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The wars and battles of these colonists are largely fabulous, and the Partholanians, Nemedians, and Fomorians belong rather to mythology than to history.
So also do the Dananns, though sometimes they are taken as a real people, of superior knowledge and skill, the builders of those prehistoric sepulchral mounds by the Boyne, at Dowth, Knowth, and Newgrange.
Pliny thought that it was part of Britain and not an island at all; Strabo that it was near Britain, and that its inhabitants were cannibals; and all that Caesar knew was that it was west of Britain, and about half its size.
Agricola beheld its coastline from the opposite shores of Caledonia, and had thought of accepting the invitation of an Irish chief to come and conquer it, believing he could do so with a single legion.
In the centre the country is a level plain; towards the coast there are several detached mountain chains.
Its rivers and bays are numerous, also its bogs; its climate is mild, though unduly moist.
The Firbolgs however most probably existed, and were kindred perhaps to those warlike Belgae of Gaul whom Caesar encountered in battle.
And the Milesians certainly belong to history, though the date of their arrival in Ireland is unknown.
This peculiarity, together with gavelkind by which the lands were periodically redistributed, impeded industry and settled government.
Each of these received tribute from his immediate inferior, and even in a sept the political and legal administration was complete.
There was the druid who explained religion, the brehon who dispensed justice, the brughaid or public hospitaller, the bard who sang the praises of his chief or urged his kinsman to battle; and each was an official and had his appointed allotment of land.
Henceforth Ireland was often called Scotia Major and sometimes Ireland, until, after the eleventh century, the name Scotia was dropped and Ireland alone remained.
Even yet it is sometimes called Erin—chiefly by orators and poets.