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Of the Strange and Woonderfull Places in Ireland.

The Fourth Chapter.

I THINKE it good to begin with S. Patrike his purgatorie, partlie bicause it is
S. Patrike his purgatorie. most notoriouslie knowne, & partlie the more, that some writers, as the author of Polychronicon and others that were miscaried by him, séeme to make great doubt where they néed not. For they ascribe the finding out of the place not to Patrike that conuerted the countrie, but an other Patrike an abbat, whom likewise they affirme to haue béene imploied in conuerting the Iland from beathenrie to christianitie.

But the author that brocheth this opinion, is not found to carie anie such credit with him, as that a man may certeinlie affirme it, or probablie coniecture it; vnlesse we relie to the old withered worme eaten legend, loded with as manie lowd lies, as lewd lines. The better and the more certeine opinion is, that the other Patrike found it out, in such wise as Cambrensis reporteth. There is a poole or lake, saith Camb. lib. 1. topag. dist. 2. rub. 6. he, in the parts of Vlster, that inuironneth an Iland, in the one part whereof there standeth a church much lightned with the brightsome recourse of angels: the other part is ouglie and gastlie, as it were a bedlem allotted to the visible assemblies of horrible and grislie bugs. This part of the Iland conteineth nine caues. And if anie dare be so hardie, as to take one night his lodging in anie of these ins, which hath béene experimented by some rash & harebraine aduenturers, streight these spirits claw him by the backe, and tug him so ruggedlie, and tosse him so crabbedlie, that now and then they make him more franke of his bum than of his toong; a paiment correspondent to his interteinement. This place is called S. Patrike his purgatorie of the inhabitors. For when S. Patrike laboured the conuersion of the people of Vlster, by setting before their eies in great heat of spirit, the creation of the world, the fall of our progenitors, the redemption of man by the blessed and pretious bloud of our sauiour Iesus Christ, the certeintie of death, the immortalitie of the soule, the generall resurrection, our latter doome, the ioies of heauen, the paines of hell, how that at length euerie man, small and great, yoong and old, rich and poore, king and keaser, potentate and pezzant must either through God his gratious mercie be exalted to the one, to floorish in perpetuall felicitie; or through his vnsearchable iustice tumble downe to the other, to be tormented in eternall miserie. These and the like graue and weightie sentences, wherwith he was abundantlie stored, so far sunke into their harts, as they séemed verie flexible in condescending to his behest: so that some proofe of his estrange preaching could haue béene verefied. Wherevpon, without further delaie, they spake to the prelat in this wise.

"Sir, as we like of your preaching, so we dislike not of our libertie. You tell vs of manie gugawes and estrange dreames. You would haue vs to abandon infidelitie, to cage vp our libertie, to bridle our pleasure: for which you promise vs for our toile and labour a place to vs as vnknowen, so as yet vncerteine. You sermon to vs of a dungeon appointed for offendors and miscredents. In deed if we could find that to be true, we would the sooner be weaned from the sweet nappie of our libertie, and frame our selues pliant to the will of that God, that you reueale vnto vs." S. Patrike considering, that these sealie soules were (as all dulcarnanes for the more part are) more to be terrified from infidelitie through the paines of hell, than allured to christianitie by the ioies of heauen, most hartilie besought God, so it stood with his gratious pleasure, for the honour and glorie of his diuine name, to giue out some euident or glimsing token of the matter they importunatlie required. Finallie by the especiall direction of God, he found in the north edge of Vlster a desolate corner hemmed in round, and in the middle thereof a pit. where he reared a church, called Reglis or Reglasse. At the east end of the churchyard a doore Reglasse. leadeth into a closet of stone like a long ouen, which they call S. Patrike his purgatorie, for that the people resort thither euen at this daie for penance, and haue reported at their returne estrange visions of paine and blisse appearing vnto them.

The author of Polychronicon writeth that in the reigne of king Stephan, a knight Polychr. lib. 1. c. 36. 1138 named Owen pilgrimaged to this purgatorie, being so appalled at the strange visions that there he saw, as that vpon his returne from thense he was wholie mortified, and sequestring himselfe from the world, he spent the remnant of his life in an abbeie of Ludensis. Also Dyonisius a charterhouse moonke recordeth a vision seene in Dyon. Cart in lib. de quatu. nouiss. art. 48. Iob. Camert. in lib. Salini. cap. 35. that place by one Agneius, Egneius, whereof who so is inquisitiue, may resort to his treatise written De quatuor nouissimis. Iohannes Camertes holdeth opinion, which he surmiseth vpon the gesse of other, that Claudius writeth of this purgatorie. Which if it be true, the place must haue béene extant before saint Patrike, but not so famouslie knowen. The poet his verses are these following:

"Est locus, extremum pandit qua Gallia littus,
Oceani prætentus aquis, quo fertur Vlysses
Sanguine libato populum mouisse silentum,
Flebilis auditur questus, simulachra coloni
Pallida, defunctásque vident migrare figuras."

"There is a place toward the ocean sea from brim of Gallish shore,
Wherein Vlysses pilgrim strange with offred bloud ygore,
The people there did mooue, a skritching shrill from dungeon lug
The dwellers all appall with gastlie galpe of grislie bug.
There onelie shapes are seene to stare with visage wan and sad,
From nouke to nouke, from place to place, in eluish skips to gad."

They that repaire to this place for deuotion his sake vse to continue therein foure & twentie houres, which dooing otherwhile with ghostlie meditations, and otherwhile a dread for the conscience of their deserts, they saie they see a plaine resemblance of their owne faults and vertues, with the horror and comfort therevnto belonging, the one so terrible, the other so ioious, that they verelie déeme themselues for the time to haue sight of hell and heauen. The reuelations of men that went thither (S. Patrike yet liuing) are kept written within the abbeie there adioining. When anie person is The ceremonies vsed in entering S. Patrike his purgatorie. disposed to enter (for the doore is euer spard) he repaireth first for deuise to the archbishop, who casteth all pericles, and dissuadeth the pilgrime from the attempt, bicause it is knowen that diuerse entering into that caue, neuer were seene to turne backe againe. But if the partie be fullie resolued, he recommendeth him to the prior, who in like maner fauourablie exhorteth him to choose some other kind of penance, and not to hazard such a danger. If notwithstanding he find the partie fullie bent, he conducteth him to the church, inioineth him to begin with praier and fast of fiftéene daies, so long togither as in discretion can be indured. This time expired, if yet he perseuere in his former purpose, the whole conuent accompanieth him with solemne procession & benediction to the mouth of the caue where they let him in, and so bar vp the doore vntill the next morning. And then with like ceremonies they await his returne and reduce him to the church. If he be séene no more, they fast and praie fiftéene daies after. Touching the credit of these matters, I sée no cause, but a christian being persuaded that there is both hell and heauen, may without vanitie vpon sufficient information be resolued, that it might please God, at sometime, for considerations to his wisdome knowen, to reueale by miracle the vision of ioies and paines eternall. But that altogither in such sort, and by such maner, and so ordinarilie, and to such persons, as the common fame dooth vtter; I neither beléeue nor wish to be regarded. I haue conferd with diuerse that had gone this pilgrimage, who affirmed the order of the premisses to be true; but that they saw no sight, saue onelie fearefull dreams when they chanced to nod, and those they said were excéeding horrible. Further they added, that the fast is rated more or lesse, according to the qualitie of the penitent.

Cambrensis affirmeth, that in the north of Mounster there be two Ilands, the Camb. lib. 1. topog. distinct. 2. rub. 5. greater and the lesse. In the greater there neuer entereth woman or anie liuing female, but forthwith it dieth. This hath béene often prooued by bitches and cats, which were brought thither to trie this conclusion, and presentlie they died. In this Iland the cocke or mascle birds are seene to chirpe, and pearch vp and downe the twigs, but the hen or female by instinct of nature abandoneth it, as a place vtterlie poisoned. This Iland were a place alone for one that were vexed with a shrewd wife. The lesse Iland is called Insula viuentium, bicause none died there, Insula viuentium. ne maie die by course of nature, as Giraldus Cambrensis saith. Howbeit the dwellers when they are sore frusht with sicknesse, or so farre withered with age as there is no hope of life, they request to be conueied by boate to the greater Iland, where they are no sooner inshored, than they yéeld vp their ghosts. For my part, I haue béene verie inquisitiue of this Iland, but I could neuer find this estrange propertie soothed by anie man of credit in the whole countrie. Neither trulie would I wish anie to be so light, as to lend his credit to anie such feined gloses, as are neither verefied by experience, nor warranted by anie colourable reason. Wherfore I see not why it should be termed Insula viuentium, vnlesse it be that none dieth there, as long as he liueth.

Cambrensis telleth further, that there is a churchyard in Vlster, which no female Cambren. in codem loco. kind maie enter. If the cocke be there, the hen dareth not follow. There is also in the west part of Connaght an Iland, placed in the sea, called Aren, to which Aren. saint Brendan had often recourse. The dead bodies néed not in that Iland to be grauelled. For the aire is so pure, that the contagion of anie canien maie not infect it. There, as Cambrensis saith, maie the sonne sée his father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, &c. This Iland is enimie to mice. For none is brought thither, but either it leapeth into the sea, or else being staied it dieth presentlie. There was in Kildare an ancient monument named the Firehouse, wherein Cambreasis saith, The Firehouse of Kildare. was there continuall fire kept day and night, and yet the ashes neuer increased. I trauelled of set purpose to the towne of Kildare to sée this place, where I did sée such a monument like a vault, which to this daie they call the Firehouse.

Touching the heath of Kildare Cambrensis writeth that it maie not be tild: and The heath of Kildare. of a certeintie within this few yeares it was tried, and found, that the corne which was sowed did not prooue. In this plaine (saith Cambrensis) stood the stones that The stones of Salisburie plaine. now stand in Salisburie plaine, which were conueied from thense by the sleight of Merlin the Welsh prophet, at the request of Aurelius Ambrosius king of the Britons. There is also in the countie of Kildare a goodlie field called Moolleaghmast, betwéene Moolleaghmast. the Norrough and Kilka. Diuers blind prophesies run of this place, that there shall be a bloudie field fought there, betwéene the English inhabitants of Ireland and the Irish, and so bloudie forsooth it shall be, that a mill in a vale hard by it shall run foure and twentie houres with the streame of bloud that shall powre downe from the hill. The Irish doubtlesse repose a great affiance in this balducktum dreame. In the top of this height stand motes or rundles verie formalie fashioned, where the strength of the English armie (as they say) shall be incamped.

The Earle of Sussex being lord lieutenant of Ireland, was accustomed to wish, The earle of Sussex. that if anie such prophesie were to be fulfilled, it should happen in his gouernement, to the end he might be generall of the field. Not farre from Moolleagmast, within a mile of Castledermot, or Thristledermot, is there a place marked with two hillocks, which is named the Geraldine his throw or cast. The length of which in The Geraldines throw. 1470. verie déed is woonderfull. The occasion procéeded of this. One of the Geraldins, who was ancestor to those that now are lords of Lackath, preded an enimie of his. The earle of Kildare hauing intelligence therof, suppressing affection of kinred, and mooned by zeale of iustice, pursued him with a great troope of horssemen, as the other was bringing of the prede homeward. The Geraldine hauing notice giuen him, that the earle was in hot pursute, and therefore being warned by the messenger to hie him with all speed possible: the gentleman being nettled, that his kinsman would séeme to rescue the prede of his deadlie fo; and as he was in such fretting wise frieng in his grease, he brake out in these cholerike words, "And dooth my cousine Kildare pursue me in déed? Now in good faith, whereas he séemeth to be a suppresser of his kindred, and an vpholder of my mortall enimie, I The Geraldines wish. would wish him no more harme, than that this dart were as far in his bodie, as it shall sticke foorthwith in the ground:" and therewithall giuing the spurres to his horsse, he hurled his dart so farre, as he abashed with the length thereof aswell his companie as his posteritie.

The Geraldine was not verie farre from thense, when the earle with his band made hot foot after, and dogging still the tracke of the predours, he came to the place where the dart was hurled, where one pickthanke or other let the earle to vnderstand of the Geraldine his wild spéeches there deliuered. And to inhanse the heinousnesse of the offense, he shewed how farre he hurled his dart, when he wished it to be pitched in his lordship his bodie. The erle astonied at the length thereof, said: "Now in good sooth, my cousine in behauing himselfe so couragiouslie, The earle of Kildares answer is woorthie to haue the prede shot free. And for my part I purpose not so much to stomach his cholerike wish, as to imbrace his valiant prowesse." And therewithall commanded the retreat to be blowne and reculed backe. There is in Meeth an hill called the hill of Taragh, wherein is a plaine twelue score long, which The hill of Taragh. was named the Kempe his hall: there the countrie had their méetings and folkemotes, as a place that was accounted the high palace of the monarch. The Irish historians hammer manie fables in this forge of Fin mac Coile and his champions, as the French historie dooth of king Arthur and the knights of the round table. But doubtlesse the place séemeth to beare the shew of an ancient and famous monument.

There is in Castleknocke a village not far from Dublin, a window not glazed nor Castleknocke. The strange welles. latized, but open, and let the weather be stormie, the wind bluster boisterouslie on euerie side of the house; yet place a candle there, and it will burne as quietlie as if no puffe of wind blew. This maie be tried at this daie, who so shall be willing to put it in practise. Touching the strange wels that be in Ireland, I purpose to speake litle more than that which I find in Cambrensis, whose words I will English, as they are Latined in his booke. There is (saith he) a well in Mounster, with the Camb. in lib. 1. topog. dist. 1. rub. 8. & 10. water of which if anie be washed, he becōmeth forthwith hoare. I haue séene a man that had one halfe of his beard, being died with that water hoare; the other halfe vnwashed was browne, remaining still in his naturall colour. Contrariwise, there is a founteine in the further edge of Vlster, and if one be bathed therewith, he shall not become hoare: in which well such as loath greie heares are accustomed to diue. There is in Connaght a well that springeth on the top of an hill farre and distant from anie sea, ebbing and flowing in foure and twentie houres, as the sea dooth; and yet the place is vplandish, and the water fresh. There is another spring in the same countrie, the water of which is verie wholsome to men and women, but poison to beasts: and if a man but put the grauell of this well into his mouth, it quencheth presentlie his thirst.

There is in Vlster a standing poole thirtie thousand pases long, and fiftéene thousand pases brode, out of which springeth the noble northerne riuer, called the Banne. The fishers complaine more often for bursting of their nets with the ouer great lake of fish, than for anie want. In our time vpon the conquest a fish swam from this poole to the shore, in shape resembling a salmon, but in quantitie so huge, that it could not be drawne or caried wholie togither, but the fishmongers were forced to hacke it in gobbets, and so to carrie it in peecemeale throughout the countrie, making thereof a generall dole. And if the report be true, the beginning of this poole was strange. There were in old time where the poole now standeth, vicious and beastlie inhabitants. At which time was there an old said saw in euerie man his mouth, that as soone as a well there springing (which for the superstitious reuerence they bare it, was continuallie couered and signed) were left open and vnsigned, so soone would so much water gush out of that well, as would foorthwith ouerwhelme the whole territorie. It happened at length, that an old trot came thither to fetch water, and hearing hir child whine, she ran with might and maine to dandle hir babie, forgetting the obseruance of the superstitious order tofore vsed. But as she was returning backe to haue couered the spring, the land was so farre ouerflowne, as that it past hir helpe: and shortlie after she, hir suckling, & all those that were within the whole territorie were drowned. And this séemeth to carie more likelihood with it, bicause the fishers in a cleare sunnie daie see the stéeples and other piles plainlie and distinctlie in the water. And here would be noted, that the riuer of the Banne flowed from this head spring before this floud, but farre in lesse quantitie than it dooth in our time. Hitherto Giraldus Cambrensis.

Boetius telleth a rare propertie of a poole in Ireland, & for that he maketh himselfe Hector Boet. in Scot. reg. descript. pag. 9. Sect. 50. an eiewitnesse of the matter, he shall tell his owne tale. "Ac quoniam Hiberniæ incidit mentio, præter infinita in ea rerum miracula, haud importunum fore existimem, si vnum, quod ob portentuosam nouitatem fidem omnium excedere videatur, nos tamen verum experti sumus, adiunxerimus. Lacus in ea est, circa quem amplissimo circumquaque spatio nec herba nec arbor vlla nascitur, &c: in quem si lignum infigas anni circiter vnius curriculo, id quod in terra fixum erit, in lapidem conuertetur; quod deinceps aquâ operietur, in ferrum: reliquum aquâ exstans ligni formam naturámque seruabit. Ita coniuncta, lapis, ferrum & lignum eodem in stipite inaudita nouitate conspectantur." But for that mention is made of Ireland, ouer and aboue the infinite number of woonders in that land, it will not be wholie beside the purpose, to insert one maruellous thing, which although it may seeme to some to haue no colour of truth: yet because it hath beene by vs experimented, and found out to be true, we maie the better aduouch it. There is a standing poole in that Iland, neere which of all sides groweth neither herbe, shrub, nor bush. If you sticke a rod or péece of timber in this poole, that which sticketh in the earth within the space of one yeare turneth to a stone; as much as is dipt in the water, is conuerted to iron; all that is aboue the water remaineth still in the pristinat and former woodden shape. So that you may sée that which is strange, in one stocke or sticke, stone, iron and wood linkt and knit togither. Thus much Hector Boetius.

In the countrie of Kilkennie and in the borders thereto confining, they vsed a solemne triall by a water they call Melashée. The propertie of this water is, as they Melashée. say, that if a periured person drinke thereof, the water will gush out at his bellie, as though the drinker his nauill were bord with an auger. The riuer that runneth by Dublin named the Liffie hath this propertie for certeine, and I haue obserued it The Liffie. at sundrie times. As long as it reigneth, yea if it stood powring six daies, you shall find diuerse shallow brookes, and the riuer will be nothing thereby increased: but within foure and twentie houres after the showres are ceast, you shall perceiue such a sudden spring flow, as if the former raine were great; a verie few places or none at all will be found pasable. Cambrensis writeth, that in the south part of Cambr. lib. 1. dist. 2. rub. 41. Mounster, betwéene the maine sea coasting on Hispaine and saint Brendan his hills, there is an Iland of the one side incompassed with a riuer abundantlie stored with fish, & on the other part inclosed with a little brooke. In which place saint Brendan was verie much resiant. This plot is taken to be such a sanctuarie for beasts, as if anie hare, fox, stag, or other wild beast be chased néere that Iland by dogs, it maketh straight vpon the brooke, and assoone as it passeth the streame, it is so cockesure, as the hunter may perceiue the beast resting on the one banke, & the dogs questing on the other brim, being as it were by some inuisible railes imbard from dipping their féet in the shallow foord, to pursue the beast chased. On the other side of this Iland there runneth a riuer stored aboue measure with fresh water fish, and in especiallie with salmon. Which abundance, as Cambrensis writeth, procéeded of God, to mainteine the great hospitalitie that was kept there. And because the dwellers thereabout shall not like pinching coistrels make anie sale of the fish, let it be poudered as artificiallie as may be, yet it will not kéepe (as though it were manna) aboue the first night or daie that it be taken. So that you must eate it within that short compasse, otherwise it putrifieth and standeth to no stéed.

This riuer ouerfloweth a great rocke, vsuallie called the Salmon leape: for as it The Salmon leape. is commonlie the propertie of all fish to swim against the tide, as for birds to flitter against the wind; so it is naturallie giuen to the salmon to struggle against the streme, and when it approcheth neere this high rocke, it bendeth his taile to his head, and sometime taketh it in his mouth; and therewithall beareth it selfe ouer the water, and suddenlie it fetcheth such a round whiske, that at a trice it skippeth to the top of the rocke. The like salmon leape is néere Leislip, but not so high as this. There be also, as witnesseth Cambrensis, in the further part of Vlster, certeine hils néere to saint Bean his church, where cranes yearelie bréed. And when they haue laied their egs, if anie purpose to ransacke their nests, let him but attempt to touch the egs, they will shew like yoong scralling pullets without feather or downe, as though they were new hatched, and presentlie brought out of their shels. But if the partie plucke his hand from the nest, forthwith they shew (whether it be by anie metamorphosis, or some iugling legier de maine by dazeling the eies) as though they were transformed into egs. And further, saith Cambrensis, let two at one instance be at the nest, and let the one of them onelie giue the gaze, and the other attempt to take awaie the egs, they will séeme to the looker on as egs, and to the taker as yoong red little cranets, being as bare as a bird his arsse.

The towne of Armagh is said to be enimie to rats, and if anie be brought thither, Armagh. presentlie it dieth. Which the inhabitants impute to the praiers of saint Patrike. But to omit the strange places, that either by false reports are surmised, or by proofe and experience dailie verefied: there are in this Iland such notable quaries of greie marble and touch, such store of pearle and other rich stones, such abundance of cole, such plentie of lead, iron, latin and tin, so manie rich mines furnished Ireland the storehouse of nature. with all kind of metals, as nature séemed to haue framed this countrie for the storehouse or iewelhouse of hir chiefest thesaure. Howbeit she hath not shewed hir selfe so bountifull a mother in powring foorth such riches, as she prooueth hir selfe an enuious stepdame; in that she instilleth in the inhabitants a drousie lithernesse to withdraw them from the insearching of hir hourded and hidden iewels. Wherein she fareth like one, that to purchase the name of a sumptuous frankelen or a good viander, would bid diuerse ghests to a costlie and deintie dinner, and withall for sauing of his meat with some secret inchantment would benum them of their lims, or with some hidden lothsomnesse would dull their stomachs, as his ghests by reason of the one are not able, or for the other not willing, by taking their repast to refresh themselus, in so much as in my phantasie it is hard to decide whether estate is the better: either for a diligent laborer to be planted in a barren or stonie soile, or for a luskish loiterer to be setled in a fertill ground; because the one will, and may not; the other may and will not through his painefull trauell reape the fruit and commoditie that the earth yéeldeth.

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