Song Lore of Ireland, The, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 9

Song Lore of Ireland, The, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 9
Favourite | Share | Feedback


periodical Publisher
The Baker & Taylor Co., New York, 1911
periodical Editor
periodical Title
Song Lore of Ireland, The
volume Number
issue Content
THE SONG LORE OF IRELANDTHE BEGINNINGS 7tales and the harp is regarded as the primitive in-strument. Its origin is the theme of the most ancientlegends. OCurry, in his Gaelic explorings, cameacross an old story with the title of The Defenseof the Great Bardic Company in which the unknownauthor tells how the first harp came to be made. Itis the tale of a man and his wife. Cull, the son ofMidhuel, is the man, and Canoclach Mhor the woman.Canoclach hated her husband and fled away fromhim. But he as persistently followed her. Throughforest and wilderness she still flew before him and,in her wanderings, she reached the seashore of Camas.As Canoclach walked over the ribbed sand, she cameupon the skeleton of a whale and the wind, passingthrough the sinews of the dead monster, made amurmuring. Listening to this strange music thewoman fell asleep, and her husband, who was hard onher trail, came up. He greatly marveled how it wasthat his wife had fallen asleep and, casting about inhis mind for a reason, he decided it must be thesounds made by the wind in the tightly strung sinewsof the whale. Then the latent artist in Cull asserteditself. What nature had effected by chance he woulddo by design. He went into the wood and, takinga limb of a tree, he made it into the framework of aharp. He put strings upon it made from the sinewsof the whale, and that is how the first harp came tobe made.This tale of Cull and Canoclach belongs to thesame family of stories as the Grecian fable of thelyre. This human nature of ours demands a startingpoint from which to set out on the road of inquiry.If history and personal experience have nothing tosay the imagination builds up a rainbow-hued might-have-been. The fable of the harp is a fantasy ofthis kind framed of such stuff as dreams are madeof. It sorts well with the Celtic temper and willserve admirably as a point of departure.A constant mingling of fact and fancy character-izes these early Celtic tales, and it is oftentimes noeasy matter to draw the dividing line between them.A story of the warfare of the Tuatha de Danann andthe Fomorians illustrates this difficulty. It alsoshows that, even where the imagination appears mostunbridled, there is apt to be a sub-stratum of truthwhich it is worth the utmost pains of the investigatorto find. This battle is supposed to have taken placeabout 1800 years before the Christian era. On theone hand were the Tuatha de Danann, the then pos-sessors of Ireland, a mysterious people who are sup-posed to have migrated from Greece and whom theCeltic imagination endowed with magical powers.On the other hand were the Fomorians, the sea-bornpeople, vikings of an earlier age. That this con-flict took place in the remote past and that theFomorians were defeated with great slaughter iscredible tradition. For we must remember that thenational self-consciousness of the Irish people hasbeen uninterruptedly Celtic for more than 2O00years. The speech of the Irishman of the twentiethcentury is in essence the same speech as the Gaelicof his ancestor in the days when the Roman eagle
issue Number
page Number
periodical Author
Mason, Redfern
issue Publication Date

The Song Lore of Ireland

Related Keywords