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CELTIC-L  June 1999

CELTIC-L June 1999

Subject:

Re: God help me

From:

Graeme Bailey <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Graeme Bailey <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 11 Jun 1999 22:19:14 +1000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (157 lines)

At 06:11 AM 11-06-1999 +0200, Raimund wrote:
>Graeme Bailey wrote:
<...>
>Nobody assumes that the Irish lived in splendid isolation. Contacts with
>cultures abroad is well documented for almost any prehistoric and
>historic period of Ireland's history.

If they were not isolated, why can't it then be
assumed *possibly* true if say 'Spain' is mentioned,
unless the time or circumstances make it impossible
or it can actually be *proved* impossible?
In the example from the time of Conn,
was it the Book of Munster(?)
There *were* Celts in Spain,
and Spain isn't *that* far away...
And there *is* support from Caesar that intertribal
miltary support was a feature of the Celtic culture...

>There's no indication that there was much contact
>between Spain and Ireland in the
>time period assumed to be described in these early traditions, at least
>none in the kind of what is described in these texts.
>>
>> When Caesar ethnically cleansed the Veneti from their location
>> below the Armorican Peninsula he noticed their tough sea-going ships,
>> complete with leather sails... where did these people go
>> on their ships?
>
>Well, most probably, they went fishing in their ships, and most probably
>controlled a good part of the trade over the Channel.

So we have links between Britain and the mouth of the Loire,
and Caesar says the next-door Celts in Aquitania got reinforcements
from 'Northern Spain'... this is a very reasonable set of links?
Do you think Caesar actually meant just 'a faraway land'?

BTW how far is Spain from Vienna?
How long would it take to ride there when horses were the go,
a week, two weeks, 3 weeks?

<...>
>Well, there are Irish references to Spain that do mean Spain, and there
>are others that don't.

Right!.....what is the test?
<...>
>Well, because Paul is standing in a completely different tradition and
>is writing about completely different things.

So Paul's 'Spain' and the 'Spain' of Conn of the Hundred Battles
are completely different things?
Why does the Irish story mention Beara, daughter of Heber, King
of Castile... isn't Castile even in the right location on the
Northern part of the Iberian peninsula? Should the chronicler
have said 'King of Zanzibar' or something? :-)
Why would Caesar get advice that said the western coast of
Britain faces 'Spain' if the local knowhow didn't think
you sailed out there and arrived in 'Spain'?

I note there is an old map of Ptolemy
that has 'Brigantes' as a tribe in
the southern coastal part of Ireland,
and there is a place called Brigantium right on
the top left corner of Spain in the part called Gallicia
(land of the Gauls?) Is this just co-incidence?

Maybe 'Brigantes' means 'faraway'? :-)

>The early Irish tradition you seem to think of is a mythical history of
>the world and the Irish (to be precise - the Gaels), not a travel diary.
>As such, one should not take it's contents as literal truth, as it was
>never it's intention to be "correct" in a modern sense.

How do you know? Is there some evidence that
'it was intended to be myth'?

>> Were these Greeks, Romans and Jews just inherently more intelligent,
>> that they could get a sense of geography that our historians will not
>> allow to the Celts or the early Irish?
>
<...>
>For most readers
>except the Spanish, Spain will be something "far away", not something
>intimately known, and could equally well be exchanged with Australia,
>Swaziland or Finland.

Yet I have looked, and I haven't seen any reference to
Australia, Swaziland or Finland in the Irish tradition...
are you sure you're not dreaming? ;-)

<...>
>it has to be assumed that quite some Celts,
>and not only such of the higher social
>levels, were able to read,

Could they have read say Herodotus? Hecateus? Strabo?
Weren't there even Irish divisions in the Continental Roman army
after the conquest of Gaul?
Would these soldiers have been moved around Europe in
typical Roman style,
and would these ever have returned home to Ireland,
therby 'importing' some geographical knowledge?

>> Were all their early traditions about their origins really made up by 12th
>> century monks?
>
>No, but these 12th century monks mixed 'authentic' oral traditions with
>christian ideas and concepts, synchronised the stories and fitted them
>into the christian concept of the world.

How does the story about Beara fit any 'Christian' concept?

>> The distances are not so great... <...>

>which is why there's good evidence that there was quite a
>lot of contact between Britain and Ireland in all periods of the past.
<...>
>However, you can't compare modern visits over
>some hundred miles of open sea with ancient visits of the same kind.

Why? The Ninigo sailors have no motor, no compass, just local knowledge,
doing what they've been doing for 'ages'...

>with almost no risk involved. This was something completely
>different in the past.

But you told me that life in the Celtic past was just fine, mostly
civilised and moral people with a good set of values,
kind to strangers, hospitable, educated, well some anyway? :-)
What's the problem with risk, taking the idea that to be famous, brave
and to take risks was considered 'virtuous',
and one was immortal anyway?

>Even more, such an isolated visit as you describe
>it is, historically speaking, completely irrelevant,

Now I'm disappointed, but if there was something critical
happening, the ability to cross seas, pass messages, send
support, provide refuge etc would make some historical
impact? Even make it the literature or get into a song...

When I was a kid I used to hum the Skye boat song...

<...>
>As such, maybe your friends over there would
>remember the visit from the guy from over the sea, but it would most
>probably not become part of their home nation's history booky.

I wonder if they've got one...
But if I showed someone a different style of fishhook, or a different
way to make rope....that might appear to be something
they invented themselves?
From where did the Irish Celts
get their sword-making knowledge and steel?
Who invented 'Nuada'...
Was it a traveller from 'P'
who taught the Irish how to speak Gailighe? :-)

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