The Official Journal of the Ensign Trust, London



WHO WERE THE ANCIENT IRISH? from Great Britain’s Rank Among The Nations


(Otago, NZ 1883)

“Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, Thou  hast  increased  the nation:  Thou art glorified:  Thou has removed it far unto all ends of the earth.“- Isaiah xxiv. 7.

The name of Sparta, or the Spartans, is enough to bring forward remembrances of much that we read in our early days. The Spartans have left a name in the records of history which no deeds of bravery have eclipsed. The City of Sparta was the most celebrated of the whole Peloponnesus- not, however, from an architectural point of view; for, according to the law of their great Lycurgus , the doors of their houses were to be dressed only with the saw, and their ceilings with the axe. The people were not, as may be imagined, of a highly refined stamp, but were hardy and warlike. It has been said of them that they figure in history as “a race of stern, cruel, resolute, rude, and narrow­ minded warriors, capable of a momentary self­ sacrificing patriotism (as in the story of the 300 heroes who fell at Thermopylae) , but utterly destitute of the capacity for adopting or appreciating a permanently noble polity. ” They rose to the greatest power in Greece, but were unable to maintain their dignity, and subsequently became reduced to very humble proportions.

Their province was the most southern part of Greece, named Laconia , or Lacedaemonia, the maritime outlet from which was through the Gulf of Marathon. It adjoined the province which was occupied by the Danaans. They and the Danaans were of the same origin, which letters that passed between them and the High Priest at Jerusalem, preserved by Josephus, prove to have been from the Hebrews of Palestine:

“Areus, King of the Lacedaemonians, Onias, sendeth  greeting:

“We have met with a certain writing whereby we have discovered that both the Jews and the Lacedoemonians are of one stock, are derived from the kindred Abraham. It is but just, therefore,  that you who are our brethren, should send to us about any of your concerns, as you please, we will also do the same thing, and esteem your concerns as  our  own, and will be upon our concerns as in common with your Demoteles, who brings you this letter, will bring back your answer to us. This letter four-square, and the seal is an eagle, with  dragon in his  claws.”

The reply which was sent to this, if any, has not been  preserved,  but  some  years  after  the following was sent to  Sparta:-

“Jonathan , the High Priest of the Jewish nation , and the Senate, and the body the people of the Jews, to the ephori, the Senate, and body of the people of the Lacedaemonians, send greeting:

If you are well, and both your public and private affairs be agreeable to your mind, is according to our wishes. We are also well. When in former times an epistle was brought to Onias, who was then our high priest , from Areus, who at that time was your king, by Demoteles, concerning the kindred that was between us and you – a copy of which is here subjoined – we were well pleased with Demoteles and Areus, although we did no need such demonstration, because we were well satisfied about, it from the sacred writings; yet did not we think fit first to begin the claim of this relation to you, lest weshould seem too early in taking to ourselves the glory which is now given us by you. It is a long time since this relation of ours to you has been renewed; and when we, upon holy and festival days, offer sacrifices to God, we pray to him for your preservation and victory. As for ourselves, although we have had many wars that have compassed us around, by reason of the covetousness of our neighbours, yet did not we determine to be troublesome either to you or to others that were related to us; but since we have now overcome our enemies, we have occasion to send Numenius, the son of Antiochus, and Antipatir the son of Jason, who are both honourable men belonging to our Senate. We gave them this epistle also, that they might renew that friendship which is between us . . .” Josephus adds:-So the Lacedaemonians received the ambassadors kindly, and made a decree for friendship and mutual assistance. ” – Ant. xii. iv. 10, xiii. v. 8.

Do we require more to confirm the faithfulness of the argument that the Danaans, who were colonists from the south, were none other than the Danites of Joppa and the coast? Many years after this there were known to be many of the Hebrew race speaking Greek in that part, and up towards Constantinople. The connection of the Danites with Greece is plainly acknowledged i n t he. Bible . Eze ki el xxvii., 19, associates Dan and Javan-that is Greece-as trading with the fairs of Tyre. This is worthy of special notice. “Why,” says Bishop Titcomb, of Rangoon, “should this one tribe be thus represented as ‘going to and from’  the merchant fairs of Tyre with the early colonisers of Greece, if they had  not some ethnic  relationship? “

On the coast of Palestine there was a maritime city named Dor, which was virtually within the allotment of Asher, though given to Manasseh, and is said to have been occupied by people of the tribe of Dan, who amalgamated with the original inhabitants of the place. It lay about forty miles north of Joppa, and about fifteen miles south of Mount Carmel. A very old author says it was founded by Dorus, a  son  of Neptune. Others say it was a very ancient city of the Phoenicians. A remarkable coincidence happens regarding this name Dor. In Greece there was an ancient state named Doris ; it lay to the south of Thessaly, with Phocis on the north-east, having an outlet to the Aegean Sea by the Gulf of Maliacus. Like Dor, of Palestine, it is said to have been founded by Dorus, who first colonised the country. They are also said to have a peculiar dialect-in fact, the “Doric Greek ” is well known as quite different from  either the Attic or the common speech of the country. It is quite evident that these Dorian emigrated to Greece from Asia Minor. They held several districts and islands on the coast, such as Rhodos , Halikanasos, Kos, Kunidos, Nisyros, and others. This people figured prominently in the history of Greece. It is  quite  possible t hat t hey also are an off shoot of the wandering Hebrews.

The south of Spain was at a very early period inhabited by a people called Iberians. Their origin has not been satisfactorily settled ; in fact, they are generally spoken of as if they were indigenous to that country, their occupation of that part being of such ancient date, and so long before what is vaguely called the historic age. Of recent years, however, it has been held by historians of the more honest class that “historic notices of ancient migrations” are not the only means which may be employed in tracing the particular ancient family of our race to which a modern people belong; but the inclination is to group all facts bearing upon their national affinity, and from a careful analysis arrive at a conclusion  according  to  the direction in which the greatest weight of probability points.

Then there is almost an exact likeness between the word Iberi and Hebrew. The Hebrew form of the latter word is without the aspirate, and is almost equivalent to the English letters Eber . There is a frequent interchange of e and i in their use in the spelling of ancient names, and the prefixing the aspirate h is quite common : hence we have Heber for Eber, Hibernian or Ibernian. Upon an old map, with following long title:-

Hispania ab Hessela, Gerardo, delineata et juxta annotationes  Doctroni  Domni  Don Andreas,  1631 A.D.,” the name of a certain river is given as Eber, or Ebro rio, olium Iberus flu. The Eber, or Hebrew river, in aftertimes, or afterwards, called Iberus. The prefixing of the letter h does not necessarily prefix an aspirate. Many of our best scholars write an Hebrew, pronounced an Ebrew.

We have already seen that the ships of Solomon, along with those of Hiram, carried on a regular trade with the city called Tarshish, which is believed to have been the Greek Tartessus, in Spain. If then a large business were carried on between the Hebrews and Tarshish, there would be sure to be a large number of Hebrew residents or traders in that city. Solomon would have his agents there, and it is of the most evident probability that private enterprise would lead to others locating themselves in that centre of commerce. See the action of Jonah the Prophet, who wished to flee from his country rather than obey the command to go to Nineveh . He made for the seaport, Joppa, where he found a ship upon the eve of starting for Tarshish. This suggests the regularity and extent of the trade direct between the two ports, and also the extent to which a knowledge of it existed in the country. Jonah evidently looked upon Tarshish as a less undesirable spot than Nineveh. Why, unless he looked upon the latter to be further removed in national relationship than the other while to flee to Tarshish seems to have arisen naturally in his mind, as if he knew he would find a hospitable people and a safe haven there. The seamen in the ship seem also to have been worshippers of Jehovah, and therefore people of Israel.

“The story of Ireland ,” a volume published in 1867 by A. M. Sullivan, Dublin, introduces that very interesting story thus: “The earliest settlement or colonisation of Ireland of which there is tolerable precise and satisfactory information was that by the sons of Miledh or Milesius, from whom the Irish are occasionally styled Milesians. There are abundant evidences that at least two or three ‘waves ‘ of colonisation had long previously reached the island ; but it is not very clear whence they came. Those first settlers are severally known in history as the Partholanians, the Nemedians, the Firbolgs, and the Tuatha de Danaans. These latter, who immediately preceded the Milesians,  possessed  a civilisation, and a knowledge of the ‘arts and  sciences’ which  limited as we may be sure it was, greatly amazed the early settlers-whom they had subjected-by the results it produced.”

The Firbolgs seem to have been a pastoral  race; the Tuatha de Danaans were more of a manufacturing and  commercial  people .

If the names of peoples are any indication of their origin, surely the name Tuatha de Danaans, i.e., the tribe of Danan, is of some value in guiding us to the original family from which they descended. We have already seen that the ancient Danaans of Greece were a maritime people – we observed their close  relation to the people of Palestine; and as members of the Greek community we noticed that they carried their trading adventures to many distant countries between the eastern shores of the Black Sea and the British Isles. What then is more natural and reasonable  than to conclude that as they were so pressed in  their Greek home during the internecine wars that they again sought a more quiet sphere of existence, which they knew was to be found in Ireland, and hence that the Danites of Palestine, the Danaans of Greece, and the Tuatha de Danaans of  Ireland  are the  same?

Thus the connection between the Danite seamen who traded along with the Phoenicians to the tin mines of Britain and the tribe of Danaan in Ireland seems to be almost a demonstrated fact. At least it stands in the very first degree of probability that they are the same people. There is no other known people who could with the smallest degree of reason be said to produce the analogy in a like manner. If the attempt were made to connect the posterity of Ham with the people of Ireland with one-half of the amount of affirmative evidence which is now produced in tracing the Danites to that country, few, indeed, of our theological lecturers and preachers would not assent to its reasonableness. But as the question is one of more importance, and so closely connected with their particular subject, they begin to show suspicion, and require that arguments shall agree with their previous “opinions,” or present evidence more perfect than a mathematical demonstration. There are many Thomases occupying the pulpit and platform. The only facts known about this people point to their  Hebrew ancestry; yet we  find  men  deliberately and arrogantly asserting that in their “opinions” these facts are wrong! and thinking that they can disprove “from Scripture” that which the sacred writings do not pretend to deal with.

To quote again from the “Story of Ireland”:-“The Milesian colony reached Ireland from Spain, but they were not Spaniards. They were an Eastern people, who had tarried in that country, on their way westward, seeking, they said, an island promised to the posterity of their ancestor, Gadelius. Moved by this mysterious purpose to fulfil their destiny, they had passed from land to land, from the shores of Asia across the wide expanse of Southern Europe, bearing aloft, through all their wanderings, the ‘sacred banner,’ which symbolised to them at once their origin and their mission, the blessing and the promise given to their race. This celebrated standard, the ‘Sacred Banner of the Milesians,’ was a flag on which was represented a dead serpent and the rod of Moses ; a device to commemorate forever amongst the posterity of Gadelius, the miracle by which his life had been saved.”

This miracle was that which is described in the well-known narrative of the plague of fiery serpents, as given in Numbers xxi, 4, 9, when Moses made a serpent of brass and set it upon a pole, so that those who looked upon it should be healed of the serpent’s bite. Their tradition goes on to say that they remained in their land, in Palestine,  for three generations after this event; and that the cause of their western migration was the prophetic utterance of the great Hebrew leader, that the descendants of their ancestor Gadelius should discover and inhabit a “country in which no venomous animal could live, an island  which they should find in the track of the setting sun.” After many years of wandering they arrived in Spain, having followed the course of the “great orb of day” to what appeared to be the confines of the western world. There they tarried and built a city known as Brigantia. They became occupiers of a large tract of country, and rulers of a larger territory.

While occupying the south of Spain, they engaged in the pursuit of sea traffic, both  for commerce and war, but never forgetting that they were still wanderers, looking for a beautiful island, a pleasant country promised by Jehovah to their honoured ancestor. And upon their voyages a constant watch was kept for the appearance of the “Isle of   Destiny.”

It was while upon a voyage of commerce and exploration that Ith, the uncle of Miledh, first sighted the long looked-for Island – the promised land of peace and safety. Anxious to gain a tolerably correct knowledge of it, he went ashore to make a careful survey of some parts, but in doing so he was attacked by men of the Tuatha de Danaans; who, while he fled to regain his ship , wounded him mortally. He succeeded in reaching his vessel, and putting to sea before his pursuers could overtake him, he ordered a course for Spain. But before the Brigantian coast could be reached his wound proved fatal.

Immediately on the arrival of the ship the entire community of the Milesian colony was summoned to make preparations for departure,  to take possession of the “Isle of Destiny,” and to avenge the death of Ith.

Accordingly, but a short time was occupied in the required preparations, and the wanderers were again travelling; this time, however, with a definite goal in view. Thirty galleys were provided, and in them the first detachment set sail under the leadership of the sons of Miledh (who had died shortly before.) Their names were Heber the fair, Amergin, Heber the brown, Colpa, Ir, and Heremon, with Lui, the son of Ith, as their guide and navigator.

The date of this expedition is generally believed to have been more than 1000 years B.C. It may have been less. Moore refers to the event in the following verses:-

“They came from a land beyond the sea,

And now o’er the western main,

Set sail in their good ships gallantly

From the sunny land of  Spain.

‘Oh, where’s the land we’ve seen in dreams,

Our destined home or grave?

Thus sang they as by the morning ‘s  beams

They swept the Atlantic wave.

And lo, where afar o’er the ocean shines

A sparkle of radiant green,

As though, in that deep lay emerald mines

Whose light through the wave was seen.

“Tis lnnisfail , ’tis innisfail!’

Rings o’er the echoing sea,

While bending to heaven, the warriors hail

That home of the brave and free.

Then turned they unto the eastern wave

Where now their Day-God’s eye

A look of such sunny omen gave

As lighted up sea and sky,

Nor frown was seen through sky or sea,

Nor tear o’er leaf or sod,

When first on their Isle of Destiny

Our great forefathers trod .”

It was with great difficulty they effected a landing. Upon this being accomplished, a great and sanguinary battle took place between them and the Tuatha de Danaans, which, however, resulted in the latter being defeated and subjected to the rule of the invaders,  who became  the  aristocracy  of  the land.

It is interesting to notice a few of the names of persons who took part in this story. The name Gadelius is strictly Hebrew, with only the terminal letters changed. Gad was one of the sons of Jacob­ one of the twelve patriarchs. The word gad means “fortune.” In the form gadil, frequently used, the meaning is “to be,” or “to become great , to be exalted.” In the plural, gadelim, “the exalted,” “the great,” “the fortunate.” How close the resemblance between Gadelim and Gadelius. The Gadelians are said to have boasted that they were the heroes of Spain.

The names of the sons of Miledh are clearly Hebrew; Heber, Heremon, and Ir are common forms of Hebraic names, while in Lui we at once recognise the name Levi, so frequently met in the Bible. Even the navigator and explorer Ith carries his lsraelitish origin in his peculiar  name.

Whence, and how are, all these peculiarities if they are not  ethnological?

There is no country with a written history which can produce records of more thrilling interest, or of more varied and peculiar character than Ireland. No people ever took greater care to leave behind them more authentic chronicles. In the days of the ancient kings, official historians were kept in the service of the monarch, having special apartments allotted to their use in the palace, which also had the secretaries, astrologers, and others. The records have suffered , like many other evidences of the civilisation of ancient Ireland, by the plague of war, and the destruction of fire. Some of the most valuable only now exist in name, and doubtless many, whose  value  we  know not of, have been lost and forgotten ; yet from time to time these documents were made use of to good advantage by the bards and private chroniclers, and thus have tended to preserve in a more reasonable form the knowledge of events which live now almost only in tradition . Yet, despite this loss and waste, authentic sources for Irish history are numerous and available. The last forty years have revived much interest in the literature of that early people, whose learning was  sought  after  from  distant  parts  of Europe.

My object, however, is not to attempt an outline of Ireland ‘s history, but to bring under notice some further facts in order to follow up the subject, and  thus produce reasons for asserting  that at least some of the early colonizers of “Erin’s Isle” were from the Hebrew stock.

Dr. Pinnock , of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, published a “Catechism of the History of Ireland” in the year 1825, in which he makes the following statement, “The language spoken by the natives of Ireland was one of very great antiquity, which General Vallancy paid considerable attention to. The examination appears to be a compound of Phoenician and Hebrew, as that learned  linguist and antiquarian has published  “several  thousands of words which are alike in Hebrew and Irish.” In suggesting the best  course of  study to be  pursued in order to obtain a correct knowledge of the ancient Irish language, the same writer placed an acquaintance with Hebrew first. He moreover quotes, with  approval,  from an author who wrote a small treatise on the “Precursory Proofs that Israelites came from Egypt into Ireland , and that the Druids expected the Messiah .” This author states that some of the Hebrew family were separated from the rest at a very early period; that they were heirs to singular blessings promised to them in the latter days. These sailed from Africa, and settled in Ireland. He further says, they “brought with them the Saxum Jacobi (Jacob’s stone, pillar, or pillow, which was formerly at Scone, and is now under the coronation chair at Westminster Abbey) into Ireland.”

Dr. Pinnock further states that “in the early history of Ireland the country reached its highest political perfection under the rule of their favourite monarch Ollam Fodlah; who established the great Fes , or triennial parliament , which was held at  Tarah.”

It will be observed that these two writers published their works more than 20 years before the first advocate of the British  Israel  question  had  given public utterance to his convictions. They are therefore free from any such imputation as being interested in instituting, or even in defending a theory. It is evident that they wrote from a conviction that facts warranted their assertions, independent of interest  or theory.

Many  words  and  names  contribute  evidence  to the same purpose. On the map of Ptolemy, the celebrated geographer of the second century, A.D., a spot in Ireland is found to be named  Dunscobrace,  this in modern times bears the name of Carrickfergus. A careful examination  of the old name has shown it  to be the Hebrew word for “Dan’s refuge.” It was at one time the site of an immense castle,  the strength  of which is still evident in the great thickness of the walls of a portion of the ruin still standing. Antiquarians acknowledge that it must have been erected several centuries before  the Christian era.

The ancient schools, or universities (for in very ancient days the Irish had educational establishments worthy of that name),  were  called  Mur-Ollamin, which means “the schools  of  the  wise,  or  sages”; or,  in the words of the Rev. E. R. A. Glover, M .A., “schools of the prophets – to speak in terms of the Hebrew equivalent for such an institution.” The title “Jodan Moran,” which designated the chief judge, is another proof of this  argument.  But  it is simply wasting  time  to produce these words, since General Vallancy is admitted by Dr. Pinnock to have “published several thousands  of  words  alike  in  Hebrew  and  Irish.”

Captain H . G. Palmer writes:-“Of those early civilised tribes we have many interesting monuments still existing – an alphabet like the Phoenician, or Hebrew; a system of secret writing, which is partly imitated in these days by our shorthand writers; more than a thousand books in our ancient tongue, not yet correctly translated, but certainly ‘historical,’ if, as might be conjectured, they are mixed up with poetic traditions and fables. Schools of philosophy, astronomy, and religion were instituted centuries before the Christian era in this favoured isle; and Irish music with the Davidean harp had no equal in Europe.”

Speaking of the designation “Scuite,” “Scoti,” or “Scots,” frequently applied to the wanderers who settled  in  Ireland,  and  which  is now  the national designation of the Scots, the same writer says this term “may be traced back to Egypt, and its derivation is connected in some way with the wanderings of Moses and the Israelites. The word is translated by many writers ‘wanderers,’ or ‘nomadic race’; Colonel Gawler, however, derives this word from the Hebrew ‘S’cothi,’ or ‘dwellers in booths.’ This agrees with the Spanish mode of pronouncing the word, and makes the idea suggestive.” If the word Scot be really Hebrew, from S’cothi, it is not at all improbable that the Greeks got their word “Scuth” from the same source.

The learned Lazius asserted that the “Irish language abounds with Hebrew words, and had its origin in the remotest  ages of the  world.”

Marcel,   who  was  Directeur  de  l ‘Imprimerie Imperiale under Napoleon, published an Irish Alphabet, from types belonging to the propaganda of Rome, which were sent, by the order of Napoleon, to Paris. Prefixed to this publication are some remarks  on the grammatical structure of the Irish language, which he concludes thus:-“Par cette marche conjugative, elle se rapproche de la simplicite des langues anciennes et orientales. Elle s’en rapproche encore par les lettres serviles en auxiliares les affixes les prefixes qu ‘elle emploie comme la langue Hebraique.” This shows plainly that it is no new idea to connect  the Irish and  the  Hebrew  languages.

It would appear that even the law of the Hebrews relating to the liberation of slaves was in force amongst the Irish: for we find in some of the biographies of St. Patrick that he obtained his freedom from slavery through the operation of a law which sets all bondmen free upon the seventh year. (See Lev. xxv. 40.)

In a very interesting “History of Ireland” written by a Roman Catholic nun, M. F. Cusack, the following remarks  occur:-

“Eastern customs and Eastern superstitions, which undoubtedly are a strong confirmatory proof of our Eastern origin, abounded in ancient Erin. . . . Druidism was the religion of the Celts, and Druidism was probably one of the least corrupt forms of Paganism. The Druids had a pontifex maximus, to whom they yielded entire obedience – an obvious imitation of the Jewish custom. . … The tenure of land was a tribal or family right, and,  indeed,  the  whole system  of government and legislation was far more patriarchal than Teutonic – another indication of our Eastern origin . . . . The present royal family of England have their claims to the crown through the Stuarts, who were descendants of the Irish Dalriada.”