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THE CORONATION STONE., New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXX, Issue 32, 7 August 1902
THE CORONATION STONE.
AND ITS STORY.
IK a previous issue wo made brief reference to the Lia Fail or Btone of Destiny which is placed beneath the "eat of tho Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey, and on which King Edward VII. is to be orowned on Saturday. It is composed of the dirk, bard, olo^effrained Syennite stone — named from Syena, in Upper Egypt, where it abounds — and ia about thro 1 * feet and a quarter lung, two and a half broad, and one and a half thick. It is one of the most curious historic relics in the British Isles. A long line o£ Irinh, Soottibh, •nd English monarchy have been crowned upon it. With one exception every sovereign of En laud has been crowned upon it since the dayß of Edward II . with, the sole exception of Queen Mary — daughter of Henry VIII. and Catherine of Arragon. And she, in order to secure her right of succession, had to be crowned in hot haste, and without the usual formalities, for was not Lady Jane Grey in the field, supported by numbers of disaffected nobles ? A few further words regarding the story of this historical objaot cannot fail to interest our readers at the present juncture.
The Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny is said to have been used at the coronation of Irish Kings long before the Christian era. Strange myths circled round the stone. For instance, it was stated that it groaned or gave out a sound when the lawful king stood upon it, but was as silent as the grave when the candidate for royal honors was not the rightful king — was not in the line of pueewwion to the throne. In the far past — so the fitory runneth — Feca Fioun was inaugurated upon it king of Ireland. But the stone was mute. Whereupon Ouchullin struck it rudely, perhaps in anger, and it ia eaid that from that hour it gave forth no sound until the day when Oonn of the Hundred Battles was crowned upon it the lawful king of Erin The ancient story of the ' Baile an Scail ' in O'Curry's lectures tells how, at sunrise one morning Conn, with his three druids and hia three poets, was out upon the royal rath or mound of Tara. He happened to stand upon a «tone, which forthwith Bcreamed under his feet, bo that it was heard all over Tara. Conn asked the druid to explain the cry and iti meaning. Tho druid took three and fifty days to reply. At the end of that period, lie told Conn that it was the Lia Fail, that its scream was a prophecy, and that the number of calla given by it indioat-.i the number of kingi of his rac-> that should reign in green Eire of the f-tu uns.
The last ' feis' or convention <>i the States of Ireland was held in Tara in the year 551. .Soon affrrwa'np a malediction was pronounced upon the palace by Sfc Rolaaus, r.f Lothra, in the present oounty of Tipperary. in punishment for the violation of the Saint's sanctuary by the king. The royal hill was deserted and was soon overgrown with grass and weeds. No subsequent Irish king resided there, and eaoh selected his aboie according to the dynasty to which he belonged. Iv the meantime
An Irish Colony from Antrim had secured a good grip on a portion of western Scotland, having battled wilh almost vi. broken success with the Picts there from about the year 503-50fi without much aid from their kin beyond the North Channel. At, one time, however, the Picts got the upper hand in the long-drawn struggle and drove the Irish Dalriads out of the country. But the defeated invaders gathered together a stronger force, swept across the narrow sea in their long galleys under the leadership of Loam. Aengu?. and Fergus — the three Bonß of Ere — invaded Alba once more, subjugated the Picts, and established the Scottish monarchy. Things went gaily enough for the new transmarine Irish colony until the pixth century was drawing near to its third quarter. Then Aedh (or Hugh), son of Ainmire, came to the throne as high-king of Ireland. In 573 he ■ummoned the great convention of Drumceat (in Roe Park, near Newtown Limavaddy, in the present county of Derry") — the first meeting of the States of Ireland that had been held since the abandonment of Tara. One of the questions to be settled at the convention was tho relations between the Scottish colonies of Alba and the mother-country. The Irißh monarch desirei to impose tribute on the colony. St. Colnuacillc— who was the founder of lona and a member of the royal race of Ulster — attended the convention, accompanied by a number of bishops and lnonkn, and by his friend Aidan (or Hugh), who was king of the colony beyond the water. St. Columcille saw in the exaction of tribute the prospect of endless wars and bloodshed between the two countries, and — wieer than the advisers of the Third George of England— ho prevailed upon the king of Ireland to abandon hi 3 chains against Alba, thus establishing: the independence of the Scottish colony and severing it permanently from the mother-country But fc>t. Columcille did more than this. According to the common account, he secured fium the King of Ireland the loan of the Lia Fail to give an added glory and security to the coronation of the kings of the young colony beyond the sea. It was
Brought to Scotland by him and Hugh. A very ancient Irish quatrain ispeaks of the •tone as follows :—: —
' Cineadh eaor an f hine Mun budh breag an thatsdine
Mar a mughid an Liah Fail Dlighid flaitheas do gbabhaill.' Hector Boetiue condensed this into the following Latin couplet :—: — 1 Ni fallat fatum, Scofi, quocumque locatum luvenient lapidem hunc, regnuin tenehunt ibidem
Which, in English dress, runneth thus :— ' If fate's decrees be not announced in vain, Where'er this stone is found, the Scots shall reign.'
So the legend ran. And thence the desire of tho king* of the Irish colony in Scotland to be crowned upon the Lia Fail. Fergaa seems to have been the first crowned upon it on Scottish hoiL The borrowers forgot to return the great Irish heirloom, and it remained at their royal residence at Dunetaffnage, in north-west Argyle, till about th« year 850, when Kenneth Mac Alpine swooped upon and finally couriered the Picts and became the first kin? of all Scotland. Tben the Stone of Destiny was removed to the monastery of Soone, in Perthshire till the year 1290, when Eiward 1., King of England, earned it away and deposited it
Tn Westminster Abbey, where it is to be seen to this day. Haverty and others quite disagree with the opinion of Dr. Petiie that the Lia Fail is the present pillar stone which stands over the ' Croppies' Grav c' on one of the great raths or mounda of Tara ; and it seems clearly established that thii curious relic of ancient Irish political life was transferred to Sootland and thence to Westminster Abbey. The old prophecy has been fulfilled in a curious way, for, says Haverty, it is remarkablo that the present reigning family of England owes its right to the throne to its descent, throHjrh the Stuart family, from those Irish Dalriads.' In 1314, after Robert Brnoe and his gallant 30,000 men had inflicted such a decisive defeat on the British arms, a pe aia followed and a demand was made for restitution of the regalia of Scotland. But the Londoners would not give up the stone. They knew the old prophecy, and exclaimed: We will fight for the atone ; the safety of our kingdom dependi upon it.' And so the Lia Fail remained in Westminster,
THE CORONATION STONE., New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXX, Issue 32, 7 August 1902
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