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VIII. Autograph Letter of Thady O'Roddy.—Rev. J. H. Todd, D. D.,
Art. I. An ancient Poem attributed to St. Columbkille ; with a
Translation and Notes, by John O'DONOVAN.
HE following short poem, which is attributed to
St. Columbkille, is taken from the Leabhar Buidhe, or Yellow Book of the Mac Firbises of Lecan, a vellum MS. of the fourteenth century, now preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin,
H. 2. 16. p. 320. Its style resembles that of all the other short poems ascribed to this saint, although the orthography has been, as usual, modernized in many instances by the transcriber. But whether the poem be really the composition of St. Columbkille or not—(and as it has been preserved in a respectable compilation made in the fourteenth century, we must not reject its authenticity without strong reasons),-it was certainly composed at a period when some remains of Paganism existed in this country, and
IRISH ARCH. SOC. MISCELL. VOL. I.
was evidently intended to root out of the minds of the Irish their lingering veneration for some of their old objects of Pagan superstition. It is to be regretted that two words occurring in this poem, which appear to denote two of those objects, namely, rreod and ropdan, are not to be found in any of the published Irish Dictionaries, nor in any of the MS. Dictionaries or Glossaries accessible in Dublin. They are probably names for omens, but in the absence of the proper evidence it would be idle to conjecture what they denoted. The Editor, however, in the Notes, has laid before the reader his conjectures as to their meanings, but with that diffidence with which investigations of this nature should be always conducted in the absence of direct proof.
The theology of the poem savours strongly of predestination, a doctrine which is still extensively believed by the untaught portion of the inhabitants of the mountainous districts of Ireland. The conviction perhaps is natural to the human intellect, that foreknowledge in the Creator must predetermine the actions of his creatures; but any speculations on the doctrine itself would be out of place here; and it is only necessary to observe that the writer of this poem, who must have flourished at a very early period, appears to have believed in the doctrine as strongly as the peasantry do at present, that is to say, he believed “that the events which God has foreseen must irrevocably come to pass, and therefore that all things are fixed by an absolute decree, and cannot be changed by any exertions of man.”
The Irish text is printed exactly as it stands in the MS., excepting that the contracted words have been given at length. The reader will observe that many consonants are left unaspirated, which are pronounced and written with aspiration in the modern Irish language. It has been conjectured by several, and indeed it is highly probable, that the ancient pronunciation differed from the modern in