The American people, and to a great degree Europeans as well, never associate the Jewish people with the Kingdom of Ireland; yet not only were Jews to be found in the Emerald Isle at an early date, but the Irish themselves are among the very few nations of Europe who have repeatedly sought to identify their origin and their antiquities with the history of the chosen people. Many are the books written at different times by Irish authors, seeking to trace the descent of the Irish people from Japheth, the son of Noah, and the claim has likewise been made that Ireland is the Ur of the Chaldees.1
The voluminous literature, written by serious and scholarly men, who sought to identify the North American Indians with the Lost Ten Tribes, is now generally regarded as among the curiosities of history. Even more strange and fanciful than the theories set forth in the works referred to, however, is the far less voluminous but yet appreciable literature written with equal sincerity, seeking to identify the Irish with the Lost Tribes of Israel, or to connect them with Scripture history.2 None of these works are by Jewish authors, and
1 " Ireland, Ur of the Chaldees," by Anna Wilke. London, 1873. Henry O'Brien, " Phoenician Ireland." Dublin, 1833. " The Round Towers of Ireland." London, 1834.
2 "Precursory Proofs that Israelites came from Egypt into Ireland," by Joseph ben Jacob. London, 1816. The author refers to himself as a Roman Catholic clergyman.
the amount of scholarship devoted to the subject is surprising indeed.
By far the most interesting and most elaborately developed theory associating the Irish with the Jews, is one to the effect that after the destruction of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah went into Egypt, and later came to Ireland, where he settled, and founded a place called Tara (supposed to be the Hebrew wrord " Torah "). The further claim is made that he then became known as Ollam Fola, the advocates of this view going so far as to pretend to point out with certainty the Prophet's grave.1
Leaving these fanciful views, and turning to authentic history, the earliest mention of Jews in Ireland is found under date 1079. Mr. Joseph Jacobs has heretofore called attention to this item, which recites that in the year 1079 "five Jews came over the sea bearing gifts to Fairdelbach (Hua Brian), and were sent back over the sea."5
Ho further reference is found until nearly a century later, in the reign of *King Henry II. of England. That monarch feared that an independent kingdom might be established in Ireland, and accord? ingly prohibited a proposed expedition thither. Strongbow, however, went in defiance of the King's orders, and as a result his estates were confiscated. In his venture Strongbow seems to have been assisted financially by a Jew, for under date 1170 the following record occurs: " Josce Jew of Gloucester, owes 100 shillings for an amerciament for the moneys which he lent to those who against the King's prohibition went