Nice Medieval Clothes photos

by admin on August 2, 2012

A few nice medieval clothes images I found:

St Ruadhán’s Abbey (5)
medieval clothes

Image by Fergal of Claddagh
ST. RUADHÁN, (ROWAN or RODAN), ABBOT OF LORRAH, TIPPERARY.

Ruadhán is said to have been of noble extraction. However, it is not easy to discover the place of his birth or family residence. Ruadhán was son to Birrus, and he descended, from the noble family of Duach, surnamed Gaelach. He sprung from the posterity of Dubrugy. Ruadhán seems to have been born, about or after the beginning of the sixth century, and to have been a child of election from his mother’s womb. During his very infancy, he was entirely devoted to the love God. Through an inspiration of Divine Grace, he left his parents and went towards the territories of Niall’s posterity, or Meath, for the purpose of reading the Holy Scriptures, and of subjecting himself to ecclesiastical discipline. He studied for a long time, under St. Finnian, Bishop of Clonard. When thoroughly instructed in Sacred Scripture, and perfect in all devout practices, our saint, taking leave of his Master, went to the country of Muskerry. Here, he is said to have taken up his residence, with Mac Cunethin. In that locality, he remained, until an angel was sent from God, to announce that it should not be the place of his resurrection. Then, Ruadhán left that particular spot, and, he went to another, where a city existed, at the time his Acts were written. Affrighted on his arrival, a wild boar fled hastily from a hollow tree, at this spot. It is said, that there St. Ruadhán founded his city, probably at Lorrah, anciently called Lothra, within the present barony of Lower Ormond, in the county of Tipperary. The site of this monastery lies about three miles eastward from the River Shannon, and its position is yet very picturesque. A collection of venerable ruins yet remain, but bearing a comparatively modern date. The old Dominican Abbey ruins are the most picturesque, and they are situate within a cemetery, beside a small stream, which flows into the Friars’ Lough, a little below the village of Lorrah, and thence into the Shannon. High old woods and copse trees crown the rising grounds, on its left bank. Beside the Dominican church ruins, those of a medieval mill are to be found, and on the stream’s right bank, where they are seen, a deep cut through a rocky surface may be traced. Besides the foregoing interesting remains, there is a singular old mediaeval house, at Lorrah. Its walls are massive, and perforated with windows. One of its gables was surmounted by a belfry. It consisted of two stories, and it is now thickly covered with ivy, on the gables. In the graveyard surrounding it are the pedestal and broken shaft of a massive Irish cross. This spot seems to have been the original site for St. Ruadhan’s Monastery, and it possesses the advantage of situation, over that occupied by the old Dominican Abbey. It is generally supposed, that our saint founded his religious house, at Lorrah, somewhat near A.D. 550.

About the same time, St. Brendan Mac-Tualt had erected a residence for himself, not far from Ruadhán, and in a town, called Tulach-Brendin. Both of these establishments were so near, that the bells of either churches were heard, at one and the same station. Whereupon, Brendan said : "I and Ruadhán cannot dwell together ; and, therefore, I am resolved on leaving this place for him." Brendan then went forth, and he built Clonfert, and Ruadhán blessed him, saying, "Thy city shall not be less important than mine." When St. Ruadhán went out from the northern parts of Ireland, he wrought many wonders, and he acquired a large parish. He wished, likewise, to establish a residence for himself, in that quarter ; but, a certain man, on whose lands he desired to build, took him by the hand, and prevented him. It is stated, that the sea and the sea-shore covered the fields of this man, so that they were no longer habitable.

On a certain day, when St. Ruadhán came to a city, which was called Snam Luthir, in the territory of Carbry’s Race, it chanced, that the dead body of the king, who ruled over this district, was brought in a chariot, to that city. All his former subjects were bewailing his death. Ruadhán, compassionating them, prayed to the Lord, and the king was instantly restored to life. Afterwards, the ruler presented his city Luthir, and his subjects, for the future disposal of St Ruadhán.

On a certain day, when St. Ruadhán came to a place, called Roys-Enni, he found a great crowd of people there, and he asked for what purpose they had assembled. They answered, saying, " In this city, during a great mortality, the people’s substance had been buried in the earth but, we know not, in what particular place, that treasure was hidden." Then, Ruadhán went through the circuit of the city, which he blessed, and sounding his bell, he prayed. Immediately, the earth’s surface opened over that spot, where the people’s substance lay. Wherefore, the inhabitants of this place, giving thanks to God, presented their city and the neighbouring territory to St. Ruadhán.

After these occurrences, our saint proceeded from the north, to his sister Daroi. It would appear, she lived within the country of Ailell’s Race ; and, at a place called Senchue, he founded an establishment of some sort. Its site had been presented to him, by the people, in perpetual fee. The following legend seems to have reference to this place. At a certain time, a cook brought milk from a cattle-stall, into the city. For seven successive days, as he entered the town, the milk was spilled on the ground. At length, St. Ruadhán went to the city entrance, to learn the cause for these accidents. There he saw two Demons ; one of these was at the right, and the other at the left, in the suburbs. Those malignant spirits struck the vessels, in which the milk was contained, and from either side. These vessels fell broken on the ground, off the horse that bore them. It is said, that the Demons acted in this manner, because the cook was not hospitable to the monastic guests. Then, St. Ruadhán sent the Demons to the depths of the sea, so that they might not inflict more damage upon human beings.

A certain young man, belonging to Aradaib-Cliachu, wishing to study the art of medicine, entreated St. Ruadhán’s blessing, on his hands. Then, our saint blessed his hands and eyes, when immediately he became perfect, in every branch of the healing art.

At the same time, the Queen of King Kualain, within a certain territory, was afflicted with an incurable distemper; and, we are told, that fifty physicians were in attendance on her, without their being able to restore her to health. Abandoning all hope of receiving relief, at the hands of her medical advisers, the Queen committed herself to the power of God and of St. Ruadhán. The Angel of the Lord came to our saint, and told him, that Kualain’s wife should be restored through him, as the physicians knew not the nature of her complaint. Our saint appeared to the Queen, in a nocturnal vision, and he was surrounded with great light. Then, he said to her, "Fear not, you must be restored to health ; for, I shall send to you a youth, clothed in a particular habit, on an appointed day. He shall heal you from this infirmity. Leave, therefore, those physicians, who cannot heal you." Saying these words, our saint disappeared.

On another day, St. Ruadhán called the young man, whose hands he had blessed, and he then said : “Go to Kualain’s Queen, and heal her." Taking his brazen vessel, which was filled with water, Ruadhán blessed it. Following certain instructions, this young man departed, and he executed the orders of our saint. Soon the Queen’s health was restored. According to the desire of our saint, this young physician would receive no other fee for his services, except linen, belonging to King Kualain. For a length of time, and to commemorate such a miracle, this linen was suspended over the altar, at Lothra.

We are told, that on another occasion, a ship belonging to Brandan was submerged in the depths of a sea, called Livemnech, whilst a son of the King of Britain chanced to be sleeping, in the prow of his vessel. Whereupon, Brandan said to his own people : "Go to Ruadhán : for to him hath the Lord granted the elevation of our ship, from the deep, and the resuscitation of the King’s son, who has been drowned in it." The messengers went to St. Ruadhán. He then proceeded with them, and he prayed at the place, where that vessel had been lost immediately, the ship arose from the deep, and bearing the king’s son, who was alive and safe within it. He even appeared as if he were sleeping. The prince then said that during the time he was beneath the water, St. Ruadhán had placed a hood around his head, so as to save him from suffocation.

The number of St. Ruadhán’s religious is said to have been thrice fifty men. By the bounty of God, these were furnished with a miraculous kind of food, procured for them, without further labour on their part, but such as proceeded from their prayers and fastings. In the place where they dwelt grew a linden tree, which distilled a certain luscious sap into a vessel placed beneath it. With this miraculous liquor, the monks and the guests of the monastery were regaled, and it had the taste of wine. Each of those, who partook of it, tilled a cup with the liquor. They fed upon herbs, also, and they lived in a very simple manner. But, the chief saints of Ireland, it is related, felt jealous regarding such miracles. They murmured against Ruadhán, because their monks and alumni left them, and went to him. Wherefore, with these complaints, they visited St. Finnian, Bishop of Clonard. He accompanied them to Ruadhán, to entreat his abandonment of this idle style of living, lest he should furnish occasion for envy and murmuring to other saints. When St. Finnian entered the city of Ruadan, and when he saw the tree already mentioned, elevating his hand, he blessed it. Immediately the sap ceased to flow, so that, on the night succeeding, the liquor sufficed only for sustenance of the monastic family, and not for its guests. Thereupon, the cook, with the guests, preferred a complaint to St. Ruadhán. The latter said, "Pour out spring water for our guests, and it shall be changed into wine for them." When the cook went to draw water from the fountain, suddenly a fish of wonderful size issued through the rocky bottom of the well. This fish was set before the guests, and also the water, which had been turned into wine. They felt inebriated, by this latter beverage, and fell into a sleep. Then, the Irish saints besought Ruadhán, that he would place his monks on the same standing, with their own religious brethren. He humbly complied with their desires. St. Finnian then said to Ruadhán, and to his monks, "Do you plough and reap your fields. These shall produce fruitful crops forever, without further culture or manure." Afterwards, St. Finnian blessed St Ruadhán, his house and lands, and then retired in peace.

After the death of Tuathal Maelgarbh, Monarch of Ireland, who was slain at Greallach-Eillte, in the year of Christ 544 ; Diarmaid, son to Fearghus, who had been in exile, claimed his right to succeed him, on the throne. King Diarmaid established peace throughout all Ireland. About that period, the prefect of King Dermot, and his herald, whose name is said to have been Mac-Lomm, went towards the territory of Connaught, and into the country of the Mani race. But, instigated by the Devil, that herald entered into a fortress, belonging to a chief named Odo Guori, and having a spear placed across his mouth, so that thus the castle gates might be opened for him. Then, Odo-Guori, destroying his castle, afterwards killed the herald. Through fear of Diarmaid, Odo fled to Bishop Senach, in the territory of Muscraige, where he appears to have lived. We are informed, that the mother of Odo, and the mother of Bishop Senach, were two sisters. But, Bishop Senach brought Odo to St. Ruadhán for protection ; for, it so happened, that the two sisters of Ruadhán, named Kyell and Ruadanis, had fostered Senach himself. Afterwards, it seems, that Odo, had been brought into Britain, by St. Ruadhán. Yet, Diarmaid sent a message into Britain, which prevented Odo from dwelling there, and he was again sent back to St. Ruadhán. Then, he dwelt at a place, called Poll-Ruodan, in Ireland. There is no doubt that there was animosity and rivalry between Ruadhán and King Diarmaid, but the King had a healthy regard for the abbot. When one of the nobles fled from the King, he took refuge first with his relative Senan, but Senan passed on this cousin of his, who was called Odo, to Ruadhán, reckoning that he would give him greater protection. Ruadhán had a chamber or crypt beneath his oratory and concealed the fugitive there, placing a chair over the hatch. Dermot, arriving at the cell, seated himself on the chair and demanded where Odo was hidden. Ruadhán answered truthfully, "I cannot say, unless he is beneath your chair".

Later Ruadhán invoked a solemn curse against Diarmaid for violating the sanctuary of the monastery saying; Upon Tara’s green was a vast and wide-foliaged tree, and eleven slaves hewing at it; but every chip that they knocked from it would return into its place again and there adhere instantly, till at last there came one man that dealt the tree but a stroke, and with that single cut laid it low. Desolate be Tara forever and ever. It is said that the curse was so efficacious that Tara was ruined and deserted from the day of Ruadhán’s curse.

While himself and his community were at Dare-Enech, the son of Darane Dairimoir, sent to St. Ruadhan a great measure full of butter. And, when this measure on a particular morning had been placed upon two wild oxen, these animals passed through a bog, from Daire-moir. Through this bog they discovered a road, very firm and level, such as no person had seen there before, or since. That measure of butter served St. Ruadan and his 150 monks, from the beginning of spring, until the day of Pentecost, when it was found to have been yet full, having suffered no apparent diminution in quantity.

At a certain time, when Ruadan was in Araib, a sorrowing mother approached ; and, in tears, she besought him to raise her dead son to life. When the Abbot prayed, her boy was again restored.

In the territories of Lugdeck’s posterity, he raised another youth, from the dead ; for, when the boy was placed under St. Ruadhán’s chasuble, he immediately came to life.

Our saint similarly preserved a third boy’s life in Hi-Cuillin, within the territory of Heli; and, the place where this miracle was wrought, bore the name of Tulach Ruodan. We are told, moreover, this boy’s father presented him forever to St. Ruadhán, together with that field, in which he had been restored.

The Church of Ireland (Anglican) church at Lorrha is built on the site of St. Ruadhán’s monastery, and the stumps of two High Crosses are to be found in the church yard there. The Stowe Missal, with its fine shrine, now in the National Museum in Dublin used to be at this monastery, and St. Ruadhán’s Bell is in the British Museum in London. St. Ruadhán’s hand was preserved in a silver shrine at Lorrha until the great vandalism of the Reformation.

High Tower in Glendalough
medieval clothes

Image by Fergal of Claddagh
THE HISTORY OF IRELAND AS TOLD IN HER RUINS (first part)
A Lecture by Father Thomas N. Burke, O.P., delivered in the Cooper Institute, New York, on the 5th of April, 1872.

Before I approach the subject of this evening’s lecture, I have to apologize to you, in all earnestness, for appearing before you this evening in my habit. The reason why I put off my black cloth coat and put on this dress, the Dominican habit is, first of all, because I never feel at home in a black coat. When God called me, the only son of an Irish father and an Irish mother, from the home of the old people, and told me that it was His will that I should belong to Him in the sanctuary, the father and mother gave me up without a sigh, because they were Irish parents, and had the Irish faith and love for the Church in their hearts. And from the day I took this habit, from that day to this, I never felt at home in any other dress; and if I were to come before you this evening in black cloth, like a layman, and not like an Irish Dominican friar, I might, perhaps, break down in my lecture.

But there is another reason why I appear before you in this white habit; because I am come to speak to you of the ruins that cover the face of the old land; I am come to speak to you, and to tell you of the glory and the shame, and the joy and the sorrow, that these ruins so eloquently tell of; and when I look upon them, in spirit now, my mind sweeps over the intervening ocean, and I stand in imagination under the ivied and moss-covered arches of Athenry, or Sligo, or Clare-Galway, or Kilconnell. The view that rises before me of the former inmates of these holy places, is a vision of white-robed Dominicans and of brown Franciscans; and, therefore, in coming to speak to you in this garment, of the glorious history which they tell us, I feel more myself, more in consonance with the subject of which I have to speak, in appearing before you as the child and the representative, no matter how unworthy, of the Irish friars, the Irish priests and patriots who sleep in Irish graves to-night.

And now, my friends, the most precious, the grandest, inheritance of any people, is that people’s history. All that forms the national character of a people, their tone of thought, their devotion, their love, their sympathies, their antipathies, their language, all this is found in their history, as the effect is found in its cause, as the autumn speaks of the spring.’ And the philosopher who wishes to analyze a people’s character and to account for it, to account for the national desires, hopes, aspirations, for the strong sympathies or antipathies that sway a people, must go back to the deep recesses of their history; and there, in ages long gone by, will he find the seeds that produced the fruit that he attempts to account for. And he will find that the nation of today is but the child and the offspring of the nation of by-gone ages; for it is written truly, that “the child is father to the man.” When, therefore, we come to consider the desires of nations, we find that every people is most strongly desirous to preserve its history, even as every man is anxious to preserve the record of his life; for history is the record of a people’s life. Hence it is that, in the libraries of the more ancient nations we find the earliest histories of the primeval races of mankind, written upon the durable vellum, the imperishable asbestos, or sometimes deeply carved, in mystic and forgotten characters, on the granite stone or pictured rock, showing the desire of the people to preserve their history, which is to preserve the memory of them, just as the old man dying said, “Lord, keep my memory green! “

But, besides these more direct and documentary evidences, the history of every nation is enshrined in the national traditions, in the national music and song; much more, it is written in the public buildings that cover the face of the land. These, silent and in ruins, tell most eloquently their tale. Today “the stone may be crumbled, the wall decayed; “the clustering ivy may, perhaps, uphold the tottering ruin to which it clung in the days of its strength; The sorrows, the joys of which once they were part, Still round them, like visions of yesterday, throng.”
They are the voices of the past; they are the voices of ages long gone by. They rear their venerable and beautiful gray heads high over the land they adorn; and they tell us the tale of the glory or of the shame, of the strength or of the weakness, of the prosperity or of the adversity of the nation to which they belong. This is the volume which we are about to open; this is the voice which we are about to call forth from their gray and ivied ruins that cover the green bosom of Ireland; we are about to go back up the highways of history, and, as it were, to breast and to stem the stream of time, today, taking our start from the present hour in Ireland. What have we here? It is a stately church, rivalling, perhaps surpassing, in its glory the grandeur of by-gone times. We behold the solid buttresses, the massive wall, the high tower and the graceful spire piercing the clouds, and upholding, high towards heaven, the symbol of man’s redemption, the glorious sign of the cross. We see in the stone windows the massive tracery, so solid, so strong, and so delicate. What does this tell us? Here is this church, so grand, yet so fresh and new and clean from the mason’s hand. What does it tell us? It tells us of a race that has never decayed; it tells us of a people that have never lost neither their faith nor their love; it tells us of a nation as strong in its energy for every highest and holiest purpose, today, as it was in the ages that are past and gone forever.

We advance just half a century up the highway of time; and we come upon that which has been familiar, perhaps, to many amongst you, as well as to me, the plain, unpretending little chapel, in some by -lane of the town or city, or the plain and humble little chapel in some by-way in the country, with its thatched roof, its low ceiling, its earthen floor, its wooden altar. What does this tell us? It tells us of a people struggling against adversity; it tells us of a people making their first effort, after .three hundred years of blood, to build up a house, however humble, for their God; it tells us of a people who had not yet shaken off the traditions of their slavery, upon whose hands the chains still hang, and the wounds inflicted by those chains are still rankling; it tells us of a people who scarcely yet know how to engage in the glorious work of Church edification, because they scarcely yet realized the privilege that they were to be allowed to live in the land that bore them. Let us reverently bow down our heads and salute these ancient places, these ancient, humble little chapels, in town or country, where we, we men of middle age, made our first confession and received our first communion; let us salute these places, hallowed in our memories by the first, and therefore the strongest, the purest, holiest recollections and associations of our lives; and, pilgrims of’ history, let us turn into the dreary, solitary road that lies before us. It is a road of three hundred years of desolation and bloodshed; it is a road that leads through martyrs’ and patriots’ graves; it is a road that is wet with the tears and with the blood of a persecuted and down-trodden people; it is a road that is pointed out to us by the sign of the cross, the emblem of the nation’s faith, and by the site of the martyr’s grave, the emblem of the nation’s undying fidelity to God.

And now what venerable ruin is this which rises before our eyes, moss-crowned, embedded in clustering ivy? It is a church, for we see the mullions of the great east window of the sanctuary, through which once flowed, through angels and saints depicted thereon, the mellow sunshine that warmed up the arch above, and made mosaics upon the church and altar. It is a church of the Mediaeval Choral Orders, for I see the lancet windows, the choir where the religious were accustomed to chant, yet popular, and much frequented by the people, for I see, outside the choir, an ample space; the side-aisles are unencumbered, and the side-chapels with altars, the mind of the architect clearly intending an ample space for the people; yet it is not too large a church; for it is generally one that the preacher’s voice can easily fill. Outside of it runs the square of the ruined cloister, humble enough, yet most beautiful in its architecture. But now, church and cloister alike are filled with the graves, the homes, of the silent dead. Do I recall to the loving memory of any one amongst you, scenes that have been familiar to your eyes in the dear and the green old land? Are there not those amongst you, who have looked, with eyes softened by love, and by the sadness of the recollections recalled to the mind, under the chancel and the choir, under the ample space of nave and aisle of the old Abbey of Athenry, or in the old Abbey of Kilconnell, or such as these? What tale do these tell?

They tell of a nation that, although engaged in a hand-to-hand and desperate struggle for its national life, yet in the midst of its wars, was never unmindful of its God; they tell of Ireland when the clutch of the Saxon was upon her, when the sword was unsheathed that was never to know its scabbard from that day until this, and that never will, until the diadem of perfect freedom rests upon the virgin brow of Ireland.

They tell of the glorious days, when Ireland’s Church and Ireland’s Nationality joined hands; and when the priest and the people rose up to enter upon a glorious combat for freedom. These were the homes of the Franciscan and the Dominican friars, the men who, during three hundred years of their residence in Ireland, recalled, in these cloisters, the ancient glories of Lismore, and of Glendalough, and of Armagh; the men who, from the time they first raised these cloisters, never left the land, never abandoned the old soil, but lingered around their ancient homes of happiness, of sanctity, and of peace, and tried to-keep near the old walls, just as Magdalene lingered round the empty tomb, on Easter morning, at Jerusalem.

They tell of the sanctuaries, where the hunted head of the Irish patriot found refuge and a place of security; they tell the Irish historian of the national councils, formed for state purposes within them. These venerable walls, if they could speak, would tell us how the wavering were encouraged and strengthened, and the brave and gallant fired with the highest and noblest purpose, for God and Erin; how the traitor was detected, and the false-hearted denounced; and how the nation’s life-blood was kept warm, and her wounds were stanched, by the wise counsels of the old Franciscan and Dominican friars. All this, and more, would these walls tell, if they could speak; for they have witnessed all this. They witnessed it until the day came, the day of war, the sword, and blood that drove forth their saintly inmates from their loving shelter, and devoted themselves to desolation and decay.

Let us bow down, fellow-Irishmen, with reverence and with love, as we pass under the shadow of these ancient walls. And now stepping a few years, scarcely fifty years, further on, on the road of our history, passing, as we go along, under the frowning, dark feudal castles of the FitzGeralds, of the De Laceys, the De Courcys, the FitzAdams, and, I regret to say, the De Burgos, the castles that tell us always of the terror of the invaders of the land, hiding themselves in their strongholds, because they could not trust to the love of the people, who hated them; and because they were afraid to meet the people in the open field, passing under the frowning shadows of these castles.

Suddenly we stand amazed, crushed, as it were, to the earth, by the glories that rise before us, in the ruins of Mellifont, in the ruins of Dunbrody, in the awful ruins of Holy Cross and of Cashel, that we see yet uplifting, in solemn grandeur, their stately heads in ruined beauty over the land which they once adorned. There do we see the vestiges of the most magnificent architecture, some of the grandest buildings that ever yet were raised upon this earth for God or for man. There do we see the lofty side walls pierced with huge windows, filled with the most delicate tracery; there, when we enter in we throw our eyes aloft with wonder, and see the groined, massive arches of the ceiling upholding the mighty tower; there do we see the grandeur of the ancient Cistercians, and the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine, and the Benedictines.

What tale do they tell us?
Oh, they tell us a glorious tale of our history and of our people.
These were the edifices that were built and founded in Ireland during the brief respite that the nation had, from the day that she drove the last Dane out, until the day that the first accursed Norman came. A short time, a brief period; too brief, alas, too brief! Ireland, exhausted after her three hundred years of Danish invasion, turned her first thoughts and her first energies to build up the ancient places that were ruined, to restore and to clothe the sanctuaries of her faith, with a splendour such as the nation had never seen before.

We will pass on. And now, a mountain-road lies before us. The land is filled again, for three centuries, with desolation and with bloodshed and with sorrow. The hillsides, on either. hand of our path, are strewn with the bodies of the slain; the valleys are filled with desolation and ruin; the air resounds to the ferocious battle-cry of the Dane, and to the brave battle-cry of the Celt, intermingled with the wailing of the widowed mother and the ravished maid; the air is filled with the crash and the shock of battle. In terrible onset, the lithe, active, mail-clad, fair-haired, blue-eyed warriors of the North meet the dark, stalwart Celt, and they close in mortal combat. Toiling along, pilgrims of history as we are, we come to the summit of Tara’s Hill, and there we look in vain for a vestige of Ireland’s ruins. But now, after these three hundred years of our backward journey over the highway of history, we breathe the upper air.

The sunshine of the eighth century, and of Ireland’s three centuries of Christianity, is upon our path. We breathe the purer air; we are amongst the mountains of God; and a sight the most glorious that nation ever presented opens itself before our eyes, the sight of Ireland’s first three centuries of the glorious faith of St . Patrick. Peace is upon the land. Schools rise upon every hill and in every valley. Every city is an immense school.

The air again is filled with the sound of many voices; for students from every clime under the sun, the German, the Pict, the Cumbrian, the Frank, the Italian, the Saxon, are all mingling together, conversing together in the universal language of the Church, Rome’s old Latin. They have come, and they have covered the land; they have come in thousands and in tens of thousands, to hear, from the lips of the world-renowned Irish saints, all the lore of ancient Greece and Rome, and to study in the lives of these saints the highest degree and noblest interpretation of Christian morality and Christian perfection.

Wise rulers governed the land; her heroes were moved to mighty acts; and these men, who came from every clime to the university of the world, to the great masters of the nations, go back to their respective countries and tell the glorious tale of Ireland’s strength and Ireland’s sanctity, of the purity of the Irish maidens, of the learning and the saintliness of the Irish priesthood; of the wisdom of her kings and rulers; of the sanctity of her people; until at length, from out the recesses of history, there comes, floating upon the breezes of time, the voice of an admiring world, that proclaims my native land, in that happy epoch, and gives to her the name of the island of heroes, of saints, and of sages.

Look up. In imagination we stand, now, upon the highest level of Ireland’s first Christianity. Above us, we behold the venerable hill-top of Tara; and beyond that, again, far away, and high up on the mountain, inaccessible by any known road of history, lies, amidst the gloom, the mysterious cloud that hangs around the cradle of every ancient race, looming forth from prehistoric obscurity; we behold the mighty Round Towers of Ireland:
The Pillar Towers of Ireland,
How wondrously they stand
By the rushing streams, in the silent glens,
And the valleys of the land,
In mystic file, throughout the isle,
They rear their heads sublime,
Those gray, old, pillar temples,
Those conquerors of time.

Now, having gone up to the cradle and fountain-head of our history, as told by its monuments and its ruins, we shall pause a little before we begin again our downward course. We shall pause for a few moments under the shadows of Ireland’s round towers.

There they stand, most perfect in their architecture; stone fitted into stone with the most artistic nicety and regularity; every stone bound to its bed by a cement as hard as the stone itself; a beautiful calculation of the weight which was to be put upon it, and the foundation which was to sustain it, has arrived at this, that, though thousands of years have passed over their hoary heads, there they stand, as firm today as on the day when they were first erected.

There they stand, in perfect form, in perfect perpendicular; and the student of art in the nineteenth century can find matter for admiration and for wonder in the evidence of Ireland’s civilization, speaking loudly and eloquently by the voice of her most ancient round towers. Who built them? You have seen them; they are all over the island.

The traveller sails up the placid bosom of the lovely Blackwater, and whilst he admires its varied beauties, and his very heart within him is ravished by its loveliness, he beholds, high above its green banks, amidst the ruins of ancient Lismore, a venerable round tower lifting its gray head into the air. As he goes on, passing, as in a dream of delight, now by the valleys and the hills of lovely Wicklow, he admires the weeping alders that hang over the stream in sweet Avoca; he admires the bold heights, throwing their outlines so sharp and clear against the sky, and clothed to their very summits with the sweet-smelling purple heather; he admires all this, until, at length, in a deep valley, in the very heart of the hills, he beholds, reflecting itself in the deep waters of still Glendalough, the venerable “round tower of other days.” Or he has taken his departure from the Island of Saints, and when his ship’s prow is turned toward the setting sun, he beholds upon the headlands of the iron-bound coast of Mayo or western Galway, the round tower of Ireland, the last thing the eye of the lover or traveller beholds.

Who built these towers, or for what purpose were they built?
There is no record of reply, although the question has been repeated, age after age, for thousands of years.
Who can tell?
They go so far back into the mists of history as to have the lead of all the known events in the history of our native land.
Some say that they are of Christian origin; others, again, say, with equal probability, and perhaps greater, that these venerable monuments are far more ancient than Ireland’s Catholicity; that they were the temples of a by-gone religion, and, perhaps, of a long-forgotten race. They may have been the temples of the ancient Fire Worshippers of Ireland; and the theory has been mooted, that in the time when our remotest forefathers worshipped the rising sun, the priest of the sun was accustomed to climb to the summit of the round tower, to turn his face to the east, and watch with anxiety the rising of the morning star, as it came up trembling in its silver beauty, above the eastern hills. Then, when the first rays of the sun illumined the valleys, he hailed its rising, and proclaimed to the people around him their duty of worship to the coming God.

This is the theory that would connect Ireland’s round towers with the most ancient form of religion, the false religion which truth dispelled, when, coming with the sun of heaven, and showing before Irish intellect the glories of the risen Saviour, the brightness of the heavenly sun dimmed forever the glory of the earthly, and dispelled the darkness of the human soul, which had filled the land before with its gloom. This is not the time nor the place to enter into an archaeological argument as to whether the round towers are of Pagan or Christian origin, or as to whether they are the offspring of the famous Gobán Saor, or of any other architect, or of the men of the fifth or of the sixth centuries; or whether they go back into the times of which no vestige remains upon the pages of history, or in the traditions of men; this, I say, is not the time to do it. I attempted this once, and whilst I was pursuing my argument, as I imagined, very learnedly and very profoundly, I saw a man, sitting opposite to me, open his mouth, and he gave a yawn; and I said in my own mind, to myself, “My dear friend, if you do not close your dissertation, that man will never shut his mouth; for I thought the top of his head would come off!

But no matter what may be the truth of this theory or that, concerning the round towers, one thing is certain, and this is the point to which I wish to speak, that, as they stand today, in the strength of their material, in the beauty of their form, in the perfection of their architecture, in the scientific principles upon which they were built, and which they reveal, they are the most ancient amongst the records of the most ancient nations, and distinctly tell the glorious tale of the early civilization of the Irish people. For, my friends, remember that, amongst the evidences of progress, of civilization, amongst the nations, there is no more powerful argument or evidence than that which is given by their public buildings.

When you reflect that many centuries afterwards, ages after ages, even after Ireland had become Catholic, there was no such thing in England as a stone building of any kind, much less a stone church, when you reflect that outside the pale of the ancient civilization of Greece and Rome, there was no such thing known amongst the northern and western nations of Europe as a stone edifice of any kind; then I say, from this, I conclude that these venerable pillar temples of Ireland are the strongest argument for the ancient civilization of our race. But this also explains the fact that Saint Patrick, when he preached in Ireland, was not persecuted; that he was not contradicted; that it was not asked of him, as of every other man that ever preached the Gospel for the first time to any people, to shed his blood in proof of his belief. No, he came not to a barbarous people, not to an uncivilized race; but he came to a wonderfully civilized nation, a nation which, though under the cloud of a false religion, had yet attained to established laws and a recognized and settled form of government, a high philosophical knowledge, a splendid national melody and poetry; and her bards, and the men who met Saint Patrick, upon the Hill of Tara, when he mounted it on that Easter morning were able to meet him with solid arguments; were able to meet him with the clash which takes place when mind meets mind; and when he had convinced them, they showed the greatest proof of their civilization by rising up, on the instant, to declare that Patrick’s preaching was the truth, and that Patrick was a messenger of the true God.

We know for certain that, whatever was the origin of those round towers, the Church, the Catholic Church in Ireland, made use of them for religious purposes; that she built her cathedrals and her abbey churches alongside of them; and we often find the loving group of the Seven Churches, lying closely beside, if not under the shadow of, the round towers.

We also know that the monks of old set the Cross of Christ on these ancient round towers, that is, on the upper part of them; and we know, from the evidence of a later day, that when the land was deluged in blood, and when the faithful people were persecuted, hunted down, then it was usual, as in the olden time, to light a fire in the upper portion of those round towers, in order that the poor and persecuted might know where to find the sanctuary of God’s altar. Thus it was that, no matter for what purpose they were founded, the Church of God made use of them for purposes of charity, of religion, and of mercy.

Coming down from these steep heights of history; coming down, like Moses from the mountain, from out the mysteries that envelop the cradle of our race, but, like the prophet of old, with the evidence of our nation’s ancient civilization and renown beaming upon us, we now come to the Hill of Tara. Alas, the place where Ireland’s monarch sat enthroned, the place where Ireland’s sages and seers met, where Ireland’s poets and bards filled the air with the rich harmony of our ancient Celtic melody, is now desolate; not a stone upon a stone to attest its ancient glory. “Perierunt etiam ruince, the very ruins of it have perished.

The mounds are there, the old moat is there, showing the circumvallation of the ancient towers of Tara; the old moat is there, still traced by the unbroken mound whereby the “Banquet Hall,” three hundred and sixty feet long, by forty feet in width, was formed, and in which the kings of Ireland entertained their chieftains, their royal dames, and their guests, in high festival and glorious revelry. Beyond this no vestige remains. But there, within the moat, in the very midst of the ruins, there, perhaps, on the very spot where Ireland’s ancient throne was raised, there is a long, grass-grown mound; the earth is raised; it is covered with a verdant sod; the shamrock blooms upon it, and the old peasants will tell you, this is the Croppy’s Grave.

In the year 1798, the “year of the troubles,” as we may well call it, some ninety Wexford men, or thereabouts, after the news came that “the cause was lost,” fought their way, every inch, from Wexford until they came to the Hill of Tara, and made their last stand on the banks of the River Boyne. There, pursued by a great number of the king’s dragoons, they fought their way through these two miles of intervening country, their faces to the foe. These ninety heroes, surrounded, fired upon, still fought and would not yield, until slowly, like the Spartan band at Thermopylae, they gained the Hill of Tara, and stood there like lions at bay. Surrounded on all sides by the soldiers, the officer in command offered them their lives if they would only lay down their arms. One of these Shelmaliers had that morning sent the colonel of the dragoons to take a cold bath in the Boyne. In an evil hour the Wexford men, trusting to the plighted faith of this British officer, laid down their arms; and, as soon as their guns were out of their hands, every man of them was fired upon; and to the last one, they perished upon the Hill of Tara. And there they were enshrined among the ancient glories of Ireland, and laid in the Croppy’s Grave.

And they tell how, in 1843, when O’Connell was holding his monster meetings throughout the land, in the early morning, he stood upon the Hill of Tara, with a hundred thousand brave, strong Irishmen around him. There was a tent pitched upon the hill-top; there was an altar erected, and an aged priest went to offer up the Mass for the people. But the old women, the women with the gray heads, who were blooming maidens in 1798, came from every side; and they all knelt round the Croppy’s Grave; and just as the priest began the Mass, and the one hundred thousand on the hill-sides and in the vales below were uniting in adoration, a loud cry of wailing pierced the air. It was the Irish mothers and the Irish maidens pouring out their souls in sorrow, and wetting with their tears the shamrocks that grew out of the Croppy’s Grave:
“ Dark falls the tear of him that mourns
Lost hope or joy that never returns;
But brightly flows the tear
Wept o’er a hero’s bier.”

Tara and its glories are things of the past; Tara and its monarchs are gone; but the spirit that crowned them at Tara has not died with them; the spirit that summoned bard and chief to surround their throne has not expired with them. That spirit was the spirit of Ireland’s nationality; and that spirit lives today as strong, as fervid, and as glorious as ever it burned during the ages of persecution; as it ever lived in the hearts of the Irish race.

And now, my friends, treading, as it were, down the hill-side, after having heard Patrick’s voice, after having beheld, on the threshold of Tara, Patrick’s glorious episcopal figure, as, with the simplicity that designated his grand, heroic character, he plucked from the soil the shamrock and upheld it, and appealed to the imagination of Ireland, appealed to that imagination that never yet failed to recognize a thing of truth or a thing of beauty, we now descend the hill, and wander through the land where we first beheld the group of the Seven Churches.

Everywhere throughout the land do we see the clustering ruins of these small churches. Seldom exceeding fifty feet in length, they rarely attain to any such proportion. There they are, generally speaking, under the shadow of some old round tower, some ancient Celtic name, indicative of past glory, still lingering around and sanctifying them.
What were these seven churches?
What is the meaning of them?
Why were they so numerous?
Why, there were churches enough, if we believe the ruins of Ireland, in Ireland during the first two centuries of its Christianity, to house the whole nation. Everywhere there were churches, churches in groups of seven; as if one were not enough, or two.

Nowadays, we are struck with the multitude of churches in London, in Dublin, in New York; but we must remember that we are a divided community, and that every sect, no matter how small it is, builds its own church; but in Ireland we were all of one faith; and all of these churches were multiplied. But what is the meaning of it? These churches were built in the early days of Ireland’s monasticism, in the days when the world acknowledged the miracle of Ireland’s holiness. Never, since God created the earth, never, since $ Christ proclaimed the truth amongst men, never was seen so extraordinary and so miraculous a thing as that a people should become, almost entirely, a nation of monks and nuns, as soon as they became Catholic and Christian. The highest proof of the Gospel is monasticism. As I stand before you, robed in this Dominican dress, most unworthy to wear it, still, as I stand before you, a monk, vowed to God by poverty, chastity, and obedience, I claim for myself, such as I am, this glorious title that the Church of God regards us as the very best of her children.

And why? Because the cream, as it were, of the Gospel spirit is sacrifice; and the highest sacrifice is the sacrifice that gives a man entirely, without the slightest reserve, to God, in the service of his country and of his fellow-men. This sacrifice is embodied and, as it were, combined in the monk; and, therefore, the monk and the nun are really the highest productions of Christianity. Now, Ireland, in the very first days of her conversion, so quickly caught up the spirit and so thoroughly entered into the genius of the Gospel, that she became a nation of monks and nuns, almost on the day when she became a nation of Christians. The consequence was, that throughout the land, in the villages, in every little town, on every hill-side, in every valley, these holy monks were to be found; and they were called by the people, who loved them and venerated them so dearly, they were called by the name of Culdees, or servants of God.

Then came, almost at the very moment of Ireland’s conversion and Ireland’s abundant monasticism, embodied, as it were, and sustained by that rule of Saint Columba which Saint Patrick brought into Ireland, having got it from Saint Martin of Tours, then came, at that very time, the ruin and the desolation of almost all the rest of the world. Rome was in flames; and the ancient Pagan civilization of thousands of years was gone. Hordes of barbarians poured, in streams, over the world. The whole of that formerly civilized world seemed to be falling back again into the darkness and chaos of the barbarism of the earliest times; but Ireland, sheltered by the encircling waves, converted and sanctified, kept her national freedom. No invader profaned her virgin soil; no sword was drawn, nor cry of battle or feud resounded through the land: and the consequence was, that Ireland, developing her schools, entering into every field of learning, produced, in almost every monk, a man fitted to teach his fellow-men and enlighten the world. And the whole world came to their monasteries, from every clime, as I have said before; they filled the land; and for three hundred years, without the shadow of a doubt, history declares that Ireland held the intellectual supremacy of the civilized world. Then were built those groups of seven churches, here and there; then did fill the land; then, when the morning sun arose, every valley in blessed Ireland resounded to the praises and the matinsong of the monk; then the glorious cloisters of Lismore, of Armagh, of Bangor, of Aran arose; and, far out in the western ocean, the glorious chorus resounded in praise of God, and the musical genius of the people received its highest development in hymns and canticles of praise, the expression of their glorious faith. For three hundred years of peace and joy it lasted; and, during those three hundred years, Ireland sent forth a Columba to Iona; a Virgilius to Italy; Romauld to Brabant; Gaul to France, in a word, every nation in Europe, even Rome itself; and all acknowledged that, in those days, the light of learning and of sanctity beamed upon them from the holy progeny of saints, that Ireland, the fairest mother of saints, produced and sent out to sanctify and enlighten the world.

And, mark you, my friends; these Irish monks were fearless men. They were the most learned men in the world. For instance, there was one of them, at home he was called Ferghal, abroad he was called Virgilius; this man was a great astronomer; and, as early as the seventh century, he discovered the rotundity of the earth, proclaimed that it was a sphere, and declared the existence of the antipodes.

In those days everybody thought that the earth was as flat as a pancake; and the idea was, that a man could walk as far as the land brought him, and he would then drop into the sea; and that if he took ship then, and sailed on to a certain point, why, then he would go into nothing at all. So, when this Irish monk, skilled in Irish science, wrote a book, and asserted this, which was recognized in after ages and proclaimed as a mighty discovery, the philosophers and learned men of the time were astonished. They thought it was heresy, and they did the most natural thing in the world, they complained to the pope of him; and the pope sent for him, examined him, examined his theory, and examined his astronomical system; and this is the answer, and the best answer, I can give to those who say that the Catholic Church is not the friend of science or of progress.

What do you think is the punishment the pope gave him?
The pope made him Archbishop of Salzburg.
He told him to continue his discoveries, continue your studies, he said; mind your prayers, and try and discover all the scientific truth that you can; for you are a learned man. Well, Ferghal continued his studies, and so well did he study that he anticipated, by centuries, some of the most highly practical discoveries of modern ages; and so well did he mind his prayers, that Pope Gregory the Tenth canonized him after his death.

JERPOINT – Cloister
medieval clothes

Image by Fergal of Claddagh
THE HISTORY OF IRELAND AS TOLD IN HER RUINS (first part)
A Lecture by Father Thomas N. Burke, O.P., delivered in the Cooper Institute, New York, on the 5th of April, 1872.

Before I approach the subject of this evening’s lecture, I have to apologize to you, in all earnestness, for appearing before you this evening in my habit. The reason why I put off my black cloth coat and put on this dress, the Dominican habit is, first of all, because I never feel at home in a black coat. When God called me, the only son of an Irish father and an Irish mother, from the home of the old people, and told me that it was His will that I should belong to Him in the sanctuary, the father and mother gave me up without a sigh, because they were Irish parents, and had the Irish faith and love for the Church in their hearts. And from the day I took this habit, from that day to this, I never felt at home in any other dress; and if I were to come before you this evening in black cloth, like a layman, and not like an Irish Dominican friar, I might, perhaps, break down in my lecture.

But there is another reason why I appear before you in this white habit; because I am come to speak to you of the ruins that cover the face of the old land; I am come to speak to you, and to tell you of the glory and the shame, and the joy and the sorrow, that these ruins so eloquently tell of; and when I look upon them, in spirit now, my mind sweeps over the intervening ocean, and I stand in imagination under the ivied and moss-covered arches of Athenry, or Sligo, or Clare-Galway, or Kilconnell. The view that rises before me of the former inmates of these holy places, is a vision of white-robed Dominicans and of brown Franciscans; and, therefore, in coming to speak to you in this garment, of the glorious history which they tell us, I feel more myself, more in consonance with the subject of which I have to speak, in appearing before you as the child and the representative, no matter how unworthy, of the Irish friars, the Irish priests and patriots who sleep in Irish graves to-night.

And now, my friends, the most precious, the grandest, inheritance of any people, is that people’s history. All that forms the national character of a people, their tone of thought, their devotion, their love, their sympathies, their antipathies, their language, all this is found in their history, as the effect is found in its cause, as the autumn speaks of the spring.’ And the philosopher who wishes to analyze a people’s character and to account for it, to account for the national desires, hopes, aspirations, for the strong sympathies or antipathies that sway a people, must go back to the deep recesses of their history; and there, in ages long gone by, will he find the seeds that produced the fruit that he attempts to account for. And he will find that the nation of today is but the child and the offspring of the nation of by-gone ages; for it is written truly, that “the child is father to the man.” When, therefore, we come to consider the desires of nations, we find that every people is most strongly desirous to preserve its history, even as every man is anxious to preserve the record of his life; for history is the record of a people’s life. Hence it is that, in the libraries of the more ancient nations we find the earliest histories of the primeval races of mankind, written upon the durable vellum, the imperishable asbestos, or sometimes deeply carved, in mystic and forgotten characters, on the granite stone or pictured rock, showing the desire of the people to preserve their history, which is to preserve the memory of them, just as the old man dying said, “Lord, keep my memory green! “

But, besides these more direct and documentary evidences, the history of every nation is enshrined in the national traditions, in the national music and song; much more, it is written in the public buildings that cover the face of the land. These, silent and in ruins, tell most eloquently their tale. Today “the stone may be crumbled, the wall decayed; “the clustering ivy may, perhaps, uphold the tottering ruin to which it clung in the days of its strength; The sorrows, the joys of which once they were part, Still round them, like visions of yesterday, throng.”
They are the voices of the past; they are the voices of ages long gone by. They rear their venerable and beautiful gray heads high over the land they adorn; and they tell us the tale of the glory or of the shame, of the strength or of the weakness, of the prosperity or of the adversity of the nation to which they belong. This is the volume which we are about to open; this is the voice which we are about to call forth from their gray and ivied ruins that cover the green bosom of Ireland; we are about to go back up the highways of history, and, as it were, to breast and to stem the stream of time, today, taking our start from the present hour in Ireland. What have we here? It is a stately church, rivalling, perhaps surpassing, in its glory the grandeur of by-gone times. We behold the solid buttresses, the massive wall, the high tower and the graceful spire piercing the clouds, and upholding, high towards heaven, the symbol of man’s redemption, the glorious sign of the cross. We see in the stone windows the massive tracery, so solid, so strong, and so delicate. What does this tell us? Here is this church, so grand, yet so fresh and new and clean from the mason’s hand. What does it tell us? It tells us of a race that has never decayed; it tells us of a people that have never lost neither their faith nor their love; it tells us of a nation as strong in its energy for every highest and holiest purpose, today, as it was in the ages that are past and gone forever.

We advance just half a century up the highway of time; and we come upon that which has been familiar, perhaps, to many amongst you, as well as to me, the plain, unpretending little chapel, in some by -lane of the town or city, or the plain and humble little chapel in some by-way in the country, with its thatched roof, its low ceiling, its earthen floor, its wooden altar. What does this tell us? It tells us of a people struggling against adversity; it tells us of a people making their first effort, after .three hundred years of blood, to build up a house, however humble, for their God; it tells us of a people who had not yet shaken off the traditions of their slavery, upon whose hands the chains still hang, and the wounds inflicted by those chains are still rankling; it tells us of a people who scarcely yet know how to engage in the glorious work of Church edification, because they scarcely yet realized the privilege that they were to be allowed to live in the land that bore them. Let us reverently bow down our heads and salute these ancient places, these ancient, humble little chapels, in town or country, where we, we men of middle age, made our first confession and received our first communion; let us salute these places, hallowed in our memories by the first, and therefore the strongest, the purest, holiest recollections and associations of our lives; and, pilgrims of’ history, let us turn into the dreary, solitary road that lies before us. It is a road of three hundred years of desolation and bloodshed; it is a road that leads through martyrs’ and patriots’ graves; it is a road that is wet with the tears and with the blood of a persecuted and down-trodden people; it is a road that is pointed out to us by the sign of the cross, the emblem of the nation’s faith, and by the site of the martyr’s grave, the emblem of the nation’s undying fidelity to God.

And now what venerable ruin is this which rises before our eyes, moss-crowned, embedded in clustering ivy? It is a church, for we see the mullions of the great east window of the sanctuary, through which once flowed, through angels and saints depicted thereon, the mellow sunshine that warmed up the arch above, and made mosaics upon the church and altar. It is a church of the Mediaeval Choral Orders, for I see the lancet windows, the choir where the religious were accustomed to chant, yet popular, and much frequented by the people, for I see, outside the choir, an ample space; the side-aisles are unencumbered, and the side-chapels with altars, the mind of the architect clearly intending an ample space for the people; yet it is not too large a church; for it is generally one that the preacher’s voice can easily fill. Outside of it runs the square of the ruined cloister, humble enough, yet most beautiful in its architecture. But now, church and cloister alike are filled with the graves, the homes, of the silent dead. Do I recall to the loving memory of any one amongst you, scenes that have been familiar to your eyes in the dear and the green old land? Are there not those amongst you, who have looked, with eyes softened by love, and by the sadness of the recollections recalled to the mind, under the chancel and the choir, under the ample space of nave and aisle of the old Abbey of Athenry, or in the old Abbey of Kilconnell, or such as these? What tale do these tell?

They tell of a nation that, although engaged in a hand-to-hand and desperate struggle for its national life, yet in the midst of its wars, was never unmindful of its God; they tell of Ireland when the clutch of the Saxon was upon her, when the sword was unsheathed that was never to know its scabbard from that day until this, and that never will, until the diadem of perfect freedom rests upon the virgin brow of Ireland.

They tell of the glorious days, when Ireland’s Church and Ireland’s Nationality joined hands; and when the priest and the people rose up to enter upon a glorious combat for freedom. These were the homes of the Franciscan and the Dominican friars, the men who, during three hundred years of their residence in Ireland, recalled, in these cloisters, the ancient glories of Lismore, and of Glendalough, and of Armagh; the men who, from the time they first raised these cloisters, never left the land, never abandoned the old soil, but lingered around their ancient homes of happiness, of sanctity, and of peace, and tried to-keep near the old walls, just as Magdalene lingered round the empty tomb, on Easter morning, at Jerusalem.

They tell of the sanctuaries, where the hunted head of the Irish patriot found refuge and a place of security; they tell the Irish historian of the national councils, formed for state purposes within them. These venerable walls, if they could speak, would tell us how the wavering were encouraged and strengthened, and the brave and gallant fired with the highest and noblest purpose, for God and Erin; how the traitor was detected, and the false-hearted denounced; and how the nation’s life-blood was kept warm, and her wounds were stanched, by the wise counsels of the old Franciscan and Dominican friars. All this, and more, would these walls tell, if they could speak; for they have witnessed all this. They witnessed it until the day came, the day of war, the sword, and blood that drove forth their saintly inmates from their loving shelter, and devoted themselves to desolation and decay.

Let us bow down, fellow-Irishmen, with reverence and with love, as we pass under the shadow of these ancient walls. And now stepping a few years, scarcely fifty years, further on, on the road of our history, passing, as we go along, under the frowning, dark feudal castles of the FitzGeralds, of the De Laceys, the De Courcys, the FitzAdams, and, I regret to say, the De Burgos, the castles that tell us always of the terror of the invaders of the land, hiding themselves in their strongholds, because they could not trust to the love of the people, who hated them; and because they were afraid to meet the people in the open field, passing under the frowning shadows of these castles.

Suddenly we stand amazed, crushed, as it were, to the earth, by the glories that rise before us, in the ruins of Mellifont, in the ruins of Dunbrody, in the awful ruins of Holy Cross and of Cashel, that we see yet uplifting, in solemn grandeur, their stately heads in ruined beauty over the land which they once adorned. There do we see the vestiges of the most magnificent architecture, some of the grandest buildings that ever yet were raised upon this earth for God or for man. There do we see the lofty side walls pierced with huge windows, filled with the most delicate tracery; there, when we enter in we throw our eyes aloft with wonder, and see the groined, massive arches of the ceiling upholding the mighty tower; there do we see the grandeur of the ancient Cistercians, and the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine, and the Benedictines.

What tale do they tell us?
Oh, they tell us a glorious tale of our history and of our people.
These were the edifices that were built and founded in Ireland during the brief respite that the nation had, from the day that she drove the last Dane out, until the day that the first accursed Norman came. A short time, a brief period; too brief, alas, too brief! Ireland, exhausted after her three hundred years of Danish invasion, turned her first thoughts and her first energies to build up the ancient places that were ruined, to restore and to clothe the sanctuaries of her faith, with a splendour such as the nation had never seen before.

We will pass on. And now, a mountain-road lies before us. The land is filled again, for three centuries, with desolation and with bloodshed and with sorrow. The hillsides, on either. hand of our path, are strewn with the bodies of the slain; the valleys are filled with desolation and ruin; the air resounds to the ferocious battle-cry of the Dane, and to the brave battle-cry of the Celt, intermingled with the wailing of the widowed mother and the ravished maid; the air is filled with the crash and the shock of battle. In terrible onset, the lithe, active, mail-clad, fair-haired, blue-eyed warriors of the North meet the dark, stalwart Celt, and they close in mortal combat. Toiling along, pilgrims of history as we are, we come to the summit of Tara’s Hill, and there we look in vain for a vestige of Ireland’s ruins. But now, after these three hundred years of our backward journey over the highway of history, we breathe the upper air.

The sunshine of the eighth century, and of Ireland’s three centuries of Christianity, is upon our path. We breathe the purer air; we are amongst the mountains of God; and a sight the most glorious that nation ever presented opens itself before our eyes, the sight of Ireland’s first three centuries of the glorious faith of St . Patrick. Peace is upon the land. Schools rise upon every hill and in every valley. Every city is an immense school.

The air again is filled with the sound of many voices; for students from every clime under the sun, the German, the Pict, the Cumbrian, the Frank, the Italian, the Saxon, are all mingling together, conversing together in the universal language of the Church, Rome’s old Latin. They have come, and they have covered the land; they have come in thousands and in tens of thousands, to hear, from the lips of the world-renowned Irish saints, all the lore of ancient Greece and Rome, and to study in the lives of these saints the highest degree and noblest interpretation of Christian morality and Christian perfection.

Wise rulers governed the land; her heroes were moved to mighty acts; and these men, who came from every clime to the university of the world, to the great masters of the nations, go back to their respective countries and tell the glorious tale of Ireland’s strength and Ireland’s sanctity, of the purity of the Irish maidens, of the learning and the saintliness of the Irish priesthood; of the wisdom of her kings and rulers; of the sanctity of her people; until at length, from out the recesses of history, there comes, floating upon the breezes of time, the voice of an admiring world, that proclaims my native land, in that happy epoch, and gives to her the name of the island of heroes, of saints, and of sages.

Look up. In imagination we stand, now, upon the highest level of Ireland’s first Christianity. Above us, we behold the venerable hill-top of Tara; and beyond that, again, far away, and high up on the mountain, inaccessible by any known road of history, lies, amidst the gloom, the mysterious cloud that hangs around the cradle of every ancient race, looming forth from prehistoric obscurity; we behold the mighty Round Towers of Ireland:
The Pillar Towers of Ireland,
How wondrously they stand
By the rushing streams, in the silent glens,
And the valleys of the land,
In mystic file, throughout the isle,
They rear their heads sublime,
Those gray, old, pillar temples,
Those conquerors of time.

Now, having gone up to the cradle and fountain-head of our history, as told by its monuments and its ruins, we shall pause a little before we begin again our downward course. We shall pause for a few moments under the shadows of Ireland’s round towers.

There they stand, most perfect in their architecture; stone fitted into stone with the most artistic nicety and regularity; every stone bound to its bed by a cement as hard as the stone itself; a beautiful calculation of the weight which was to be put upon it, and the foundation which was to sustain it, has arrived at this, that, though thousands of years have passed over their hoary heads, there they stand, as firm today as on the day when they were first erected.

There they stand, in perfect form, in perfect perpendicular; and the student of art in the nineteenth century can find matter for admiration and for wonder in the evidence of Ireland’s civilization, speaking loudly and eloquently by the voice of her most ancient round towers. Who built them? You have seen them; they are all over the island.

The traveller sails up the placid bosom of the lovely Blackwater, and whilst he admires its varied beauties, and his very heart within him is ravished by its loveliness, he beholds, high above its green banks, amidst the ruins of ancient Lismore, a venerable round tower lifting its gray head into the air. As he goes on, passing, as in a dream of delight, now by the valleys and the hills of lovely Wicklow, he admires the weeping alders that hang over the stream in sweet Avoca; he admires the bold heights, throwing their outlines so sharp and clear against the sky, and clothed to their very summits with the sweet-smelling purple heather; he admires all this, until, at length, in a deep valley, in the very heart of the hills, he beholds, reflecting itself in the deep waters of still Glendalough, the venerable “round tower of other days.” Or he has taken his departure from the Island of Saints, and when his ship’s prow is turned toward the setting sun, he beholds upon the headlands of the iron-bound coast of Mayo or western Galway, the round tower of Ireland, the last thing the eye of the lover or traveller beholds.

Who built these towers, or for what purpose were they built?
There is no record of reply, although the question has been repeated, age after age, for thousands of years.
Who can tell?
They go so far back into the mists of history as to have the lead of all the known events in the history of our native land.
Some say that they are of Christian origin; others, again, say, with equal probability, and perhaps greater, that these venerable monuments are far more ancient than Ireland’s Catholicity; that they were the temples of a by-gone religion, and, perhaps, of a long-forgotten race. They may have been the temples of the ancient Fire Worshippers of Ireland; and the theory has been mooted, that in the time when our remotest forefathers worshipped the rising sun, the priest of the sun was accustomed to climb to the summit of the round tower, to turn his face to the east, and watch with anxiety the rising of the morning star, as it came up trembling in its silver beauty, above the eastern hills. Then, when the first rays of the sun illumined the valleys, he hailed its rising, and proclaimed to the people around him their duty of worship to the coming God.

This is the theory that would connect Ireland’s round towers with the most ancient form of religion, the false religion which truth dispelled, when, coming with the sun of heaven, and showing before Irish intellect the glories of the risen Saviour, the brightness of the heavenly sun dimmed forever the glory of the earthly, and dispelled the darkness of the human soul, which had filled the land before with its gloom. This is not the time nor the place to enter into an archaeological argument as to whether the round towers are of Pagan or Christian origin, or as to whether they are the offspring of the famous Gobán Saor, or of any other architect, or of the men of the fifth or of the sixth centuries; or whether they go back into the times of which no vestige remains upon the pages of history, or in the traditions of men; this, I say, is not the time to do it. I attempted this once, and whilst I was pursuing my argument, as I imagined, very learnedly and very profoundly, I saw a man, sitting opposite to me, open his mouth, and he gave a yawn; and I said in my own mind, to myself, “My dear friend, if you do not close your dissertation, that man will never shut his mouth; for I thought the top of his head would come off!

But no matter what may be the truth of this theory or that, concerning the round towers, one thing is certain, and this is the point to which I wish to speak, that, as they stand today, in the strength of their material, in the beauty of their form, in the perfection of their architecture, in the scientific principles upon which they were built, and which they reveal, they are the most ancient amongst the records of the most ancient nations, and distinctly tell the glorious tale of the early civilization of the Irish people. For, my friends, remember that, amongst the evidences of progress, of civilization, amongst the nations, there is no more powerful argument or evidence than that which is given by their public buildings.

When you reflect that many centuries afterwards, ages after ages, even after Ireland had become Catholic, there was no such thing in England as a stone building of any kind, much less a stone church, when you reflect that outside the pale of the ancient civilization of Greece and Rome, there was no such thing known amongst the northern and western nations of Europe as a stone edifice of any kind; then I say, from this, I conclude that these venerable pillar temples of Ireland are the strongest argument for the ancient civilization of our race. But this also explains the fact that Saint Patrick, when he preached in Ireland, was not persecuted; that he was not contradicted; that it was not asked of him, as of every other man that ever preached the Gospel for the first time to any people, to shed his blood in proof of his belief. No, he came not to a barbarous people, not to an uncivilized race; but he came to a wonderfully civilized nation, a nation which, though under the cloud of a false religion, had yet attained to established laws and a recognized and settled form of government, a high philosophical knowledge, a splendid national melody and poetry; and her bards, and the men who met Saint Patrick, upon the Hill of Tara, when he mounted it on that Easter morning were able to meet him with solid arguments; were able to meet him with the clash which takes place when mind meets mind; and when he had convinced them, they showed the greatest proof of their civilization by rising up, on the instant, to declare that Patrick’s preaching was the truth, and that Patrick was a messenger of the true God.

We know for certain that, whatever was the origin of those round towers, the Church, the Catholic Church in Ireland, made use of them for religious purposes; that she built her cathedrals and her abbey churches alongside of them; and we often find the loving group of the Seven Churches, lying closely beside, if not under the shadow of, the round towers.

We also know that the monks of old set the Cross of Christ on these ancient round towers, that is, on the upper part of them; and we know, from the evidence of a later day, that when the land was deluged in blood, and when the faithful people were persecuted, hunted down, then it was usual, as in the olden time, to light a fire in the upper portion of those round towers, in order that the poor and persecuted might know where to find the sanctuary of God’s altar. Thus it was that, no matter for what purpose they were founded, the Church of God made use of them for purposes of charity, of religion, and of mercy.

Coming down from these steep heights of history; coming down, like Moses from the mountain, from out the mysteries that envelop the cradle of our race, but, like the prophet of old, with the evidence of our nation’s ancient civilization and renown beaming upon us, we now come to the Hill of Tara. Alas, the place where Ireland’s monarch sat enthroned, the place where Ireland’s sages and seers met, where Ireland’s poets and bards filled the air with the rich harmony of our ancient Celtic melody, is now desolate; not a stone upon a stone to attest its ancient glory. “Perierunt etiam ruince, the very ruins of it have perished.

The mounds are there, the old moat is there, showing the circumvallation of the ancient towers of Tara; the old moat is there, still traced by the unbroken mound whereby the “Banquet Hall,” three hundred and sixty feet long, by forty feet in width, was formed, and in which the kings of Ireland entertained their chieftains, their royal dames, and their guests, in high festival and glorious revelry. Beyond this no vestige remains. But there, within the moat, in the very midst of the ruins, there, perhaps, on the very spot where Ireland’s ancient throne was raised, there is a long, grass-grown mound; the earth is raised; it is covered with a verdant sod; the shamrock blooms upon it, and the old peasants will tell you, this is the Croppy’s Grave.

In the year 1798, the “year of the troubles,” as we may well call it, some ninety Wexford men, or thereabouts, after the news came that “the cause was lost,” fought their way, every inch, from Wexford until they came to the Hill of Tara, and made their last stand on the banks of the River Boyne. There, pursued by a great number of the king’s dragoons, they fought their way through these two miles of intervening country, their faces to the foe. These ninety heroes, surrounded, fired upon, still fought and would not yield, until slowly, like the Spartan band at Thermopylae, they gained the Hill of Tara, and stood there like lions at bay. Surrounded on all sides by the soldiers, the officer in command offered them their lives if they would only lay down their arms. One of these Shelmaliers had that morning sent the colonel of the dragoons to take a cold bath in the Boyne. In an evil hour the Wexford men, trusting to the plighted faith of this British officer, laid down their arms; and, as soon as their guns were out of their hands, every man of them was fired upon; and to the last one, they perished upon the Hill of Tara. And there they were enshrined among the ancient glories of Ireland, and laid in the Croppy’s Grave.

And they tell how, in 1843, when O’Connell was holding his monster meetings throughout the land, in the early morning, he stood upon the Hill of Tara, with a hundred thousand brave, strong Irishmen around him. There was a tent pitched upon the hill-top; there was an altar erected, and an aged priest went to offer up the Mass for the people. But the old women, the women with the gray heads, who were blooming maidens in 1798, came from every side; and they all knelt round the Croppy’s Grave; and just as the priest began the Mass, and the one hundred thousand on the hill-sides and in the vales below were uniting in adoration, a loud cry of wailing pierced the air. It was the Irish mothers and the Irish maidens pouring out their souls in sorrow, and wetting with their tears the shamrocks that grew out of the Croppy’s Grave:
“ Dark falls the tear of him that mourns
Lost hope or joy that never returns;
But brightly flows the tear
Wept o’er a hero’s bier.”

Tara and its glories are things of the past; Tara and its monarchs are gone; but the spirit that crowned them at Tara has not died with them; the spirit that summoned bard and chief to surround their throne has not expired with them. That spirit was the spirit of Ireland’s nationality; and that spirit lives today as strong, as fervid, and as glorious as ever it burned during the ages of persecution; as it ever lived in the hearts of the Irish race.

And now, my friends, treading, as it were, down the hill-side, after having heard Patrick’s voice, after having beheld, on the threshold of Tara, Patrick’s glorious episcopal figure, as, with the simplicity that designated his grand, heroic character, he plucked from the soil the shamrock and upheld it, and appealed to the imagination of Ireland, appealed to that imagination that never yet failed to recognize a thing of truth or a thing of beauty, we now descend the hill, and wander through the land where we first beheld the group of the Seven Churches.

Everywhere throughout the land do we see the clustering ruins of these small churches. Seldom exceeding fifty feet in length, they rarely attain to any such proportion. There they are, generally speaking, under the shadow of some old round tower, some ancient Celtic name, indicative of past glory, still lingering around and sanctifying them.
What were these seven churches?
What is the meaning of them?
Why were they so numerous?
Why, there were churches enough, if we believe the ruins of Ireland, in Ireland during the first two centuries of its Christianity, to house the whole nation. Everywhere there were churches, churches in groups of seven; as if one were not enough, or two.

Nowadays, we are struck with the multitude of churches in London, in Dublin, in New York; but we must remember that we are a divided community, and that every sect, no matter how small it is, builds its own church; but in Ireland we were all of one faith; and all of these churches were multiplied. But what is the meaning of it? These churches were built in the early days of Ireland’s monasticism, in the days when the world acknowledged the miracle of Ireland’s holiness. Never, since God created the earth, never, since $ Christ proclaimed the truth amongst men, never was seen so extraordinary and so miraculous a thing as that a people should become, almost entirely, a nation of monks and nuns, as soon as they became Catholic and Christian. The highest proof of the Gospel is monasticism. As I stand before you, robed in this Dominican dress, most unworthy to wear it, still, as I stand before you, a monk, vowed to God by poverty, chastity, and obedience, I claim for myself, such as I am, this glorious title that the Church of God regards us as the very best of her children.

And why? Because the cream, as it were, of the Gospel spirit is sacrifice; and the highest sacrifice is the sacrifice that gives a man entirely, without the slightest reserve, to God, in the service of his country and of his fellow-men. This sacrifice is embodied and, as it were, combined in the monk; and, therefore, the monk and the nun are really the highest productions of Christianity. Now, Ireland, in the very first days of her conversion, so quickly caught up the spirit and so thoroughly entered into the genius of the Gospel, that she became a nation of monks and nuns, almost on the day when she became a nation of Christians. The consequence was, that throughout the land, in the villages, in every little town, on every hill-side, in every valley, these holy monks were to be found; and they were called by the people, who loved them and venerated them so dearly, they were called by the name of Culdees, or servants of God.

Then came, almost at the very moment of Ireland’s conversion and Ireland’s abundant monasticism, embodied, as it were, and sustained by that rule of Saint Columba which Saint Patrick brought into Ireland, having got it from Saint Martin of Tours, then came, at that very time, the ruin and the desolation of almost all the rest of the world. Rome was in flames; and the ancient Pagan civilization of thousands of years was gone. Hordes of barbarians poured, in streams, over the world. The whole of that formerly civilized world seemed to be falling back again into the darkness and chaos of the barbarism of the earliest times; but Ireland, sheltered by the encircling waves, converted and sanctified, kept her national freedom. No invader profaned her virgin soil; no sword was drawn, nor cry of battle or feud resounded through the land: and the consequence was, that Ireland, developing her schools, entering into every field of learning, produced, in almost every monk, a man fitted to teach his fellow-men and enlighten the world. And the whole world came to their monasteries, from every clime, as I have said before; they filled the land; and for three hundred years, without the shadow of a doubt, history declares that Ireland held the intellectual supremacy of the civilized world. Then were built those groups of seven churches, here and there; then did fill the land; then, when the morning sun arose, every valley in blessed Ireland resounded to the praises and the matinsong of the monk; then the glorious cloisters of Lismore, of Armagh, of Bangor, of Aran arose; and, far out in the western ocean, the glorious chorus resounded in praise of God, and the musical genius of the people received its highest development in hymns and canticles of praise, the expression of their glorious faith. For three hundred years of peace and joy it lasted; and, during those three hundred years, Ireland sent forth a Columba to Iona; a Virgilius to Italy; Romauld to Brabant; Gaul to France, in a word, every nation in Europe, even Rome itself; and all acknowledged that, in those days, the light of learning and of sanctity beamed upon them from the holy progeny of saints, that Ireland, the fairest mother of saints, produced and sent out to sanctify and enlighten the world.

And, mark you, my friends; these Irish monks were fearless men. They were the most learned men in the world. For instance, there was one of them, at home he was called Ferghal, abroad he was called Virgilius; this man was a great astronomer; and, as early as the seventh century, he discovered the rotundity of the earth, proclaimed that it was a sphere, and declared the existence of the antipodes.

In those days everybody thought that the earth was as flat as a pancake; and the idea was, that a man could walk as far as the land brought him, and he would then drop into the sea; and that if he took ship then, and sailed on to a certain point, why, then he would go into nothing at all. So, when this Irish monk, skilled in Irish science, wrote a book, and asserted this, which was recognized in after ages and proclaimed as a mighty discovery, the philosophers and learned men of the time were astonished. They thought it was heresy, and they did the most natural thing in the world, they complained to the pope of him; and the pope sent for him, examined him, examined his theory, and examined his astronomical system; and this is the answer, and the best answer, I can give to those who say that the Catholic Church is not the friend of science or of progress.

What do you think is the punishment the pope gave him?
The pope made him Archbishop of Salzburg.
He told him to continue his discoveries, continue your studies, he said; mind your prayers, and try and discover all the scientific truth that you can; for you are a learned man. Well, Ferghal continued his studies, and so well did he study that he anticipated, by centuries, some of the most highly practical discoveries of modern ages; and so well did he mind his prayers, that Pope Gregory the Tenth canonized him after his death.

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