Hand of History - Burden of Pseudo-History.
Touchstone of truth.
by Tom O Connor.
Hand of History, Burden of Pseudo History Book Cover

Roman legions rang Celtic Europe’s death knell & orchestrated Celtic Britain’s swansong, provoking Queen Boudicea’s anti-Roman revolt in “the worst disaster to befall the Roman Empire” – all of which massively impacted the rise of Celtic Ireland. Archaeological remains & archaic texts point to Ptolemy of Alexandria’s “illustrious acropolis in the West of Ireland” linked to its Celtic conquest which pseudo history suppressed & the author redeems & reconstructs here.

“Very important discovery about Europe and Ireland in prehistory” (Dr. Hugh Weir).

“Here is something very important about western Ireland.” (Professor Daibhi O Croinin, NUIG).

“Enthralling, a great gift to Celtic heritage” (Eadhmon Ua Cuinn, Virginia, USA).

“The most informative work on early Ireland.” (Michael Geraghty, Victoria, Australia).

“Its awesome website explains a lot” (Steve Cavanagh, Death Valley, California)

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This book presents a Celtic Royal complex, unprecedented in Ireland for its size and layout, but similar to Belgic Centres of Power, called oppida by Caesar, in SE England and on the Continent. It was centered on Turoe in Co. Galway, site of the famous Turoe Stone. No one has satisfactorily explained why this finest example of La Tene Celtic stone art in all of Europe was set on the summit of Turoe hill (Cnoc Temhro) in the wilds of the West of Ireland. Here its hitherto unrecognised Celtic Royal Sanctuary trappings at the centre of a vast Belgic-like oppidum defensive system of linear embankments and its surprising connection with the Celtic invasion of Ireland are unfolded. A whole series of sets of linear embankments expanded out from Turoe across Counties Galway, Clare, Mayo, Sligo, NW Roscommon and across the Shannon into Westmeath and Longford, and even further afield. Some of these are recorded in early dindshenchas (history of the famous places) material associated with the names of archaic kings and queens 1 .

There are several early references to this Royal Capital. The most famous of these is by the renowned first/second century Greek geographer, Ptolemy of Alexandria, who recorded two capitals, and two only, in the Ireland of his day. One is accepted as representing Emain Macha near Armagh in the NE of Ireland. The second has never been definitively identified. Ptolemy located it approximately at the centre of Co. Galway, precisely where Turoe is today (2). He named it REGIA E TERA (Regia e Te[mh]ra) which is the genuine early Celtic/Old Irish name for 'The Royal Capital at Turoe' (Cnoc Temhro). Turoe's expansive inner ward set of linear embankments enclosed an acropolis and a necropolis. Part of a sprawling urban-like complex along the western slopes of Turoe and Knocknadala (Hill of Assemblies/Parliament) has finally been placed under preservation order by The National Monuments Department. Knocknadala (early Cnoc na nDál) was rendered by Ptolemy as NAG-NA-TA[ L ] and named by him as "the most illustrious city in all Britannia and the most considerable in size, located in the western part of Ireland" 2 . The sole reference to a dense population anywhere in early Irish literature points directly to this very area 3 .

The Turoe inner ward had all the hallmarks and definitive layout of a Celtic Royal Sanctuary, an assembly and ceremonial site, illustrious coronation stone, royal cemetery, an arena for the poets and literati (Aber na bhFhille) and an extensive acropolis, evidenced by their respective townland names. It had a vast defensive system, ever expanding over several centuries. Its Fearta necropolis held some 150 large burial mounds, some of which bore the names of early Irish kings. Several more early kings and their Celtic gods and goddesses are remembered in other place names and forts around this cluster of Celtic sanctuary sites further signifying a Celtic Royal Centre of Power. A very much more extensive Royal necropolis surrounding Athenry to the NW of Turoe is stated in archaic texts in the Book of Leinster to be the Releg na Rí lamh le Cruachain ' where the Royal Household of Turoe (Rígrád Temhróit) was interred, including Queen Medb and her father king Eochaid Ferach Mhor whose palace stood beside the Turoe Stone 4 .

Two ancient roadways, Slighe Mór and Slighe Dála, converged on Turoe/Knocknadala. Rot na Ri, the Royal Road of the Kings, ran straight from Turoe/Knocknadala to the renowned ancient seaport of Ath Cliath Magh Rí at Clarenbridge in Galway Bay. Legendary history states that " Ath Cliath Magh Rí was the chief seaport of Ireland through which Ireland has most often been invaded ' 6 . A dindshenchas tale tells that " the swift ships which sailed the high seas frequented Ath Cliath Magh Ri in Galway of the harbours " 7 . It was there that a large segment of the Celtic invasion force landed before advancing on Turoe, the core of its primary settlement area, as recorded in the dindshenchas of Cnoc na Dála 5 . Several segments of Belgic tribes from Britain and the Continent, such as the Manapi, the Atrebates and the Canti (from Kent), are remembered in townland names within this vast Turoe oppidum complex.

Who were these Celts and where did they come from?

Large segments of the Northern Continental Belgae fled to southeast England from Roman and Germanic conquest in Caesar's time. In 27/26 BC as preparations for a massive Roman invasion of Britain proceeded some considerable way before being cancelled, Commius, king of Belgae in the Silchester, Winchester and Chichester/ Selsey regions of the south of England, led a folk-movement of his subjects to the Shannon estuary in the West of Ireland. There they are recorded by Ptolemy as the Ganngáni 2 , the decendants of Gann which was the genuine Celtic name of Commius, the Romanised form of his name. His descendants expanded north into Connacht where Déla, Gann's grandson, landed his invasion force at the great seaport of Ath Clee Magh Rí in Galway Bay and advanced inland to set up court on the Hill of Dail (Cnoc na nDála, Knocknadala today) beside Turoe (Cnoc Temhro) 5 . There he established the famous Feis Temhro as recorded in Irish legendary history. From there his descendants, the ancient Fir Belg (Belgae, the Romanised form of their name) of Connacht pushed the aboriginal Cruthin, the men of Ulster, inexorably north-eastwards over the following centuries. The two Regia of Ptolemy's Irish record were the Capitals of these two warring provinces. The warfare involved is recorded in Ireland's oldest legendary history, the Ulidian Tales. This is further corroborated by vestiges of the great linear embankments thrown up by both parties as boundary fortificatious which scar the face of the Celtic Irish landscape to this day and tell of the ferocity of the long drawn-out warfare between the Fir Belg of Connacht and the men of Ulster.

These facts of history were suppressed by pseudo-historians of the Ui Neill warlords and the monastic federation of Armagh in favour of their own concocted glorification. As this Turoe oppidum was of major importance in the late Irish Iron Age, its identification and recovery calls for a total re-evaluation of the origins and history of Celtic Ireland.

1. Dindshenchas of Magh Mucrama .
2. ' Claudii Ptolemaei Geographia ', p.79 tI ed. Muller (paris 1883).
3. Dindshenchas of Maen Magh (Magh Main).
4. Senchas na Releg, De Gabail an tSida, De Copur in da Muccida in the Book of Leinster, 2468, line 32931-5; 290a 37234-7; and 155a 20348-50; also in Lebor na hUidre and elsewhere.
5. Dindshenchas of Cnoc na nDála ,
6. Edmund Hogan in ' Onomasticon Goedelicum ' under Ath Cliath Magh Rí, p. 56 ff
7. Met. Dindshenchas of Sliabh Bladhma in Book of Leinster, 192 a.