I agree with some of the
interpretations in the article "Claims
of Ireland" and disagree with others.
Anyone who speaks Scottish Gaelic and has
some knowledge of Irish Gaelic will recognize the similarity of the
languages. The dialects of Donegal are quite comprehensible to the people
of Islay and Colonsay for instance. A Lewis person would have a great deal
of difficulty understanding a person from Kerry. Still after a few months
of acquaintance they will be able to communicate in Gaelic.
The folklore and mythology of Gaelic
Scotland and Ireland is shared. Until the early 20th century the most
popular stories in Gaelic were about Fionn MacCumhail. In Ireland 100
different story motifs about Fionn have been collected and from Scotland
400 motifs about Fionn have been collected. The repetoire of Scots and
Irish Gaelic storytellers is startingly similar: stories of Fionn, Gràinne,
Cuchallain, Deirdre, the Speckled Bull, the Battle of the Birds etc.
Belief in the supernatural much the same: the Banshee, Banbha (Banff), the
ways of making prophecies and of cursing and blessing.
The "Book of Kells" was most likely
written in Iona. The "Chronicles of Iona" are embedded in the "Annals of
Ulster". The "Book of Durrow" was likely written in the Kingdom of
Northumbria. Today no one doubts that the "Book of Deer was written by
Scottish Gaels in the monastery of Deer. (Deer at that time was
Gaelic-speaking.) Bergin's "Irish Bardic Poetry" contains poems by
Scottish poets to Irish patrons and poems by Irish poets to Scottish
patrons. "Duanaire Finn", a 17th century manuscript collection of Fionn
stories (published by the Irish Texts Society), was commissioned by a
MacDonald of the Isles. Rather than say the manuscripts which survive as
"belonging to Scotland or Ireland", it would be more accurate to say that
they were written by Gaels wherever they were living. Irish scholars make
copious use of Scottish sources and their titles would be more accurate if
the word "Gaelic" were used instead of "Celtic" or "Irish".
The literary dialect of
Gaelic, used by poets and historians, was taught in formal schools mostly
in Ireland and was in use until the early 18th century. The last poet to
use the literary dialect was a Scottish Highlander called Dòmhnall
MacMhuirich who died about 1740. He was descended from a poetic dynasty
who made a living from poetry and history for more than 20 generations.
Scholars cannot discern the origin of a poet who used this dialect which
was common to all of Gaelic Scotland and Ireland.
Most historians agree that a considerable
migration took place in the 5th-6th centuries AD; however, there have been
migrations between Ireland and Scotland (and the other bits of Britain)
for millenia. The society of Gaelic Ireland and Scotland, whose basic unit
was the clan (Gaelic: fine) is similar as is the Gaelic terminology to
describe it. The laws were shared, although differentiated by contact with
feudal law, introduced by French and English-speaking peoples.
M.A. (honours) Scottish History and Celtic Studies, Glasgow University
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Bergin, O., Irish Bardic Poetry
Cameron, J., Celtic Law
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Donaldson, G., ed., The Edinburgh History of Scotland 4 vol.
Evans, E.E., Irish Folk Ways
Grant, I.F., Highland Folk Ways
MacDonald, A., Story and Song from Lochness-side
McDonald, A., The Kingdom of the Isles
MacKillop, J., Dictionary of Celtic Mythology
MacNeil, J.N., Tales until Dawn: Sgeul gu Latha
MacInnes, A.I., Clanship, Commerce & the House of Stuart
MacInnes, D., Folk and Hero Tales
Newton, M., A Handbook of the Scottish Gaelic World
Ó Baoill, C., Gàir nan Clàrsach; The Harps¹ Cry
Patterson, N., Cattle, Lords & Clansmen
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Simms, K., From Kings to Warlords
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Thomson, D., Introduction to Gaelic Poetry
Watson, The Book of the Dean of Liosmore
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Scottish Gaelic Studies
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