The bagpipe is of high antiquity in Ireland, and is alluded to in Irish poetry and prose said to date from the tenth century. A pig gravely engaged in playing the bagpipe is represented in an illuminated Irish manuscript, of the year 1300: and we give a copy of a woodcut from “The Image of Ireland,” a book printed in London in 1581.
A very interesting representation of the Psalmist [King David] with a kind of rotta occurs in a manuscript of the tenth century, in the British museum (Vitellius F. XI.). The manuscript has been much injured by a fire in the year 1731, but Professor Westwood has succeeded, with great care, and with the aid of a magnifying glass, in making out the lines of the figure. As it has been ascertained that the psalter is written in the Irish semi-uncial character it is highly probable that the kind of rotta represents the Irish cionar cruit, which was played by twanging the strings and also by the application of a bow.
Perhaps the addition [of the front pillar] was also non-existent in the earliest specimens appertaining to European nations; and a sculptured figure of a small harp constructed like the ancient eastern harp has been discovered in the old church of Ullard in the county of Kilkenny. Of this curious relic, which is said to date from a period anterior to the year 800, a fac-simile taken from Bunting’s “Ancient Music of Ireland” is given. As Bunting 90was the first who drew attention to this sculpture his account of it may interest the reader. “The drawing” he says “is taken from one of the ornamental compartments of a sculptured cross, at the old church of Ullard. From the style of the workmanship, as well as from the worn condition of the cross, it seems older than the similar monument at Monasterboice which is known to have been set up before the year 830.
In 1845 Davis died, and the leadership of the Party passed into the hands of William Smith O’Brien, his lieutenants being John Mitchel and John Martin. All three were Protestants. Mr. Smith O’Brien was descended from King Brian Borhoimè—who played the part of Alfred the Great in Irish history. A brother of Lord Inchiquin, he was an aristocrat and a Tory, with frigid manners, and a high and chivalrous sense of honour. He had drifted into the “Young Ireland” Party, firstly, because fourteen years’ experience of the Imperial Parliament convinced him that it could not legislate wisely for Ireland, and, secondly, because he despaired of any other Party obtaining for Ireland the only Government that could lift her to her place among the nations. As a speaker he was cold, logical, and stilted. But he had a severe and ascetic sense of public duty, and his fidelity and truthfulness secured for him the unswerving loyalty of his followers.