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Introduction.

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zation far behind her sister kingdoms, notwithstanding that nearly four hundred years had elapsed since the invasion under Henry II. How little therefore her interests must have been attended to need not be told; and hence the paucity of native historians, for where there is little to relate, few will be found eager to do it. From these circumstances it has happened, and from her subjugation by England, that a great portion of her history is involved in obscurity; not perhaps that we need lament this obscurity, for we should probably find, could it be removed, that the chief transactions of her early ages consisted of the fierce and predatory wars of rude and martiak chieftains, fighting only for plunder or revenge,' and destroying rather than fostering those seminal principles of legislation and government which might have expanded into full and perfect growth in the progress of years. It is remarkable, how ever, that at a very early period, so early as the 5th century, Ireland produced in her monasteries, while her people still retained all the savage ferocity of their manners, men of such elevated piety and learning, that she became celebrated through all Christendom. This day of greatness, however, soon set in a long and gloomy night, from which she has emerged by progressive steps during the last century, and into which there is no possibility of her again relapsing.

For very obvious reasons, therefore, her history up to the 18th century shall be briefly detailed,

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Introduction.

while those events which have happened since that period, and especially within the last fifty years, shall be exhibited with a minuteness commensurate to their importance. It is within that time that she has achieved for herself her present eminence in literature, in science, and in arms; and that she has struggled to throw off the shackles that enthralled her, with a noble and persevering ardour. At the end of the reign of George II. Ireland still exhibited the appearance of a country recently conquered. The great mass of the population was catholic, and every catholic was denied participation in all civil rights whatsoever; what toleration, slender as it might be, they did enjoy, they enjoyed, not by the authority and sanction of law, but because the operation of penal and disqualifying statutes was suspended rather than enforced. It was impossible that men could rest satisfied under such a system, aggravated as their feelings must have been by the near view of such a different state of things in England. They could not but contrast their own condition with that of their conquerors, and the contrast could not fail to exasperate their minds; the impulse of that exasperation led to measures which involved the expression of the public feeling, and they progressively obtained the repeal of some, and the mitigation of others, of the most oppressive laws that were in force against them. Still, however, their complete emancipation remained unaccomplished, and still remains so, and they still

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have been and are actively employed to obtain the much-desired object of their wishes. But I do not mean to anticipate these pregnant and important transactions, as it is chiefly to a full and harmonised detail of them that the reader's attention will be directed in the course of the following work. Some preliminary pages, however, will be devoted to those topics which necessarily enter into an historical work; and as it is intended that the present one should be destined rather for the use of those who may wish to form a general estimate of Irehand in her past and present condition, by a rapid but distinct view of her features, civil, political, and natural, some details will be admitted which the dignity of history, in its strict and legitimate form, might feel itself called upon to reject.

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AN HISTORICAL REVIEW OF IRELAND FROM THE EARLIEST RECORDS TO THE PRESENT TIME.

CHAP. I.

Geographical view of Ireland-When first discovered by the Phænicians—Mentioned by Cæsar

Anciently called Scotia-Its situation — Greatest length and breadth-Original Popu lation-Its present division into counties when completed-Enumeration of them-Early traditional history-Anecdote of Sir Walter Raleigh-Historical epochs of Ireland.

IN treating of the general history of a country from the earliest periods of which tradition has preserved any memory, it may perhaps be permitted to borrow something from the peculiar province of geography, in laying the foundations. upon which the fabric is to stand. They mutually serve to illustrate each other; and it is a natural impulse of curiosity to enquire into the original population, name, and discovery of a country, with all the historical events of which we are about to become acquainted. Such auxiliary knowledge helps to infix more strongly in our memory those

Discovery of Ireland by the Phænicians.

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facts which connect with it more or less; and I shall therefore commence by briefly stating what are the commonly received opinions upon the subjects to which I have alluded.

It is probable that Ireland, being situated to the west of Great Britain, was discovered by the Phoenicians as early as the sister island. It is supposed to have constituted one of the Cassiterides, and that it was known to the Greeks by the name of Juverna about two centuries before the Christian era. The next account we have of Ireland is from Cæsar, who, in his Commentaries, describes it as being about half the size of Great Britain, dimidio minor, ut existimatur, quam Britannia*; and Ptolemy has given a map of the island, the accuracy of which is held to be superior to that of Scotland; thus furnishing a probable proof that of the two it was the better known to the ancients. In progress of time, when the country had been peopled with various tribes, the Romans discovered that the ruling people in Ireland were the Scoti, and hence the country began to be termed Scotia, which name was retained by the monastic writers, according to Pinkerton, only till the 11th century. (rosius gives it the title of Hibernia, but stiles its inbabitants Scoti: Archbishop Usher, however, says,

that it was not till after the coalition between the Scots and the Picts in the 11th century that

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