Irish Superstitions

THE peculiar superstitions of a people will often throw a light upon their ancient faiths. Baring-Gould has remarked, "Much of the religion of the lower orders, which we regard as essentially divine, is ancient heathenism, refined with Christian symbols." Whatever doubt may be felt as to this, all must admit the underlying paganism of some customs, credences, or sayings. Gomme tells us that "the local fetishism to be found in Aryan countries simply represents the undying faith of the older race."

Dr. Todd, in his work on Irish Religion, ventured on more tender ground, when he wrote concerning the "Guardsman's Cry" of St. Patrick—"The prayer which it contains against women, smiths, and Druids, together with the invocation of the powers of the sky, the sun, fire, lightning, &c., proves that, notwithstanding the undoubted piety and fervent Christian faith of the author, he had not yet fully shaken off the pagan prejudices." Giraldus Cambrensis declared that the Irish, at the conquest by Henry II., justified their condemnation by the Pope, "being more ignorant than all other nations of the first principles of the faith."

The legends of the English and French might be shown to contain a vast amount of questionable common sense and faith; but our present inquiry is to trace the underlying opinions of the ancient Irish.