Ollam Fodhla and Company

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Irish tradition lends support to what happened. Let’s continue in the Larne Times article quoted earlier: "Many centuries ago three people arrived on the shore at what is today Carrickfergus [Northern Ireland]. It was around 582 B.C. [no doubt a rough date but essentially after Babylon destroyed Jerusalem], and the three were an aged man called Ollam Fodhla (the Lawgiver), his secretary, and a beautiful princess called Tamar. With them they brought a large, rough stone" (more on this stone later).

According to Charles O’Conor of Belanagare’s notes (1826) on The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters: "Ollam Fola is celebrated in ancient history as a sage and legislator, eminent for learning, wisdom and excellent institutions; and his historic fame has been recognized by placing his medallion in basso relievo [bass relief] with those of Moses, and other great legislators, in the interior of the dome of the Four Courts in Dublin" (p. 227).

Irish historian Thomas Moore says that of the storied figures of the early "dim period of Irish history . . . the Royal Sage, Ollamh Fodhla, is almost the only one who, from the strong light of tradition thrown round him, stands out as being of historical substance and truth. It would serve to illustrate the nature and extent of the evidence with which the world is sometimes satisfied, to collect together the various celebrated names which are received as authentic, on the strength of tradition alone; and few, perhaps, could claim a more virtual title to this privilege than the great legislator of the Irish, Ollamh Fodhla" (p. 86).

Ollam Fodhla’s laws bear striking similarity to the Ten Commandments and other Hebrew statutes. Interestingly, Ollam can be read in the Hebrew language as "ancient" or "secret" (James Strong, "Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary," Abingdon’s Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Strong’s No. 5769; Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Logos Software, Nos. 5769, 5956)—perhaps indicating a possessor of secret knowledge (Milner, p. 12). Fodhla or Fola can be understood in Hebrew to mean "wonderful" (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Strong’s Hebrew No. 6381) or in Celtic as "revealer" (Milner, p. 12). All of these meanings considered together seem to indicate a Hebrew prophet. In Old Gaelic, ollamh designated "the highest qualification of learning and [is] now the modern Irish word for professor" (Ellis, p. 4). It appears that Ollam Fodhla founded a royal school or university within the national palace—referred to in the Chronicles of Eri as Mur Olamain, perhaps translatable as "House of the Prophets."

The individual mentioned above as Ollam’s secretary is sometimes referred to as Simon Breck, Brach or Berach (a biblical name meaning "bless" or "kneel," Strong’s Hebrew Nos. 1263, 1288)—though there is dispute over his being contemporary with Ollam. And Tamar is also a biblical name (denoting three women in Scripture, all in the lineage of David), which means "palm" in Hebrew (Nos. 8558, 8559). The Tamar of Ireland is also at times, it appears, referred to in Irish histories and poems as Tea (Hebrew "wanderer," No. 8582) and Tephi (Hebrew "timbrel," No. 8596—or a Hebrew variant meaning "a diminutive of affection, or . . . the beauty and fragrance of fruit," Milner, p. 19). Yet many argue that these are different women far removed in time.

"Who exactly were these people?" asks Pat Gerber, a lecturer at Glasgow University. "Is it merely the desire to make connections that suggests links where there is nothing more than coincidence?" (Stone of Destiny, 1997, p. 47).

"According to some religious scholars," says the Larne Times article just quoted, "the aged man who landed at Carrick many centuries ago was the Prophet Jeremiah." And there is a strong tradition in Ireland to support this notion. That would seem to make Simon Breck Jeremiah’s scribe Baruch (Berekh in Palaeo-Hebrew), who perhaps was also named Simeon. In any case, both names are certainly Hebrew.

And Tamar or Tea-Tephi would be Zedekiah’s daughter. As the same article further reports, the tradition also states, "Princess Tamar married the High King of Ireland and . . . all the kings of Ireland and Scotland are descended from their royal line." Says Gerber, "Teamhair is the Irish for her name—mutated, through usage, to ‘Tara’"—the name of the ancient seat of the high kings of Ireland just northwest of Dublin (Gerber, p. 49). Yet it should be mentioned that some believe the name Tara is derived from the Hebrew Torah, or "law"—Tara being the seat of the Law perhaps brought by Jeremiah.

Notice this from one of the Irish chronicles: "Soon after this conquest made by the sons of Miletus their kinsmen and friendes, they divided the whole kingdome among themselves in manner as followeth. But first, before they landed on this land, Tea, the . . . wife of Heremon, desired one request of her said husband and kinsmen, which they accordingly granted, which was, that the place she should most like of in the kingdom, should be, for ever after, the principal seat of her posterity to dwell in; and upon their landing she chose Leitrim, which is since that time called Tara, and which she caused to be called Tea-mur—the town, pallace & house of Tea" (Annals of Clonmacnoise, Conell MacGeoghegan translation, 1627, p. 27).

The name of the high king she married is sometimes given as Heremon, Eremon, Erimionn or something similar and sometimes as Eochaidh—the latter being not a name but simply the word for "prince."