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were celebrated in honour of Tailte, a mythologic personage, but represented as the widow of the last Belgic monarch. The druids here sacrificed in honour of the marriage of the sun and moon, at which time the states assembled, and young people were given in marriage according to the custom of the eastern nations. Tailte is said to have been the daughter of Magh-mor, but Tille Magh mor, means the revolution of the great divinity. The games are said to have been instituted by Lughaid lam fadha rè, King Lughaid Lam fadha, but these words also imply the time of puberty of the good planet the moon, whence this festival was frequently denominated Lughaed naoistean, the matrimonial assembly, * from all which it may be inferred that its institution was coeval with the introduction of the Helio-arkite worship
It has been supposed, however, that instead of Bladhma Siabh being the place of worship in the portion taken by Tuathal from Munster, Tlachgo, in East Meath, was the appointed station, but this could never have been part of Munster. Here the druids sacrificed on the tombs of their ancient heroes, to the earth, called Tlacht, from its rotatory motion, on the eve of November, termed in commemoration of this festival Oidche Samha. Deer and swine were the victims, and the celebration was likewise named Tlachgo, to go round, from the dances used in this solemnity in imitation of the earth's motion, by the votaries encircling the sanctuary with lighted torches, called Tlachga.t
Lighting these fires in towers instead of the tops of mountains, is said to have been an innovation brought about by Moght Nuadhat. This person is asserted by the Irish writers to have been the last king of the Belgians, who, in opposing the Tuatha Danans, lost his hand, which being supplied by the substitution of one of silver, he was surnamed Airgiod-lamh, or the silverhanded, the whole of which story is mythological. As in Britain so in Ireland, the real sovereigns took for names the titles of the deities ; hence Cynvelin (Cunobelinus), Arthur, Uther Pendragon, &c. So in Irish histories we meet with another monarch, named Mogh Nuadhat, who lived about the year 170, that is, thirty years after Tuathal Teachtmar, and had been for nine years an exile in Spain. Whether we are to attribute to him the introduction of the round towers, or to his prototype, is not easy to determine, but the real name of this sovereign was
• Vallancey's Essay on the Celtic Language, pp. 18, 19, 136, and 142. The Britons also worshipped the sun, under the symbol of fire, whence in the Cadair Teyrn On, we have “the moving vehement fire, even he whom we adore above the earth."
+ Beauford on the Topography of Ireland. Torches were also used in the British Helio-arkite mysteries. See Davies's Mythology of the Druids.
Eugene, honoured with the epithet “the Great," which Mogha Nuadhat, (which signifies the Magus of the new law,*) was an assumed title.
The more general name of these towers is Teach-dravi, the druid's dwelling ; but they were also called Tor-barr-caol, the tower of burning fire; and the Aoi-Beil-toir, community of the towers of Beil, was a high dignitary of the pagan hierarchy, whose office it was to summon the people to the Naas-teighan, or Cureailte meeting of the states.
When Naas-Teighan had been anathematized by the Christian clergy, the states of Leinster assembled at Naas, the residence of their kings during the 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries. Carmon was the capital of the ancient Coulan, and the Naas-teighan was where the southern parts of Leinster met it. It was situated about five miles east of Athy. The character above mentioned was also called Cuill-ceach, the annunciator of the festivals, and he proclaimed the Cuill-greine, sun's course, from the round tower, thence called Cuill-ceach, or Cuill-kak.
The following round towers still standing in Ireland, derive their names from words expressive of their original application for the preservation of the sacred fire. Agha-gabhar, now called Aghagower, the fire of fires; Ballagh, i. e. Beil-agh, the fire of Beil; Cailltree, or Caill-tria, the mount of fire; Clondalkin, and Cloine, a fire-tower ;t Don-agh-mor, the great fire-tower; Drom-agh, the temple of fire, in the county of Cork; Drumcliabth, in the county of Clare, where there is a fire tower. Fert-agh, the fire of the cemetery ; Glen-da-loch, the vale of fire, where two round towers remain; so Kill-dalloe church, near Coleraine, had its name from the same cause, Kill-ald, the fire church; Kill-daloo, now Kill-aloo, the church of the two fires, or altars, in honour of the aquatic deities, Dearg and Rhé,t from whom, as has been said, Lough Dearg and Lough Rhé received their names.
Kill macduagh, the church of the principal fire ; Losc, now called Lusk fire, near Dublin ; Meleac or Melic, from agh, fire; Turlogh, i. e. Tullagh, the fire steeple. Round towers are also standing at Antrim, Ardfert, Ardmore, Cashell, Castledermot, Clondalkin, Clonmacnois, Devenish, Downpatrick, Drumboe, i. e. the temple of the cow, an animal sacrificed to the lunar goddess, and by its horns, which form a crescent, pecu
Collect. de Reb. Hib. vol. vi. + At Dalky, near Dublin, are the remains of many pagan altars. Dolichenius is thought by some to be the same as the sun, and may be derived from the Irish dalloc, fire; many altars have been found in Britain dedicated to him. At Brechin, i.e. Breochan, the house fire, in Scotland is a round tower: Drum-ionn, the temple of the sun, in the county of Limerick.
| This was the same as the Rhea of the ancients, who, Mr. Bryant says, was the ark of Noah personified. Analysis, vol. ii. p. 268.
liarly adapted to be her symbol ; Drumlane, Dublin, Dysart, two at Ferbane, Kells, Kilcullen, Kildare, Kilkenny, Kilree, so called from Rhe the aquatic deity above mentioned ; Mahera, Monasterboice, Newcastle, Oughterard, Ram-isle, Rattoo, Roscrea, Scattery, two at Sligo, Swords, Timahoe, Tullohering, and West Carbury.
These towers, after the dissemination of Christianity, were used as belfries, and this will account for the modern names they frequently bear, of Clog-had, or Cloig-theac, bell-house. It is evident, however, that all the Cloghads have not been belfries. In many there are no marks of the wall having been broken, to admit of hanging a bell, nor are they always annexed to churches. There are many in fields, where no traces of the foundations of any other buildings can be discovered round them. Had the primitive Christians of Ireland possessed the art of building these towers with lime and mortar, it is reasonable to think they would have preferred building the churches of some durable materials; but we are positively told that Duleek, or Dam-liag church, was the first that was built with such materials, and that was so called from leac, a stone. There is some reason, however, to conjecture that it may have received its name from a large druidical monument, or leac, of an enormous size near it.*
Before the introduction of these round towers, it has been observed, the fires were kindled on the tops of the mountains. One of these, called Cal-ain, the altar of the sun, is in the county of Clare, and an altar is still to be seen on it, as is also an Ogham inscription. This mountain is likewise known by the name of Altoir na greine, the altar of the sun. A large cromlech yet remains in the townland of Ballylasson, in the county of Down, one mile north of Drombo, temple of the cow, and four from Belfast. It is in the most perfect state, except that the altar has been thrown down. Its ancient name was Bealagh, the fire or altar of Beal, but it is now known by the name of the Giant's ring, the moderns mistaking Bealagh for Balac, which signifies a giant. It stands on a raised mound, about forty feet in perpendicular height, gradually sloping towards an intrenchment which surrounds it. The diameter, including the bank, is 579 feet. The bank rises forty-five feet, and is twelve broad at top. This appears to have been originally a simple arkite place of worship, and would contain 5000 people, allowing a square fathom to each person. There is a hill in the
• Collect. de Reb. Hib. vol. iii. p. 492.
+ Properly Beul na fearsde, the mouth of the lakes, being pools of water in the sand at low ebb. See Shaw's Gaelic Dictionary.
Vallancey's Essay on the Primitive Inhabitants of Britain and Ireland,
county of Cork, named Affadown, or Afaide dun, the hill of Afaide, the traveller's god, on which probably once was an altar, as it has now a round tower on it. There are also ruins of a round tower on Drum Iskin, in the county of Louth.
On the summit of Tory hill, called in Irish, Sleigh Grian, or the place of adoration of the sun, is a circular space covered with stones, the larger ones having been taken out and rolled down the hill, for the use of the country people. There is still one large one near the centre, and there is the appearance of smaller ones having stood in a circle at a little distance from the heap, which is above sixty-five yards in circumference; within which, on the eastern side, is a stone raised on two or three unequal ones, with an inscription facing the west, and being in the centre of the heap. The letters are deeply and well cut on a hard block of siliceous brescia ; they are two inches high, there being between each a space of about one inch, and a distance of three inches between the words. In Roman letters, which they much resemble, they would be BELI DIUOSE, which signifies Beli di Uose, or Aose, to Beli god of fire.*
The sanctuary at New Grange having been already described, may receive further illustration by some account of the Mithratic cave, in the county of Armagh. On the glebe of Armagh-cloghmullen, in the parish of Killeary, stands a very large cairn of stones, about sixty feet in length, and above twelve in height. About twenty feet from one end, two stones appear considerably higher than the rest. This cairn was opened about twenty-three feet from where the two stones rose above the rest, and the labourers soon came to what afterwards proved to be the third chamber of a cave: there appearing evidently to be small low doors from this into other apartments, it was conjectured that the two tall stones might possibly indicate the entrance into the building. All the stones being cleared away that were in front of these pyramidal stones down to the base, to the surprise of all present, the building exhibited a regular front, with a low door of entrance. The whole was then found to consist of four apartments; the first, eight feet wide, and nine feet six inches long; the second, six feet six inches wide, and six feet long; the third, six feet two inches wide, and six feet eight inches long; the fourth, two feet wide, and six feet long. In the front is a loggia,or semicircular porch of rude stones, thirty-three feet in diameter; and at eight feet from the door of entrance are two pillars, or phalli, nine feet high, one on each side. The chambers are
p. 41. The area of Stonehenge is sufficient to contain 6,000, allowing a square yard to each.
* Tighe's Statistical Report of the County of Kilkenny. A print of it may be seen in the sixth vol. of the Collect. de Reb. Hib. and also in the Archæologia.
arched with dry corbelling stones, as at New Grange, covered at top with a flag-stone about three feet broad, the arch springing about three feet from the ground. The roof and door-cases in some places are destroyed. The cave does not extend to the centre of the cairn, and on the opposite side are two other phalli rising above the surrounding stones, so that if explored, these might lead to the entrance of another cave, which might meet the extremity of the first in the centre of the cairn, as some people imagine, or they might merely indicate the termination, as their fellows do the entrance, thus resembling the obelisks at the temples in Egypt. In the neighbourhood of this cairn stands an altar named Leac-barkut, the sacred stone, and not far distant another named Cailec, said to be the altar of a giantess that devoured all the children in the neighbourhood, so denominated undoubtedly from the lunar-arkite goddess being said to swallow up the aspirants to her mysteries.* General Vallancey makes the following remarks on the probable use of this cave: “ It is probable the votary was first placed in the furtherinost cave, where he had just room to lie down, and was removed by degrees to the outward cave. Here, I suppose, like the Persians, he was obliged to undergo a fiery trial, by passing seven times through the sacred fire, and each time to plunge himself into cold water. Having undergone all these torturing trials with becoming patience and fortitude, he was declared a proper subject for initiation. He then went through two baptisms, which washed from his soul the stains he had contracted during the course of his life, prior to initiation, and having offered bread and water, with a certain form of prayer, a crown was presented to him on the point of a sword, on which he was taught to answer, • Mithra, it is my crown. He was then obliged to bind himself, by the most solemn oath, with horrible imprecations, never to divulge one single article of all that had been communicated to him in the course of his initiation. He was then brought out of the cave into the semicircular porch, and the pyrrhic dance, the deasol, i.e. • dance in the shade of the grove,' began, so called by the Irish, the chorus of Neamhasabasa, i, e. the phallic 365 echoed through the skies; and the Tailtean ended in proclaiming the candidate a lion of the sun.”+
The following beautiful Irish poem is in the Leabhar breac, sacred book, and said to be the composition of Dubhthacus O Lugair, in honour of the sun, termed Nion Crios.
• Compare Davies's Mythology with this. See views and plans of this cave in the fifteenth vol. of the Archæologia.
+ Collect. de Reb. Hib. vol. vi. p. 465. The derivation of pyrrhic, from the Greek word for fire, does not seem to have suggested itself to the General.