On the Ancient Races of Ireland: Race - Sir William Wilde

It appears to me that one of our great difficulties in Ireland has been the want of fusion—not only of races, but of opinions and sentiments, in what may be called a "give and take" system. As regards the intermixture, I think there cannot be a better one than the Saxon with the Celt. The Anglo-Normans, however, partially fused with the native Irish; for Strongbow married Eva the daughter of King Dermot; and from this marriage it has been clearly shown that Her Most Gracious Majesty the present Queen of Ireland and Great Britain is lineally descended. Several of the noble warriors who came over about that period have established great and widespread names in Ireland, among whom I may mention the Geraldines in Leinster, the De Burgos in Connaught, and the Butlers in Munster; and they and their descendants became, according to the old Latin adage, "more Irish than the Irish themselves."

Look what the intermixture of races has done for us in Ireland; the Firbolg brought us agriculture; the Danann the chemistry and mechanics of metal work; the Milesians beauty and governing power; the Danes commerce and navigation; the Anglo-Normans chivalry and organized government; and, in later times, the French emigrants taught us an improved art of weaving.

It would be more political than ethnological were I to enter upon the discussion of that subsequent period which would conduct us to the days of Cromwell or the Boyne, or, perhaps, to later periods, involving questions not pertinent to the present subject.

But I must here say a word or two respecting Irish art. In architecture, in decorative tone-work, from archaic markings that gave a tone and character to all subsequent art, in our beauteous crosses, in our early metal work, in gold and bronze, carried on from the pagan to the Christian period, and in our gorgeously illuminated MS. books, we have got a style of art that is specially and peculiarly Irish, and that has no exact parallel elsewhere, and was only slightly modified by Norman or Frankish design.

Time passed, and events accumulated; political affairs intermingle, but the anthropologist should try and keep clear of them.