|During the 8,000 years before anyone in Ireland bore the name FITZMAURICE, successive waves of invaders and raiders settled on that wondrous island. In each case, there was more than a century of warfare followed by intermarriage and assimilation of the newcomers. Anyone named FITZMAURICE today has many ancestors among each group of invaders.|
The earliest detected migration to Ireland was in 6800 B.C.68 It consisted of numerous small families of nomadic hunters and fishers who rowed across the North Channel from South-western Scotland to Ireland. These people used flint instruments. They seem to have concentrated their hunting activities near the part of Ireland at which they first landed in County Antrim. Undoubtedly, their choice of a home territory was related to the fact that Antrim was rich in flint.
The early group of nomadic hunters, the "Mesolithic" people, apparently stayed in the counties of Antrim, Down, and Derry for about 3,000 years. The total population could hardly have exceeded 1,000 people. Then Ireland was invaded by a new group of people, the "Neolithic" farmers68. Under the pressure of invasion, the hunters were driven away from their home territory. Some went as far south as Dublin. Others moved to the west and southwest at least as far as Co. Roscommon. This movement was confined to the period from about 3700 B.C. to 3500 B.C. Faced with the possibility of annihilation at the hands of a more advanced culture, the Mesolithic hunters made more technological advances in the 200 years of retreating warfare than they had in the previous 3,000 years. They developed large core-axes, boring tools, and scrapers68.
The First Farmers
Farming was well established in present-day Turkey circa 6,000 B.C. The farmers crossed the Aegean Sea and were established in Greece and Bulgaria by 5500 B.C. The farming culture moved across the more fertile parts of Europe at a rate of about one mile per year. Their main route was northward through Greece and along the Vardar River. Then they turned westward and followed the Danube across Europe to the Rhine. They followed the Rhine to Holland and the North Sea. Farming was established in Germany around 4500 B.C. and reached the Dutch coast about 4000 B.C. The first farmers also arrived in Britain around 4000 B.C.88
Circa 3700 B.C.68, the first skilled farmers crossed from Britain to Ireland in skin-covered boats with neither rudder nor keel14. They landed in a region already inhabited by nomadic hunters. Since farming could support a greater population density than could hunting, the farmers usually defeated the hunters where the land was good for farming
The Neolithic farmers built the first permanent houses in Ireland. They lived at first in covered pits, caves, and various temporary shelters such as tents. By about 3200 B.C., they began to dig post holes68. Into these holes they put logs to support the roofs of permanent dwellings. They had domesticated oxen and sheep. Eventually, they cleared the land and planted first barley and later also wheat68.
Sometime within a few hundred years before 2000 B.C., groups of pre-literate Indo-Europeans began to migrate from their home north of the Caucasus, along a land route north of the Black Sea, to Thrace and Greece. Other groups settled south of the Black Sea and evolved into the Hittite empire.88
One Indo-European group invaded Ireland circa 2100 B.C.68 No archaeological evidence of their route has been found. They could hardly have followed a land route through central Europe since there is no evidence in France or Holland of Indo-European inhabitants at that early date. It seems most likely that the true story is enshrined in the ancient bardic tale of Nemedh. According to the ancient tale, the Nemedians, led by Nemedh, came from the Caucasus to the shore of the Black Sea. Then they traveled overland to the Baltic Sea. There they built ships and sailed westward to Ireland. I suspect that the bardic tale evolved long after the indo-european migration as Irish sailors (and poets) gradually learned that this would have been the safest route.
The Picts were a semi-Celtic or proto-Celtic people who migrated to Ireland before the continental Celtic culture was fully developed. They apparently arrived in Ireland circa 1300 B.C., i.e. just a little later than in Britain.68 The Picts were miners and farmers as well as warriors. The miners were called Firbolg by other Gaels (Fir = men; Firbolg = bagmen) because they used bags to carry dirt away from their excavations1. The farmers were called Cruithnigh (corn eaters) by other Gaels. The Picts used two names for Ireland, "Banfa" (or Banff) and "Ealg". ("Elgin" means "Little Ireland")
During the second millennium B.C., the Indo-Europeans migrated both eastward and westward.49 The main route followed by the westward migrating group was up the Danube River to the vicinity of the Rhine and then down the Rhine to eastern France. The first Indo-Europeans to reach central Europe are called the Corded Ware people because of the distinctive decoration of their pottery. The various Celtic, Germanic, and Italian languages had not yet evolved.
After the arrival of the Corded Ware people, the mosaic of small independent cultures underwent a qualitative change.49 In the whole territory north and northwest of the Alps, much larger cultural complexes began to develop. Most significant of these new cultures was that of the Tumulus People. ("Tumulus" is a name commonly used for a burial mound.) They were densely settled at higher elevations from Burgundy in France to Bohemia and part of Moravia by 1500 B.C.
Sometime after 1500 B.C., the culture of the Urnfields appeared. They were farmers with a good command of bronze working and the techniques of building defensive earthworks and palisades. Circa 1000 B.C., the territory of the Urnfield spread rapidly westward to include part of present-day France. This expanded territory then included the former territory of the Tumulus People and dominated the Danube-Rhine axis.
Around 1000 B.C., the tribes included in the Urnfield culture began to regroup and expand into new territories. The four main groups were Celts in the west, Slavs in the north, Italic speakers in the south, and Illyrians in the southeast. There was also a smaller Nordic group of Germans and Balts.88 The Atlantic coast of Europe was still occupied by non-Indo-European tribes.
The Celts evolved from the part of the Urnfield people that amalgamated with the earlier Tumulus people. Until about 800 B.C., they were found only in Germany and eastern France. Then they began to expand their territory. Sometime between 800 B.C. and 700 B.C., the Celts discovered iron working. Iron slowly became the main metal used. The Hallstatt Iron Age (700 B.C. to 450 B.C.) saw the culmination and completion of the evolution of the Celts as they were observed and described in Latin and Greek writings by historians from the Italian peninsula.
Between 600 B.C. and 500 B.C., the centers of development shifted farther west, partly into southern Bavaria, mainly into the basins of the upper Danube and the upper Rhine, into southern Germany, northwestern Switzerland, and eastern France. In the northwestern foothills of the Alps, the military and cultural center of the Celtic world developed. From there, the Celts developed extensive commercial contacts with the peoples of Italy.
Sometime after 500 B.C., there was an extensive migration of Celtic tribes within the Celtic territory. Then, around 450 B.C., the Celts began the conquest of surrounding territory in all directions except north. From the north, there was already an irreversible movement of the Germanic tribes southward.
Around 400 B.C., Celtic bands took by conquest the rich farmland of the Po valley in northern Italy.
The first Celtic invaders of Italy were the Insubres. They sacked the Etruscan city of Melpum and occupied the neighborhood of present-day Milan. The Boii, Lingones, and Senones settled in Lombardy in the valley of the Po.
The Cenomani settled in the northeast, the Boii in the Bologna district, and the Lingones south of the lower stretches of the Po, as far as the Appenines. The Senones reached the Adriatic coast in Umbria, between Rimini and the mouth of the river Aesis. north of Ancona.
In 387 B.C., the Celts defeated a Roman army and then continued southward to sack and burn Rome. After that defeat, the Romans reorganized and began a 200-year war leading to the conquest of all Italy. By 190 B.C., the Romans captured the Celtic strong-point, Bononia (present-day Bologna), and occupied most of northern Italy. By 150 B.C., the Celts remaining in Italy retreated to the foothills of the Alps.
Domination of Central Europe by the Celts was finally ended by the Germans. Sometime before 113 B.C., the Cimbri, a tribe of Germans, started fighting their way south from northern Jutland. The Cimbri were repulsed by the Boii before 113 B.C. somewhere to the west or southwest of Bohemia. The Cimbri then turned to attack the Scordistae, a Celtic tribe on the Danube. From there, the Cimbri moved westward against the Raurisci, another Celtic tribe. After being defeated by the Romans in 107 B.C., 105 B.C., and 102 B.C., the Cimbri presented no further threat to Italy. It was more than 500 years before another German tribe was able to invade Italy. The Celts, however, now rapidly vanished from Central Europe. Some escaped to the west; some were slaughtered by the Germans; many were enslaved; the remainder were gradually absorbed into other tribes.
Gaius Julius Caesar led the Roman forces in an eight-year war (58-51 B.C.) to subjugate the Celtic tribes in Gaul (roughly equivalent to present-day France). After that war, although a thin, broken line of Celtic settlements still existed along an arc stretching from France to Slovakia, the last Celts in Europe were soon absorbed into other cultures.
Between 750 B.C. and 50 B.C. there were five separate invasions of Britain by Celtic tribes. Yet, there is no archaeological evidence of a Celtic invasion of Ireland. During the last millenium B.C., while the Celtic culture in Europe formed, expanded, contracted, and disappeared, there was no increase in fortifications in Ireland, no sudden major increase in iron weapons, no sudden appearance of new tools, art objects, or burial customs. Yet, the Roman historians reported Ireland to be thoroughly Celtic at the beginning of the Christian era.68
The explanation that seems to be accepted by modern Irish archeologists is that, after the Indo-European invasion in 2100 B.C., there was continuous trade between Ireland and the present territories of Spain and France. As those two territories were slowly transformed by the spreading continental Celtic culture, Ireland was transformed into a Celtic culture.68
The principal exports before 600 B.C. were probably gold, copper, and bronze. The principal imports were probably slaves, wine, textiles, and various foods that could not be grown in Ireland. After 600 B.C., the substantial commerce with Europe enabled the Irish to acquire all the technological and artistic inventions of the European Celts.
Celts and Gaels
A "Celt" would always refer to himself as a Gael and to his language as Gaelic (or some minor variation of the word "Gaelic"). "Gael" means light or bright (the reference probably being to hair and skin color). The Greek merchants of northern Italy and southern France probably devised the Greek word ""Keltoi" as the closest they could come to the correct pronunciation of the plural of "Gael". The Latin word "Celtae" is a straightforward latinization of "Keltoi". Towards the end of the Celtic era in Europe, some writers referred to the Gaels as "Galli" (or Gauls) and as "Galatae" (or Galatians). In this document, I follow the usage of my sources. They usually use the word "Celt" to designate a Celt located in Europe and either "Celt" or "Gael" to designate a Gaelic-speaking person located in Ireland, Britain, or nearby islands.
Celts from Spain
According to Irish oral history, Celts arrived from Spain circa 500 B.C. That would have been about the same time that other Celts were attacking their neighbors throughout central and western Europe. Although no archaeological evidence of such an invasion has yet been found in Ireland, the story is given some creditability by the existence of a Celtic culture in Ireland at the beginning of the first millennium A.D.
These invaders were said to have called themselves Clanna Miled or Milesians after their leader Milesius. They also called themselves Scotii after Scota, the mother of Milesius. The Milesians usually called their new country Eire. Ceasar called it Hibernia, perhaps because the first Milesian king of the southern half of Ireland was named Eber or Heber. Thereafter, Ireland was usually called either Hibernia or Scotia by Latin writers.
Gallgaels arrived sometime before 300 A.D. The Gallgaels (or Stranger Gaels), a confederation of nomadic Scotii and Norsemen, occupied the Western Isles of Scotland to Galloway and Man and the eastern Irish seaboard from the Glynns of Antrin to Dublin1. On the west coast of Ireland, they had numerous settlements in Donegal and Connaught. The Gallgaels were also called Locklanns (or Sea Rovers). There were two distinct types of Gallgaels. These were the Finnghoil (or fair Gaels) and the Dhygoil (or dark Gaels). The Finnghoil were probably Norwegians. The Dhygoil were probably Danes and Attacots.
Red hair and freckles were probably first seen (in significant quantity) in Ireland and Scotland among the Finnghoil from Norway. All earlier invaders had been either blond or dark-haired. The genetic stock of red hair and freckles was later increased by invading Vikings from Norway.
The word "Gallgaels" (with some variations in spelling) was used again during the Viking era in Ireland to describe a particular nomadic army of mixed Viking and Gaelic warriors. This army attacked both Viking and Gaelic settlements in Ireland75.
("Vik" means bay or fiord; "Viking" means one who comes from a bay or fiord.)
As with earlier invaders of Ireland, the Vikings75 came from areas where the population was outgrowing the natural resources. In addition, the Vikings dominated the European slave trade.210 The two principal routes were
While every country in Europe had a slave population during the Viking era, major importers were Iceland (where more than 20% of the population were slaves210) and the Muslim kingdoms of Southwest Asia. Slaves sold to Iceland were mostly captured in Ireland and Scotland. Slaves sold to the Muslims were primarily Slavs captured by Swedish Vikings in Russia.210
Swedish Vikings planted colonies on the coast of Prussia, rounded the North Cape, and discovered a route by water to the White Sea. By way of the Dnieper, the Dniester, the Volga, and the northern stretches of the Dvina, they penetrated into the interior of Russia, and in A.D. 682 laid the foundations, at Novgorod, of the kingdom out of which has grown modern Russia. Still more of them sailed down the Volga to the Caspian and, by the Dnieper, entered the Bosporus.
About A.D. 850, Norwegian Vikings made their way over the North Sea to Iceland. Thence they sailed to Greenland, to Vinland the Good, and to North America.
In the 10th Century, bands of Danish Vikings forced the King of France to yield to them the Duchy of Normandy. They placed a Danish sovereign on the throne of England. More of them went up the Rhine, the Loire, and the Gironde, and fought the Moors, on the banks of the Guadalquivir. Others of them pushed into the Mediterranean and built a powerful kingdom in Italy. Still others found their way to Greece and the Black Sea.
By the end of the first millenium, the Vikings were on the point of becoming masters of the greater part of northern and western Europe. But they were stopped by the major defeat that they met in Ireland.
Norwegian Vikings began their raids on Ireland circa A.D. 617 when they burned the cloister of Eig, slew the Abbot Donnan and 52 of his companions. Attacks continued for a few years, and then stopped for about 150 years. In A.D. 794, the Vikings landed on Rechru, now Lambay, off Howth, and some other islands north of Dublin. Simultaneously, they attacked the Isle of Slye and Glamorganshire in South Wales.
On the occasion of a raid, villages were burned and sacked. Typically, some of the women and children would be enslaved; everyone else in the village would be killed. If the invaders remained, the foreign soldiers were billeted on the Irish farmers and a heavy tax was laid upon all the people.
In A.D. 823, Vikings scaled Scelic Michil (the Skelligs) and carried off the hermit Etgal. During the next two or three years, they burned Bangor, and murdered its monks and scholars. At the confluence of the Liffey and Poddle was a village called Ath Cliath (Ford of the Hurdles). [In this historical context, "hurdle" means "frame on which traitors were dragged to their execution".209] The village was also named Dubhlinn (Blackpool) from the dark color of the water under the bog. The Norsemen, about A.D. 837, built an earthen fort and for nearly two hundred years Dublin remained an exclusively Norwegian or Danish city and the capital and headquarters of the Vikings in western Europe.
About A.D. 832, the Norse made their first attack on Ireland in force. Their leader was the Norwegian warrior Tuirgeis. He came with a fleet of 120 ships, which held some ten thousand or twelve thousand men. One squadron of sixty ships entered the Liffey, while Tuirgeis himself with the other ships sailed up the Boyne. From these points, small bands of Vikings entered into the interior of the country and made the first permanent Norse settlements in Ireland. Turgeis confined his operations to the north. His headquarters were in the southern part of Lough Ree, near where Athlone now stands. He built earthworks along the upper courses of the Shannon and a line of forts across the country from Carlingford Bay to Connacht. He is said to have enthroned his wife Otta upon the high altar of the principal church at Clonmacnois. From that seat, Otta delivered oracles to the people. About A.D. 845, Tergeis was taken prisoner by Maelsechlainn (Malachy) king of Meath, and drowned in Loch Owel.
By the end of the ninth century, there were frequent marriages between the two peoples. Some of the women settled down with their husbands in Ireland. Others followed them to Norway or Iceland, and many other Irish women were carried away as slaves.
During the tenth and eleventh centuries, the Danes took the lead in Viking activities. They were better organized than the Norse and they could always fall back on their kingdom in Northumbria with its capital at York. The Danes came to Ireland and fought the Norwegian Vikings as readily as they fought the Gaels.
Irish writers called the Vikings of Norwegian descent white heathens, while those of Danish descent they called black heathens. This was due to the fact that the Danes were clad in body armor. The Irish themselves fought in their ordinary dress and mantles, except in combat of special danger when they donned breastplates and aprons of leather. They used light javelins for throwing and longer and stouter spears for thrusting, and swords, and carried a shield of wickerwork to defend the body. The first comers among the Norwegians likewise wore only a tunic of leather, but the Danes wore dark metal coats of mail, helmets and visors, and were partial to the battle-axe. As they were the first mail clad warriors the Irish had ever seen, they seemed to them to be "dark blue" or "blue-green" as they called them.
A.D. 847 marks the first sudden descent of the Danes, "in seven score ships", upon the eastern shore of Ireland. In A.D. 850, the "Blacks" seized and plundered Dublin and in the following year they defeated the "Whites" decisively at Carlingford Lough. Five thousand Norwegians with their kings lay dead on the field.
The next year, A.D. 852, the Norwegians rallied under Olafr enn hviti (Olaf the White). In A.D. 853, he and his countryman Ivar assumed joint kingship over the Vikings in Ireland and set up their capital at Dublin. From there the Norwegians gradually gained ground and established vassal states and a string of trading posts and stations for their fleets along the coast.
On the banks of the River Shannon, the Vikings founded and fortified, in the second half of the ninth century, a city which they called Limerick. The city flourished and exerted an influence over all Munster. There was close connection between it and the distant Hebrides, and it was not long before it became a rival of the Norwegian kingdom at Dublin. The two parties engaged in raidings and hostings just like the native clansmen. Now one side and now the other invited the Irish to help them, and Irish chieftains in turn sought the aid of the foreigners. The first Irish king who is said to have made such an alliance was Aed Finnlaith, father of Niall Glundubh, king of Ulster in the middle of the ninth century.
During the first half of the tenth century, the Danes gained possession of large parts of the interior of the country. In A.D. 914, reinforcements arrived at Waterford. They again sailed up the Shannon in a great fleet and into Lough Ree where they plundered the islands and burned Clonmacnois. Their leader this time was Tomrair, king, or son of the king, of Denmark. By the middle of the century, however, the Irish had learned how to build warships and to employ naval tactics after the manner of the Northmen. The most celebrated of the naval battles in which they engaged is connected with the name of Callachan of Cashel, who began to reign in A.D. 934 and who won back Cashel and most of Munster from the Danes. Callachan entered Dublin, collected great stores of cattle, gold, silver, and other treasures, burned the town and departed.
The most famous hero of the Danish period in Ireland was Brian mac Cennéidigh, known as Brian Boru (941—1014). His army won a decisive victory over the Vikings at Clontarf (near Dublin) on Good Friday in A.D. 1014. Brian himself was killed during the battle.
Viking expansion in Ireland was ended by the battle at Clontarf, which was near the heart of Viking power in western Europe politically, militarily, commercially, and logistically. There was, however, no exodus and no record of genocide. The Vikings continued to live in their own towns. They became Christians in the following generation and then gradually melted into the genes of Ireland.
The Viking Heritage in Ireland75
The Viking era in Ireland started in A.D. 617 with the burning of the cloister of Eig and ended about 400 years later in A.D. 1014 at the battle of Clontarf. The history of the period is usually described in terms of the numerous raids and battles recorded by the poets and monks. Yet, the people of Ireland, Gaels and Vikings alike, would certainly have starved if they had not spent most of the daylight hours of their lives in commerce and the production of food.
In matters of agriculture and cattle raising, the Gaels were the teachers of the Vikings. It appears also that the most ancient of the Norse poets learned their craft in Ireland. (The first Icelandic poets had the Gaelic names Kormack and Sighvat and had a common Irish ancestress.) In all other matters, however, it seems that the Gaels learned from the Norse invaders.
Tacitus wrote that "the Irish ports in the first century were well known to commerce and merchants".75 The Gaels, therefore, had had ample opportunity to study the design of successful merchant ships. By observing the Vikings, the Gaels learned to build and sail larger ships and to organize fleets.
The Gaels also learned to use iron armor, to fight on horseback (rather than from chariots or on foot), to build stone forts and bridges, and to live in fortified cities surrounded by walls. A little before A.D. 900, the Gaels began to build isolated, tall, round towers as places of ecclesiastical refuge from the Vikings. The remains of about 80 such towers have survived to the present day.
Since the Vikings controlled the sea and had built the first cities at each of the principal ports of Ireland, it was Viking merchants who handled all coastal sea trade in Ireland as well as trade with the western ports of France and Spain. They imported wheat, wine, silk, and leather. The first coins produced in Ireland were minted by the Vikings in Dublin.
During the Viking era in Ireland, there was a single language (very close to modern Icelandic) spoken in the Viking areas of Ireland, all of Scandinavia, Iceland, northern Germany, and northern England. From this Old Norse language (and occasionally from Latin) are derived almost every word in modern Irish referring to a ship or its parts or to markets or trade.
The modern English name of Ireland seems to have originated with the Norse in about the seventh century A.D. Starting with the Gaelic word "Éire", the Norse called the island first Ir or Ire and then Ireland. Soon after that, in England the island became known as Ireland and its inhabitants as Irish. For several centuries longer, however, European writers continued to refer to Ireland as Scotia.
There are only about a dozen Norse place names in all of Ireland as compared with over a thousand such names in middle and northern England. Some historians interpret the scarcity of Norse place names as meaning that the Norse never succeeded in conquering the interior of Ireland.
The effect of the Viking invasions on Irish art is described in Reference 14.
There were Danish Viking raiders in the Seine valley as early as A.D. 886. The French group of Vikings conquered the part of France now called Normandy and was then quickly absorbed by the French-speaking population. Within 150 years, the descendants of the Vikings in France had abandoned the Norse language everywhere except in the Bayeux area.
In A.D. 1066, the Normans (descendants of the Vikings in France but genetically more French than Norse) crossed the Channel to conquer England, Wales, Cornwall, and Scotland. The Normans were quickly assimilated wherever they went. By A.D. 1300, a newly enriched English language had replaced Norman-French as the language of commerce and officialdom in England87.
The direct cause of the Norman invasion of Ireland was the abduction of Dervorgilla (the wife of Tighernan O'Rourke, prince of Breffni) by Diarmuid MacMurrough (king of Leinster) in A.D. 1152. In the following year, O'Rourke obtained the aid of Roderick O'Connor of Connaught. Together, they recaptured Dervorgilla. Subsequently, other tribes attacked the weakened MacMurrough and he fled to England circa A.D. 1168. Henry II of England gave Diarmuid letters authorizing any of Henry's subjects to go to Ireland to aid Diarmuid.
The first landing was at Bannow, Wexford, in May 1169. In A.D. 1170, the invaders captured Dublin. Henry II, with 4500 men in 400 ships, landed at Waterford in October 1171.
Within three or four generations, the Normans were assimilated in Ireland just as they had been in England and Wales and just as their Danish Viking ancestors had been in France.
When the Normans came, Ireland still had a tribal organization. At first, all tribes opposed the Normans. Before long, the tribes reverted to tribal behavior and attacked neighboring tribes whenever they perceived an opportunity to acquire more land, cattle, or other goods. Within a hundred years, it made little difference whether an ally, or an adversary, had a Norman or a Gaelic name.
An important effect of the Norman invasion of Britain was unification. When the Normans arrived, England, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, Man, and the various groups of islands around Britain all had separate and mutually hostile governments. The Normans conquered England, Cornwall, and Wales. By the time the Normans had been fully assimilated in those three regions, a new enlarged, and relatively unified, England had emerged. After the total population was greatly reduced by the Black Death during the 14th century, the standard of living of all population groups (including feudal serfs) was improved. Scotland and the nearby islands then faced inevitable conquest by a strong, unified, prosperous, and aggressive England.
The role of the Normans in Ireland was somewhat different from what it had been in Britain. The Normans did not have enough troops to meet all their combat requirements in Britain, France, and Ireland. They apparently gave Ireland the lowest priority. The Norman conquest and pacification of Ireland was never completed. At the time that the Normans in Ireland were totally assimilated (both genetically and culturally), Ireland was still a divided country. There was a weak central government with little control over the provincial rulers. Provincial rulers were all about equally Gaelic from a genetic standpoint although many bore Norman names. A long-term effect of the Norman invasion of Ireland was to provide the tribes with better weapons and to provide their leaders with on-the-job training in modern military methods.
When the Tudor English began their conquests of Ireland circa A.D. 1515, there was probably no more national unity in Ireland than there had been in A.D. 1170. Yet, the local opposition was both skilled and vigorous where the local chieftain chose to resist. The likelihood of resistance was about the same whether the Irish chieftain had a Norman or a Gaelic name.