Druidical Adornment

From Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, 1894

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Ireland had a supply of the so-called Druidical appendages and adornments. There have been found golden torques, gorgets, armillae and rods, of various sorts and sizes. Some were twisted. There were thin laminae of gold with rounded plates at the ends. Others had penannular and bulbous terminations. Twisted wire served for lumbers or girdle-torques. A twisted one of gold, picked up at Ballycastle, weighed 22 oz. Gorgets are seen only in Ireland and Cornwall. The Dying Gladiator, in Rome, has a twisted torque about his neck.

The gold mines of Wicklow doubtless furnished the precious metal, as noted in Senchus Mor. Pliny refers to the golden torques of Druids. One, from Tara, was 5 ft. 7 in. long, weighing 27 ozs. A Todh, found twelve feet in a Limerick bog, was of thin chased gold, with concave hemispherical ornaments. The Iodhan Moran, or breastplate, would contract on the neck if the judges gave a false judgment. The crescent ornament was the Irish Cead-rai-re, or sacred ship, answering to Taliesin's Cwrwg Gwydrin, or glass boat. An armilla of 15 ozs. was recovered in Galway. The glass beads, cylindrical in shape, found at Dunworley Bay, Cork, had, said Lord Londesborough, quite a Coptic character. The Druid glass is Gleini na Droedh in Welsh, Glaine nan Druidhe in Irish.

The Dublin Museum—Irish Academy collection—contains over three hundred gold specimens. Many precious articles had been melted down for their gold. The treasure-trove regulations have only existed since 1861. Lunettes are common. The Druids' tiaras were semi-oval, in thin plates, highly embossed. The golden breast-pins, Dealg Oir, are rare. Some armillae are solid, others hollow. Fibulae bear cups. Torques are often spiral. Bullae are amulets of lead covered with thin gold. Circular gold plates are very thin and rude. Pastoral staffs, like pagan ones, have serpents twisted round them, as seen on the Cashel pastoral staff.

Prof. O'Curry says—"Some of our old glossarists explain the name Druid by doctus, learned; and Fili, a poet, as a lover of learning." But Cormac MacCullinan, in his glossary, derives the word Fili from Fi, venom, and Li, brightness; meaning, that the poet's satire was venomous, and his praise bright or beautiful. The Druid, in his simple character, does not appear to have been ambulatory, but stationary. He is not entitled to any privileges or immunities such as the poets and Brehons or judges enjoyed. He considers the Druids' wand was of yew, and that they made use of ogham writing. He names Tuath Druids; as, Brian, Tuchar Tucharba, Bodhbh, Macha and Mor Rigan; Cesarn Gnathach and Ingnathach, among Firbolgs; Uar, Eithear and Amergin, as Milesians.

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