Horthmen as 'mGall'

X99Lynx at aol.com X99Lynx at aol.com
Sun Aug 29 09:28:44 UTC 1999

In a message dated 8/26/99 10:02:34 PM, rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu wrote:

<<I've read that the term goes back to the Laghin invasion, a Gaulish
tribe who gave their name to Leinster < Laighin tir [sp?] sometime around 1
AD, give or take a couple of centuries [it's been a while since I read it]>>

Yes.  You mentioned that earlier and I missed it.  We are even told they are
sometimes called 'Gaillion' and similiar names. In the 'Book of Invasions',
Ugainy, king of Ireland, is succeeded by sons Laery and Covac.  Covac kills
Leary and his son to grab the kingship.  Maon, Leary's grandson, goes to Gaul
"to stay with some relatives."  From there, "Maon returned to Ireland with a
Gaulish army and killed Covac and all his nobles at Dinrigh, Maon was
re-named Labra the Mariner and married Moriath, and the Gauls settled in
Leinster (The Province of the Spearmen) which is named after them."

We are also told the Laighi "are mythologically referred to as the Tuatha De
Danann.  Their name association with Laighi, the ancient name for Leinster,
suggests that this was where they first settled."

In the amazing complexities of Irish myth, the Fir Bolg, the Tuatha de Danann
and the Milesians are all successive invaders of Ireland - and not
surprisingly all are associated with Gaul or Gaulish tribes.  The Fir Bolg
are also called "Belgi" and are sometimes subdivided into "men of Domnu, men
of Gaillion, and men of Bolg." (The Dumnonii are Celts who figure who heavily
in both Gaulish and British history.  The Belgae are the northern most
'Gauls' in Ceasar's "Omne Gallia...")

The Tuatha de Danaan also are associated with 'France' as the Laighi.  They
are often dated to 300 or 100 BCE.  They are defeated by the Milesians.

The Milesians, the last of the mythic invaders, are often associated with the
coming of the Goidelic.  These "sons of Milidh... are said to have come from
either Spain or France to the island of Ireland, and to be the ancestors of
the Gaels."

In terms of hard evidence, there isn't a lot of it.  LaTene has been found in
Ireland, but not very much.  The question of when Celts actually got to
Ireland is not settled.  But Mallory in ISOIE (see p 274  n 19) suggests that
the evidence points to a series of late arrivals, all presumably with
contacts to continental Celts.  And even St Patrick apparently complains
about late-arriving pagan "rhetorici" arriving from the continent.   The
Irish monks who "preserve Western Civilization" are often described as exiles
from the continent.   Medieval scholars like "Zimmer and Kuno Meyer contend
that the seeds of that literary culture, which flourished in Ireland of the
sixth century, had been sown therein in the first and second decades of the
preceding century by Gaulish scholars."   I see here also that "Dr. Meyer
answers the objection" [that "if so large and so important an invasion of
scholars took place we ought have some reference to the fact in the Irish
annals"] "...was in part due to the fact that their presence was in no way
exceptional but for their newly acquired Christianity."

All of the above is exactly what bothers me about the "mGall".  Ireland and
Scotland were filled with folk who could very well identify themselves as
Gauls or descendents of Gauls or of settlers from Gaul/Gallia.  Not only
because of this kind of folk origins history, but also because of the simple
established Pan-Celtic connection.  And whatever the origins of the word, the
affinity with "Gael" (which occasionally appears as "Gal-") would also have
been a clue.  Did the multiple usages of "Gall" over time create so many
semantic versions that we would expect serious loss by collision?  In which
case, it wouldn't be impossible that a Germanic usage in some form, being the
most current, slipped in ahead of all the older meanings.  "Gallia" itself
would have been a "learned" word and would have had a better chance of
co-existing without collision with that new import.

Of course going back to the original quote, if these Northmen happened to be
from "Valland", that is, Gallia - the term may have referred to nothing more
than their place of origin.  The connection with "outlander" or even
"invader" may be unnecessary.


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