Cin of Drom Snechta

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter I

The CIN OF DROM SNECHTA is quoted in the Book of Ballymote, in support of the ancient legend of the antediluvian occupation of Erinn by the Lady Banbha, called in other books Cesair (pron. "kesar"). The Book of Lecan quotes it for the same purpose, and also for the genealogies of the chieftains of the ancient Eudrician race of Ulster. Keating gives the descent of the Milesian colonists from Magog, the son of Japhet, on the authority of the Cin of Drom Snechta, which, he states, was. compiled before St. Patrick's mission to Erinn.[9] We must conclude this part of our subject with a curious extract from the same work, taken from the Book of Leinster: "From the Cin of Drom Snechta, this below. Historians say that there were exiles of Hebrew women in Erinn at the coming of the sons of Milesius, who had been driven by a sea tempest into the ocean by the Tirrén Sea. They were in Erinn before the sons of Milesius. They said, however, to the sons of Milesius [who, it would appear, pressed marriage on them], that they preferred their own country, and that they would not abandon it without receiving dowry for alliance with them. It is from this circumstance that it is the men that purchase wives in Erinn for ever, whilst it is the husbands that are purchased by the wives throughout the world besides."[1]


[9] Erinn.—Keating says: "We will set down here the branching off of the races of Magog, according to the Book of Invasions (of Ireland), which was called the Cin of Drom Snechta; and it was before the coming of Patrick to Ireland the author of that book existed."—See Keating, page 109, in O'Connor's translation. It is most unfortunate that this devoted priest and ardent lover of his country did not bring the critical acumen to his work which would have made its veracity unquestionable. He tells us that it is "the business of his history to be particular," and speaks of having "faithfully collected and transcribed." But until recent investigations manifested the real antiquity and value of the MS. Materials of Ancient Irish History, his work was looked on as a mere collection of legends. The quotation at present under consideration is a case in point. He must have had a copy of the Cin of Drom Snechta in his possession, and he must have known who was the author of the original, as he states so distinctly the time of its compilation. Keating's accuracy in matters of fact and transcription, however, is daily becoming more apparent. This statement might have been considered a mere conjecture of his own, had not Mr. O'Curry discovered the name of the author in a partially effaced memorandum in the Book of Leinster, which he reads thus: "[Ernin, son of] Duach [that is], son of the King of Connacht, an Ollamh, and a prophet, and a professor in history, and a professor in wisdom: it was he that collected the Genealogies and Histories of the men of Erinn in one book, that is, the Cin Droma Snechta." Duach was the son of Brian, son of the monarch Eochaidh, who died a.d. 365.

[1] Besides.—O'Curry, page 16.