Gaelic proverbs mention the Feinne, and do not indicate the existence of a petty quarrelsome spirit in former days amongst them.
396.1 CLANNA NAN GAEL AN GUAILLIN A CHEILE.
Gaelic clans at each other’s shoulders.
Shews at least an appreciation of the blessings of concord, and it is a great pity that they will not now act up to this, their favourite sentiment.
379. CHA B’ IONAN O’BRIAN IS NA GAEL.
O’Brian and the Gael were unlike.
They certainly were once unlike those of the present day who quarrel with each other. These are rather like another worthy.
77. IS OLC DO BEATHA CHONAIN!
Bad ‘s thy being Conan.
148. CHA D’ FHUAIR CONAN RIAMH DORN GUN DORN A THOIRT G’A CHEANN.
Conan never got cuff without giving cuff back.
Their treatment of each other is
154. CAIRDEAS CHONAIN RIS NA DEONABH.
Conan’s kindness to the demons, i.e., “cuff for cuff,” or “claw for claw.”2
This quarrelsome spirit was not that of the Druids.
5. GA FOGASG CLACH DO LAR IS FOISGE NO SIN COBHAIR CHOIBHIDH.
Though a stone be near earth, nearer than that is Coivi’s aid.
(The arch Druid Coivi or Cefaeus. See Bede.)
147. CHO TEOMADH RI COIBHI DRUIDH.
As clever as Coivi Druid.
This was a wise helpful character.
24. DEAS-AIL AIR GACH NI.
Sunwise (ready able) for everything.
Fionn was like him.
113. CHA D’ CHUIR FIONN RIAMH BLAR GUN CHUMH-ACHD (OR (?) CHUMHA).
Fionn never joined fight without might (or (?) wailing).
229. CHA DO THREIG FIONN RIAMH CARAID A LAIMH DHEAS.
Fionn never forsook his right hand friend.
His was the character of a sagacious, successful military leader, who agreed with his friends, though he did not forgive one great injury till too late, and avenged it by subtlety.
178. CHO COMASACH LAMH RI CONLOCH.
As powerful-handed as Conloch.
336. CHO LAIDIR RI CUCHULLIN.
As strong as Cuchullin.
Are the characteristics of brave soldiers.
101. COTHRAM NA FEINNE DHOIBH.
Be theirs the Feine’s advantage.
“Clean pith and fair play” (Kelly’s Prov.) is a soldier-like motto, but it is not quarrelsome. It does not indicate the life which modern writers have led each other on this subject.
32. BEATHA ‘CHONAIN A MEASG NAN DEAMHAN, MA ‘S OLC DHOMH CHA ‘N FHEARR DHAIBH.
Conan’s life amongst the demons. If bad for me no better for them. A sort of dog’s life.
46. MAR E BRAN IS E BHRATHAIR.
If not Bran, his brother.
A life of strife which destroyed the Fenians long ago, when they took to it, and fought till there was but one left.
66. MAR BHA OSSIAN AN DEIGH NA FIANNABH.
As Ossian was after the Fians.
A miserable old man in the house of a stranger to his race.
213. CHA ‘N FHIACH SGEUL GUN URRAIN.
A tale without warrant is worthless.
2. MAS BREUG UAM E IS BREUG THUGAM E.
If lie from me it is, lie to me it was.
The Gael fell out amongst themselves, and thereby lost the plain long ago, according to the proverbs.
105. AN LON DUBH, AN LON DUBH SPAGACH! THUG MISE CHA CHOILLE FHASGA FHEURACH; ‘S THUG ESAN DOMHSA AM MONADH DUBH FASAICH.
The black elk, the shambling black elk, I gave him the sheltered grassy wood, and he gave me the black desert mountain.
For whether the word means Elk or Ousel, and the proverb applies to Romans or Scandinavians, or to something else, it is applicable to the present time. The Gael have fought till they have been driven to find other fields. Many an American back-woodsman may turn his thoughts to the old country and think of the old battle cry.
26. IS FAD AN EIGH GU LOCHODHA, IS COBHAIR O CHLANN O’DUIBHNE.
‘Tis a far cry to Lochawe, and aid from the clan of O’Duibhne.
Whether the Fenians were Scotch or Irish it is the same. The most of their Gaelic descendants have left the hills and plains for which they fought, chiefly because they fought amongst themselves.