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his power, he enlisted; he called, with supernatural insight, his apostles from all orders of people -- the converted Druid, the peasant from the plough, the smith from the forge, and the fisherman from his boat; he found a vocation and a place for all. He died towards the close of the century, (A. D. 493,) leaving Christianity in all the high and lowly places of Erin; having seen paganism, if not entirely destroyed, mortally wounded, and driven into solitary places, where yet a while it conspired in vain for restoration.
The three centuries following St. Patrick's death make the golden age of the Irish church. The spiritual order was exalted to an uncommon degree - exempted from taxes and from service in war; endowed with the collective gifts of tribes and princes; recruited from all classes, honored by all. While the Gothic tempest was trampling down the classic civilization, Ireland providentially became the nursery of saints, and the refuge of science. Her two most ardent passions then were to learn and to teach. In Iceland, the Orkneys, Scotland, Britain, Gaul, Germany, even in Italy, her missionaries were every where, transplanting, in the loosened soil, the pagan tree of knowledge and the Christian tree of life. As the Goths conquered Rome, the Celts conquered the Goths. Where the barbarian was strongest, there the Christian islanders won their highest victories. The Roman martyrology gives us, for those three centuries, three hundred saints - à canonized soldier of Christ for every year of the era. Why should I name these illustrious missionaries ? All Christian nations, in their cathedrals, annals, and festivals, keep their memories green before the generations of men.
In the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries, a great and unheard-of danger threatened the Irish churchthe northern barbarians. They first appeared in the Irish seas between the years 790 and 800. The flocks and herds, with which the island abounded, and the richly-endowed shrines and schools, were the chief attractions for these piratical pagans. Accordingly, the sacred places suffered most from their incursions. In 838,
they spoiled and burned down Clonard of St. Kyran, a famous school and see; in the same expedition, Slane, the school of King Dagobert, and Durrow of Columbcille, also suffered; four times in the same century Armagh was desecrated, and laid in ruins; Lismore, and even Clonmacnoise, in the very heart of the country, were rifled. Three centuries of peace had left the pious and studious Irish ill prepared to resist these fierce invaders, but necessity restored the warlike spirit of the
In 863, “the Danes” were beaten near Lough Foyle; in 902, near Dublin; at Dundalk, in 920 ; at Roscrea, in 943; and again at Lough Foyle in 1002. Several of their kings perished upon Irish fields, as saga and chronicle attest. It was in Ireland, and probably as a, captive, that King Olaf Trygvesson, the apostle of Denmark, became a Christian.
But the majority of those who poured from the north on Christendom, at this epoch, were inveterate pagans. The Irish wars against them are therefore to be considered as earlier crusades. In this character we regard the campaigns of Brian, called Boroimhe, that is, Tribute-taker. For half a century, as general and as sovereign, he pursued these enemies of God and man with heroic constancy. From the Shannon to Lough Foyle, in more than threescore battles, he had broken and routed their annual expeditions. At the end of the tenth century, he had left no Northmen in the land, except a few artisans and merchants at Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, and Limerick, who pursued their callings in peace, and paid taxes for protection. Brian, whose sovereign genius thus sheltered his age and nation, was in rank but a provincial king. The king of Leinster was Maolmorra, a jealous and headstrong prince. Some sharp words over å game of chess played at Kincora, with Brian's son, led this great criminal to enter into a league with- the ancient enemy, and invite them once more to Ireland. The northern races warmly responded to his call, as did their kinsmen in Britain and Normandy. The King of Denmark's two sons, Carolus Kanutus and Andreas, with twelve thousand men, reached Dublin, and were loudly received by the traitor who sent for them. Broder and Arnud came with one thousand select Norwegians, covered all in armor ; Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, brought at least as many; Maolmorra added nine thousand men. At least twenty-five thousand of the invading force mustered in Dublin on Palm Sunday, A. D. 1014. They insisted on being led to battle on Good Friday, which one of their oracles assured them would be a day of victory to them. Brian would have avoided fighting on so holy an anniversary, but he was forced to defend himself. With him was a numerous army, divided, like the enemy, into three columns : his two sons commanded the first; Kian and Donald the second; and Connor O'Kelly and other western princes lead on the third. A Scottish auxiliary force, under the great Stewart,” fought on the side of Ireland and the faith. Brian, then over fourscore years old, with crucifix in hand, harangued his army. “ Long have the men of Ireland," he exclaimed, « groaned under the tyranny of these seafaring pirates; the murderers of your kings and chieftains; plunderers of your fortresses; profane destroyers of the churches and monasteries of God; who have trampled and committed to the flames the relics of his saints; and (raising his voice) May the Almighty God, through his great mercy, give you strength and courage this day to put an end forever to the Lochlunian tyranny in Ireland, and to revenge upon them their many perfidies, and their profanations of the sacred edifices dedicated to his worship; this day, on which Jesus Christ himself suffered death for your redemption." He then, continue the ancient annals, “showed them the symbol of the bloody sacrifice in his left hand, and his golden-hilted sword in his right, declaring that he was willing to lose his life in so just and honorable a cause." And he did lose it, though not in the battle. The chiefs of the
of the army insi
insisted on his retiring to his tent, where he was slain before the crucifix by a party of the enemy. The victory of the Christians was, however, complete. At sunset, fourteen thousand pagan bodies lay dead upon that memorable field. The Irish loss was less in numbers; but Brian himself, his second son, and two grandsons, the great Stewart of Scotland, and other captains fell on their side. The fame of the result filled all Christendom in that and after times; the chronicles of Epiparchus, and of Ratisbon, the Niala Saga, and the Saga of Earl Sigurd, preserved among the Normans and their northern kindred the memory
of - Brian's battle.” * It was to Christendom a later Tours, or an earlier Lepanto, this event of Good Friday in Ireland, A. D. 1014. Under Brian's successor, Malachi II., the Danes made an unsuccessful attempt to recover their lost possessions in Leinster, but were suppressed, and Dublin, their city, burned and demolished.
This eleventh century, so auspiciously begun, is one of the most remarkable in modern Irish history. It is at this time we must look for the first weakening of the federal bond, which had hitherto kept Tara the capital, and the Ard-righ the Imperator under the Celtic constitution ; with the derangement of the ancient balance, there comes into account the aggrandizement of the great houses. The O'Briens, especially, overgrew every provincial standard. Malcolm, King of Scots, married a daughter of Brian ; Donagh, Brian's heir, married Driella, daughter of Godwin, Earl of Kent, sister to the Queen of England, and to Harold heir presumptive. When Godwin and his sons were banished, they took refuge with O'Brien ; and from Ireland, and with Irish troops, they returned to assert their rights in England. Twenty years after the battle of Hastings, the sons of Harold, fostered and educated in Ireland, made a descent with Irish troops, landing in the Severn, as their father had done, and fighting with hereditary ill luck.† Thus was Ireland brought into direct collision with the new and sensitive Norman dynasty established in the neighboring island. To this dynasty, the townsmen and tradesmen of Danish origin, tolerated in the seaports,
* The well-known Danish ode on this battle, translated by Thomas Gray, will also occur to the reader's memory. + Thierry's Norman Conquest, vol. i.
also turned with expectation. They sent letters of congratulation to William the Conqueror, on his accession; their bishops of Dublin and Waterford went to Canterbury to be consecrated; in 1142, Irish Danes served under Cadwallader, King Henry's ally in Wales; and in 1165, they served under Henry II., in person, against David ap Owen. This alliance, so natural in its origin, wants not a link in those ages; but, though natural, it can hardly be justified, when we know that these same naturalized Irish Danes rendered homage to the successive kings of Ireland.* They evidently acted a double part in the politics of both kingdoms at this period.
While the Norman dynasty was strengthening itself in England, and the Celtic constitution was gradually degenerating from its essential unity, the Irish hierarchy were zealously employed in repairing the discipline, and the churches, destroyed by three centuries of pagan warfare. An unlettered clergy, more accustomed to defend their creed with the sword than the syllogism, had succeeded the learned fathers of the apostolic age; the canons were flagrantly violated, often unintentionally; the office of erenach, or treasurer, originally confined to archdeacons, was usurped, almost in every diocese, by laymen; the very primacy had become an heir, loom, and for three generations had been kept in one family. God had pity on his people, and raised up a second St. Patrick, in the person of the illustrious Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh. He became the restorer of the old foundations, and the founder of new ones.
He reopened the school of Bangor, and founded, or completed, the college of Armagh. He introduced the Cistercian order, and sent pupils to graduate at Clairvaux, under his dear friend St. Bernard. He held several synods, revived discipline, repaired sacred edifices, and set, in his own life, the holy example of a perfect bishop. Five of his contemporaries are canonized as saints - the best proof that he had worthy and zealous fellow-labor
* A. D. 1073, they rendered homage to the Ard-righ Thorlogh ; A, D. 1095, to the Ard-righ Mortogh; A. Ď. 1164, to McMurrogh.