Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of Ireland.


Hibernia, the Roman name for Ireland, was taken from Greek geographical accounts, particularly Claudius Ptolemy's "Geographia", where it appears as polytonic|Ἰουερνία "Iouernia". The spelling "Hibernia" was likely influenced by the unrelated Latin word "hibernus" meaning "wintry." Several variant forms of the name existed in Latin.

"Iouernia" was a Greek alteration of the Q-Celtic name *īweriū, stem *īwerion-, from which eventually arose the Modern Irish name Éire. The original meaning of the name is thought to be "land of abundance". Other Greek forms of the same name existed, e.g. "Iernē" (polytonic|Ἰέρνη), the name given to Ireland by Pytheas of Massilia, a 4th c. BC Greek merchant and explorer.

Hibernia in the historical record

The island of Ireland was never incorporated into the Roman Empire. The fact that the Romans never occupied Ireland meant that Roman influence on Ireland was limited to contacts with Britain and other conquered provinces of the Empire. [ [http://www.usd.edu/~clehmann/pir/hibernia.htm Hibernia ] ] Roman historian Seneca makes reference to an expedition to Ireland by the general Agricola in 82 A.D. He is reported in one passage to "have crossed the water", the water in context is unknown and perhaps is reference to some exploratory mission, however the remainder of the passage deals exclusively with Ireland. According to Seneca, Agricola was of the opinion that Ireland could be conquered with one legion and a moderate amount of auxiliaries, in all roughly 6,000 men. Reference is also made about an Irish king who had fled the island in search of refuge. Agricola provided him with safety in the hope that it may be a reason to possibly invade the island. The Ulster historian Richard Warner has theorised that the Midlands leader Tuathal Techtmhar, usually thought mythical, was in fact historical and went to Britain to get Roman support for his military campaigns (along with other later exiles). If there is any truth in this hypothesis, the Romans may have had a greater influence on the southeast of Ireland than normally thought by scholars. [ [http://www.britarch.ac.uk/BA/ba14/ba14feat.html British Archaeology, no 14, May 1996: Features] ] Overall, the relative lack of Roman influence on Ireland meant that it preserved its ancient Celtic culture to a much greater degree than continental countries such as Gaul. [ [http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/MA/CELTS.HTM The Celts ] ]

Irish tribal expeditions harried the Roman provinces of Britannia (Britain) and Gaul (France) as evidenced from surviving Roman texts.

In the early first century, Roman and Greek knowledge of Ireland was thin. The geographers Strabo and Pomponius Mela describe a cold land inhabited by savages who feast on the flesh of their dead fathers, where, despite the cold, the grazing was so tasty and lush that cattle exploded if allowed to eat unchecked.

By the second century, the geographer Ptolemy gave coordinates for a surprisingly detailed map of Ireland, naming tribes, towns, rivers and headlands. This information could have come from a variety of sources but does demonstrate the increasing knowledge and interest in Ireland.

Irish written history does not mention Rome at all. If Rome is referred to by some other name, no one has yet put a convincing case forward.

However, the lack of written history does not mean that Rome or the Roman province of Britannia did not significantly interact with Ireland.

Ireland and its neighbours

From early in the archaeological record, the peoples of North West Europe, including Britain, Gaul, Spain and Ireland had mutually warred, traded and settled.

Significant British settlement in the Southwest of Ireland occurred around year 1. Ptolemy, in 100s, records Irish tribal names identical to those of tribes in Gaul and Britain, suggesting significant settlement, particularly of the Brigantes and Belgae.

At this time Ireland, western and central Europe was home to several Celtic peoples, with their associated Celtic religion, supervised by the Druids. In Ireland and Britain, its peoples shared a broadly similar Celtic heritage. The Isle of Anglesey, Welsh "Ynys Môn", was the centre of the Druidic religion, just across the Irish Sea from Ireland.

Transport and communication was often along rivers and coasts, with the Irish Sea being a part of this network. When Julius Caesar briefly invaded southern England in 54 BC, he received the submission of many tribes, including that of the Orcadians in the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland. Communications could be long distance, but whether any Irish knew of the Romans at this time is uncertain.

Rome often projected its power beyond its boundaries. Beyond the West coast of Britannia was the Irish Sea, with many easy crossings, and many distinctive mountain landmarks to ease navigation. The spread of Roman power to Ireland's neighbours would have had significant effects on Ireland.

By 51 BC French Gaul had been conquered by the Romans, with the permanent garrisoning of Britain starting after the second invasion in 43. England and Wales would remain within the Roman Empire for another 350 years.

Revolts by the newly subjugated British tribes may have increased settlement from Britain to Ireland and reduced settlement in the other direction. Events such as the destruction of the druidic shrine and sacred groves at Anglesey in 60 by the Roman general Suetonius Paulinus surely would have been noticed in Ireland.

Evidence of Roman influence

Generally in Ireland, Roman material is rare and found in different contexts from the native La Tene material. No roads have been identified as being Roman, and no large Roman settlements have been found. However in the southeast of Ireland, where native material is rare, Roman-style cemeteries and large quantities of Roman artifacts have been found.

A group of burials on Lambay Island, off the coast of County Dublin, contained Roman brooches and decorative metalware of a style also found in northern England from the late first century. However this could represent, for example, Brigantes fleeing reprisal from the crushed revolt of 74.

Three places in Ireland have all produced early and late Roman archaeological material:the midland ritual complex of Tara, the northern hillfort of Clogher, and Cashel, in the south. Tara and Clogher have no native finds of similar age, and the name "Cashel" is thought to derive from the Latin "castellum". Each of the three became capital of a new kingdom, and each kingdom's traditions place their origins in Britain. British settlers whose arrival would explain those traditions could have been either supported by, or fleeing from, Roman influence.

At Drumanagh, 25 km north of Dublin, a large (200,000 m²) site was identified as of|1995|alt=in 1995 as possibly Roman. Consisting of a peninsula defended by three rows of parallel ditches on the landward side, the site appears to have been a port or bridgehead.

Roman coins have been found at Newgrange. [Carson, R.A.G. and O'Kelly, Claire: "A catalogue of the Roman coins from Newgrange, Co. Meath and notes on the coins and related finds", pages 35-55. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, volume 77, section C]

Roman cultural influences can be seen in the "penannular brooch" (incorporating a ring that is interrupted by a gap) used to fasten Irish cloaks in the 4th through 11th centuries, which is traced to a style of Romano-British brooch, the early medieval Irish sword, which is traced to the Roman spatha, and, some argue,Fact|date=January 2008 the rapidVague|date=March 2008 adoption of Christianity.


Tuathal was, in the Irish myths, a High King of Ireland. He was the son of a High King Fiacha Finnfolaidh. His father was overthrown and killed in a revolt by the King of Ulster. Tuathal's mother, who was the daughter of the King of Alba (Britain at the time, because Alba became the name for Scotland later on), fled to Britain with her son. 20 years later he returned to Ireland, defeated his father's enemies in a series of battles and subdued the entire country. He became High King at Tara, on the Irish East Coast. There he convened a conference where he established laws. He annexed territory from each of the other four provinces to create the central province of "Míde" (Meath). Four fortresses were built, one for each of the four areas of land.

Some consider him to be the first real High King. The dating of Irish history/mythology is prone to error; however, the most popular belief is that Tuathal was exiled in AD 56 and reigned from around 80 to 100.

Tacitus, the Roman author, tells us that around this timewhen|January 2008 Agricola had with him an Irish chieftain who later returned to conquer Ireland with an army. Juvenal later wrote that Roman arms were "taken beyond the shores of Ireland." Excavations at sites linked to the tale of Tuathal have produced Roman material of the late 1st or early 2nd centuries. It would be consistent for Tuathal to have been that Irish chieftain.

Post-Roman usage

The High King Brian Boru (c.941-1014) based his title on being emperor of the Irish people, which was in Latin: "Emperatus Scottorum", as distinct from claiming to be Emperor of the island of Ireland. From 1172 the "Lordship of Ireland" gave the title "Dominus Hibernae", Lord of Ireland. The Kingdom of Ireland created the title Rex Hiberniae, King of Ireland, for use in Latin texts. In 1642 the motto of the Irish Confederates, a Catholic-landlord administration that ruled much of Ireland until 1650 was: "Pro Deo, Rege et Patria, Hibernia Unanimis." (In English: For God, King and Fatherland, Ireland is United).

By the eighteenth century Hibernia was used on Irish coins and companies such the Hibernian Insurance Company were established (now the Hibernian Group). The name took on popularity with the success of the Irish Patriot Party. At a time when Palladian classical architecture and design were being adopted in northern Europe, Hibernia was a useful word to describe Ireland with overtones of classical style and civility, particularly by the prosperous landed gentry who were generally taught Latin at school. The Royal Hibernian Academy dates from 1823.

Hibernia is a word that is rarely used today with regard to Ireland. [Although it is found in the first line of the Aeolus section (part 2, episode 7) of James Joyce's novel Ulysses: "IN THE HEART OF THE HIBERNIAN METROPOLIS" (a fictional newspaper headline referring to Dublin). ] It is occasionally used for names of organisations and various other things; for instance: Hibernia National Bank, Ancient Order of Hibernians, The Hibernian magazine, Hibernia College, Hibernian Football Club, HMS Hibernia, the Hibernia oil field, and modern derivatives, from Latin like "Respublica Hibernica" (Irish Republic) and "Universitas Hiberniae Nationalis" (National University of Ireland).

The compound form "Hiberno-" remains more common, as in "Hiberno-Norse", "Hiberno-English", "Hiberno-Scottish", "Hibernophile" etc.


ee also

* Ireland
* Hibernophile

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  • Hibernia — es el nombre en latín de la isla de Irlanda. Etimología del nombre Literalmente quiere decir: Tierra del invierno . También se dice que el nombre puede deberse a una latinización del nombre Ivernii, una de las tribus celtas que habitaba Irlanda… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Hibernia — es el nombre en latín de la isla de Irlanda. Hibernia nunca fue incorporada formalmente al Imperio Romano. La creencia popular es que los romanos ni invadieron ni influyeron de modo notable en Irlanda, anque se sabe que expediciones de tribus… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Hibernĭa — (Jerne), so v.w. Irland, s.u. Britannia 1) u. Irland (Gesch.) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Hibernĭa [1] — Hibernĭa, s. Spanner …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hibernĭa [2] — Hibernĭa, Irland, s. Ivernia …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hibernia — Hibernĭa, s. Spanner …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hibernia [2] — Hibernĭa, Ivernia (auch Iverna oder Hierne, Ierne), Name des heutigen Irlands bei den Römern; Ivernen, eine Völkerschaft im SW. der Insel; die Namen stammen von dem gälischen Bergion (kymrisch Borgyn, neukelt. Erin), d.i. die westl. Insel …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hibernia [3] — Hibernĭa, 1873 in Berlin gegründete Bergwerksgesellschaft; seit 1875 Sitz in Herne, besitzt zahlreiche Kohlenzechen in Westfalen, Ammoniakfabriken, Grubenfelder, Kokereien, Ziegeleien etc.; Aktienkapital 60 Mill. M …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hibernia — Hibernia, latein., Irland …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

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