Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lebor Gabala Erenn

Did the Welsh priest, Nennius, write his History Brittonum before the Lebor Gabala Erenn was written? He does remind us of a succession of colonizations from Iberia. Timagenes of Alexandria's account of the Gauls in Continental Europe certainly was written before the LGE an little echos his work may be found in the LGE.

Appropriate trust in the Labor Gabala Erenn may tell us more of its writers than of the times of which they write. Still it does contain a history of early Ireland, twisted and distorted as it may be. For centuries before 1700 it was taken by many as the gospel of Irish history.

What did the poets(bards who wrote better than they sang) know? What can we learn from the poems we have of: Eochaid ua Flainn from Armagh, AD 936-1004; Flann Mainistrech of Monesterboice Abby, died Ad 1056; Tainaide, died 1075; Gilla Coemain mac Gilla Shamthainne who wrote about AD 1072?

We can be pretty sure that lots of Irish readers liked the LGE, for they copied and quoted it a lot. Some of the earlist extent works of the Irish go back to the LGE:
The Book of Leinster of about 1150 AD;
The book of Fermoy, 1373 AD;
The Great Book of Lecan;
The Book of Ballymote, 1391 AD.

The LGE was a major source for modern historians such as Geoffery Keating in his history of Ireland, Foras ar Eirinn, and the Annals of the Four Masters.

The biggest fiction in the LGE is the claim that the Gaelic conquest took place about 350 years ago and that the inhabitants of Christian Ireland were descendants of those Gaelic invaders. Ancestors of the Sheehans maintained there non-Gaelic culture until, at least 200 or 300 AD.

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