The Navel of Ireland (Smiddy, 1871)

1.544. Richard Smiddy, An Essay on the Druids, the Ancient Churches, and the Round Towers of Ireland, (Dublin: W.B. Kelly; London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1871), pp. 41-42. BL 7708.a.22

Extract from Richard Smiddy, An Essay on the Druids (1871).

Here Smiddy discusses the significance of the ‘navel of Ireland’ and himself suggests a connexion with Delphi.

In the ancient province of Meath, and not far from the boundaries of the other four provinces, there is an old territory which was known by the name of Uisneach. It was called the navel of Ireland, either from its geographical position, or perhaps for some reason in connexion with ancient Mythology, just as Delphi, the seat of the famous oracle in Greece, was named the navel of the earth. Ancient legend said that it was here, on the arrival of the Druids in Ireland, the first sacred fire was lighted in the country by an Archdruid, named Midhe. On a hill there is a large stone called Ail-na-mireann, that is, the stone of the parts or the divisions. This was the high court to which the Druids, with all others interested in these matters, came every year, to hear and decide the various heavy cases of dispute and litigation, that might have arisen in the country. Probably important criminal cases were disposed of there too. The sentence here pronounced was final. As in all other matters decided by the Druids, the person, opposing or violating their judgment, was declared to be execrable, and excommunicated from society, as well as from the offices and rites of religion. The hill of Uisneach enjoyed its high privilege, while Druidism prevailed in the land; and we find that even in Christian times, it continued to be used as a place for the ratification of solemn contracts. Probably, the stone on it was called Ail-na-miream [sic], from the fact that the five divisions of Ireland, or the five provinces, met here.