How Old Is Dublin?

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<ul><li><p>Irish Jesuit Province</p><p>How Old Is Dublin?Author(s): George A. LittleSource: The Irish Monthly, Vol. 82, No. 966 (Feb., 1954), pp. 43-48Published by: Irish Jesuit ProvinceStable URL: .Accessed: 15/06/2014 17:43</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p><p> .</p><p>Irish Jesuit Province is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Irish Monthly.</p><p> </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 17:43:10 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>HOW OLD IS DUBLIN?* </p><p>By DR. GEORGE A. LITTLE </p><p>THE next point to consider is the churches which we know were </p><p>in pre-Scandinavian Dublin. Fortunately, there is the one fact in </p><p>the whole of this thesis regarding which everybody agrees, that </p><p>there were churches in pre-Scandinavian Dublin. There were of these </p><p>certainly seven and probably nine. Granting that we were always a </p><p>very pious people, this seems to be an over generous supply for an </p><p>unspecified region. The first of these churches was that of MacTail. </p><p>Mac Tail pronounced properly in Irish was confused with that of the </p><p>Irish form of Michael hence the Normans give it the name " Michael </p><p>de la Pole "; the latter name resulting from the fact that it stood near </p><p>a pool which lay at the foot of Ship Street. The site of the old church </p><p>is still marked. It is important for one point principally, namely, that </p><p>it is the only one of the pre-Scandinavian churches of which we have </p><p>a picture. St. Michael's was not taken down until the first half of </p><p>the 18th century. It had a round tower associated with it. This </p><p>building was greatly loved by the people of Dublin. </p><p>Now, St. Bride's?beyond the fact that it was in Bride Street, we </p><p>know almost nothing about its founding. Just the name of it survived. </p><p>St. Kevin's?that stood about the site of the ruined St. Kevin's </p><p>in Long Lane, near the Meath Hospital. That is a very important </p><p>example of the churches since we know, actually, the name of the </p><p>person who built it. He was a Dubliner named Garbhan, and </p><p>Garbhan built it in honour of St. Kevin. It is interesting if only because it is the earliest dedication of the kind that we know of in </p><p>Ireland. Most of the early churches were simply named after the </p><p>owner or founder, but in this case there was a definite dedication in </p><p>the modern sense and the occasion of the dedication possibly gave the hagiographical symbol to St. Kevin. In art St. Kevin is always shown with a bird in his hand. Here is the story: Garbhan was </p><p>travelling through the mountains between Dublin and Wicklow when </p><p>he met Kevin, who, strangely enough, had got tired of his students </p><p>and had run away from them. Garbhan asked Kevin where was he </p><p>* From a recorded lecture. </p><p>43 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 17:43:10 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>IRISH MONTHLY </p><p>going and Kevin replied he was " </p><p>looking for some peace. He wanted to say his prayers." And Garbhan, who was an older man, said: " You belong to Glendalough. Go back to your work. Remember, </p><p>Kevin?no bird ever laid its eggs when on the wing." And Kevin </p><p>returned to Glendalough and remained there to his death. Garbhan </p><p>returned to Dublin and built that church in Long Lane, which he </p><p>dedicated to God and to Kevin. Of course, there are no remains </p><p>of that original church, but the old ruins which stand there now, stand approximately on the site of it. </p><p>The next church on our list is Christ Church. You must all have </p><p>wondered at some time how it was that a church always entitled either the Cathedral or Church of the Holy Trinity was never called </p><p>that, but always Christ Church. Officially never Christ Church, but </p><p>still no Dubliner ever calls it by any other name. Now, why is this? </p><p>Apparently, according to O'Donovan, the reason was that it was built on the foundation of a much earlier church. One built by Ceile </p><p>Chriost, who was a Bishop from old Kilcullen,who came and settled </p><p>here. </p><p>St. Patrick's Church comes next in order. There is a good deal </p><p>of information about this church on account of St. Patrick's own </p><p>visit there. The idea of the visit of St Patrick is one which is always met with disbelief; the reason for this attitude is because it is not </p><p>mentioned in the official " </p><p>Lives ". The authority for this statement </p><p>is usually given as Joycelin's Life of St. Patrick, and every second line </p><p>of this work almost contradicts itself and there are foolishnesses in </p><p>the narrative which are unforgivable. Therefore, it is a completely </p><p>unworthy source and therefore (it is said) Patrick did not come to </p><p>Dublin. That appraisal is completely true in one sense. But there is a </p><p>suppressio veri. Joycelin was a bad historian; he was unreliable and </p><p>he did write nonsense, but we have no reason to trouble much about </p><p>him, because one of the four books he used as an authority for his " Life </p><p>n still exists?the Book of Rights, which contains all the facts </p><p>without the foolishness or the contradiction and, so far as I am aware, </p><p>nobody yet has suggested that the book is inaccurate, or that it has </p><p>noticeable inventions in it. We can, I believe, depend on it as an </p><p>authority and therefore we have reason to believe that St. Patrick </p><p>came here and cured the son of the king. Eolathach MacAlpin was </p><p>King of Dublin at that time, and it was his son, Eochy, whom Patrick </p><p>healed. When Patrick was leaving Dublin the king ordered that </p><p>44 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 17:43:10 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>OLD DUBLIN </p><p>in future there would be a special cess payable from every ship </p><p>visiting the Port of Dublin, to the See of Armagh in gratitude for </p><p>Patrick's kindness. That cess was paid even 200 years after the </p><p>Norman invasion of Ireland. If people had not believed in St. </p><p>Patrick's visit, do you think they would have paid the tax? </p><p>The next church which is of interest to us in this context is " </p><p>St. </p><p>Aud n's ". Aud n's is always recognised as a Norman foundation </p><p>and rightly, for it was built by them and named after their great </p><p>patron, St. Ouen, whose name is found in the name of the City of </p><p>Rouen. But the policy with the Normans always was suppression and supersession. They were always anxious to seem to have roots </p><p>sunk deep into our land and the result was they always built on our </p><p>foundations when they could. You have seen that in the case of </p><p>St. Patrick's and Christ Church and others. They did it, too, in the </p><p>case of St. Aud n's. I am indebted to Rev. Professor Aubrey </p><p>Gwynn, S.J., for the following information, because it was he who </p><p>discovered it, and it is of first rate importance?that on that site </p><p>where now stands St. Aud n's, was the Church dedicated to St. </p><p>Colm Cille. He found the evidence in two documents which went </p><p>to Rome in the period of St. Laurence O'Toole. They were simply </p><p>ordinary diocesan business documents in which certain facts were </p><p>attested by the parish priests of Dublin. There were only a couple of years between the two MSS. The first list gives all the parish names, with a church called St. Colm Cille in it . . . but no St. </p><p>Aud n's. The second list gives them all again, but this time St. </p><p>Aud n's and no St. Colm Cille's. That in convincing, even if we </p><p>did not have (as we have), a cross-inscribed slab at St. Aud n's </p><p>which certainly dates back as far as the 8th century and possibly even a century earlier. </p><p>Now, we also had Gill Duileach's in Fishamble Street (the same St. </p><p>Duileach as he to whom the church on the Malahide Road is dedicated </p><p>?of him we know nothing except that he was an Irish saint. And </p><p>I need not remind you that the Norsemen, even when they became </p><p>Christians, did not name their churches after Irishmen. </p><p>The last church on our list is St. Catherine's, of Meath Street?that </p><p>church puzzles me, because there is a tremendously strong tradition </p><p>that St. Catherine's had been an Irish foundation?a pre-Scandinavian foundation. I can find no reason for believing that, but it is well to </p><p>listen to tradition. It is usually correct, or but little incorrect. </p><p>45 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 17:43:10 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>IRISH MONTHLY </p><p>However. I could find no facts to substantiate tradition, but in my </p><p>seeking I found record of another church only about 150 yartf? from </p><p>it, which had apparently been forgotten altogether? called St. Molloyes ?that is probably "St. Molua's." Now, I think that the pie </p><p>Scandinavian description of St. Catherine's was really attached to </p><p>St. Molloyes and not to St. Catherine's. I may be wrong in this, but at any rate one or other (or both!) was pre-S?andinavian. </p><p>In addition to our churches we have a list of Dublin Bishops. This list was taken entirely from foreign sources; and it has been </p><p>declared to be completely invalid. That is regrettable, because this </p><p>list was compiled partly by Ware, who was not only a very well-known </p><p>historian, but who had behind him a very superior historian in the </p><p>person of his secretary, no less a person than Dougald Mac Firbisigh ?one of the last of Irish historians of the ancient tradition. It was </p><p>borne out and added to by Colgan in writing his Mission records in </p><p>Louvain. These two authorities are sound; it was dangerous to call </p><p>their list invalid. It was worse than dangerous; it was foolish, because </p><p>the reason advanced for the alleged invalidity of this list of Bishops was that there was no bishopric in Dublin in the pre-Scandinavian </p><p>period. That does not prove anything, since there was no definition </p><p>of diocese in Ireland in the modern sense until the Synod of </p><p>Rathbreassail in 1111 A.D. The Bishops are, briefly, Livinius?the </p><p>Irish of which is Molibba. He died in 633. Desibed, died 676. </p><p>Wiro?who is Bearaidh in Irish, died 775. Gualafar died about that </p><p>time, but the exact date is missing. Rumold?that is Rumsel?died </p><p>775?he is, of course, one of the patrons of this diocese. Sedulius? </p><p>Siadhal Mac Luath in Irish, died 785; and Cormac died about 840. </p><p>These were all missionary Bishops. Each is marked in the records as </p><p>" Bishop of Dublin </p><p>" and since most of those records were compiled </p><p>from the individuals themselves, I think we may believe them. </p><p>Now, there were also in addition, of course, a great number of </p><p>people who could be considered as also having to do with these </p><p>churches; namely?the patrons. It was the Gaelic custom to call </p><p>the churches, not after some notional person, but after someone who </p><p>had either built the house; granted the land; or said the first Mass </p><p>in that particular church. It may be taken, therefore, that most of </p><p>the patrons that I have mentioned also visited the city. Now, what sort of city had we got? It has been described as a </p><p>peninsulated city. The river spread out wide arms; it was not locked </p><p>46 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 17:43:10 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>OLD DUBLIN </p><p>into a central channel as it is to-day. It surrounded a peninsula and </p><p>that peninsula was surmounted by the crest of Cork Hill. The </p><p>Liffey joined the river there which was afterwards called " </p><p>The </p><p>Poddle". Great sea marshes lay above the water line spanned by the Ath Cliath Duibhlinne. The summit of this peninsula is the </p><p>eastern spur of Eiscir Riada and here ended the Slighe Mor. Furnish </p><p>ing the top of that hill was the Dun Duibhlinne, the citadel of this </p><p>early city. Around Dublin, stretching out towards Kilmainham, was </p><p>a place which remained famous for a very long time afterwards; the </p><p>lands of the Dun Duibhlinne?the Faithche Atha Cliath. This area </p><p>continued to be mentioned well down into Norman times. There was also a place called The Derndall; the remains of which you can </p><p>see to-day at the back of the Castle, in that little garden. Derndall </p><p>is almost certainly Doire na Dala?the Oakgrove of the Parliament or </p><p>Speaking Place; a meeting place. There, too, the Platea, the Rath or market square apparently part of High Street. There were several Raths. Baggot Rath was one. There was one also off Luke Street. </p><p>Another off Pearse Street. Another near the Styne. Then there was </p><p>the Thingmote, which stood in that angle made by Suffolk Street, Church Lane and College Green. It was actually an Irish mound of </p><p>the terraced type. It was claimed, of course, to be Norse, but as the </p><p>Norse never claimed it, nor ever built one in Norway, or anywhere else in Ireland (and we built many in Ireland) I think the ascription of it to the Irish is hardly to be questioned. </p><p>Consider now, the written references to Dublin: Classically, in </p><p>Ptolemy, A.D. 120?that was the earliest one by name, but as early as B.C. 104 Artemidorus mentioned that there were eleven important cities in Ireland. Tacitus, I have already told you, has already </p><p>mentioned them. The Scandinavian references are very important, because not in one single instance is it claimed from any Scandinavian </p><p>country that any of them founded Dublin. Without a single exception they all state that Dublin was taken by them. The first of these </p><p>historians who comes to mind is Saxo Grammaticus. He was a </p><p>Danish priest who was the secretary of the Bishop of a Danish diocese. This Bishop selected the man he considered to be the </p><p>greatest living scholar, who had earned, in fact, the tide </p><p>"Grammaticus", to write the history of Denmark. In doing so, Saxo described the taking of Dublin, which with other details, he </p><p>said was taken by the same subterfuge as one of the Scandinavian </p><p>47 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 17:43:10 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>IRISH MONTHLY </p><p>cities had been taken by a man named Hadding; namely, that the </p><p>Norsemen collected swallows and placed burning wicks under their </p><p>wings and the frightened birds, returning to their nestsr in the thatch in the city, set the entire town on fire. The city was easily taken </p><p>then when in the consequent state of panic. There is als...</p></li></ul>