THE BARDS part 4
The Bardic decline from material neglect came at the end of the 16 century.
Classic poetry yeilded to the stressed verse.
Poetry no longer alludes and leaves the reader seeking meaning.
A new verse evokes no meaning.
The Bardic school of that period had lost their ancient character.
When youths came it was to learn Latin not the Bardic Art, that they might qualify for addmission to continental clerical schools which were by statute banned in Ireland.
Poetry became a common sort of easy art.
The stanzas puzzled no one.
the old Bardic familys such as O Heffernan steered thier sons away from a Bardic Study.
The old Bards scorned the new agricultural life and the setting of fences that supplanted the pastoral life.
The price of a poem had fallen to nothing. Dada.
The Contention of the Bards was held in that day of 1616 shortly after the death of Hugh the Great O Neill at Rome.
This held after Teig mac Brody mac Daire the chief poet of Thomond published a poem called,
OLC DO THAGRAIS A THORNA
'Ill has thou reasoned o Torna'
of Thorna who had been a chief poet a thousand years before.
Thorna Eigeas of the south had upheld in 600 AD that the north had a primal right in Irish kingship and also the calling of Hibernia was derived from Heber progenator of the south clanns.
As Teigs cattle had been confiscated by O Neill forces on their southern campaign, he held a grudge against the North.
Lewy [Lughaid] O Clery of tir Connell replied that Teig should not revile Torna as he was unable to answer.
He assertes in his poem the lawful supremacy of Heremons north over his younger brother Heber and derives the word Hibernia to mean wintery from the Latin.
This took 66 quatrains .
The argumentative reply of Teig took 188.
Lewy [laura] replying in 274 quatrains.
A Lugaid labhran go Seimh.
[Lew let us speak civily.]
At this point Fearfeasa O Canty a desendant of the satrist O Daly enters the fray from Tipperary and later Mahon O Heffernann who repukes both Teig and Lughaid.
'What are they about?' he askes
'As they posess but little of the land of the princes over whom they dispute.'
And 'great is the folly of their heirs'.
Soon the entire community of Bards debated the question and the halves and feast of Gaelic lore of old is set forth in this ancient history of Erinn.
Finally Hugh o Donnell comes into the fray with a geat parade of Gaelic classics and the tales of Conns race and the driving out of the Gael ourselves.
The Contention dragged on over many years and Teig lived till 1652 when he was killed at age 82 by one of Cromwells soldiers who threw him over a cliff saying as he did so
'Abair do Rainn Anois a Fhir Bhig'!
'Say your verses now little man.'
Later in the century a contention of poetry held was of little interest and a third contention on whether the River Sionainn belonged to the north or the south. Full of pleasant verse.
In the last days of the Bardic schools the Fransican Friars of Louvain became the principal center of Gaelic learning.
Father Florence Conry established the Fransiscan College of St Anthony at Louvain with the patronage of Phillip of Spain.
Many of the Bardic hereditary familys graviated to a relious life .
Such men as Bonadventure O Hosey,Fr O Mooney, Hugh Ward,John Colgan, Michael O Clery,Thomas Fleming, Hugh Mac Caughwell[ mac Aingil], Boetius,Egan, Francis O Molloy; all scoins of Bardic familys became Bardic priests.
Miles O Higgins was appointed Archbishop of Tuam in 1583.
He never arrived at InisFail to recieve martydom ,but died at Antwerp on the way.
The remainer of the old Fransican order Bards died away as exiles and their works are found in 'Measgra Danta',in the book of Clande Boyle.
In the Louvain France monastary and the church cataloges.
These were the remanants of ancient Irish literature.
The college of St Anthony founded at Louvain was founded in 1606 by the Fransican friar Florence Conry a scoin of the O Mulconry bardic Family of Connacht.
He was an Arch Bishop of Tuam but was never able to take his seat in Ireland.
The English considered him their greatest enemy.
He sailed with the Armada as friar; he was at the Kinsale Battle; went to Spain with Red Hugh o Donnell; was minister to him at his death bed.
Recieved the fleeing Earls at Louvain and went to Rome with them.
He was a tireless worker of politcal and militay eforts and a respected philosopher.
He translated a Spanish work called' DESIDERIUS' or 'EL DESSEOSU 'into Gaelic that the Irish might have knowledge of litery and religous thought from other lands.
These Anthonian fiars got persmission to set up a printing press from the Spanish Governors of the low contries[ netherlands] to export their works duty free.
This was done for the teaching of the Irish Catholics.
Bonadventure O Hosey was a great scholor in the Gaelic tongue.
He was degreed a Master of Arts at Douai[ Douey].
He was teacher of mac Aingil, aka Hugh mac Coughwell of Saul,Downpatrick.
He was tutor to Hugh O Neils sons Henry and Hugh and knighted by O Neill.
He was called mac Aingil by his Fransican brothers.
He wrote a biography of Duns Scotus, taught theology at Rome in 1623, was appointed Arch Bishop of Armagh but died before he was seated in 1626.
He was an exile at his death.
Mac Aingil wrote a 'Mirror of Piety' in the new prose style writing it in the Irish not the Latin at which he was trained and proficient.
This Irish is the early modern which includes the eclipsing 'Hs' of the venacular speech.
Many of the works published were Catechimsms and were carried by the Irish soldiers in the French service, the Irish Brigade, in the 1740s.
The new prose styles were made by such classically trained bardic men as O Hosey, Conry, mac Aingil and Gearon.
They wrote in exile for the Irish public in the venacular speech of the people and the beginnings of the late modern period of the written word.
'chife' in the Middle Irish became 'chifir' in the Modern Irish.
They incorporated Latin words as needed. Which is strenous for the modern reader to attempt to learn the Irish sprinked with Latin and therefore not really knowing if he is reading Irish or Latin.
For those already literate in the Gaelic venacular, the injection of Latin terms applies no problem.
A great work made at Louvain was the writing of the Irish Saints in Gealic prose which inspired the great mid century classic on the Clery brothers 'Annals of the Kingdon of Ireland'
ANNALA RIOGHACHTA ERIANN
the Four Masters
A historic narative of the flight of the Earls was written by Teig o Keenan who were croniclers of the Maguire ,written about 1615 when his brother Cowcunaught o Keenan confessed to the Commission conserning the plantation of Ulster.
Teig had sailed from Raith Mullen on Sepember 14 with the fleeing earls.
It took them 3 weeks in stormy seas to reach France and OvilleBoeuf near Rowen.
Their arrest and turn over to the English and then the journey through Ameins,Arras,Douai to Louvain.
Thence southward to Nancy,Colmar, Bole,Como, Milan, Rimid and Lore to Rome.
The narrative is discriptive of the great continental citys and churches.
About 1626 Father Hugh Ward, Guardian of St Anthonys Louvain wanted to compile a life of the Saints of Ireland as was done for the Universal church.
At this time a lay friar [one not consecrated] called Poor Brother Michael, who was Tadhg an Sleibhe O Clerigh, cousin of the more ligitimate Lewy.
He was a great Irish antiquarian.
Guardian Ward sent brother Michael to Ireland to gather material for the 'Lives' and for 15 years Michael roamed the land collecting manuscipts and copying.
As he gathered these he also gathered secular history.
Father John Colgan than completed Wards work after he died.
Colgan than wrote 6 other volumes on the lives of the Irish Saints.
Only 2 of which were published.
These were written in Latin from Gaelic materials.
It was John Colgan who formulated the name '4 Masters'.
In addition to leading the production of the Kingdom of Ireland, Michael Clerigh had compiled a discriptive list of the monarchs from mythological times titled,
The Succession of Kings
The Calender of Irish Saints
The New Lexicon
all printed at Louvain.
A Redaction of the Book of Invasions [an Gabala]
published as a national epic.
In 1632 the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland or the Annals of Donegal, as it was called was begun at Donegal monastary.
During which time this monastery was bombed by the English and the monks made homeless in winter.
The compilation took 4 years to complete and was popularly known as the '4 Masters'.
typical of Irish misuse, this author often refers to as, the '4'
The work was assisted by Cucogny [Peregrine], the cousin.
Fearfeasa o Mulconry and Peregrine O Duigean and the O Clery and Mulconry families.
This little group were patronized by Feargal O Gara, Lord of Moy Gara and Cooavin a Prodestant.
Alumnus of Trinity College,Dublin and an MP and the work was dedicated to him when it was completed in 1636
'The 4' saved great tracts of Irelands past from oblivion even though they themselves considered Erinn a dead nation with nothing to be saved but its memory.
The mac Firbis family had 200 years before in 1432, edited the Yellow Book of Lecan and the Great Book of Leacan.
The last of the family Dual or Dudley mac Firbis was killed by a Cromwell solder it is recorded.
He was the last of that great geneologicaly cronicaling family.
In 1685 Roderick O Flaherty from Galway, a student of mac Firbis
wrote the Ogygia in Latin
The mac Egans of Tipperary had been family historians for century some of their documents of Danish times.
Flan mac Egan beng the last of this illustrious family.
What happend to the family archives is not known as Flan was dying around September 1642 as the Confederates forces were succesfull in holding central Ireland.
Rory O Moore wrote to the Irish commissary in Flanders hoping to bring an Irish school back to Ireland.
But it did not materialize.
At the same time Dr James Usher of Anglo/Irish descent, Provost of Trinity College Dublin took and interest in Irish antiquity.
Bedell and Ware were his prodigys.
He was however, hostile to native learning and supressed the old school and considered toleration of the 'Papist' a grevious sin
He took great offence to the Irsh language but his pupil Ware, an Englishman was more tolerent and had mac Firbis translate many Irish events to Latin.
He was called the Camden of Ireland.
Don Philip O Sullivan Bear published a history of Catholic Ireland at Lisbon Portugal in 1621 which is discriptive of the Elizabethan wars and the peace of 1603.
Geoffery Keatings history of Ireland is still one of the most popular of all Irish prose writers.
He was of the Sean Ghaill, the old foreigners, born in Tipperary and was a Latin student of a bardic school.
He than went to Bordeaux to train for the Church.
At 40 years of age he was appointed to a curacy at Tubrid where he remained 30 years and was subsequently laid to rest at age 70.
There he composed ,
'The Key and Defence of the Mass'
The 3 shafts of Death in the Gaelic.'
Keating preached a stern sermon against the then President of Munster and the laws against the practise of Catholic religoin were set in motion against him.
He was then at Glen Aherlow were he began the Hisoty of Ireland in 1629.
This he did ,like the later Bard of Armagh, Bishiop Patrick O Donnelly in 1724 going about in disquise to collect his material.
Keating was a Munsterman and the north refused him documents fearing he would not do justice for Leath Cuinn.
The history completed 5 years later in 1634 was never published until it was finaly edited by Comynt and Dinneen in 4 volumes.
However the manuscript was copied and circulated for 2
centuries amongh the literate populous.
NA FORSA FEASA O SEATHRUN CITRIN
The old and middle Irish periods are clearly laid out in his narrative.
The story of ancient Ireland was retold, with the traditional which, like the author himself was outlawed and fugative.
He wrote in the Late Modern Irish which was understood in the living language.
He himself believed the old order lost and dead.
He derided the slanderous interprataions of Cambresnsis,Spenser, Davis and Campion comparing them to dirt loving beetles and credited the Gaels the honor they deserved.
He himself of the Old Galls,Anglo Norman.
He derived his history from Irsh myth, primeval invasions and the Leabhar Gabhall [Lauar ga-alla] of o Cleary.
Seathrun Ceitrin included in his history the old fueds, the old kings, the barbarities and the folk tales.
He included the story of Erinn as he was able to glean it.
Ceitrin died about 1650.
Again the tradition that he was slain by Cromwells soldiers. He is buried at Turbrid.
copyright, 8 Feburay 2011
sourse: Gaelic Literature Surveyed,Aod de Blacam, Barnes-Noble Books, 1929