|The Names of Ireland and the Ten Tribes.||
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Contents in Alphabetical Order
(a) The Many Names of Ireland
Ireland has been known by many names throughout time. The first name given to the land was Island of Woods, and this name was given by a warrior of the people of "Nin, son of Bel ". Three times indeed was the island all one woodland, as the poet says - "Three times Eire put coverings on her, and three times bareness off her."
The second name was Land at the Limit of the World, and the third name was Noble Island. In the time of the "Firbolg" it had this name on it.
The fourth name was Eire, and this is from the name of the queen of the Tuatha De Danann, that is to say Fodhla and Banbha.
The next name was Inis Fail, the Island of stone, which is the stone of destiny that the Tuatha De Danann brought with them. It is a tabu-stone, for it used to roar under the person fit to be king when the assembly of the men of the island met at Tara. But it has not roared from the time of Conchobor forward, for the false idols of the world when Christ was born.
The next name was Isle of Mists, and the next was Scotia. and then Hibernia, and after that Irlanda. This means the land of Ir, who was the son of Mile, and he was the first man of that clan to be buried on the island.
It is said that the Greeks called the land Ogygia, which is to say the most ancient land, and this is suitable, for it is a long, long time since it was first inhabited.
(b) Names of the Irish state
The Annals of the Four Masters describes how Ireland was referred to in ancient times:
During the time of the Partholonians, Nemedians, Fomorians, and Firbolg, the island was given a number of names:
Inis Ealga signifying the noble or excellent island. The Latin translation was Insula Nobilis
Fiodh-Inis signifying the Woody island. In Latin this was Insula nemorosa
Crioch Fuinidh signifying the Final or remote country. In Latin as Terra finalia.
Inisfail meaning the Island of Destiny, and Inisfalia or Insula Fatalis in Latin. This was the name used by the Tuatha D'Danann and from this 'Fail' became an ancient name for Ireland. In this respect, therefore, Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny, came to mean 'Stone of Ireland'. Inisfail appears as a synonym for Erin in some Irish romantic and nationalist poetry in English in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; Aubrey Thomas de Vere's 1863 poem Inisfail is an example.
Eriu (from which derived Eire, Banba and F'la where names given by the Dananns from three of their queens.
Ierne refers to Ireland by various ancient Greek writers and many scholars have the opinion that in the poem when the Argonauts passes Neson Iernida, that is, the Island Iernis, they are referring to the island of Ireland, thus referring to Ireland longer ago than 1000BC.
Insula Sacra or the "Sacred Isle" was how several Roman writers referred to the island on account of its being a celebrated seat of Druidism.
Ogygia meaning the most ancient land is the name used by Plutarch in the first century to refer to Ireland.
Hibernia is first used to refer to Ireland by Julius Caesar in his account of Britain, and became a common term used by the Romans. The also used a number of other terms, namely Juverna, Juvernia, Ouvernia, Ibernia, Ierna, Vernia. Ptolemy also refers to it as Iouernia or Ivernia.
Scotia or the land of the Scots is a term used by various Roman and other Latin writers, who referred to Irish raiders as Scoti. Some of the earliest mentions are in the 5th century, St. Patrick calls the Irish "Scoti", and in the 6th century, St. Isidore bishop of Seville and Gildas the British historian both refer to Ireland as Scotia. It was a term that exclusively referred to Ireland up until the eleventh century when modern Scotland was first referred to as Scotia. But even up until the sixteenth century, many Latin writers continued to refer to Ireland as Scotia. From the twelfth to the sixteenth century, various scholars used to distinguish between Ireland and Scotland by using Scotia Vetus or Scotia Major meaning Old Scotia or the Greater Scotia for Ireland, and Scotia Minor or Lesser Scotia for Scotland.
Insula Sanctorum or the Island of the Saints and Insula Docturum or the Island of the Learned are names used by various Latin writers; hence the modern-day quasi-poetic description of the island as the "Land of Saints and Scholars".
The Druidic doctrine is believed to have been found existing in Britain and thence imported into Gaul; even today those who want to make a profound study of it generally go to Britain for the purpose.
"There were also superstitions regarding Britain herself: for example the eerie story that she was the abode of the dead and that souls were rowed across in unmanned boats, which left the coast of Gaul at nightfall and returned before dawn. Thanet, the name of Kent's north-eastern extremity may originate in this legend." Greek thanatos 'death'. Related in garbled form by Procopius in de Bello Gothico (I.iv.20).
Romans and Barbarians by Derek Williams (p.122).
# Speaking of the island of Brittia, by which he means Britain, Procopius states that it is divided by a wall. Thither fishermen from the Breton coast are compelled to ferry over at darkest night the shades of the dead, unseen by them, but marshalled by a mysterious leader. The fishermen who are to row the dead across to the British coast must go to bed early, for at midnight they are aroused by a tapping at the door, and they are called in a low voice. They rise and go down to the shore, attracted by some force which they cannot explain. Here they find their boats, apparently empty, yet the water rises to the bulwarks, as if they were crowded. Once they commence the voyage their vessels cleave the water speedily, making the passage, usually a day and a half's sailing, in an hour. When the British shore is reached the souls of the dead leave the boats, which at once rise in the sea as if unloaded. Then a loud voice on shore is heard calling out the name and style of those who have disembarked #
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