Authors Preface

rl a former work * I have considered at some length the religion of the ancient Celts; the present study describes those Celtic myths which remain to us as a precious legacy from the past, and is supplementary to the earlier book. These myths, as I show, seldom exist as the pagan Celts knew them, for they have been altered in various ways, since romance, pseudo-history, and the influences of Christianity have all affected many of them. Still they are full of interest, and it is not difficult to perceive traces of old ideas and mythical conceptions beneath the surface. Transformation allied to rebirth was asserted of various Celtic divinities, and if the myths have been transformed, enough of their old selves remained for identification after romantic writers and pseudo-historians gave them a new existence. Some mythic incidents doubtless survive much as they were in the days of old, but all alike witness to the many-sided character of the life and thought of their Celtic progenitors and transmitters. Romance and love, war and slaughter, noble deeds as well as foul, wordy boastfulness but also delightful poetic utterance, glamour and sordid reality, beauty if also squalid conditions of life, are found side by side in these stories of ancient Ireland and Wales.

The illustrations are the work of my daughter, Sheila Mac-Culloch, and I have to thank the authorities of the British Museum for permission to copy illustrations from their publications; Mr. George Coffey for permission to copy drawings and photographs of the Tumuli at New Grange from his book New Grange (Brugh na Boinne) and other Inscribed Tumuli in Ireland; the Librarians of Trinity College, Dublin, and the Bod* The Religion of the Ancient Celts, Edinburgh, 1911.

leian Library, Oxford, for permission to photograph pages from well-known Irish MSS.; and Mr. R. J. Best for the use of his photographs of MSS.

In writing this book it has been some relief to try to lose oneself in it and to forget, in turning over the pages of the past, the dark cloud which hangs over our modern life in these sad days of the great war, sad yet noble, because of the freely offered sacrifice of life and all that life holds dear by so many of my countrymen and our heroic allies in defence of liberty.


Bridge of Allan, Scotland, May, 16, 1916.

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