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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
                         An Ethnography of the Gael A.D. 500 - 1750
                                 © C. Thomas Cairney, Ph.D.


          I am indebted to a number of people who have had a formative influence on this book, among them Tom
          Johnson, Valene Smith and Lowell Stratton at the California State University, Chico; Dan Crowley at
          the University of California, Davis, and Gilbert Youmans at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Thanks
          also go to John Foley, Ed Tyler and Sarah Feeny at the University of Missouri, Columbia, for
          introducing me to oral-formulaic theory, and for recommending books and articles on the subject. A
          special thanks is due to Connie Reece, also of the University of Missouri, who read the book in proof,
          and converted many awkward Cairney-isms into readable prose while struggling through the difficult
          Gaelic spellings in Part II. Finally, thanks is due to Art Lehmann, California State University, Chico,
          who introduced me to anthropology and inspired me with its possibilities as a tool for understanding
          cultural continuities past and present. This book is a direct result of that inspiration.

                         You can purchase this book online at Amazon.Com
                                  Visit the Authors Web Site
                             Visit Willow Bend Books, the Publisher
                              Copyright © 1989 C. Thomas Cairney
                 Provided online at Electric Scotland with the kind permission of the author

                                   Table of Contents


                                        Part One

                                  I. The Identity of the Gaels
                                     II. Gaelic Society
                                 III. The Coming of Gaeldom
                                  La Llegada del Gaelismo
                                IV. The Kingdom of the Picts:
                       Christianity, Paganism and the Making of Gaelic Scotland

                                        Part Two

                                   V. Tribal Nomenclature
                                     VI. The Cruithne
                                      VII. The Erainn
                                     VIII. The Laigin
                                      IX. The Gaels
                                 X. The Vikings and Normans

                                Appendix I: The Coats of Arms
                                Appendix II: A List of Surnames
                  Abbot - Bohannon | Bohannon - Cattanach | Cavan - Cunnagher | Currie - Elder
                  Elder - Geary | Georgeson - Haldane | Haldane - Kealaghan | Keane - Lanigan
                   Landers - MacAulay | MacAuliffe - MacClymont | MacCoghlan - MacDonnell
                 MacDonagh - MacGlashan | MacGlasrich - MacIndeor | MacInerney - MacLamond
               MacLaren - MacNair | MacNally - MacShane | MacShanly - Marnoch | Martin - Nicholson
               Nolan - O'Connor | O'Connor - O'Finnegan | O'Finnegan - O'Kennedy | O'Kiernan - O'Quin
                          O'Quin - Reynolds | Rice - Taggart | Taggart - Yunie


                 Abernethy - Fitzmaurice | Fitzpatrick - MacCorquodale | MacCostello - Mentieth
                 Menzies - O’Heaney | O’Heffernan - Spens | Steuart, (Stuart) - Wemyss, (Weems)

                 Note: The Index is hyperlinked to let you easily find the page you are looking for!


                   There be more than 60 countries, called regions, in Ireland, --- some
                   regions as big as a shire, some more, some lesse; where reygneith more
                   than 60 Chyef Capytaynes, whereof some callyth themselves Kings, some
                   Kings Peers, in their language, some Princes, some Dukes, some
                   Archedukes --- and every of the said Capytaynes make yth war and peace
                   for himself, and holdeith by sword, and hath imperial jurisdiction within his
                   rome, and obeyeth to no other person.
                   A Tudor official in 1515

                   This book is dedicated to the heroic spirit of those "Chyef Capytaynes" of
                   old, who reigned in wild but magnificent style in the numerous tribal
                   kingdoms which once graced the Emerald Isle and the North of Britain.
                   Part One of Clans and Families provides the reader with an historical
                   overview of the lost tribal culture of Ireland and Scotland. In Part Two, the
                   reader is provided with information on the origins of specific Irish and
                   Scottish families/surnames as they developed from clan and tribal

                   The idea for a book on the tribes and clans of Ireland and Scotland has
                   been with me for a long time. There has certainly been a need for an
                   authoritative, comprehensive yet relatively concise treatment of the subject,
                   one faithful to the Gaelic reality as it was lived by the tribesmen of the
                   sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As a student of anthropology, I have
                   long been interested in the tribal character and racio-ethnic origins of the
                   Gaelic-speaking peoples of historical times. My personal interest in the
                   rich lore and cultural heritage of the Irish and Highland Scottish people,
                   including the history of the great kin groups and families, led me to the
                   task of providing for general readership a guide to the subject less affected
                   by Anglicized characterization and romance.

                   This book combines genealogical, historical and anthropological
                   information on Irish and Scottish clan-families in one volume. Excellent
                   work has been done on the origins and character of the early tribal
                   populations by British and Irish scholars. Clans and Families bridges the
                   gap between these early tribes and the great clan-families of the sixteenth
                   and seventeenth centuries, showing their relationships and connection to
                   each other through branches, subtribes, and clans. Herein I have brought
                   together much diverse and specialized material from various fields in order
                   to apply the best modern information in a unified way. Such information has
                   been heretofore unavailable to the general public.

                   The purpose of this book is to provide in one volume an authoritative and
                   comprehensive account of the Gaelic tribes and clans. Any serious
                   treatment of Gaelic history, politics, sociology, anthropology or related
                   fields should take this Gaelic tribalism into central account when dealing
                   with the period preceding 1607 in Ireland and 1746 in Scotland. The reason
                   for this is that throughout the historical period and even into the eighteenth
                   century, Gaelic polity was built upon a framework of tribal groups with their
                   intra- and inter-tribal political relationships.

                   Similarly, studies of traditional Gaelic literature which aim to examine its
                   social context should strive to view it in light of its tribal background. Much
                   folklore in the Gaelic oral tradition, inasmuch as it is an expression of
                   cultural realities past and present, is also profitably viewed in this way.

                   It is not my purpose here to glorify a particular place or race by calling
                   attention to some mystical quality. The men of the tribes were just men,
                   and the places where they dwelt were just places. If anything must be
                   glorified, let it be the human spirit; the spirit of men and women who would
                   build a hearth and defend a family against ever-present dangers in a wild
                   land. Think of the Gaelic tribes as an aspect of our Western heritage, for
                   they have left us above all with a legacy of pride in the face of adversity, of
                   family unity in the face of potential annihilation. This is the legacy of the
                   tribes and clans, that men could unite with bonds of blood and friendship,
                   to uphold their freedom, their chief and their way of life; that men could
                   stand together with honor, and face their fears with dignity. Though often
                   enough the Gael fell short of his best, yet more often he did not, and at the
                   very least the scions of an heroic aristocracy could gather around a fire at
                   night, and listen to their ancient tales, reaffirming the morals and values of
                   their people.

                   In many ways Gaelic society stood in bold contrast to the rest of Europe.
                   To correctly interpret a society so strikingly different from its neighbors in
                   the rest of Europe requires knowledge of the nature of its separate identity.
                   This book should greatly aid that task.

                                              C. Thomas Cairney October 1988

                               I. The Identity of the Gaels

          This book is about the origins of the Irish and Scottish surnames of millions of Americans and
          Canadians. Much of the genealogical and cultural legacy of our Irish and Scottish ancestors has not
          been made available to the common English-speaking culture of North America. This state of affairs
          reflects the fact that much good scholarly work bearing on the subject has been "locked way" in
          academic works, often very old, by either Irish or British authors dealing primarily with their own
          respective geographical or subject areas. Specialized information from diverse academic sources (long
          overlooked by North American writers) is presented here in a unified text for the benefit of Irish and
          Scottish Canadians and Americans.

          Though prior to the seventeenth century Ireland and Scotland were in many ways a single cultural unit,
          scholars since have skirted this issue, along with the issue of past Irish and Scottish Gaelic tribalism,
          and this is probably a result of their not spending the time to break into the enigma of Gaelic language
          and culture. As a result, they have tried to categorize Ireland and Scotland separately, and generally
          as a backwater of English history. This book provides a fresh, historically accurate treatment of the
          subject by considering both Gaelic areas, Ireland and Scotland, at once, and in the light of the best
          modern information from such fields as anthropology, history, folklore, genealogy, heraldry, literature
          and linguistics.

          A close affinity has always existed between Ireland and Scotland, especially northern Scotland. The
          native peoples of these places, the Irish on the one hand, and the Scottish Highlanders on the other,
          are known collectively as "the Gaels," and share as well the common heritage of the Gaelic culture and
          tongue. Because of its continuity with its lndo-European past, this culture could during its
          sixteenth-century heyday be described as the most ancient, the most unaffected, and the most
          unchanged and unchanging in all of Europe. The earliest literature and history of the Gaels are
          particularly interesting for they provide a unique window on the Iron Age. But the history of Gaeldom
          involves an apparent cultural paradox, for Gaelic society enjoyed many of the benefits of "civilization"
          without being itself "civilized" in the sense of being organized around concentrated population centers,
          or cities. The basic organization of Gaelic society before the seventeenth century remained tribal; changes
          brought on by outside influences were secondary in nature and were generally adapted to the existing
          social order. Thus the society expressed the vitality of an unbroken connection with its most ancient
          origins until the power of the Gaelic tribes in Ireland and Scotland was broken by the English. The
          English facilitated their conquest of Gaeldom with great cruelty, conquering with bravery, political
          treachery and great military and logistical strength. The Gaelic people were completely disenfranchised
          and denied education as well. This struck at the very heart of Gaelic society, one of the truly great
          learned societies since ancient times. However, education did not entirely die. Traditions continued to
          be passed down, and some semiformal education continued in furtive "hedge row" schools, often run
          by priests on pain of death.

          The Christian church in Gaelic Ireland and Scotland (the Celtic church) had a unique character, and
          maintained its independence and power from about the time of St. Patrick (ca. 400) to the coming of
          the Normans (ca. 1200). It was not fully submerged until after the end of the Gaelic period in the
          seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Celtic church was from the beginning very important both in
          missionary activity and in the advancement of learning in Europe. Indeed, many of the oldest European
          religious houses were founded by Gaelic saints, or had Gaelic pilgrims associated with their
          beginnings. Throughout history, Gaelic scholar-clerics continued to find a welcome at the courts and
          monasteries of the Continent. Gaelic missionary and monastic activity (sixth to twelfth centuries) also
          show a Gaelic wanderlust which is mirrored in the military sphere by Gaelic mercenaries of the
          thirteenth to sixteenth centuries, who fought for hire under foreign lords, as antecedents to the
          so-called "Wild Geese" of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

          During the nineteenth century, Gaels in great numbers were cleared from their once-healthy homeland
          to make way for British agriculture and livestock; the removal was a dirty business which the English
          rationalized by quaint economic theories proclaiming the Gaelic situation as "hopeless in any case".
          There was, however, a population explosion in Ireland at this time, and with the coming of the Great
          Potato Famine of the late 1840s in Ireland, millions of Gaels starved for want of potatoes, while the real
          agricultural fruit of the land passed on unhindered into England, as per British policy. No less tragic
          was the clearing of the loyal Highlanders of northern Scotland from the homes of their ancestors of a
          thousand years, to make way for sheep. On the brighter side of irony is the fact that there are, as a
          result of immigration (especially in North America), many millions more Gaels in the world community
          than could ever have been nurtured on the "old sod" of Ireland and Scotland alone. 

II. Gaelic Society

          Before their political eclipse in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Gaelic people of Ireland
          and northern Scotland had lived since prehistoric times in a society which was tribal and pastoral in
          nature, and whose essential elements had come together toward the beginning of the medieval period.
          Gaelic society in the early eighth century A.D. thus represented a fusion between the old pagan,
          Heroic traditions and culture and the new Christian society with its scholarship and monasticism.

          This fusion, in its inception, was the bed upon which Gaelic society would flower. It was a cultural
          synthesis born of a long history of ethno-tribal relationships on Irish soil, and it would, through
          invasions by Vikings (mainly Norwegians) and Normans, attain new equilibriums with each contact,
          and continue on in its essentially Gaelic fashion. The resultant culture would maintain its vitality well
          into the modern period, retaining both its ancient flavor and the universality of its appeal. Far from being
          on the retreat, it would absorb the Viking and Norman invaders, while by its own expansion it would
          convert the Picts of Albany (North Scotland) and the Britons of Strathclyde (South Scotland) as well,
          covering most of medieval Scotland in the process.

          The absorption, however, of the Vikings and Normans who settled in Gaeldom worked both ways. The
          Vikings brought towns, merchant and seafaring expansion, and new blood. Their Norman cousins
          brought castles and mounted knights in armor, both of which came to play a central role in all later
          political struggles in the Gaelic areas. The Normans changed the face of Gaeldom forever with efficient
          land use, encouraging the development of the previously emergent "tribal-dynastic feudalism" of the
          native kings with a healthy infusion of their own purely Norman feudalism. Thus, while the Normans
          were Gaelicized, the Gaels were themselves Normanized as well.

          Gaeldom in its sixteenth century heyday consisted of a series of tribal kingdoms (tuaths) stretching
          from the bottom of Ireland, clockwise, to the northern tip of Scotland. For most of their history these
          kingdoms were under the often nominal or largely symbolic high-kingships of either Ireland or Scotland.
          Medieval Scotland had in fact resulted from the ninth-century merger of the Kingdoms of the Scots, or Irishmen from Dal Riada in northeast Ireland (long settled in
          Argyle on the west coast of Scotland), with the people known as the Cruithne (or Picts), the native
          people of the rest of what would eventually become Scotland. Much of the subsequent history of these
          areas centered around the attempts of their chief tribal dynasties to make these "over kingdoms" a
          political reality.

          Meanwhile, geographical factors in Scotland and Ulster, such as mountains and glens, together with
          the presence of sparser, less diverse population groups, combined to encourage the development of
          more tightly knit, formalized clan groups, especially toward the sixteenth century. It was precisely
          these clans and families who were successful in maintaining their group identity beyond the Gaelic
          period, which ended between 1600 and 1750. The people of these areas could more generally share in
          the Heroic tradition of Gaelic literature, as members of an Heroic aristocracy, and this is reflected in
          the number of northern families tracing themselves back to characters in that Heroic literature,
          particularly the "Ulster Cycle." As a genealogical note however, it should be pointed out that,
          especially in Scotland, the tribal following of a chief was often encouraged to take the name of the
          chief, once surnames came into general use in place of clan names. What this means is that not every
          clansman who bore the name "Robertson" (Mac Raibeirt) was descended from a Robertson chief in the
          male line, although somehow related either in the female line, or as a male-line branch from before the
          time of Raibeirt, eponymous ancestor of the Robertson chiefs. This taking of the chief’s name was an
          expression of the old kinship, and was a way for the group to promote their solidarity as a
          socio-political entity, a phenomenon aided by the relatively late (fourteenth century) general adoption in
          Scotland of surnames as opposed to clan-names. In Ireland to the south of Ulster, and especially in
          Munster, society continued to reflect the ancient tribal patterns which emphasized a more limited,
          numerically inferior warrior aristocracy (the Eoghanacht) in overlord status over an ethnically diverse

          Nevertheless, Gaelic society in general involved a shared racial-national heritage. This was a
          time-honored culture which was no more and no less than the lasting expression of its active bearers,
          the men and women who lived it, made it, and passed it on to their descendants. The culture itself was
          superimposed over a latticework of tribal divisions; some independent, some semi-independent but
          owing tribute to another. Central to it was a tribal spirit of patriarchal, extended-family independence. In
          this spirit, honor was upheld by the working of the clan-lands, and by the demonstrated ability and
          strength to hold those lands by the sword. A family lost face if it failed to uphold its tribal obligations,
          for the strength of a tribe was the strength of the honorable commitments made by its constituent
          kindreds, or basic extended-family units, and was therefore a function of tribal unity.

          In spite of inter-tribal political and economic competition, Gaelic society was nonetheless united in culture and language. The bearers of religion, law, literature, history,
          medicine, music and poetry, as hereditary tradesmen in their fields, enjoyed a special status, and
          freely practiced their arts among and between such tribal groups. Indeed, far from being merely
          tolerated by the tribes, these professional classes actually performed the essential functions of the
          society, maintaining its tribal character of independence and partition. For these professionals, the
          spoken word held a special and ancient power. Gaelic bards and historians prided themselves in the
          cultivation of memory for the oral transmission of information and records, a task which they
          accomplished with the aid of poetic conventions, thematic paraphrase and aphoristic formulas of stock
          idiomatic cultural meaning (the phrase "be literal" had no meaning prior to the coming of the literate
          Christians). The spoken ire of a poet would maim a king through sympathetic magic, while his blessing
          could bring prosperity.

          Gaelic tribalism tended to foster a natural aristocracy based on talent. A tribesman’s individual talent,
          and the talent of his immediate ancestors played the major role in determining where one stood within
          the internal tribal hierarchy. In another sense, the same hierarchy tended to run horizontally rather than
          vertically, which meant that all members of the tribe, being equally descended from the founding chief
          or king, shared equally in his royal blood, and therefore counted themselves equal in blood to the king
          of the tribe. In this way, differences between tribesmen tended to emphasize talent rather than blood,
          though the tribal king or clan chief himself was "a breed apart."

          A chief’s personal and family talent played its role in securing him that dignity in the first place, but
          once inaugurated, a new chief took on a new aspect. As chief, he symbolized the manifestation of the
          spirit of the tribe, ritualistically reincarnated in each succeeding chief, presumably since the beginning
          of time. Any man whose father, grandfather or great-grandfather had been chief was generally eligible to
          be a chief himself as long as he acknowledged the male line and reckoned himself a member of the
          tribe. However, this system often led to strife between rival nominees and their supporters, especially
          when the succession was not prearranged by the chief himself (contrast this with the Norman-English
          custom of primogeniture, wherein the eldest son is automatically the heir).

          A chief could appoint his successor by a process known as tanistry, but otherwise the office was filled
          through election by the tribal council, made up of the heads and elders of the kindred branches of the
          tribe, though their decision could be influenced greatly by personal combats among the candidates.
          Indeed, the succession itself was originally carried out by means of a ritual combat between the chief
          and his successor (or at least challenger) within the kingroup, or "dynastic family." Such ancient
          practices continued well into the Middle Ages, and among some families (such as the MacCarthys and
          O’Flahertys) even later. It arose in part from the prudent need to settle such questions quickly and decisively, for the good of the tribe. The kingship was originally a sacral (sacred and
          official), and in a sense, sacrificial position. The king performed a priestly function for the tribe, eliciting
          due awe from the tribesmen, and living under religious restrictions ("gessa," or taboos).

          There were three pillars of Gaelic polity within the tribal structure; the Chief, the elders of the kindreds,
          and the leaders of the church. Where matters of succession were concerned, there was a rule of
          thumb in the Brehon law (the law of the Gael) which specified the criteria for choosing precedence in
          each category; "Elder for kin, worth for rulership, wisdom for the church" (Byrne 35). Worth here refers
          to the eligible candidate with the most kindreds in his camp. This system helped foster good
          leadership and keep it closely bound to the mass of tribesmen, and attuned to their needs and desires.
          The chief acted in conjunction with the tribal council of elders, and with the advice of the church.
          Although a strictly tribal ruler or dynast could be high-handed with "alien tuatha" (subservient tribal
          groups), in keeping with the Indo-European aristocratic tradition of their earliest ancestors, yet they
          could also treat them as respected allies, and raise them to high position. In fact, even in the larger,
          more centralized Kingdom of Scots in the late thirteenth century, Alexander Ill was known as a highly
          accessible and personable king. He acted in the Gaelic tradition of contact with his people, the local
          constituents of his kingdom, which was typical of the nobility of the time (this was, of course, long
          before the urban population sprawl, and the anonymity and social evils attributable thereto). In this way
          the Gaelic system came to resemble a sort of tribal feudalism, in which accountability ran both ways.

          Certain kindreds supported such hereditary functions as law, religion, and the teaching of history and
          genealogy. Members of these kindreds served as advisors when matters requiring their expertise were
          in question. In the Celtic church, for example, certain kindreds maintained church lands, often as a
          branch of the local tribe, and the heads of such kindreds were the bishops and abbots of the Celtic
          church. They enjoyed princely status, and often descended from the founding saint of the abbacy as
          well. They did not observe celibacy, for this was originally an ascetic rule for certain monastic orders
          until its institution (twelfth century) in the Roman church by the Pope as a means of controlling secular
          appointments generation by generation. The Celtic church’s lack of celibacy should not be interpreted
          (as it has been) as an indication that the church was decadent or degenerative, for it judged itself by its
          own standards, and never duplicated Latin attitudes on this question. As Gaelic society was different,
          so the church organization that emerged within this tribal infrastructure was also different. Communities
          of Gaelic ascetics and hermits continued to seek God in peaceful areas away from men, but their
          basic monastic system was from the beginning adapted to the tribal society, and thus we have the
          abbey system of the Celtic church. It is worth pointing out that the Celtic church was the first in
          Northern Europe, and thus did not degenerate from a previous and pervasive Roman church, although this assumption has been
          made (implied here is the vulnerability on the part of the historian to distort history by interpreting it too
          much in the light of his own age). Irish monasticism was in fact an outgrowth of that of Egypt, not
          Rome, and its position in Europe was one of antecedence.

          At any rate, the tribes, being the focus of Gaelic political power, encompassed virtually the entire
          Gaelic population. Generally speaking, this meant that anyone with any basic rights at all belonged to
          a tribe, and usually descended in the male line from one of the ancient Celtic ethno-tribal groups of
          Ireland and Scotland (the Gaels proper—the tribal sense of the name Gael— and also the Laigin,
          Erainn and Cruithne), or from one of the Viking or Norman families that came later. The only exceptions
          of note were those families which had attached themselves wholly to the church or some other
          hereditary profession, or which became so debased in power that they lost political significance even
          on the most local scale, and thus lost also their tribal identity (a unique situation arose for the
          O’Donegans of North Tipperary and O’Duggans of Cork who were tribally isolated and thus became
          entities unto themselves, while the same can be said for the O’Lynches of County Cavan, see Part II).
          Some church kindreds, such as the ancestors of the Skenes of Aberdeenshire and the Glenesks of
          Angus, later became temporal lords of their territories after these abbey lands were secularized in the
          thirteenth century.

          It should be pointed out that families of the Galloway region of southwest Scotland, though of Gaelic
          origin in many cases, cannot be placed in the larger tribal framework of Gaeldom. The reason for this is
          their descent from Norse-Gaelic pirates and sea-kings who originally settled the area, whose tribal
          identity or continuity was lost as that tribalism completely lost its political significance. Thus the
          families of Kennedy, MacDowell, MacClellan, etc., of the Galloway region, though they form clan
          groups traceable from about the end of the twelfth century, fall outside the scope of Part II of this book.
          Other families in the south of Scotland are of Norman origin, but as their ancestors settled in the
          Lowlands of South Scotland, outside the area of Gaelic influence and cultural assimilation, most of
          these fall outside the scope of this book. This also applies to some families of the northeastern coastal
          lowlands of Scotland, and even to the mighty Lowland houses of Douglas and Bruce. The senior branch
          of the latter inherited and held the Throne of the Scots (in the person of Robert the Bruce) during the
          critical wars of Scottish independence in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but their male-line
          failed soon after, and their royal inheritance and representation passed to the House of Stewart.

          Tribalism of course influenced Gaelic literature, and the oral tradition is crowded with kings and heroes,
          often originally of a divine nature, who figure prominently in the genealogies of the tribes. Indeed, if you
          include descent in the female line, the likelihood was very great that a given Gael might descend, on a
          regional basis, from an historical king or hero of old. Such likelihoods, together with the pervasiveness of tribalism and the fact that tribal dynasts often had their own pedigree
          attached to that of the ruling tribe of a province (making them, in a nominal way, honorary members of
          those tribes), helped reinforce the emergence of a kind of "national family." This is especially true when
          considering descent within certain geographically defined areas, such as the Scottish Highlands, or
          one of the provinces of Ireland. This is particularly true in Scotland, where a combination of factors (the
          intermarriage of Picts and Scots, and the resultant substitution of patrilineal descent for the original
          matrilineal decent of the Picts) resulted in an unusual homogeneity of patrilineally traced, politically
          significant tribal/dynastic pedigrees in Scotland. This homogeneity in turn encouraged other tribal
          branches migrating from Ireland to northern Scotland during the Middle Ages to selectively intermarry in
          order to acquire dynastic ties to these patrilineal groups, and the same principle applies to the Norman
          settlers when they came. However, this does not mean that the reality of patrilineally traced ethnic
          origin ceased to be of importance, for the provincially unifying factors discussed above served only to
          streamline provincial politics which remained based on ethnic/tribal origin.

          The basic dress for men into the seventeenth century included Celtic brogues (black leather shoes not
          unlike ballerina slippers: a kind of moccasin), knee-length tartan hose of an argyle pattern, a long,
          saffron dyed linen shirt of ample folds and yardage, and a mantle of wool, which in Scotland evolved
          into the kilt of today. Originally the kilt was a large, rectangular plaid variously arranged on the body,
          but generally belted at the waist producing the familiar kilted pleats. District setts grew out of traditional
          weaving patterns and the local availability of vegetable dyes. In Scotland, the circumscribing geography
          of mountain and glen encouraged the association of certain district setts with the dominant local clan.
          However, the modern idea of the Scottish tartan as a kind of "clan uniform" seems to have developed
          by analogy to the regimental tartans of the 1780s, after the repeal of the ban on Highland dress. Before
          that time, a poor Highlander wore any wool he could get his hands on, while a rich one traded with
          other districts or else had a sett of his own made to suit his individual taste. In any case, mixing and
          matching was the rule, and with the addition of the tartan waistcoat and jacket in the eighteenth
          century, the Highland squire cut a variegated figure indeed. This was a Celtic society, with individual
          vanity setting the fashion statement. There was no need then to manifest group identity with a uniform:
          A person lived all his life with the same clan, in the same place, and with the same leaders. What was
          needed was a sense of personal identity, always achieved through individual adornment.

          Another aspect of the Gaelic tribal culture was its heraldry,, the symbolism of which is often of very
          ancient origin, although it did not develop in its medieval importance until the coming of the Normans in
          the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Nevertheless, families often shared common dynastic symbols even though their dynastic connections predated heraldry per se, which indicates that
          older dynastic traditions were applied to post—Norman heraldry. Occasionally the arms themselves
          are of truly ancient origin. The arms of the O’Donnells of Tirconnell, for instance, bear the cross of "the
          kindred of St. Columba," as do the arms of other families of that kindred. The ancestor of the
          O’Donnells was told to bear this symbol on his shield by the great saint himself, in the sixth century!
          Other symbols in Gaelic heraldic practice developed out of ancient tribal totems, reminiscent of
          primitive magic, learned druids, and the pre—Christian religion.

          Out of this well of Celtic antiquity comes a heraldic symbol of the great O’Neills and their tribal kin, the
          sacred salmon, which was originally considered to be the water-borne manifestation of the "otherworld
          god" and a source of his wisdom. As can be seen in the chart on page 94, the O’Neills traced their
          descent from Conn Cetchathach ("Conn of the Hundred Battles"). Conn is the otherworld god, and in
          this manifestation he is considered the "sun-god" (St. Patrick once railed against the Irish practice of
          worshiping the sun).

          "Conn" in Old Irish means "head" in the sense of one’s head being the seat of reason. A divine head
          needs to see, and from its shape and brightness, the sun was regarded as the "divine eye of the
          heavens." In fact, the Irish word "suil," which etymologically means sun, has acquired the meaning
          "eye." "The idea of the sun being the eye of the heavens is a very old one. When conceived
          anthropomorphically, the deity was often regarded as a huge one-eyed being (O’Rahilly 58—59) ... the
          deified sun, the heavenly Eye, who has observed the doings of countless generations of men"
          (O’Rahilly 318).

          The "Red Hand of Ulster" is also an O’Neill symbol, recalling a tale about a severed hand, when a sea
          race was won by the unnatural touch of the "Red Hand" upon the shores of Ulster. In this famous tale,
          the ancestor of the O’Neills was racing another boat with the object of beating it to and thus claiming a
          territory for himself. Falling behind at the critical moment, the dauntless O’Neill ancestor lopped off his
          left hand with an axe, and threw it upon the shore ahead of the other boat, thus winning the land! The
          royal "lyon" of the Scottish kings, symbol of Dalriadic royal descent, is reminiscent of a time when
          there were still lions in the forests of Europe, and is quartered in the arms of many famous Scottish

          For other early examples of heraldry, compare the "proto-heraldic" use of boar-crested helmets, golden
          banners, etc., as described in the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) epic poem Beowulf, a pre-literate oral
          composition first written down in the eighth century. The boar was considered to be a magical beast,
          and was famed for its courage. It appears later on the armorial shields of several Irish families, such as
          the O’Hanleys and O’Hanlons. The distinctive boar’s head arms of the Swintons of Lowland Scotland
          and their relations, the Gordons and Chisholms, is made more interesting by the knowledge that the Swintons are an ancient family of royal Anglo-Saxon genesis. Another example of early heraldic
          practice is the famous raven-banner of the Vikings (the raven was considered in pagan days to be a
          manifestation of Odin, and was later borne on the banner of the Picto-Norse earls of Caithness and
          Orkney in Scotland). Another worthy example is the antiquity of the arms of the Scottish family of
          Murray, derived, like their name, from the province of Moray.

          Silver and blue were the ancient livery colors of the Morayshire Picts, and stars are said to have been
          painted on their bodies, in these colors, as a war-paint" by which they could be distinguished from
          other tribes in battle. There was a noticeable tendency toward the use of blue in the original arms of the
          northeastern mormaerships (Celtic earldoms), the region including Mar, Buchan and Moray. In addition,
          stars appear in ancient Morayshire cave carvings, a possible indication of their ancient local
          significance. The heraldic device of "three Moray stars" appears in the arms of the Murrays and most
          old Morayshire families, including the MacRaes. These colors, silver on blue, also relate to the origin of
          the Scottish national flag, the cross of St. Andrew (Adam 520, 533).

          The heraldic use of the three Moray stars by Murray families in the south of Scotland shows that their
          significance as a dynastic symbol extended even into preheraldic times, as these families migrated
          from the province of Moray before formal heraldry developed during the twelfth century. Such
          preheraldric dynastic affiliations throughout Gaeldom go hand-in-hand with shared heraldic symbology
          as a proof of the antiquity of pre-formal heraldry.

          Such armorial bearings were born in the mists of the unrecorded past. They are a constant reminder of
          the ancient European origins of the Gaelic race, as indeed, much of what people think and do in their
          daily lives today is a direct legacy from their earliest ancestors. Many of the assumptions which guide
          people’s lives reflect basic attitudes born of long tradition, and yet they are as common in our day as
          the Christmas tree (symbol of continuous life in winter) or the Easter egg and Easter bunny (symbolic
          of fertility in the rites of spring)—all equally survivors from Western civilization’s earliest IndoEuropean

          Many such attitudes are so close to us that we scarcely notice them, or else they are held
          subconsciously. Jungian views on the "collective unconscious and "racial memory" take on a special
          aspect when considered in light of our heritage from those distant times. Nightly visitations by a "shee"
          (faery) prophesying the return of a leader, selfless and heroic (such as Arthur), from an otherworldly
          sleep (such as on the Isle of Avalon, or within a faery hill or "Sheed") to inspire great loyalty and deliver
          his people from an enemy (such as the English)—or at least lead them on a great quest (such as for
          the Grail):

          These are recurrent archetypal themes, common to the Celtic peoples and their literature. They are an
          outgrowth of the pre—Christian religion of the Germanic and Celtic peoples (the "dawn religion") which
          arose out of a mixture of ideas at least partly derived from the pre—Celtic Western-European peoples they conquered
          and assimilated—peoples of ancient sanctity and impressive temples (e.g., Stonehenge and
          Newgrange). Thus, one way or another the "dawn religion" seems to ultimately descend from the
          ancient fertility cults of Neolithic Europe (associated with the famous Cro-Magnon "mother-goddess" or
          "Venus" figures), and so we have the matrilineality of the Picts (see Chapter IV), and also the nature
          worship, "second sight," druids, folk-medicine and fertility rites associated with the folk-tradition of
          historical times. Later, Christians came to associate evil with the horned manifestation of the fertility
          spirit ("Pan incarnate"), and thus we have the horned devil of today; burning, it seems, with lust. Such
          ancient fertility cults perceived divinity in the "spark of life" (Moncreiffe 21), and the vitality of this belief
          is directly expressed in the folklore, music, and dance of Gaelic tradition (Murray 1921). Here faeries
          are not of the diminutive winged creatures of the traditional English "fairy-tale," but rather are life-sized
          inhabiters of the otherworld, or of our dreams at any rate.

          Gaelic society combined the vitality of its ancient Indo-European tribalism with progressive social
          institutions, as we shall see in the next chapter. Furthermore, its very existence indicates that the
          Roman legacy was not the only alternative for Western advancement. Gaeldom long existed in the far
          west of Europe as a great tribal society never directly touched by the empire of Rome, a society
          showing its direct links with the most ancient European ethos. It could be brutal and barbaric, yet its
          church produced a beacon of humanism and civilization that lit the Western world from Aachen to
          Ravenna, and passed on an uncompromising legacy.

III. The Coming of Gaeldom

          The story of Gaeldom begins in the mists of antiquity, and ultimately has its roots in an age when
          Europe was largely covered with ice. During those early eons only one type of man lived amid the
          European ice sheet— Neanderthal Man—doing so long enough to develop special physical
          characteristics beyond strictly cultural adaptations. Ample body hair, long noses (to warm the air),
          fairness (lack of pigment) of eye, hair and skin; such traits are physical manifestations born of long
          residence in the northern regions, to which all other people were by their very nature foreign. Though
          other human groups have since mastered the cultural techniques of arctic living, only the Neanderthal
          was inherently a beast of the North, and yet he was a fully modern human (Weaver 577, 612).

          Moving quickly ahead in time, Cro-Magnon man came onto the European scene some 30,000 years
          ago, as the ice retreated; he was the vanguard of other groups which followed in his wake (the term
          Cro-Magnon can also be applied to all early Homo sapiens of the post—Neanderthal European period,
          and to their culture). The resultant intermixture of racial elements gave birth to the Indo-European
          stock, with more blonds, as might be expected, farther north, and a more purely Cro-Magnon
          admixture on the western fringe.

          The last-mentioned stock appears later as the relatively small, dark people who preceded the Celts in
          the British Isles, and built Stonehenge and other ancient monuments in those western reaches. Red
          hair, green eyes and freckled skin remain traits hard to place in an original context. They were perhaps
          indigenous to the southern fringe of the European ice sheet, and may represent early hybridization in
          central Europe following closely on the heels of the earliest Cro-Magnon influx. It is interesting that the
          Basques, a relatively small, dark people of ancient provenience in the western mountains between
          France and Spain, currently have the only native European lanaguage which falls outside the
          Indo-European language sphere, being of apparently independent origin.

          In this Cro-Magnon—Basque connection, it is worth noting that there existed as late as the sixth
          century, in the northern extremity of the island of Great Britain and beyond the Celtic sphere, a race of
          "savage" aborigines,
          speakers of another language possibly related to Basque, and like Basque, unrelated to any of the
          lndo-European group (see Chapter IV). The IndoEuropean family of languages itself developed from a
          pool of dialects in use in the central European sphere before 5000 B.C., and came to form the main
          stem of European linguistic culture.

          As the glaciers retreated, exposing new territory in the interior of Europe, the ocean level rose, and
          certain coastal regions disappeared beneath the sea. This happened in the case of Great Britain and
          Ireland, which were both originally connected to the continent, and hence to each other. The lost lands
          are remembered in folk memory, and many of the magical tales of European folklore are a record of those distant times. They recall a time when vastly different peoples wandered
          the forests and plains of Europe, and might chance to meet each other only occasionally over
          thousands of years. In such chance meetings, it might well seem to the people involved that they had
          come face to face with either giants or leprechauns, depending upon their perspective.

          For instance, a group from the open steppe, on coming to a forested region and encountering the men
          who dwelt there, might well find it "magical" the way such a forest people, especially if relatively small
          in stature, were able to seemingly disappear as they beat fast tracks into nooks and crannies familiar
          only to them. Similarly, the leader of a remnant Neanderthal group living, let us say, in forested
          northern mountains, might well be the origin of the legendary "king of the mountain trolls," and folklore
          about the elopement of a young prince with the troll king’s daughter may well be a record of the very
          intermixing which guaranteed the disappearance of such separate groups.

          In any event, the spreading branches of Indo-European society came to dominate Europe. The
          lndo-Europeans successfully imposed their languages on the peoples they conquered, and this
          process brought about the emergence of specific racio-cultural hybrids as the forerunners of the
          national groups of today.

          The Germans (Germanic and Scandinavian tribes) and the Celts were the most closely related of the
          Indo-European peoples. The ancestors of the Celts emerged on the European scene about 2800 years
          ago, and lived in tribal kingdoms that spread eventually across Europe east to west, while their
          Germanic cousins lived above them in the forests of the far north and beyond, to the regions bordering
          the Baltic Sea. To the south, in the regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea, during the centuries
          surrounding the time of Christ, came the blossoming of Latin and classical civilization, the result,
          ultimately, of early Indo-European contact with the east. The Romans had gradually extended their
          empire northwards at the expense of the Celts, and reached what became their northern boundary
          during the first century A.D. In the North it was difficult for the Romans to tell who was Germanic and
          who was Celtic, and as a result they often mistook one group for the other as distinctions generally
          faded along that hyperborean frontier.

          Having reached what was to be its northern limits, the Roman Empire was doomed. Its condition was
          terminal the moment it stopped advancing, for the economy of the Empire was parasitic and artificial; it
          fed on expansion. Without the acquisition of new territory by conquest, it had only itself to feed upon,
          and it was therefore destined to rot from within of its own growing corruption. The end came gradually
          and painfully during tthe fourth and fifth centuries. The continental Celts were long since Romanized,
          and it was left to the Germanic tribes to deliver the coup de grace that ended an era (Davis 23—33).

          The Pax Romana was at an end, and the Germanic tribes were in the political driver’s seat. A new age of chaos was now upon Europe, and its subsequent history can be
          characterized as the effort of the various Germanic peoples to recreate the former empire in all its
          glory. Under the tutelage of the Romano-Celtic Latin clergy, they tirelessly attempted to emulate
          Roman society, though they never truly understood it. In the process they created something new and
          lasting, a society forged by the very barbarianism they were trying to deny. For it was the energy and
          vitality of their Indo-European tribalism that made them different. The fact is that Rome had been a
          powerful but empty shell. Its stagnation and fall had come about largely because it lacked, for all its
          culture and civilization, the vitality of the very northern neighbors who were its inheritors.

          Meanwhile, in the far North and West, the old Indo-European tribalism continued unimpeded. Its
          continuous development in Ireland and Scotland contrasted sharply with its decline in the rest of
          Europe, while its northern expression led directly to the Viking Age. In the British Isles, a series of
          Celtic tribal invasions had superimposed their members over that insular territory, as we shall see.
          However, the term "Gaelic" here must be used with caution:

          The people whose language and culture would come to define the "Gaelic" area which emerged after
          A.D. 500, that is, the Gaels in the tribal sense of the word, would not arrive until relatively late.

          There were three waves of Celtic invasions of the British Isles before the coming of the famous Gaels.
          The majority of these pre—Gaelic peoples had managed to remain unconquered by the Romans,
          whose activity in these isles was generally restricted to the broad English plain. A slightly larger area
          had subsequently remained out of the grasp of the West Germanic peoples who invaded Roman Britain
          in the wake of the Imperial collapse, as those people sowed the seed of the English nation. The first of
          the Celtic invaders, the Cruithne (from a form of the name "British"), came between 800 and 500 B.C.
          They assimilated the Cro-Magnon people they encountered, adopting their matrilineal descent system
          in the process. This was a very un—Indo-European system of inheritance, related to the old
          Cro-Magnon Mother-Goddess cult, whereby property and royal eligibility were passed through the
          female line, with sons and brothers providing the actual leaders. The merger of these two peoples, the
          pre—Celts and the Cruithne, formed the basic population of the British Isles, and this fact, with its
          attendant matrilineal aspect, is clearly reflected in early Celtic literature (Walton 1—16). While
          scholars may differ as to its exact nature, matrilineality’s traditional existence is born out by historical
          evidence, despite claims to the contrary (Thompson 226; Smyth 58—68).

          In any case, only the traditional matrilineality can explain the nonmilitary possession of the Pictish
          kingship by sons of foreign kings: It alone can explain the presence of "foreigners" in hereditary
          positions of power and influence within the Pictish kingdom (these foreigners often simultaneously held patrilineally derived power in the home countries of their fathers as well).

          Some time between 500 and 100 B.C. the next Celtic invaders came to the island of Ireland, the Erainn
          ("Erin," or "Eire," Gaelic for "Ireland," is of common linguistic origin). The Erainn were related to the
          Belgae, who invaded Britain via Armorica (modern Brittany) before the time of Christ, though they
          originally came from the area now known as Belgium, which recalls their name. As for the Erainn, they
          were a Germano-Celtic military aristocracy with the material advantage of superior iron weaponry.
          Though at first a minority population settled in geographically restricted areas, they formed a military
          overlordship, subjecting most of the Irish Cruithne to tributary status. One Erainnian tribe, the Ulaid,
          gave their name to Ulster.

          The last of the pre—Gaelic Celtic invaders came from the Continent at a relatively late date, just before
          the coming of the Gaels during the first century B.C., probably as a reaction to Roman pressure in the
          south of Gaul. These invaders were the Dumnonii, who gave their name to Devon, while their most
          powerful Irish branch was known as the Laigin, and gave their name to Leinster. The Dumnonii (or
          Domnonii) settled as a distinct tribal population in the south of England and in several areas of Ireland,
          exercising overlord status over larger regions. A branch from Ireland settled in the area south of
          Dumbarton in southern Scotland before the arrival of the Romans in the mid-first century A.D., and
          became the ancestors of the Strathclyde Britons.

          Though distinct from each other, all three of these preceding tribal groups spoke similar languages,
          each originally a dialect of the progressive P—Celtic language of West-Central Europe (as opposed to
          Q—Celtic, an older language of the Celtic group), and they shared other cultural similarities as well.
          But there was another branch of the Celts, a great tribal population that had roamed Europe for
          centuries in search of a suitable home. These were the Gaels, and in their search for a Gaelic "Israel,"
          they came to Ireland from the Alpine region of Gaul, sometime during the first century B.C. They
          brought with them a Q—Celtic tongue distinct from the languages of their P—Celtic predecessors, and
          this language, Gaelic, would eventually supplant those earlier dialects and become the focal point of
          the emerging and pervasive Gaelic culture (O’Rahilly 207—208). This original Gaelic was, however,
          much closer to the P—Celtic dialects than Modern Gaelic is, and the changes which made modern
          Gaelic what it is occurred entirely within the common Irish and Scottish context.

          As for the Milesian scheme of the Lebor Gabala, the semiofficial history of the chief Gaelic dynasties,
          it is pseudo-history of the Middle Ages. The basic story is accurate, recording the arrival of the
          Q—Celts, or Gaels, who became dominant in Ireland by the end of the fifth century A.D. Gaelic politics
          of the Middle Ages emphasized genealogy in a particular way, tribal/dynastic ancestry being of central
          political importance, and even religious significance. The Middle Ages lasted from about A.D. 500 to about the time of the reformation in Scotland (ca. 1570)
          and in Ireland to about the time of the English conquest (ca. 1600). The tribal bards and ollavs
          (scholars) of the early Middle Ages had developed a whole historical scheme bringing the Gaels to
          Ireland from Egypt via the Iberian Peninsula. Inaccuracy was partially a result of Christian scribes
          recording and secularizing pagan history and traditions, and partially deliberate dynastic propaganda,
          for tribes of all races often tried to have their own tribal-dynastic genealogy tacked on to the "Milesian
          stem": the royal genealogy of the Gaels per Se. Independent traditions of early genesis in the local
          areas of the tribes concerned help tell us the true story.

          In this way, after the arrival of the Gaels as an ethno-tribal population, the essential racio-cultural
          elements of what would become Gaelic society were in place, and all later developments would build
          upon this basic Gaelic framework. That a warrior aristocracy minority could stand in conquest over a
          subject majority and ultimately succeed in imposing its language upon them is aptly reflected in the
          emergence of Gaeldom, for by about A.D. 400 the Gaels had asserted themselves as the dominant
          group in Ireland. By this time, however, Ireland’s tribal nature was well established, and the Gaels
          simply became the overlords of a myriad of once P—Celtic-speaking tribes, though certain of these
          earlier groups maintained a greater degree of autonomy than the rest. By the beginning of the historical
          period (ca. A.D. 500) all of these groups spoke dialects of Q-Celtic, the prestige language of the
          dominant Gaels. Thus, while maintaining its various racial identities, the society as a whole was
          streamlining, and the resultant culture can best be described as Gaelic. The various separate
          racio-tribal identities were, however, still of central importance in determining inter-tribal political
          relationships, and would remain so throughout the Gaelic period (ca. 500—1600 in Ireland, 800—1750
          in Scotland).

          Throughout the course of their development, the Gaels had remained outside the main European
          sphere. Although they had been, after the coming of St. Patrick (ca. 400), fundamental to the
          conversion (and classical education) of much of Europe, their Christianity remained more exclusively a
          matter of religion and learning, and never became, as it did in Europe, a vehicle for encouraging a
          revival of Latin culture (Garvin 15).

          Outside the realm of Papal conformity, Gaelic society was free to develop at its own pace and in its
          own way. Thus were the Gaels able to maintain that continuity of tribal vitality so important to their
          Gaelic identity. This identity-born-of-continuity was itself a vehicle of cultural confidence, and contrasts
          sharply with the decline in cultural self-confidence which attended the Europeans’ relative break with
          lndo-European tradition. Europe would eventually develop a new identity, but there has always been
          evidence of psychological ill-health associated, for instance, with religious or moral inhibition initiated
          by the European church. The Gaels, for their part, had always accepted such Latin influences as
          essentially secondary, in the sense that they had always adapted them to their existing Gaelic culture (see the discussion of the Christian Celtic church in the
          preceding chapter).

          The differences between the two spheres of Christian influence, the one Celtic (monastic) and the other
          Roman (episcopalian), is perhaps best summed up by the old Gaelic proverb which simply states: "The
          Roman Church gave law, the Celtic Church gave love." A good example of these differences can also
          be found in the nature of the Gaelic conversion to Christianity. The Gaels saw Christianity as the
          natural outgrowth of their previously existing dawn religion. It was a new magic for the pagan, a sort of
          next stage toward a truer, fuller religious consciousness. It is significant in this connection that the
          land for St. Patrick’s church at Elphin in County Roscommon was originally donated for that purpose
          by the Archdruid Ona. The descendants of Ona, the Corca Achlan or Corca Seachlann, of the same
          stock as the Ciarraighe (see Chapter VIII), branched into several families. The main family here was
          that of MacBrannan (Mac Branain) or O’Brannan (0 Branain), a branch of whom, known as the Ui
          Branain, later the Maclnerneys or Nerneys (Mac an Airchinnigh, literally "son of the Erenagh"), were,
          interestingly enough, erenaghs (hereditary abbots) of St. Patrick’s church at Elphin. A family of
          O’Brannans served as Erenaghs of Derryvullan in County Fermanagh. Another branch of the Corca
          Seachlann, the Cineal Mac Erca or O’Monahans (0 Manachain) faked a descent from the Ui Briuin, and
          were called the Ui Briuin na Sionna.

          Clerics took over many of the functions of the Druid order, although the lower druidic orders continued
          as the scholarly class (the bards and ollavs that maintained literature and learning), and both
          cooperated in running the schools. Outside the Gaelic sphere, Europeans had simply dumped their
          former religious convictions, at least officially, in favor of the new Roman Christianity. This expressed a
          severe lack of confidence in their own societal identity and lndo-European cultural roots, perpetuating
          centuries of withdrawal symptoms, leading ultimately to the Inquisition and the European witch craze
          at the end of the medieval period.

          The differences between the two spheres of influence, the one European and the other Gaelic, were to
          be very important in determining the types of nationalism that would develop within their respective
          areas. While the Papacy was attempting to unite the realms of the fallen empire, and with good
          success, the Gaels were themselves consolidating that western fringe which had never been Roman.
          They largely assimilated the matrilineal P—Celts of Scotland, the Picts or Albans, and made inroads
          into Wales and Cornwall as well. All this was accomplished between the fifth and ninth centuries, and
          in Scotland the first Gaelic-speaking invaders, the Scots from Dal Riada in northeastern Ireland, firmly
          placed their Gaelic stamp, and eventually their name, on the new territory. The resultant Picto-Scottish
          Gaelic kingdom came in time to be known as the Kingdom of Scots rather than as the Kingdom of Scotland, and this epithet was symbolic of the fact that the Scottish kingship was over a national
          family of related tribes, wherever they might be, and not just over a population arbitrarily residing within
          a particular territory. The many kingdoms of Ireland were similarly tribal, as were the early Germanic
          kingdoms of Europe (such as the Kingdom of the Franks), though the Germanic peoples tended to
          emphasize the ties of chieftain and follower (such as with a band of warriors) along with those of
          kinship, and this certainly made it easier for them to let go of tribalism in favor of something new. After
          the high-kingship of the Picto-Scots was finally transformed into a secure central kingdom of Scots
          under the Stewarts during the fifteenth century, the Gaelic part of that kingdom looked on their king as
          one who derived his mandate to rule from being the chief of chiefs, i.e., as the chief was to the clan, so
          the king was to all the clan chiefs themselves. Tribal systems provided for a more personal relationship
          between king and people, manifest at all levels of society, as discussed in the previous chapter.

          It is important not to associate Gaeldom with the general decline of Celtic societies on the Continent,
          for long after the P—Celts of the European mainland had seen their fortune wane, the Q—Celts of
          Gaeldom were expanding their territory with all the vitality of their Indo-European cousins and
          contemporaries, the fifth-century Germanic tribes of Europe. Gaeldom had never bowed its head to the
          foreigner, and its perspective was one of pride, confident strength, and expansion. This is reflected later
          in the attitude of the native Irish chiefs of the sixteenth century, as they were (perhaps regrettably) for
          the most part unrelenting and disdainful of English conquest. Foppish Elizabethan ways certainly
          elicited a boisterous reaction from members of the O’Neill’s heavily armed bodyguard on his historic
          visit to London in 1562.

          Throughout the medieval period, Gaels had been involved in European warfare, primarily as
          mercenaries. They were also continuously at the heart of European scholarship and monasticism, and
          continued to send monks or mercenaries as the whim took them, throughout their history,
          demonstrating in the process the wanderlust so typical to the Indo-European psyche. Here we see
          mirrored in the Gaelic pilgrimage the wanderings of the early Germanic tribes as they took possession
          of Europe after Rome, and also the drive that took other Indo-Europeans as far afield as India, Persia
          and Asia Minor.

          The still-pagan Vikings were the last of the great Germanic wanderers from the North, and it is
          interesting to point out that in their westerly exploration (ninth to twelfth centuries) they found
          themselves preceded at every turn by the Gaelic lay-monastic settlements: In the Outer Isles of the
          Hebrides, Iceland and even in North America, where, according to the saga evidence, they found a
          European community they called Great Ireland, or Whitemen’s Land (Anderson 337—338). In Iceland,
          even today, the Christian church is strikingly similar in its social adaptation to the Celtic original, a
          situation indicative of both its Celtic antecedent, and the continued social pressures of isolation and self-sufficiency. Both the saga evidence and Gaelic folk-tradition attest to the existence of
          such far-flung Gaelic settlements, as does the archeological record, and such places are mentioned
          repeatedly in the sagas.

          It is interesting also that the tribalism of the Native Americans in the eastern part of North America was
          quite similar in many respects to that of Gaeldom, and maintained its independence for about as long
          (the Ulster Scottish or Scotch-Irish immigrants who settled the territory west of the Appalachians had
          practiced the techniques of fortifying their farms against hostile tribes during their tenure as settlers in
          Northern Ireland around 1600). Indications of early contact between the North American Indians and the
          IndoEuropeans are further suggested by the physical anthropology of the former. Their pre—Columbian
          physical remains have even been described as being less Oriental and more relatively European the
          more easterly their provenance (Fell, Bronze Age America, 84—97). Rousseau’s admiration of the
          "noble savage," seen in this light, may well be a kind of subconscious invective against Europe’s own
          loss of innocence, as the Native Americans themselves may well have been more closely related (and
          not just in spirit) than previously realized to Europe’s own primordial Indo-European self.

          Turning from Native American analogues to European ones, I would point out that the supposed
          mystical Celtic consciousness is really a kind of tendency to superstition characteristic of the early
          Anglo-Saxons as well, and probably was a shared trait of Indo-European culture. In fact, much of the
          barbarous, superstitious and tribal aspects of Gaelic society are mirrored in Anglo-Saxon literature
          (Beowulf). These early German cousins appear to have been every bit as ethereal as the Celts, and
          just as intuitive and sensitive to nuance. The German tribes, originally inhabiting the harsh wilderness
          of the far North, never had quite the rash, wide-open society enjoyed by their fiery Celtic cousins to the
          south. In the British Isles, however, proximity, access and considerable compatibility existed between
          the Gaels and the Anglo-Saxons well into the Middle Ages. Differences here did not really emerge until
          after the Norman invasion of England, though the machinery was set in motion by the division between
          the Celtic and English church at the beginning of the medieval period.

          Gaeldom was often characterized, especially by the post—Norman English, as barbarous. Yet it was
          Gaelic scholars who were largely responsible for initiating and sustaining the learned missionary
          activity which ultimately raised Europe out of the Dark Ages (ca. 500—1000) and resulted in her
          conversion to Christianity. Such scholars carried on a long tradition of Celtic philosophy, which was
          famous since ancient times, having been admired by the classical world in the days before the fall of
          the Celtic kingdoms of Europe. The Celts have always been famous for their love of freedom, wit, and
          fighting spirit, and these traits are all aptly reflected in the Gaelic psyche. Also important to the Celtic
          mind is a sense of honor and fairness, and stories of the inherent chivalry of the ancient Gauls in the face of Roman treachery have their Gaelic counterparts in the
          Gaelic-English struggles of more recent times, which culminated with the destruction of Gaeldom in
          the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These Celtic traits have left their mark on Western man—on
          his love of freedom—and they provide him a link with the past more direct and lasting than is his
          nominal connection with Greece and Rome, or even Palestine. It is significant to remember that the
          flowering of knightly chivalry in Europe during the High Middle Ages drew much of its literary inspiration
          from Celtic sources (such as Welsh tales about King Arthur and his knights).

          In the realm of medieval scholarship, Gaelic vitality and confidence was responsible for much original
          thought and creativity at a time when virtually everyone else in Europe was simply copying the work of
          the great classical writers, rather than doing anything innovative themselves. This state of affairs was a
          symptom of Europe’s preoccupation with the backward look to Rome. In any case, such Gaelic
          creativitiy and independence of thought sometimes provoked a "who do they think they are" form of
          Papal criticism, for medieval Europeans set a premium on conformity, which mostly came at the
          expense of creative philosophical inquiry. Rationalism would not become generally popular until much
          later, though it did make a start during the High Middle Ages, (tenth through thirteenth centuries). The
          Gaels, for their part, could find Europeans to be both artless and monotonous, and seemingly lacking
          in nobility or subtlety as well, as they looked on Europeans with a Gaelic perspective.

          Such misunderstandings between the two spheres were the inevitable byproduct of differences in
          cultural and moral emphasis and perspective (just as was the later English preoccupation with the
          "barbarous" elements Gaeldom displayed). As a nation, Gaelic energy was spent either in internal
          political strife, or in the Gaelic fervor for Christian scholarship, missionary work and monasticism.
          However, Gaeldom was rich in both human and agricultural resources, and thus constantly had "the
          wolf at the door," as the foreigner came to forcibly partake of the richness of the land. This unchanging
          fact sounded the death-knell for Gaeldom, for the Gaelic system was outmoded in this one important
          sense: Ultimately it could not defend itself against the military, logistical and economic power of the
          rising European nation-states of the post—Medieval period. Gaelic society was in the end too
          inward-looking, too absorbed in the living and glorifying of its own archaic culture, and thus failed to
          move forward with the zeal, for instance, of the searching and farsighted English.

          Though the tribes no longer rule in Gaeldom, the Gaelic language is still spoken and still reflected in
          the accent, idiom and syntax of local English speech in Ireland and Scotland. The cultural legacy of
          Gaeldom, as opposed to political, is still in existence for all to appreciate. It is to this fact that this
          book is dedicated.