irish literature, professedly treating of historical events, has been regarded as having covert allusions to ancient superstitions, the individuals mentioned being of a mythical character.
A considerable number of such references are associated with Druids, whatever these were thought then to be. Miracles were abundant, as they have been in all periods of Irish history. The Deity, the angels, the spirits of the air or elsewhere, are ever at hand to work a marvel, though often for little apparent occasion. As the performances of Saints are precisely similar to those attributed to Druids, one is naturally puzzled to know where one party quits the field and the other comes on.
A large number of these references belong to the Fenian days, when the Tuatha Druids practised their reported unholy rites. Thus, Teige was the father of the wife of the celebrated Fenian leader, Fionn MacCurnhaill, or Fionn B’Baoisgne, slain at Ath-Brea, on the Boyne. But Matha MacUmoir was a Druid who confronted St. Patrick. St. Brigid was the daughter of the Druid Dubhthach. The Druid Caicher foretold that the race he loved would one day migrate to the West.
In Ninine’s Prayer it is written–
“We put trust in Saint Patrick, chief apostle of Ireland;
He fought against hard-hearted Druids.”
As told by T. O’Flanagan, 1808, King Thaddy, father of Ossian, was a Druid. Ierne was called the Isle of learned Druids. Plutarch relates that Claudius, exploring, “found on an island near Britain an order of Magi, reputed holy by the people.” Tradition says that Parthalon, from Greece, brought three Druids with him. These were Fios, Eolus, and Fochmarc; that is, observes O’Curry, “if we seek the etymological meaning of the words, Intelligence, Knowledge, and Inquiry.”
The Nemidians reached Ireland from Scythia, but were accompanied by Druids; who, however, were confounded by the Fomorian Druids. At first the Nemidians were victorious, but the Fomorian leader brought forward his most powerful spells, and forced the others into exile. Beothach, Nemid’s grandson, retired with his clan to northern Europe, or Scandinavia; where “they made themselves perfect in all the arts of divination, Druidism, and philosophy, and returned, after some generations, to Erinn under the name of the Tuatha de Danaan.” The last were most formidable Druids, though overcome in their turn by the Druids of invading Milesians from Spain.
There were Druids’ Hills at Uisneath, Westmeath, and Clogher of Tyrone. The Draoithe were wise men from the East. Dubhtach Mac Ui’ Lugair, Archdruid of King Mac Niall, became a Christian convert. The Battle of Moyrath, asserted by monkish writers to have taken place in 637, decided the fate of the Druids. And yet, the Four Masters relate that as early as 927 B.C., there existed Mur Ollavan, the City of the Learned, or Druidic seminary.
Bacrach, a Leinster Druid, told Conchobar, King of Ulster, something which is thus narrated:–“There was a great convulsion. ‘What is this?’ said Conchobar to his Druid. ‘What great evil is it that is perpetrated this day? ‘It is true indeed,’ said the Druid, ‘Christ, the Son of God is crucified this day by the Jews. It was in the same night He was born that you were born; that is, in the 8th of the Calends of January, though the year was not the same. It was then that Conchobar believed; and he was one of the two men that believed in God in Erinn before the coming of the faith.”
Among the names of Druids we have, in Cormac’s Glossary, Serb, daughter of Scath, a Druid of the Connaught men; Munnu, son of Taulchan the Druid; and Druien, a Druid prophesying bird. D. O. Murrim belonged to Creag-a-Vanny hill; Aibhne, or Oibhne, to Londonderry. We read of Trosdan, Tages, Cadadius, Dader, Dill, Mogruth, Dubcomar, Firchisus, Ida, Ono, Fathan, Lomderg the bloody hand, and Bacrach, or Lagicinus Barchedius, Arch-druid to King Niall.
Druidesses were not necessarily wives of Druids, but females possessed of Druidical powers, being often young and fair.
Some names of Druidesses have been preserved; as Geal Chossach, or Cossa, white-legged, of Inisoven, Donegal, where her grave is still pointed out to visitors. There was Milucradh, Hag of the Waters, reported to be still living, who turned King Fionn into an old man by water from Lake Sliabh Gullin. Eithne and Ban Draoi were famous sorcerers. Tradition talks of Women’s Isles of Ireland, as of Scotland, where Druidesses, at certain festivals, lived apart from their husbands, as did afterwards Culdee wives at church orders. On St. Michael, on Sena Isle of Brittany, and elsewhere, such religious ladies were known. Scotch witches in their reputed powers of transformation were successors of Druidesses.
Several ancient nunneries are conjectured to have been Druidesses’ retreats, or as being established at such hallowed sites. At Kildare, the retreat of St. Brigid and her nuns, having charge of the sacred fire, there used to be before her time a community of Irish Druidesses, virgins, who were called, from their office, Ingheaw Andagha, Daughters of Fire. The well-known Tuam, with its nine score nuns, may be an instance, since the word Cailtach means either nun or Druidess. On this, Hackett remarks, “The probability is that they were pagan Druidesses.” Dr. O’Connor notes the Cluan-Feart, or sacred Retreat for Druidical nuns. It was decidedly dangerous for any one to meddle with those ladies, since they could raise storms, cause diseases, or strike with death. But how came Pliny to say that wives of Druids attended certain religious rites naked, but with blackened bodies? Enchantresses, possessed of evil spirits, like as in ancient Babylon, or as in China now, were very unpleasant company, and a source of unhappiness in a family.
The Rev. J. F. Shearman declared that Lochra and Luchadmoel were the heads of the Druids’ College, prophesying the coming of the Talcend (St. Patrick), that the first was lifted up and dashed against a stone by the Saint, the other was burnt in the ordeal of fire at Tara, that the Druid Mautes was he who upset the Saint’s chalice, and that Ida and Ona were two converted Druids.
The Synod of Drumceat, in 590, laid restrictions on Druids, but the Druids were officially abolished after the decisive Battle of Moyrath, 637. The bilingual inscription of Killeen, Cormac–IV VERE DRVVIDES, or “Four True Druids,” was said to refer to Dubhtach Macnlugil as one of the four, he having been baptized by Patrick.
Dr. Richey may be right, when he says in his History of the Irish People:–“Attempts have been made to describe the civilization of the Irish in pre-Christian periods, by the use of the numerous heroic tales and romances which still survive to us; but the Celtic epic is not more historically credible or useful than the Hellenic,–the Tam Bo than the Iliad.” It is probable that the readers of the foregoing tales, or those hereafter to be produced, may be of the same opinion Not even the prophecy of St Patrick’s advent can be exempted, though the Fiacc Hymn runs —
“For thus had their prophets foretold then the coming
Of a new time of peace would endure after Tara
Lay desert and silent, the Druids of Laery
Had told of his coming, had told of the Kingdom.”
Ireland had a supply of the so-called Druidical appendages and adornments. There have been found golden torques, gorgets, armillæ and rods, of various sorts and sizes. Some were twisted. There were thin laminae of gold with rounded plates at the ends. Others had penannular and bulbous terminations. Twisted wire served for lumbers or girdle-torques. A twisted one of gold, picked up at Ballycastle, weighed 22 oz. Gorgets are seen only in Ireland and Cornwall. The Dying Gladiator, in Rome, has a twisted torque about his neck.
The gold mines of Wicklow doubtless furnished the precious metal, as noted in Senchus Mor. Pliny refers to the golden torques of Druids. One, from Tara, was 5 ft. 7 in. long, weighing 27 ozs. A Todh, found twelve feet in a Limerick bog, was of thin chased gold, with concave hemispherical ornaments. The Iodhan Moran, or breastplate, would contract on the neck if the judges gave a false judgment. The crescent ornament was the Irish Cead-rai-re, or sacred ship, answering to Taliesin’s Cwrwg Gwydrin, or glass boat. An armilla of 15 ozs. was recovered in Galway. The glass beads, cylindrical in shape. found at Dunworley Bay, Cork, had, said Lord Londesborough, quite a Coptic character. The Druid glass is Gleini na Droedh in Welsh, Glaine nan Druidhe in Irish.
The Dublin Museum–Irish Academy collection–contains over three hundred gold specimens. Many precious articles had been melted down for their gold. The treasure trove regulations have only existed since 1861. Lunettes are common The Druids’ tiaras were semi-oval, in thin plates, highly embossed. The golden breast-pins, Dealg Oir, are rare. Some armillæ are solid, others hollow. Fibulr bear cups. Torques are often spiral. Bullæ are amulets of lead covered with thin gold. Circular gold plates are very thin and rude. Pastoral staffs, like pagan ones, have serpents twisted round them, as seen on the Cashel pastoral staff.
Prof. O’Curry says–“Some of our old glossarists explain the name Druid by doctus, learned; and Fili, a poet, as a lover of learning.” But Cormac MacCullinan, in his glossary, derives the word Fili from Fi, venom, and Li, brightness; meaning, that the poet’s satire was venomous, and his praise bright or beautiful. The Druid, in his simple character, does not appear to have been ambulatory, but Stationary. He is not entitled to any privileges or immunities such as the poets and Brehons or judges enjoyed. He considers the Druids’ wand was of yew, and that they made use of ogham writing. He names Tuath Druids; as, Brian, Tuchar Tucharba, Bodhbh, Macha and Mor Rigan; Cesarn Gnathach and Ingnathach, among Firbolgs; Uar, Eithear and Amergin, as Milesians.
For an illustration of Irish Druidism, reference may be made to the translation, by Hancock and O’Mahoney, Of the Senchus Mor. Some of the ideas developed in that Christian work were supposed traditional notions of earlier and Druidical times.
Thus, we learn that there were eight Winds: the colours of which were white and purple, pale grey and green, yellow and red, black and grey, speckled and dark, the dark brown and the pale. From the east blows the purple Wind; from the south, the white; from the north, the black; from the west, the pale; the red and the yellow are between the white wind and the purple, &c. The thickness of the earth is measured by the space from the earth to the firmament. The seven divisions from the firmament to the earth are Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Sol, Luna, Venus, From the moon to the sun is 244 miles; but, from the firmament to the earth, 3024 miles. As the shell is about the egg, so is the firmament around the earth. The firmament is a mighty sheet of crystal. The twelve constellations represent the year, as the sun runs through one each month.
We are also in formed that “Brigh Ambui was a female author of wisdom and prudence among the men of Erin–after her came Connla Cainbhrethach, chief doctor of Connaught. He excelled the men of Erin in wisdom, for he was filled with the grace of the Holy Ghost; he used to contend with the Druids, who said that it was they that made heaven and the earth and the sea–and the sun and moon.” This Senchus Mor further stated that “when the judges deviated from the truth of Nature, there appeared blotches upon their cheeks.”
It is not surprising that Dr. Richey, in his Short History of the Irish People, should write:–“As to what Druidism was, either in speculation or practice, we have very little information.–As far as we can conjecture, their religion must have consisted of tribal divinities and local rites. As to the Druids themselves, we have no distinct information.” He is not astonished that “authors (from the reaction) are now found to deny the existence of Druids altogether.” He admits that, at the reputed time of St. Patrick, the Druids “seem to be nothing more than the local priests or magicians attached to the several tribal chiefs,–perhaps not better than the medicine-men of the North-American Indians.”
As that period was prior to the earliest assumed for the Welsh Taliesin, one is at a loss to account for the great difference between the two peoples, then so closely associated in intercourse.
The opinion of the able O’Beirne Crowe is thus expressed:–“After the introduction of our (Irish) irregular system of Druidism, which must have been about the second century of the Christian era, the filis (Bards) had to fall into something like the position of the British bards.–But let us examine our older compositions–pieces which have about them intrinsic marks of authenticity–and we shall be astonished to see what a delicate figure the Druid makes in them.” On the supposition that Druidism had not time for development before the arrival of the Saint, he accounts for the easy conversion of Ireland to Christianity.
It is singular that Taliesin should mention the sun as being sent in a coracle from Cardigan Bay to Arkle, or Arklow, in Ireland. This leads Morien to note the “solar drama performed in the neighbourhood of Borth, Wales, and Arklow, Ireland.”
Arthur Clive thought it not improbable that Ireland, and not Britain, as Cæsar supposed, was the source of Gaulish Druidism. “Anglesey,” says he,” would be the most natural site for the British Druidical College. This suspicion once raised, the parallel case of St. Colum Kille occupying Iona with his Irish monks and priests, when he went upon his missionary expedition to the Picts, occurs to the mind.” Assuredly, Iona was a sacred place of the Druids, and hence the likeness of the Culdees to the older tenants of the Isle.
Clive believed the civilization of Ireland was not due to the Celt, but to the darker race before them. In Druidism he saw little of a Celtic character, “and that all of what was noble and good contained in the institution was in some way derived from Southern and Euskarian sources.” May not the same be said of Wales? There, the true Welsh–those of the south and south-east–are certainly not the light Celt, but the dark Iberian, like to the darker Bretons and northern Spaniards.
Martin, who wrote his Western Islands in 1703, tells us that in his day every great family of the Western Islands kept a Druid priest, whose duty it was to foretell future events, and decide all causes, civil and ecclesiastical. Dr. Wise says, “In the Book of Deer we meet with Matadan, ‘The Brehon,’ as a witness in a particular case. The laws found in the legal code of the Irish people were administered by these Brehons. They were hereditary judges of the tribes, and had certain lands which were attached to the office. The successors of this important class are the Sheriffs of counties.”
The learned John Toland, born in Londonderry, 1670, who was a genuine patriot in his day, believed in his country’s Druids. In the Hebrides, also, he found harpers by profession, and evidence of ancient Greek visitants. In Dublin he observed the confidence in augury by ravens. He contended that when the Ancients spoke of Britain as Druidical, they included Ireland; for Ptolemy knew Erin as Little Britain. He recognized Druids’ houses still standing, and the heathen practices remaining in his country.
“In Ireland,” said he of the Druids, “they had the privilege of wearing six colours in their Breacans or robes, which are the striped Braceæ of the Gauls, still worn by the Highlanders, whereas the king and queen might have in theirs but seven, lords and ladies five,” &c. He had no doubts of their sun-worship, and of Abaris, the Druid friend of Pythagoras, being from his own quarters. While he thought the Greeks borrowed from the northern Druids, he admitted that both may have learned from the older Egyptians.
Rhys, as a wise and prudent man, is not willing to abandon the Druids because of the absurd and most Positive announcements of enthusiastic advocates; since he says, “I for one am quite prepared to believe in a Druidic residue, after you have stripped all that is mediæval and Biblical from the poems of Taliesin. The same with Merlin.” And others will echo that sentiment in relation to Irish Druidism, notwithstanding the wild assumptions of some writers, and the cynical unbelief of others. After all eliminations, there is still a substantial residue.
One may learn a lesson from the story told of Tom Moore. When first shown old Irish MSS., he was much moved, and exclaimed, “These could not have been written by fools. I never knew anything about them before, and I had no right to have undertaken the History of Ireland.”
An old Irish poem runs:–
“Seven years your right, under a flagstone in a quagmire,
Without food, without taste, but the thirst you ever torturing,
The law of the judges your lesson, and prayer your language;
And if you like to return
You will be, for a time, a Druid, perhaps.”
Druid Houses, like those of St. Kilda, Borera Isle, &c., have become in more modern days Oratories of Christian hermits. They are arched, conical, stone structures, with a hole at the top for smoke escape. Toland calls them “little arch’d, round, stone buildings, capable only of holding one person.” They were known as Tighthe nan Druidhneach. There is generally in many no cement. The so-called Oratory of St. Kevin, 23 ft. by 10 and 16 high, has its door to the west. The writer was supported by the Guide at Glendalough, in the opinion of the great antiquity of St. Kevin’s Kitchen. The house at Dundalk is still a place of pilgrimage.
The one at Gallerus, Kerry, has a semi-circular window. Of these oratories, so called, Wise observes, “They were not Christian, but were erected in connection with this early, let us call it, Celtic religion. If they had been Christian, they would have had an altar and other Christian emblems, of which, however, they show no trace. If they had been Christian, they would have stood east and west, and have had openings in those directions.–The walls always converged as they rose in height.”
Irish Druids lived before the advent of Socialism. They appear to have had the adjudication of the law, but, as ecclesiastics, they delivered the offenders to the secular arm for punishment. Their holy hands were not to be defiled with blood. The law, known as the Brehon Law, then administered, was not socialistic. Irish law was by no means democratic, and was, for that reason, ever preferred to English law by the Norman and English chieftains going to Ireland. The old contests between the Irish and the Crown lay between those gentlemen-rulers and their nominal sovereign. So, in ancient times, the Druids supported that Law which favoured the rich at the expense of the poor. They were not Socialists.
They were, however, what we should call Spiritualists, though that term may now embrace people of varied types. They could do no less wonderful things than those claimed to have been done by Mahatmas or modern Mediums. They could see ghosts, if not raise them. They could listen to them, and talk with them; though unable to take photos of spirits, or utilize them for commercial intelligence.
It would be interesting to know if these seers of Ireland regarded the ghosts with an imaginative or a scientific eye. Could they have investigated the phenomena, with a view to gain a solution of the mysteries around them? It is as easy to call a Druid a deceiver, as a politician a traitor, a scientist a charlatan, a saint a hypocrite.
As the early days of Irish Christianity were by no means either cultured or philosophical, and almost all our knowledge of Druids comes from men who accepted what would now only excite our derision or pity, particularly indulging the miraculous, we are not likely to know to what class of modern Spiritualists we can assign the Druids of Erin.
Our sources of knowledge concerning the Druids are from tradition and records. The first is dim, unreliable, and capable of varied interpretation. Of the last, Froude rightly remarks–“Confused and marvellous stories come down to us from the early periods of what is called History, but we look for the explanation of them in the mind or imagination of ignorant persons.–The early records of all nations are full of portents and marvels; but we no longer believe those portents to have taken place in actual fact.–Legends grew as nursery tales grow now.”
There is yet another source of information–the preservation of ancient symbols, by the Church and by Freemasons. The scholar is well assured that both these parties, thus retaining the insignia of the past, are utterly ignorant of the original meaning, or attach a significance of their own invention.
Judging from Irish literature–most of which may date from the twelfth century, though assuming to be the eighth, or even fifth–the Druids were, like the Tuatha, nothing better than spiritualistic conjurers, dealers with bad spirits, and always opposing the Gospel. We need be careful of such reports, originating, as they did, in the most superstitious era of Europe, and reflecting the ideas of the period. It was easy to credit Druids and Tuaths with miraculous powers, when the Lives of Irish Saints abounded with narratives of the most childish wonders, and the most needless and senseless display of the miraculous. The destruction of Druids through the invocation of Heaven by the Saints, though nominally in judgment for a league with evil spirits, was not on a much higher plane than the powers for mischief exercised by the magicians.
Such tales fittingly represented a period, when demoniacal possession accounted for diseases or vagaries of human action, and when faith in our Heavenly Father was weighed down by the cruel oppression of witchcraft.
Still, in the many credulous and inventive stories of the Middle Ages, may there not be read, between the lines, something which throws light upon the Druids? Traditional lore was in that way perpetuated. Popular notions were expressed in the haze of words. Lingering superstitions were preserved under the shield of another faith.
Then, again, admitting the common practice of rival controversialists destroying each other’s manuscripts, would not some be copied, with such glosses as would show the absurdities of the former creeds, or as warnings to converts against the revival of error?
Moreover,–as the philosophers, in early Christian days of the East, managed to import into the plain and simple teaching of Jesus a mass of their own symbolism, and the esoteric learning of heathenism,–was it unlikely that a body of Druids, having secrets of their own, should, upon their real or assumed reception of Christianity, import some of their own opinions and practices, adapted to the promulgation of the newer faith? No one can doubt that the Druids, to retain their influence in the tribe, would be among the first and most influential of converts; and history confirms that fact. As the more intelligent, and reverenced from habit, with skill in divination and heraldic lore, they would command the respect of chiefs, while their training as orators or reciters would be easily utilized by the stranger priests in the service of the Church.
But if, as is likely, the transition from Druidism to Christianity was gradual, possibly through the medium of Culdeeism, the intrusion of pagan ideas in the early religious literature can be more readily comprehended. As so much of old paganism was mixed up in the Patristic works of Oriental Christendom, it cannot surprise one that a similar exhibition of the ancient heathenism should be observed in the West. O’Brien, in Round Towers, writes–“The Church Festivals themselves in our Christian Calendar are but the direct transfers from the Tuath de Danaan Ritual. Their very names in Irish are identically the same as those by which they were distinguished by that earlier race.” Gomme said, “Druidism must be identified as a non-Aryan cult.”
Elsewhere reference is made to the Culdees. They were certainly more pronounced in Ireland, and the part of Scotland contiguous to Ireland, than in either England or Wales.
Ireland differs from its neighbours in the number of allusions to Druids in national stories. Tradition is much stronger in Ireland than in Wales, and often relates to Druids. On the other hand, it differs from that of its neighbours in the absence of allusions to King Arthur, the hero of England, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany. Rome, too, was strongly represented in Britain, north and south, but not in Ireland.
it is not a little remarkable that Irish Druids should seem ignorant alike of Round Towers and Stone Circles, while so much should have been written and believed concerning Druidism as associated with circles and cromlechs, in Britain and Brittany. Modern Druidism, whether of Christian or heathen colour, claims connection with Stonehenge, Abury, and the stones of Brittany. Why should not the same claim be made for Irish Druids, earlier and better known than those of Wales?
As megalithic remains, in the shape of graves and circles, are found all over Europe, Asia, and northern Africa, why were Druids without association with these, from Japan to Gibraltar, and confined to the monuments of Britain? Why, also, in Ossian, are the Stones of Power referred to the Norsemen only?
In the Irish Epic, The carrying off of the Bull of Cuâlnge, the Druid Cathbad is given a certain honourable precedence before the sovereign. That the Druids exercised the healing art is certain. Jubainville refers to a MS. in the Library of St. Gall, dating from the end of the fourteenth century, which has on the back of it some incantations written by Irish seers of the eighth or ninth century. In one of them are these words–“I admire the remedy which Dian-Cecht left,”
Though a mysterious halo hangs about the Irish Druids, though they may have been long after the Serpent-worshippers, and even later than the Round Tower builders, tradition confidently asserts their existence in the Island, but, doubtless, credits them with powers beyond those ever exercised. The love for a romantic Past is not, however, confined to Ireland, and a lively, imagination will often close the ear to reason in a cultured and philosophical age.
From the book
THE VEIL OF ISIS; OR, MYSTERIES OF THE DRUIDS
W. WINWOOD READE.