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Although it is close upon three centuries since the first publication of the larger portion of the important work known as Fynes Moryson's Itinerary, it is only quite recently that the full scope of Moryson's undertaking has been properly understood. The publication by Mr. Charles Hughes, as lately as 1903, in a work entitled Shakespeare's Europe, 1 of the large section of the Itinerary, which had so long remained in manuscript in the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, has for the first time rendered it possible to appreciate the full extent and value of Moryson's labours as a social historian of his own times. No single portion of Moryson's remarkable survey of the manners, customs, and institutions of the various countries and kingdoms of Europe at the opening of the seventeenth century is more valuable than the chapters devoted to Ireland. The Description of Ireland which forms the fifth chapter of the third book of Part III of the original Itinerary, is well known and has been more than once reprinted.2 But the account of the Commonwealth of Ireland which forms the fifth chapter of the second book of the long unpublished fourth part and the chapter on Manners and Customs (Book V. chapter v.) were unknown until their publication by Mr. Hughes. Other references to Ireland in the Itinerary besides those printed in this volume occur in the chapter which treats Of
p.212the Turks, French, English, Scottish, and Irish Apparel (Part III. Book IV. chapter v.), and in that on The Journey through England, Scotland, and Ireland (Part I. Book III. chapter v.). The latter contains many interesting sidelights on the conditions of travelling in the three kingdoms three hundred years ago. While the Description will always remain valuable as a picture of Irish life and manners by a traveller whose large comparative knowledge of the Europe of his day gives a special importance to his observations, Moryson's notes on the Commonwealth have a unique interest for the light they throw on the political institutions of Ireland, as seen by one who had been actively engaged in Irish affairs, and had enjoyed peculiar opportunities of studying the administrative system of the Irish government at a very important crisis in Irish history. A like praise can hardly be accorded to the observations touching religion in Ireland (Book III. chapter vi.). Moryson's views on this head are as acutely controversial and as inevitably uncharitable as might be expected; and it has not appeared expedient to print them here.
No one can have had greater facilities than were possessed by Fynes Moryson for understanding the machinery of the Irish executive in all its parts as it existed at the close of Elizabeth's reign. For not only was he placed, as secretary to Mountjoy during the whole period of that Viceroy's active career in Ireland, in the closest possible contact with the central executive, but he had ample means of information regarding the local instruments of government in the provinces. His brother, Sir Richard Moryson, who came to Ireland in the army of Essex in 1599, held important appointments there for close on thirty years. From 1609 to 1628 Sir Richard held the considerable office of Vice-President of Munster, and he was visited at Cork by the historian in 1613. Thus the faculty of precise observation which gives so much value to Fynes Moryson's narrative, even where his notes represent no more than the rapid but acute deductions of a passing traveller, has, in the case of his account of Ireland, the enhanced interest which comes of the writer's intimate knowledge of the social and political state of the country.
Often as it has been printed, Fynes Moryson's Description of Ireland is an indispensable introduction to any collection of contemporary works on seventeenth century Ireland, and as such it is once more printed here. The chapters on the Commonwealth and on manners and customs are reproduced because, although so recently published, the Irish sections of Part IV. of the Itinerary are scattered at wide distances through Mr. Hughes's substantial
p.213volume;3 and, forming only a relatively small portion of the whole, have scarcely attracted the attention they deserve.
The extracts from Shakespeare's Europe are included in this volume with the cordially expressed assent of Mr. Charles Hughes, and of the owners of the copyright in that work, Messrs. Sherratt & Hughes, publishers, of Manchester and London. Some passages not printed by Mr. Hughes, which appear to throw useful light on the social condition of Ireland at the time when Moryson wrote, are now published for the first time by the kind permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.
The longitude of Ireland extends four degrees, from the meridian of eleven degrees and a half to that of fifteen and a half, and the latitude extends also four degrees, from the parallel of fifty-four degrees to that of fifty-eight degrees. In the geographical description I will follow Cambden as formerly.4
This famous island in the Virginian sea is by old writers called Ierna, Inverna, and Iris, by the old inhabitants Erin, by the old Britains Yuerdhen, by the English at this day Ireland, and by the Irish Bards at this day Banno, in which sense of the Irish word, Avicen calls it the Holy Island; besides, Plutarch of old called it Ogygia, and after him Isidore named it Scotia.5 This Ireland, according to the inhabitants, is divided into two parts, the wild Irish, and the English-Irish, living in the English pale. But of the old kingdoms, five in number, it is divided into five parts.
1. The first is by the Irish called Mowne, by the English Munster, and is subdivided into six countiesof Kerry, of Limerick, of Cork, of Tipperary, of the Holy Cross, and of Waterfordto which the seventh county of Desmond is now added. The Gangavi, a Scythian people, coming into Spain, and from thence into Ireland, inhabited the county of Kerry, full of woody mountains, in which the Earls of Desmond had the dignity of palatines, having their house in Trailes, a little town now almost uninhabited. Not far thence lies
p.215St. Mary Wic, vulgarly called Smerwick, where the Lord Arthur Gray, being Lord Deputy, happily overthrew the aiding troops sent to the Earl of Desmond from the Pope and the King of Spain. On the south side of Kerry lies the county of Desmond, of old inhabited by three kinds of people, the Luceni (being Spaniards), the Velabri (so called of their seat upon the sea-waters or marshes), and the Iberni, called the upper Irish, inhabiting about Beer-haven and Baltimore, two havens well known by the plentiful fishing of herrings, and the late invasion of the Spaniards in the year 1601. Next to these is the county of MacCarty-More, of Irish race, whom, as enemy to the FitzGeralds, Queen Elizabeth made Earl of Glencar in the year 1566. For of the FitzGeralds, of the family of the Earls of Kildare, the Earls of Desmond descended, who, being by birth English, and created earls by King Edward III., became hateful rebels in our time. The third county hath the name of the City Cork, consisting almost all of one long street,6 but well known and frequented, which is so compassed with rebellious neighbours, as they of old not daring to marry their daughters to them, the custom grew, and continues to this day, that by mutual marriages one with another all the citizens are of kin in some degree of affinity. Not far thence is Yoghal, having a safe haven, near which the Viscounts of Barry, of English race, are seated. In the fourth county of Tipperary nothing is memorable, but that it is a palatinate. The little town Holy Cross, in the county of the same name, hath many great privileges. The sixth county hath the name of the City Limerick, the seat of a bishop, wherein is a strong castle built by King John. Not far thence is Awne,7 the seat of a bishop, and the Lower Ossory, giving the title of an earl to the Butlers, and the town Thurles, giving them also the title of viscount. And there is Cassiles,8 now a poor city, but the seat of an archbishop. The seventh county hath the name of the
p.216City Waterford, which the Irish call Porthlargi, of the commodious haven, a rich and well-inhabited city, esteemed the second to Dublin. And because the inhabitants long faithfully helped the English in subduing Ireland our kings gave them excessive privileges; but they, rashly failing in their obedience at King James's coming to the crown, could not in long time obtain the confirmation of their old Charter.9
2. Leinster, the second part of Ireland, is fertile, and yields plenty of corn, and hath a most temperate mild air, being divided into ten counties of Catherlough, Kilkenny, Wexford, Dublin, Kildare, the King's County, the Queen's County, the counties of Longford, of Ferns,10 and of Wicklow. The Cariondi of old inhabited Catherlogh (or Carlow) County, and they also inhabited great part of Kilkenny, of Upper Ossory, and of Ormond, which have nothing memorable but the Earls of Ormond, of the great family of the Butlers, inferior to no earl in Ireland (not to speak of Fitzpatrick, Baron of Upper Ossory). It is ridiculous which some Irish (who will be believed as men of credit) report of men in these parts yearly turned into wolves, except the abundance of melancholy humour transports them to imagine that they are so transformed.11 Kilkenny giving name to the second county is a pleasant town, the chief of the towns within land, memorable for the civility of the inhabitants, for the husbandman's labour, and the pleasant orchards. I pass over the walled town Thomastown, and the ancient city Rheban, now a poor village with a castle, yet of old giving the title of baronet. I pass over the village and strong castle of Leighlin, with the country adjoining, usurped by the sept of the Cavanaghs, now surnamed O'Moors. Also I omit Ross,12 of old a large city, at this day of no moment. The third
p.217county of Wexford (called by the Irish County Reogh) was of old inhabited by the Menapii, where, at the town called Banna, the English made their first descent into Ireland, and upon that coast are very dangerous flats in the sea, which they vulgarly call grounds. The City Weshford, Weisford, or Wexford, is the chief of the county, not great, but deserving praise for their faithfulness towards the English, and frequently inhabited by men of English race. The Cauci (a sea-bordering nation of Germany) and the Menapii aforesaid, of old inhabited the territories now possessed by the O'Moors and O'Birns; also they inhabited the fourth county of Kildare, a fruitful soil, having the chief town of the same name, greatly honoured in the infancy of the Church by St. Bridget. King Edward II. created the Giralds Earls of Kildare. The Eblani of old inhabited the territory of Dublin, the fifth county, having a fertile soil and rich pastures, but wanting wood, so as they burn turf, or sea-coal brought out of England. The City Dublin, called Divelin by the English, and Balacleigh13 (as seated upon hurdles) by the Irish, is the chief city of the kingdom, and seat of justice, fairly built, frequently inhabited, and adorned with a strong castle, fifteen churches, an episcopal seat, and a fair college (an happy foundation of an university laid in our age), and endowed with many privileges, but the haven is barred and made less commodious by those hills of sands. The adjoining promontory, Hoth-head, gives the title of a baron to the family of St. Laurence; and towards the north lies Fingal, a little territory, as it were the garner of the kingdom, which is environed by the sea and great rivers, and this situation hath defended it from the incursion of rebels in former civil wars. I omit the King's and Queen's Counties (namely, Ophaly and Leax) inhabited by the O'Connors and O'Moors, as likewise the counties of Longford, Ferns, and Wicklow, as less affording memorable things.
3. The third part of Ireland is Midia or Media, called by the English Meath, in our fathers' memory divided into Eastmeath and Westmeath. In Eastmeath is Drogheda, vulgarly called Tredagh, a fair and well-inhabited town. Trim is a little town upon the confines of Ulster, having a stately castle, but now much ruinated, and it is more notable for being the ancient (as it were) barony of the Lacies. Westmeath hath the town Delvin, giving the title of baron to the English family of the Nugents, and Westmeath is also inhabited by many great Irish septs, as the O'Maddens, the Magoghigans, O'Malaghlans, and MacCoghlans, which seem barbarous names. Shanon is a great river in a long course, making many and great lakes (as the large lake or Lough Regith), and yields plentiful fishing, as do the frequent rivers and all the seas of Ireland. Upon this river lies the town Athlone, having a very fair bridge of stone (the work of Sir Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy14), and a strong fair castle.
4. Connaught is the fourth part of Ireland, a fruitful province, but having many bogs and thick woods, and it is divided into six counties, of Clare, of Leitrim, of Galway, of Roscommon, of Mayo and of Sligo. The county of Clare or Thomond hath his Earls of Thomond, of the family of the O'Brenes, the old kings of Connaught, and Tuam is the seat of an archbishop; only part, but the greatest, of this county was called Clare, of Thomas Clare, Earl of Gloucester.15 The adjoining territory, Clan Richard (the land of Richard's sons), hath his earls called Clanrickard of the land, but being of the English family de Burgo, vulgarly Burke, and both these earls were first created by Henry VIII. In the same territory is the Barony Atterith, belonging to the barons of the English family Bermingham, of old very warlike, but their posterity have degenerated to
p.219the Irish barbarism. The City Galway, giving name to the county, lying upon the sea, is frequently inhabited with civil people, and fairly built. The northern part of Connaught is inhabited by these Irish septs, O'Connor, O'Rourke, and MacDiermod. Upon the western coast lies the island Arran, famous for the fabulous long life of the inhabitants.
Ulster, the fifth part of Ireland, is a large province, woody, fenny, in some parts fertile, in other parts barren, but in all parts green and pleasant to behold, and exceedingly stored with cattle. The next part to the Pale and to England is divided into three countiesLowth, Down, and Antrim; the rest contains seven countiesMonaghan, Tyrone, Armagh, Coleraine, Donnegal, Fermannagh, and Cavan. Lowth is inhabited by English-Irish (Down and Antrim being contained under the same name), and the barons thereof be of the Bermingham's family, and remain loving to the English. Monaghan was inhabited by the English family Fitzursi, and these are become degenerate and barbarous, and in the sense of that name are in the Irish tongue called MacMahon, that is the sons of Bears. I forbear to speak of Tyrone, and the earl thereof, infamous for his rebellion, which I have at large handled in this work. Armagh is the seat of an archbishop, and the metropolitan city of the whole island, but in time of the rebellion was altogether ruinated. The other counties have not many memorable things, therefore it shall suffice to speak of them briefly. The neck of land called Lecaile is a pleasant little territory, fertile, and abounding with fish and all things for food, and therein is Down, at this time a ruined town, but the seat of a bishop, and famous for the burial of St. Patrick, St. Bridget,16 and St. Columb. The town of Carrickfergus is well known by the safe haven. The river Bann, running through the Lake Evagh into the sea, is famous for the fishing of salmons, the water being most clear, wherein the salmons much delight. The great families (or septs) of Ulster are thus named: O'Neal, O'Donnel (whereof the chief was lately created
p.220Earl of Tirconnel), O'Buil, MacGwire, O'Kain, O'Dogherty, MacMahown, MacGennis, MacSurleigh, &c. The lake Erne compassed with thick woods hath such plenty of fish as the fishermen fear the breaking of their nets rather than want of fish. Towards the north, in the midst of vast woods (and as I think) in the county Donnegal is a lake, and therein an island, in which is a cave, famous for the apparition of spirits, which the inhabitants call Ellanvi frugadorythat is, the island of Purgatoryand they call it St. Patrick's Purgatory, fabling that he obtained of God by prayer that the Irish seeing the pains of the damned might more carefully avoid sin.17
The situation.The land of Ireland is uneven, mountainous, soft, watery, woody, and open to winds and floods of rain, and so fenny as it hath bogs on the very tops of mountains, not bearing man or beast, but dangerous to pass, and such bogs are frequent over all Ireland. Our mariners observe the sailing into Ireland to be more dangerous, not only because many tides meeting makes the sea apt to swell upon any storm, but especially because they ever find the coast of Ireland covered with mists, whereas the coast of England is commonly clear and to be seen far off. The air of Ireland is unapt to ripen seeds, yet (as Mela witnesseth) the earth is luxurious in yielding fair and sweet herbs. Ireland is little troubled with thunders, lightnings, or earthquakes, yet (I know not upon what presage) in the year 1601, and in the month of November almost ended, at the siege of Kinsale and a few days before the famous battle, in which the rebels were happily overthrown, we did nightly hear and see great thunderings and lightnings, not without some astonishment what they should presage. The fields are not only most apt to feed cattle, but yield also great increase of corn. I will freely say that I observed
p.221the winter's cold to be far more mild than it is in England, so as the Irish pastures are more green, and so likewise the gardens all winter time, but that in summer, by reason of the cloudy air and watery soil, the heat of the sun hath not such power to ripen corn and fruits, so as their harvest is much later than in England. Also I observed that the best sorts of flowers and fruits are much rarer in Ireland than in England, which notwithstanding is more to be attributed to the inhabitants than to the air. For Ireland being oft troubled with rebellions, and the rebels not only being idle themselves, but in natural malice destroying the labours of other men, and cutting up the very trees of fruit for the same cause, or else to burn them: for these reasons the inhabitants take less pleasure to till their grounds or plant trees, content to live for the day in continual fear of like mischief. Yet is not Ireland altogether destitute of these flowers and fruits, wherewith the county of Kilkenny seems to abound more than any other part: and the said humidity of air and land making the fruits for food more raw and moist; hereupon the inhabitants and strangers are troubled with looseness of body, the country disease. Yet for the rawness they have an excellent remedy by their Aqua Vitae, vulgarly called Usquebagh, which binds the belly, and drieth up moisture more than our Aqua Vitae, yet inflameth not so much. Also inhabitants as well as strangers are troubled there with an ague which they call the Irish ague, and they who are sick thereof, upon a received custom, do not use the help of the physician, but give themselves to the keeping of Irish women, who starve the ague, giving the sick man no meat, who takes nothing but milk and some vulgarly known remedies at their hand.
The fertility and traffic.Ireland, after much blood spilt in the civil wars, became less populous, and as well great lords of countries as other inferior gentlemen laboured more to get new possessions for inheritance, than by husbandry and peopling of their old lands to increase their revenues; so as I then observed much grass (wherewith the island so much abounds) to have perished without use, and either to
p.222have rotted, or in the next spring time to be burnt, lest it should hinder the coming of new grass; this plenty of grass makes the Irish have infinite multitudes of cattle, and in the heat of the last rebellion the very vagabond rebels had great multitudes of cows, which they still (like the nomades) drove with them whithersoever themselves were driven, and fought for them as for their altars and families. By this abundance of cattle the Irish have a frequent though somewhat poor traffic for their hides, the cattle being in general very little, and only the men and the greyhounds of great stature. Neither can the cattle possibly be great since they eat only by day, and then are brought at evening within the bawns of castles,18 where they stand or lie all night in a dirty yard without so much as a lock of hay, whereof they make little for sluggishness, and their little they altogether keep for their horses; and they are brought in by nights for fear of thieves, the Irish using almost no other kind of theft, or else for fear of wolves, the destruction whereof being neglected by the inhabitants, oppressed with greater mischiefs, they are so much grown in number as sometimes in winter nights they will come to prey in villages and the suburbs of the cities.19 The Earl of Ormond in Munster, and the Earl of Kildare in Leinster, had each of them a small park inclosed for fallow deer, and I have not seen any other park in Ireland, nor have heard that they had any other at that time, yet in many woods they have many red deer loosely scattered,20 which seem more plentiful, because
p.223the inhabitants used not then to hunt them, but only the governors and commanders had them sometimes killed with the piece. They have also about Ophalia and Wexford, and in some parts of Munster, some fallow deer scattered in the woods; yet in the time of the war I did never see any venison served at the table, but only in the houses of the said earls and of the English commanders. Ireland hath great plenty of birds and fowls, but by reason of their natural sloth they had little delight or skill in birding or fowling. But Ireland hath neither singing nightingale nor chattering pie,21 nor undermining mole, nor black crow, but only crows of mingled colour such as we call Royston crows. They have such plenty of pheasants as I have known sixty served at one feast, and abound much more with rails, but partridges are somewhat rare. There be very many eagles, and great plenty of hares, conies, hawks, called goss-hawks, much esteemed with us, and also of bees, as well in hives at home as in hollow trees abroad and in caves of the earth. They abound in flocks of sheep which they shear twice in the year, but their wool is coarse, and merchants may not export it, forbidden by a law made on behalf of the poor,22 that they may be nourished by working it into cloth, namely rugs (whereof the best are made at Waterford), and mantles are generally worn by men and women and exported in great quantity. Ireland yields much flax, which the inhabitants work into yarn, and export the same in great quantity; and of old they had such plenty of linen cloth as the old Irish used to wear thirty or forty ells in a shirt all gathered and wrinkled, and washed in saffron because they never put them off till they were worn out. Their horses, called hobbies, are much commended for their ambling pace and beauty; but Ireland yields few horses good for service in war, and the said hobbies are much inferior to our geldings in strength to endure long journeys, and being bred in the fenny, soft ground of Ireland are soon lamed when
p.224they are brought into England. The hawks of Ireland, called goss-hawks, are (as I said) much esteemed in England, and they are sought out by money and all means to be transported thither.23 Ireland yields excellent marble near Dublin, Kilkenny, and Cork; and I am of their opinion who dare venture all they are worth that the mountains would yield abundance of metals if this public good were not hindered by the inhabitants' barbarousness, making them apt to seditions, and so unwilling to enrich their prince and country, and by their slothfulness, which is so singular as they hold it baseness to labour, and by their poverty not able to bear the charge of such works; besides that the wiser sort think their poverty best for the public good, making them peaceable, as nothing makes them sooner kick against authority than riches. Ireland hath in all parts pleasant rivers, safe and long havens, and no less frequent lakes of great circuit, yielding great plenty of fish; and the sea on all sides yields like plenty of excellent fish, as salmon, oysters (which are preferred before the English), and shell-fishes, with all other kinds of sea-fish, so as the Irish might in all parts have abundance of excellent sea and fresh-water fish, if the fishermen were not so possessed with the natural fault of slothfulness, as no hope of gain, scarcely the fear of authority, can in many places make them come out of their houses and put to sea. Hence it is that in many places they use Scots for fishermen, and they, together with the English, make profit of the inhabitants' sluggishness; and no doubt if the Irish were industrious in fishing, they might export salted and dried fish with great gain. In time of peace the Irish transport good quantity of corn; yet they may not transport it without license, lest upon any sudden rebellion the King's forces and his good subjects should want corn. Ulster and the western parts of Munster yield vast woods,24 in which the rebels, cutting up trees and casting them on heaps, used to stop the passages, and therein, as also upon
p.225fenny and boggy places, to fight with the English. But I confess myself to have been deceived in the common fame that all Ireland is woody, having found in my long journey from Armagh to Kinsale few or no woods by the way, excepting the great woods of Ophalia and some low shrubby places which they call Glins; also I did observe many boggy and fenny places whereof great part might be dried by good and painful husbandry. I may not omit the opinion commonly received that the earth of Ireland will not suffer a snake or venomous beast to live, and that the Irish wood transported for building is free of spiders and their webs;25 myself have seen some (but very few) spiders, which the inhabitants deny to have any poison, but I have heard some English of good credit affirm by experience the contrary. The Irish having in most parts great woods, or low shrubs and thickets, do use the same for fire, but in other parts they burn turf and sea-coals brought out of England. They export great quantity of wood to make barrels, called pipe-staves, and make great gain thereby. They are not permitted to build great ships of war, but they have small ships, in some sorts armed to resist pirates, for transporting of commodities into Spain and France, yet no great number of them; therefore since the Irish have small skill in navigation, as I cannot praise them for this art, so I am confident that the nation, being bold and warlike, would no doubt prove brave seamen if they shall practise navigation, and could possibly be industrious therein. I freely profess that Ireland in general would yield abundance of all things to civil and industrious inhabitants; and when it lay wasted by the late rebellion, I did see it after the coming of the Lord Mountjoy daily more and more to flourish, and, in short time after the rebellion appeased, like the new spring to put on the wonted beauty.
The diet.Touching the Irish diet, some lords and knights, and gentlemen of the English-Irish, and all the English there abiding, having competent means, use the English diet, but some more, some less cleanly, few or none curiously, and
p.226no doubt they have as great, and for their part greater, plenty than the English, of flesh, fowl, fish, and all things for food, if they will use like art of cookery. Always I except the fruits, venison, and some dainties proper to England, and rare in Ireland. And we must conceive that venison and fowl seem to be more plentiful in Ireland, because they neither so generally affect dainty food, nor so diligently search it as the English do.26 Many of the English-Irish have by little and little been infected with the Irish filthiness, and that in the very cities, excepting Dublin, and some of the better sort in Waterford, where the English, continually lodging in their houses, they more retain the English diet. The English-Irish after our manner serve to the table joints of flesh cut after our fashion, with geese, pullets, pigs, and like roasted meats, but their ordinary food for the common sort is of white meats, and they eat cakes of oats for bread, and drink not English beer made of malt and hops, but ale. At Cork I have seen with these eyes young maids, stark naked, grinding of corn with certain stones to make cakes thereof, and striking off into the tub of meal such reliques thereof as stuck on their belly, thighs, and more unseemly parts. And for the cheese or butter commonly made by the English-Irish an Englishman would not touch it with his lips, though he were half-starved; yet many English inhabitants make very good of both kinds. In cities they have such bread as ours, but of a sharp savour, and some mingled with anice-seeds and baked like cakes, and that only in the houses of the better sort.
At Dublin and in some other cities they have taverns,27 wherein Spanish and French wines are sold, but more commonly the merchants sell them by pints and quarts in their own cellars. The Irish aqua vitae,28 commonly called
p.227usquebagh, is held the best in the world of that kind, which is made also in England, but nothing so good as that which is brought out of Ireland. And the usquebagh is preferred before our aqua vitae, because the mingling of raisins, fennel-seed, and other things mitigating the heat, and making the taste pleasant, makes it less inflame, and yet refresh the weak stomach with moderate heat and a good relish. These drinks the English-Irish drink largely, and in many families (especially at feasts) both men and women use excess therein. And since I have in part seen, and often heard from other experience, that some gentlewomen are so free in this excess, as they would kneeling upon the knee and otherwise garausse health after health with men; not to speak of the wives of Irish lords or to refer it to the due place, who often drink till they be drunken, or, at least, till they void urine in full assemblies of men. I cannot (though unwillingly) but note the Irish women more especially with this fault, which I have observed in no other part to be a woman's vice, but only in Bohemia. Yet so, as accusing them, I mean not to excuse the men, and will also confess that I have seen virgins, as well gentlewomen as citizens, commanded by their mothers to retire after they had in curtesy pledged one or two healths. In cities passengers may have feather beds, soft and good, but most commonly lousy, especially in the highways, whether that came by their being forced to lodge common soldiers or from the nasty filthiness of the nation in general. For even in the best city and at Cork I have observed that my own and other Englishmen's chambers hired of the citizens were scarce swept once in the week,
p.228and the dust then laid in a corner was perhaps cast out once in a month or two. I did never see any public inns with signs hanged out among the English or English-Irish, but the officers of cities and villages appoint lodgings to the passengers, and perhaps in each city they shall find one or two houses where they will dress meat, and these be commonly houses of Englishmen, seldom of the Irish, so as these houses having no signs hung out a passenger cannot challenge right to be entertained in them, but must have it of courtesy, or by entreaty.
The wild and (as I may say) mere Irish, inhabiting many and large provinces, are barbarous and most filthy in their diet. They scum the seething pot with a handful of straw, and strain their milk taken from the cow through a like handful of straw, none of the cleanest, and so cleanse, or rather more defile, the pot and milk. They devour great morsels of beef unsalted, and they eat commonly swine's flesh, seldom mutton; and all these pieces of flesh, as also the entrails of beasts unwashed, they seethe in a hollow tree lapped in a raw cow's hide and so set over the fire, and therewith swallow whole lumps of filthy butter. Yea (which is more contrary to nature), they will feed on horses dying of themselves, not only upon small want of flesh, but even for pleasure. For I remember an accident in the army when the Lord Mountjoy, the Lord Deputy, riding to take the air out of the camp, found the buttocks of dead horses cut off, and suspecting that some soldiers had eaten that flesh out of necessity, being defrauded of the victuals allowed them, commanded the men to be searched out, among whom a common soldier, and that of the English-Irish, not of the mere Irish, being brought to the Lord Deputy, and asked why he had eaten the flesh of dead horses, thus freely answered, Your lordship may please to eat pheasant and partridge, and much good do it you, that best likes your taste; and I hope it is lawful for me without offence to eat this flesh that likes me better than beef. Whereupon the Lord Deputy, perceiving himself to be deceived, and further understanding that he had received his ordinary victuals
p.229(the detaining whereof he suspected, and purposed to punish for example), gave the soldier a piece of gold to drink in usquebagh for better digestion, and so dismissed him.
The foresaid wild Irish do not thresh their oats, but burn them from the straw, and so make cakes thereof, yet they seldom eat this bread, much less any better kind, especially in the time of war, whereof a Bohemian baron complained, who, having seen the courts of England and Scotland, would needs out of his curiosity return through Ireland in the heat of the rebellion; and having letters from the King of Scots to the Irish lords then in rebellion, first landed among them in the furthest north, where for eight days' space he had found no bread, not so much as a cake of oats, till he came to eat with the Earl of Tyrone, and after obtaining the Lord Deputy's pass to come into our army, related this their want of bread to us for a miracle, who nothing wondered thereat. Yea, the wild Irish in time of greatest peace impute covetousness and base birth to him that hath any corn after Christmas, as it were a point of nobility to consume all within those festival days. They willingly eat the herb shamrock, being of a sharp taste, which, as they run and are chased to and fro, they snatch like beasts out of the ditches.
Neither have they any beer made of malt and hops, nor yet any aleno, not the chief lords, except it be very rarely; but they drink milk like nectar, warmed with a stone first cast into the fire, or else beef-broth mingled with milk. But when they come to any market town to sell a cow or a horse they never return home till they have drunk the price in Spanish wine (which they call the King of Spain's daughter), or in Irish usquebagh, and till they have outslept two or three days' drunkenness. And not only the common sort, but even the lords and their wives; the more they want this drink at home, the more they swallow it when they come to it, till they be as drunk as beggars.
Many of these wild Irish eat no flesh, but that which dies of disease or otherwise of itself, neither can it scape them for stinking. They desire no broth, nor have any use
p.230of a spoon. They can neither seethe artichokes nor eat them when they are sodden. It is strange and ridiculous, but most true, that some of our carriage horses falling into their hands, when they found soap and starch carried for the use of our laundresses, they thinking them to be some dainty meats did eat them greedily, and when they stuck in their teeth cursed bitterly the gluttony of us English churls, for so they term us. They feed most on white meats, and esteem for a great dainty sour curds, vulgarly called by them Bonaclabbe.29 And for this cause they watchfully keep their cows, and fight for them as for their religion and life; and when they are almost starved, yet they will not kill a cow, except it be old and yield no milk. Yet will they upon hunger in time of war open a vein of the cow and drink the blood, but in no case kill or much weaken it. A man would think these men to be Scythians, who let their horses blood under the ears, and for nourishment drink their blood, and, indeed (as I have formerly said) some of the Irish are of the race of Scythians, coming into Spain, and from thence into Ireland. The wild Irish (as I said) seldom kill a cow to eat, and if perhaps they kill one for that purpose, they distribute it all to be devoured at one time; for they approve not the orderly eating at meals, but so they may eat enough when they are hungry they care not to fast long. And I have known some of these Irish footmen serving in England (where they are nothing less than sparing in the food of their families) to lay meat aside for many meals to devour it all at one time.
These wild Irish, as soon as their cows have calved, take the calves from them, and thereof feed some with milk to rear for breed; some of the rest they slay, and seethe them in a filthy poke, and so eat them, being nothing but froth, and send them for a present one to another. But the greatest part of these calves they cast out to be eaten by crows and wolves, that themselves may have more abundance of milk.
p.231And the calves being taken away, the cows are so mad among them, as they will give no milk till the skin of the calf be stuffed and set before them, that they may smell the odour of their own bellies. Yea, when these cows thus madly deny their milk the women wash their hands in cows' dung, and so gently stroke their dugs, yea, put their hands into the cow's tail, and with their mouths blow into their tails, that with this manner (as it were) of enchantment they may draw milk from them. Yea, these cows seem as rebellious to their owners as the people are to their kings, for many times they will not be milked, but of some one old woman only, and of no other.
These wild Irish never set any candles upon tables. What do I speak of tables? since, indeed, they have no tables, but set their meat upon a bundle of grass, and use the same grass for napkins to wipe their hands. But I mean that they do not set candles upon any high place to give light to the house, but place a great candle made of reeds and butter upon the floor in the midst of a great room; and in like sort the chief men in their houses make fires in the midst of the room, the smoke whereof goeth out at a hole in the top thereof. An Italian friar coming of old into Ireland, and seeing at Armagh this their diet and nakedness of the women is said to have cried out:
- Civitas Armachana, civitas vana,
Carnes crudae, mulieres nudae.
- Vain Armagh City, I did thee pity,
Thy meat's rawness, and women's nakedness.
I trust no man expects among these gallants any beds, much less feather beds and sheets, who like the nomads removing their dwellings, according to the commodity of pastures for their cows, sleep under the canopy of heaven, or in a poor house of clay, or in a cabin made of the boughs of trees, and covered with turf, for such are the dwellings of the very lords among them. And in such places they make a fire in the midst of the room, and round about it they sleep upon the ground, without straw or other thing under them, lying all in a circle about the fire with their
p.232feet towards it. And their bodies being naked, they cover their heads and upper parts with their mantles, which they first make very wet, steeping them in water of purpose, for they find that when their bodies have once warmed the wet mantles the smoke of them keeps their bodies in temperate heat all the night following. And this manner of lodging, not only the mere Irish lords and their followers use, but even some of the English-Irish lords and their followers, when, after the old but tyrannical and prohibited manner, vulgarly called coshering,30 they go (as it were) on progress, to live upon their tenants, till they have consumed all the victuals that the poor men have or can get. To conclude, not only in lodging passengers not at all or most rudely, but even in their inhospitality towards them, these wild Irish are not much unlike to wild beasts, in whose caves a beast passing that way might perhaps find meat, but not without danger to be ill entertained, perhaps devoured of his insatiable host.