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From the PREFACE.
Some Irish friends have asked me to print certain lectures concerning Ireland to which they had listened with indulgence; and to reprint also former papers in a manner more convenient for country readers. This volume is the answer to their request. It will be seen that I have not attempted to alter the lectures from their first purpose and form.
The various studies, thus accidentally united, have a connecting link in such evidences as they may contain of civilisation in the old Irish world. A hundred years ago, in 1821, Dr. Petrie noted that while the historians of ancient native origin were unable in their poverty and degradation to pursue the laborious study of antiquities, there were others of a different class and origin who had taken up the subject to bring it into contempt; and these indeed succeeded in the cause for which they, unworthily, laboured. Forty years later he recognised the same influences at work. It would appear, he said in a letter written to Lord Dunraven shortly before his death in 1865, to be considered' derogatory to the feeling of superiority in the English mind to accept the belief that Celts of Ireland or Scotland could have been equal, not to say superior in civilisation to their more potent conquerors, or that they could have known the arts of civilised life till these were taught them by the Anglo-Normans. After the lapse of half a century we can still trace the same spirit — so powerful have been the hindrances to serious and impartial enquiry — so slow has been the decline of racial prejudice and political complacency. But in these latter days a great change has silently passed over the peoples. The difficulties of historical research and instruction do indeed remain as great as ever; but in the new society which we see shaping itself in Ireland on natural and no longer on purely artificial lines, there is no reason to fear truth as dangerous or to neglect it as unnecessary. There is now a public ready to be interested not only in Danish and Norman civilisation in Ireland, but also in the Gaelic culture which embraced these and made them its own.
I cannot adequately thank Professor Eoin MacNeill for generously allowing me to embody in my first chapter some of his researches on the history of the Scot wanderings between Scotland and Ireland; it is earnestly to be hoped that he will publish before long the results of his original work.
I owe my warm thanks also to Mr. F. J. Bigger for his unstinted help in references and suggestions out of the stores of his topographical knowledge. I may mention as an instance the grave-stone in Kilclief churchyard carved with a Celtic cross, which he dis- covered while these pages were going through the press, so that I have been able to note it for the first time among Lecale antiquities.
Mr. R. I. Best has rendered me more services than I can here tell, however gratefully I acknowledge them.
The account of Ardglass has been re-printed with additions, by the kind permission of the Editor of the Nation. I have to thank the Editor of the Nineteenth Century for leave to add the article on Tradition in History, which is inserted at the request of readers in Ireland.
To prevent mistake I may add a word of explanation that the map, or rather diagram, which is entitled Scandinavian Trade Routes, contains not only those lines of sea-commerce, but also an indication of the ways across Europe which were used by Irish travellers from earlier times. The difference between these routes is clearly indicated in the text.
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