Tens of millions of people, living today in nearly every country around the world, are the direct descendants of an ancient race of kings, nobles, druids, scholars, explorers and warriors known as the Gaels. Of all of the ancient races and cultures of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, the Gaels were one of the few to escape extermination or cultural assimilation by the Roman Empire.
Their history and mythology have been recorded since the beginning of human civilization; however, much of this history and mythology was forgotten or ignored until recent times, buried beneath the sea or in the ruins of ancient settlements, unnoticed in obscure manuscripts, burned as pagan heresy by early Christian bishops, or discredited by past historians as fiction or fantasy.
This book is an attempt to compile what is known about the Gaels and their ancestors, and of the times and places that they lived, from the beginning of remembered history in their original homeland on the north shore of the Black Sea around 9400 BC, to their conquest of the "promised land" of Ireland sometime after 1699 BC, into the modern era.
The Gaels and their unique culture have flourished on their island sanctuary of Ireland for over 3000 years. The conquest of Ireland by the Anglo-Normans in 1175 AD, the succeeding seven hundred years of British efforts to subjugate the Gaels and to eradicate their culture and language, and even the Great Famine and Irish Diaspora of the 1840’s and 1850’s have not broken the cultural continuity of this ancient race. The Gaels, their ancient language and their cultural identity survive to this day.
I cannot claim authorship of much in these Annals. My role has been that of the ollamh, the Gaelic historian and annalist, and that of literary archeologist. I have uncovered and gathered together the scattered pieces of what is known about the ancient Gaels and their ancestors, and have attempted to piece them together with the "glue" of appropriate historical context and explanation. What is "known" is a combination of proven fact, written legend, oral tradition, reasonable conjecture and probable myth. What is in fact "fact", or what may be only myth, no one truly knows.
Timothy L. Lunney
clann na gael
The Descendants of Gael and Scota
The Gaels are named after their common ancestor, Gael [also known as Gaedheal, Goadhal, Goidel, Goidel Glas, Gathelus or Gaythelos], who was born in Egypt around the time of the Biblical Moses. Gael was the son of Prince Niul, who was a son of King Fenius the Antiquary [Feaniosa Fearsuidhe] of Scythia, and of Princess "Scota", a daughter of Egyptian Pharaoh "Cincris" or "Achencres".
Scythia was the name given by much later Greek writers to the area north of the Black Sea between the Carpathian Mountains and the Don River, in what is now Moldova, the Ukraine and eastern Russia. Scythians kept large herds of horses, cattle, and sheep, and were famed for their horsemanship and skill as archers. The Scythians had developed a rich and sophisticated civilization by 4000 BC, as evidenced by bronze and gold objects of mesmerizing technical and artistic skill, found in the recently excavated, opulent tombs of their kings and nobles:
The most detailed accounts of King Fenius of Scythia, his son Niul and his grandson Gael come from the "Foras Feasa Ar Éirinn", known in English as the History of Ireland, written by the Gaelic scholar Seatrún Céitinn, D.D. sometime prior to 1640 AD:
When Fenius became King of Scythia, he was determined to become acquainted with the various languages that had sprung up after the confusion of tongues that, according to Biblical tradition, had taken place long before at the Tower of Babel in Sumeria. He sent seventy-two of his court scholars to the various countries on the three continents of the world that were known to be inhabited, and charged them to remain abroad for seven years, so that each of them might learn the language of the country in which he stayed. At the end of seven years, they returned to Scythia and to King Fenius, who then established a school for the teaching of languages.
Upon hearing of this school, King Ninus of Sumeria [ancient Babylonia] summoned Fenius and his scholars to the capitol city of Ninevah. Fenius obeyed the summons of King Ninus, his overlord, and journeyed to Ninevah, together with his scholars and a large number of the youth of Scythia, leaving his eldest son Neanuall to rule Scythia in his absence. At the command of King Ninus, Fenius established schools for the teaching of the various languages at a city called Eathena on the Plain of Seanair near Ninevah. The three senior sages who presided over these schools were Fenius from Scythia, Gaedheal from Greece, and Iar from Judea.
It was about this time that Niul, a son of Fenius, was born at Eathena. Feinius remained in charge of the schools at Eathena for many years in order that this son Niul might become a scholar of languages. Then, after twenty years at Eathena, Fenius returned to Scythia, re-established the schools there and appointed his friend and associate Gaedheal to take charge of them. King Fenius also commissioned Gaedheal to formalize and record the language of the Scythians. It is after Gaedheal that the Scythian language was named "Gaeilge" [also known as Gaelic].
The origins of the name Gaedheal [also spelled as "Gael"] have been disputed among scholars for hundreds of years. Becanus said that it derived from the words "goedin", meaning "noble", and "uile", meaning "all", that is "all noble", or from the Hebrew word "gadhal", meaning "great", because Gaedheal was great in learning, wisdom and languages. However, Gaelic tradition holds that "Gaedheal" derives from the two words "gaoith", meaning "wise", and "dhil", meaning "loving", that is "lover of wisdom".
Fenius ruled Scythia for twenty-two years after his return from the Plain of Seanair. At the point of death, he bequeathed the sovereignty of Scythia to his eldest son Neanull, and left to his younger son Niul only what profit he could derive from the schools for sciences and languages.
Prince Niul ran his schools in Scythia for a long time, during which his fame for knowledge and wisdom spread throughout the nations of the world. Because of Niul’s great renown as a scholar and teacher, Pharaoh "Cincris" of Egypt sent envoys to him, inviting him to Egypt to teach the sciences and languages to the youth of Egypt. Niul accepted the invitation and sailed to Egypt with Pharaoh’s envoys.
The name "Cincris" does not appear in any of the known king lists of Egypt. "Cincris" could have been the name of one of the rulers of a Nile Delta nome [province] or the name of one of the Hyksos pharaohs [who the Egyptians called "hequa khasut" or "rulers from foreign lands"], for which written records are scarce. One of the known Hyksos pharaohs of the 15th Dynasty, which is believed to have ruled from the city of Avaris in the Nile Delta from around 1663 BC to 1555 BC, was named Khyan ("Xian" in Greek), who was also called "Great Hyksos". It is possible that "Cincris" is a variant of "Cian Groi" [Khyan the Great] or "Cian nGriosach" [Khyan of the Hot Ashes]. Pharaoh Khyan was likely ruler of Lower Egypt when the Minoan Empire and much of the eastern Mediterranean basin were destroyed by the cataclysmic volcanic eruption of the Minoan island of Thera in 1628 BC. It is also possible that "Cincris" was not a person’s name, but rather an archaic translation of the Greco-Egyptian word "pharaoh", which literally meant "great house". Another possibility is that the pharaoh being referred to was "Achencres", the Greek spelling for Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Pharaoh "Cincris" gave the land called Campus Circit [also known as Capacyront] beside the Red Sea to Prince Niul. Pharaoh also gave his daughter "Scota" in marriage to Niul. The name "Scota" is not an Egyptian name, but a very much later Latin name meaning "mother of the Scotii", because the inhabitants of Ireland were called "Scotii" by the Romans. After Niul married "Princess Scota", he established schools at Campus Circit for teaching science and various languages. It was there that "Scota" gave birth to a son, whom Niul named Gael [also spelled "Gaedheal"] , after his old friend and teacher.
Sometime after the birth of Gael, Moses and the children of Israel escaped from Pharaoh’s bondage, marched to the shore of the Red Sea and made camp near Campus Circit. When Niul heard of this, he went to meet with them and to find out who they were. At the outpost of their encampment, he met Aaron, the brother of Moses, who related to him the story of the children of Israel, and of Moses, and of the miracles that God had wrought against Pharaoh. Niul and Aaron entered into an alliance and friendship with one another, and Niul offered him whatever corn and means he had to assist them. Then Niul went back to his own people, and told them that the children of Israel were nearby, and about all that had befallen them.
That same night, as Gael was swimming, a venomous serpent bit him on the neck. Some say that it was from the desert that the serpent came, and that it bit Gael while he slept. In either case, he was soon at the point of death. Niul took the dying Gael to Moses. Moses prayed to God, and applied the rod given to Moses by God upon the wound, and thus healed Gael. Moses then said that, in whatever place that the issue of Gael would settle, no serpent would ever have venom. According to Gaelic tradition, Gael was thereafter called Gaedheal Glas because of the green scar that remained on his neck. Others state that Moses had placed around the neck of Gael a locket with the green bracelet that Moses had worn on his own arm, and that it was from this bracelet that he was thereafter called Gaedheal Glas. At that time, each chieftain wore such a bracelet on his arm as a mark of his tribal supremacy. Still others assert that he was called Gaedheal Glas after the grey-blue colour of his weapons and armour.
Later, Niul told Moses that Pharaoh "Cincris" was very angry with him for having welcomed the children of Israel and for having offered them assistance. Niul feared the wrath of Pharaoh. Moses offered to take Niul and his people along with the children of Israel to the land promised to Moses by God, and to provide for them a share of that land, or to help Niul seize Pharaoh’s fleet so that Niul and his people could flee Egypt by sea. Niul accepted the latter offer, and a thousand armed men were sent with him to seize Pharaoh’s ships. Niul and his people embarked upon them and beheld the events of the following day, namely the parting of the Red Sea before Moses and the children of Israel, and then its closing back upon Pharaoh and his army of sixty thousand foot soldiers and fifty thousand horse soldiers, drowning them all. Niul, having witnessed the death of Pharaoh and his host, returned to Campus Circit, since he no longer feared Pharaoh’s retribution.
Some time afterwards, Niul died, and Gael and his mother took possession of the lands at Campus Circit. Later, a son was born to Gael, whom he named Easru, and some time after that, a son was born to Easru, whom he named Sru, and they remained on their lands at Campus Circit. As for the Egyptians, Pharaoh "Intuir" had assumed sovereignty over Egypt after the drowning of Pharaoh "Cincris". When Pharaoh Intuir and the Egyptians had restored their army and strength, they rekindled their enmity against the descendants of Niul. They made war upon them, and drove them from Egypt.
Thomas Walsingham agreed with this account in "Upodigma", where he said: "When the Egyptians had been drowned, the portion of the inhabitants who lived after them expelled a certain Scythian nobleman who dwelt amongst them, lest he might assume sovereignty over them."
The descendants of Gael and "Scota" fled Egypt, and embarked upon a long oddessy that, over the succeeding generations, would take them from Egypt, first to Candia [ancient Crete], then back to their ancestral homeland of Scythia, then to sail the Caspian Sea for several years, then to Getulia [ancient Libya], then to Galicia [northwestern Spain], then back to Scythia, then back to Egypt again where another "Scota", a daughter of Pharaoh "Nectanebus", would marry the Gael’s leader Míl [Milesius], then to the islands of Irena and Gothia, then back to Galicia, and finally on to the conquest of Ireland, the promised land of the Gaels, under the leadership of the sons of Míl and their mother, the second "Scota".
There is recent speculation that the first "Scota" may have been the daughter of the "heretic" Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti.
According to Lorraine Evans, in her book "Kingdom of the Ark", Princess Merytaten, a daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, may have taken Gael as her husband after the death of Pharaoh Smenkhkare. This Scota and her husband were reported to have fled Egypt and eventually to have sailed to Britain, where the wrecks of two Egyptian ships, discovered near Hull in 1937 AD, have been radio-carbon-dated to the period 1400 BC to 1350 BC.
According to the "Scotichronicon", written around 1435 AD by Walter Bower, the Abbot of Inchcolm Abbey in Scotland: "In ancient times, Scota, the daughter of pharaoh, left Egypt with her husband Gaythelos by name and a large following. For they had heard of the disasters which were going to come upon Egypt, and so through the instructions of the gods they fled from certain plagues that were to come. They took to the sea, entrusting themselves to the guidance of the gods"… "After sailing for many days over the sea with troubled minds, they were finally glad to put their boats in at a certain shore because of bad weather." Bower went on the relate that the "certain shore" was in the north of Britain, and that Scota and Gaythelos and their followers eventually settled in what is now Scotland for a while, until being forced to flee to Ireland. The original source for Bower’s account of Scota and Gaythelos may have been the "World Chronicle" compiled by the Roman writer Eusebius of Caesarea around 320 AD, based upon the earlier "History of Egypt" compiled by the Greek writer Euhemerus around 300 BC.