From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland 1906
[2. The Gold of Ancient Ireland. Extracts:
Gold, Silver, and Enamel, as Working Materials.
Gold and Silver. 'It is certain that gold and silver mines were worked in this
country from the most remote antiquity, and that gold was found anciently in
much greater abundance than it has been in recent times. According to the bardic
annals, the monarch Tigernmas [Tiernmas] was the first that smelted gold in
Ireland, and with it covered drinking-goblets and brooches; the mines were
situated in the Foithre [fira], or woody districts, east of the Liffey; and the
artificer was Uchadan, who lived in that part of the country. In the same
district gold is found to this day. But other parts of the country produced gold
also, as, for instance, the district of O'Gonneloe near Killaloe, and the
neighbourhood of the Moyola river in Derry. There were gold districts also in
Antrim, Tyrone, Dublin, Wexford, and Kildare. The general truthfulness of the
old Irish traditions and records is fully borne out by the great quantities of
golden ornaments found in every part of the country, of which numerous specimens
may be seen in the National Museum, Dublin.
As in the case of gold, we have also very ancient legends about silver; and it
was, and is, found in many parts of Ireland.
Enamel and Enamel Work.'On many of the specimens of metal-work preserved in the
National Museum may be seen enamel patterns worked with exquisite skill, showing
that the Irish artists were thorough masters of this branch of art. Their enamel
was a sort of whitish or yellowish transparent glass as a foundation, coloured
with different metallic oxides. It was fused on to the surface of the heated
metal, where it adhered, and was worked while soft into various patterns, The
art of enamelling was common to the Celtic people of Great Britain and Ireland,
in pre-Christian as well as in Christian times; and beautiful specimens have
been found in both countries, some obviously Christian, and others, as their
designs and other characteristics show, belonging to remote pagan ages.
Gold, mined in Ireland, was shaped into beautiful lunulae (moon disks), probably
worn as decoration by tribal leaders and priests. Gold has been found in bogs or
under standing stones, perhaps left as offerings for the gods. Later, in the
Bronze Age, Ireland's metalworking skills were the best in Europe, with Irish
craftsmen creating quantities of beautiful gold jewelry, exquisite bronze horns,
tools, and weapons of all kinds. Trade routes distributed the manufactured goods
while raw gold, tin, and other materials not found in Ireland were imported from
Britain and continental Europe.
The Irish Bronze Age may have ended in economic collapse, since technology
declined as contact with Europe lessened around 500 B.C. Some Celtic La Tene
(from Switzerland) iron artifacts have been found in Ireland, but there's no
evidence that a European Celtic invasion introduced Iron Age technology. Irish
smiths learned to fashion the new metal, copying European styles and developing
their own. Ireland's Iron Age was a status-conscious culture with prestige
objects displaying the height of blacksmith art. Irish builders and engineers
also raised huge earthworks and temples. A massive 120-foot-wide circular wooden
temple was built, burned, and buried at Navan Fort in Ulster, perhaps in
sacrifice to the local god.
3. The Irish Contribution to British
In all, about 210,000 Irishmen served in the British forces during World War
One. Since there was no conscription, about 140,000 of these joined during the
war as volunteers. Some 35,000 Irish died. Irishmen enlisted for the war effort
for a variety of reasons. Some, just like their fellows in other warring states,
joined up for the perceived justice of the cause.
However, 4 Irish from independent Ireland won the award in the second World War.
1 from Northern Ireland won also, a Catholic from the Falls Road, West Belfast.
It's worth mentioning that a large percentage of the small Irish Army actually
deserted to go over and fight in the UK forces. In fact, larger numbers from the
Irish Free State served in UK forces than from Northern Ireland.
It should also be noted that most Irish V.C. awards date from the 19th century*.
After that, for political reasons including nationalist agitation against
recruitment, many Irish were much less inclined to join up. This is on top of a
trend that can be seen as a steady decline in their percentage of the British
Army from the 1830's, when they were the largest nationality in the army, to the
beginning of the Boer War when they made up 12% of the army and 11% of the
population. This trend reflected both a decrease in percentage of the UK
population as well as emigration of young men and increasing nationalism and
feelings of injustice resulting from the policies of the UK. During World War 1
Ireland, partly because of the lack of conscription there as opposed to other
parts of the UK, had a slightly lower percentage of its population in uniform
than England, though slightly more than Sotland and signifigantly more than
(Between the founding of the award, during the Crimean War, until the start of
the Boer War the Irish percentage declined from around 1/3 to the above
mentioned 12% yet for most categories of other ranks, such as privates, lance
corporals and corporals, various sergeants, musicians, etc. the Irish held the
highest number of V.C.'s. during the period)
Irish Assistance to Britain
UK PM Chamberlain met de Valera 25/4/38 shortly after Austrian Anschluss made
War probable. They signed UK/Eire Free Trade Agreement, which:
- settled land annuities (UK Loans);
- transferred the Treaty Ports to Eire, to be neutral: Irish calm was vital to
UK - Brits. could man trenches or tools, not both. UK must gain volunteers, not
Fenians, nor waste soldiers to guard wet enclaves;
- Ulster would be exempt from conscription, its border open;
- Eire's citizens would not be 'alien', but welcome, free to enter/work in UK
without passports, and to remit currency home. Munitions factories in NW England
became Paddy fields (families with such names as McCartney and Gallagher took
root). In 1942 hardcore provided by the Luftwaffe was turned into airfields by
60,000 strong Irishmen, freeing Brits. equating to an Army Corps: there were
'165,000 next-of-kin Irish addresses in the Br.Forces', in Aug.'44 D. Childs,
Br. Since '39, Palgrave, 2002, P.55.
Recruitment to British Military.
http://www.pprune.org/ jet-blast/387717-irish-participation -world-war-2-a-2.html
There is an Irish website which has a military forum and questions about British
army recruitment form a regular part of it. Almost equal to questions about
Irish army recruitment. In fact the idea of seeing action is attractive to many
young men. You won't get that in the Irish army.
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