19 March 2010

Irish History

Over on David Frum's blog, there is a post by Sean Linnaine on Irish history. Well worth reading, but I have to wonder about this one:
Irishmen have served honorably in every army on the face of the Earth. Irish soldiers have distinguished themselves in battle in every war from the time the Romans first tried to land on their shores, to this very day.

Well, Roman governor Agricola did boast to his son-in-law one day on the beach that he could take that island with one legion, and a few scattered merchants probably made there way to Erin, but otherwise I don't remember the Romans trying to land on their shores.

Unless he's confusing the Britons with the Irish.

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At 19 March, 2010 15:04, Blogger jack perry said...

Didn't some of the Britons end up in Ireland? I understand that while fleeing the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes they mostly moved into Wales and Scotland, but I thought some went into Ireland as well.

I could look it up, but it's your weblog and you're a historian so I thought I'd rely on your memory instead. If you're memory is half as bad as mine that's a bad idea but still.

At 20 March, 2010 14:34, Blogger Clemens said...

Britons at the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions went several places: most famously and enduringly, Brittany in France. Some people there still speak Breton despite the best efforts of the French educational system.

Since they were fleeing Irish and Pictish raiders as well as the A-S, I don't think many of them made it to Ireland except as slaves. That's how St Patrick made it over. He got away, went to France for education, and then went back to the Irish to save them from Satan. Or such is the story.

Most ended up in Wales, Cornwall (last Gaelic speaker there died around 1780) and Strythclyde in Scotland. Most of the Gaelic speakers in Scotland moved there at this time from Ireland (!). These were the original Scots who merged with the local Picts and gave their name and language to the country.

Centuries later some of the lowland inhabitants of Scotland were shipped off by the English to Northern Ireland to become the Scotch-Irish. Some of those folks kept right on going and ended up scattered around where I live now: Applachia.

At 20 March, 2010 22:14, Anonymous Maire said...

Agricola (according to Tacitus anyway) supposedly did brag that he could easily conquer Ireland. Since Agricola was the Roman governor of Briton, I doubt he mistook the Irish for the British. Ptolemy's 2nd century (roughly the same time period as Tacitus) of Ireland names tribes known from later times in the right places. There's archaeological evidence for trade at the time, too, and there were almost certainly Romanized British traders living in Ireland off and on (especially along the east and Southeast coast). All of this is a few centuries before Patrick or Angles and Saxons.

But you'd have to be a real nerd to know all of that.


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