Their Value (Poetic Legends)

Justin McCarthy
Chapter I | Start of Chapter

Nor is it of the slightest importance to us to know whether the successive kings and chieftains and bards had a real existence. But to deny any historical importance to the fact that such legends were once accepted as history, or to the evidence they give concerning the feelings and habits of the race, would be as unwise as to deny historical value to the Homeric poems because we cannot believe in Zeus or Hera, or to the Arabian Nights because we cannot accept the genii, the winged horses, and the enchanters. Some legendary lore forms the introduction to the authentic history of every people which has risen to civilization, and from that legendary lore we may be guided to an understanding of each people's characteristics. I therefore call attention to the literature on which we have to rely for our knowledge of the races occupying Ireland before the age of what we describe as civilization had set in, and for our guidance to a thorough understanding of Ireland's authenticated history.