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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/378

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370
Celtic Myth and Saga.

pagan nature and associations of the New Grange monuments. The date of Crimthann is given by the Four Masters as A.D. 9, that of Loeghaire (the contemporary of St. Patrick) as A.D. 429. As Mr. Coffey remarks, "the evidence discussed in regard to New Grange would bring some of the tumuli in question within that period."

Here we have apparently a very remarkable convergence of testimony archaeological and historical, and there would seem good warrant for asserting both that the New Grange graveyard was started in the early years of the Christian era by the high-kings of Ireland, and also that the dates ascribed to these kings by the 10th–12th century annalists are substantially correct. But the question is a great deal more complicated than appears at first sight. For the very same texts which mention the fact that Crimthann was the first high-king of Ireland buried at New Grange, also insist most strongly upon the importance of the district as the burial-place of the Tuatha de Danann, that euhemerised race of ancient deities who, in the 10th-12th century annals, figure as genuine kings and heroes A.M. 3300-500. Indeed, Crimthann is definitely stated to have fixed his burial-place at Brugh, instead of at Cruachan, where his ancestors were interred, because his wife Nar was of the Tuatha De.

All later romantic tradition in Ireland connected with the Brugh district is concerned, not with what we may provisionally assume to be historic, the first-fifth century burial-place of the high-kings of Ireland, but solely with the legendary burial-place of the Tuatha De.

Mr. Coffey would account for these facts as follows. "The association of particular monuments with the Dagda and other divinities and heroes of Irish mythology implies that the actual persons for whom they were erected had been forgotten, the pagan traditions being probably broken by the introduction of Christianity. The mythical ancestors of the heroes and kings interred at Brugh, who, probably,