Conor MacDari was an early 20th century writer who expressed a number of bizarre ideas that invited comparison with Comyns Beaumont. Among the delights offered by MacDari were:
Adam and Eve were both born in Ireland.
The Bible was originally written in Irish, not Hebrew.
The events of the Old Testament took place in Ireland.
The so-called Hebrew is but an artificial sacerdotal dialect of an ancient Irish priesthood.
The most ancient code of laws on earth were established in Ireland.
The origin of the pope traces back to the Irish Druids.
Ancient Greek history is mostly fiction and her classical personages are merely mythical characters taken from Irish culture.
The Irish built the Great Pyramid of Giza.
All the ancient British kings derived from Ireland.
And of course, that Atlantis was based in Ireland.
Ignatius Loyola Donnelly (1831-1901), was an Irish-American born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1852. He moved to Minnesota in 1857, where he was elected Lieutenant-Governor when it became a state in 1859, at the age of twenty-eight and was re-elected in 1861. He served as a Congressman from 1863 until 1869 and was a state senator from 1874 to 1878. The People’s Party, of which he was a founder, nominated him for Vice-President of the United States. He was a political liberal, being in favour of women’s suffrage and against slavery.
Donnelly was also a journalist and the author of several books. In 1882 he published his most famous work on the subject of Atlantis, which is still in print today, although many of the more recent editions have been heavily edited to exclude some of Donnelly’s more outlandish ideas. Bill Lauritzen has remarked that Donnelly’s legal background led him to limit his case for the existence of Atlantis to a discussion of the ‘pros’ while ignoring the cons’.
Donnelly sent a copy of Atlantis to the British Prime Minister, William Gladstone, who was also a classical scholar. The text of the short accompanying note was published in Sykes’ Atlantis magazine(i), but little of the ensuing correspondence between them apart from the text of a second letter from Donnelly(j).
The public reaction to Donnelly’s book was reflected in the New Orleans ‘Mardi Gras’ of 1883 having had an Atlantis theme.
Donnelly concluded that Atlantis was real and located in the Atlantic. He suggested “the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Hindus, and the Scandinavians were simply the kings, queens, and heroes of Atlantis; and the acts attributed to them in mythology are a confused recollection of real historical events.” Similar ideas have been developed by the late Joseph Robert Jochmans.
Nevertheless, Donnelly endeavoured to match Plato’s Atlantis with his chosen Atlantic location for the lost civilisation, which can be fairly compared with the equally comprehensive but also flawed effort two centuries earlier by Olof Rudbeck endeavouring to identify Sweden as Atlantis.
Donnelly’s book contains a list of thirteen theses (See: Atlantis: The Antediluvian World), which he then proceeds to ‘prove’, drawing on Plato’s text and the scientific knowledge of this period, not to mention a generous helping of pure conjecture. J.V. Luce remarked that “Donnelly bemuses his readers into a mood of infinite credulity” [0120.29].
In 2017, Stephen P.Kershaw includes a brief critique of Donnelly’s work in A Brief History of Atlantis and concludes that Donnelly is unquestionably the most influential writer on Atlantis since Plato. I would argue that even though his ideas are more bizarre than Donnelly’s, Edgar Cayce is probably more quoted today than Donnelly. This is just a reflection of the number of gullible people that are out there. Donnelly’s influence has been greatly diminished over the decades as many of his theses have been undermined by later researchers. Cayce’s influence will only diminish if critical thinking becomes more widespread. In the meanwhile, there are a few highly qualified dedicated Atlantis investigators who are slowly closing in on a solution.
Many have followed his thinking since then and in 1886, Donnelly published a sequel, Ragnarok to his work on Atlantis that dealt with the idea of a cometary impact with the earth. In fact, in 1883 twelve years after the Great Chicago Fire, Donnelly proposed(g) that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was not responsible for the conflagration but instead was the result of the impact of a meteor fragment, with Comet Biela as the prime suspect. A key to this explanation may be the recorded fact that at the same time that the fire started in Chicago, huge fires erupted across the lower peninsula of Michigan and in several other places in the Midwest. The O’Leary house was reportedly left standing! That debate continues.
Following the remarkable reception that his books received, Donnelly was elected to membership of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. However, it did not take long before critics emerged. One was John Francis Arundell also known as Lord Arundell of Wardour (1831-1906) who published his criticism in book form in 1885 in which he claimed that Plato’s Atlantis story was based on the account that we have relating to the Voyage of Hanno. It can be read or downloaded online(c).
Donnelly also wrote a 1,000-page work that attempted to prove that Shakespeare had not written all that he has been credited with. Seemingly a man with time on his hands, he also published some works of fiction under the name of Edmund Boisgilbert MD.
Thirty years ago Marjorie Braymer wrote of Donnelly’s work in the following manner[198.65], “Modern editions of Atlantis: The Antediluvian World are streamlined and heavily revised; whole sections have been scissored out and dropped. The reason is clear: Donnelly offered many theories as known and established facts that science did not support even then and wholly discredits today.” Egerton Sykes edited one of those revisions in the 1970s.
Some consider aspects of Donnelly’s ideas to be somewhat racist! However, his influence is still pervasive, exemplified by the fact that the first translation of his Atlantis in Sinhala, the principal language of Sri Lanka, was only published in 2014(d).
Donnelly also questioned the authorship of the works attributed to William Shakespeare in The Great Cryptogram. The Shakespeare debate has raged for two centuries and now the editors of The New Oxford Shakespeare are convinced, based computer analysis, that Christopher Marlowe was a co-author of several plays credited, until now, solely to Shakespeare(h). Coincidentally, another Atlantologist Comyns Beaumont held similar views, which he published nearly half a century later in The Private Life of the Virgin Queen, considered to be the least controversial of his literary output!
At the end of the 19th century, a Mrs Donnelly, a fortune-teller from San Francisco, adopted the professional name of ‘Madame Atlantis’!
There is a wealth of Internet material relating to Donnelly e.g. (a)(b).
Donnelly’s Atlantis is now also available as a free audio book(e).
(i) Atlantis, Vol.25, No.1, Jan-Feb 1972.
(j) Atlantis, Vol.25, No.3, May-June 1972
Ireland according to James Bramwell [0195.181], was first identified with Atlantis as early as circa 1250 AD in the Speculum Regale (The King’s Mirror)(g) which was written in Norway. Apart from that, Ireland was less controversially was first suggested in the 18th century as a possible location of Atlantis by the English geologist John Whitehurst. The idea lay dormant for over a century until the early part of the 20th century when George H. Cooper  suggested that Cork harbour fits Plato’s description of the harbour of Atlantis. Fifty years later an official guidebook claimed that one of the outposts of Atlantis was to be found on the west coast of Galway. As a nation famed for its storytelling we have never let truth stand in the way of a good tale.
The mythical Hy-Brasil was shown west of Ireland on maps as early as 1325 and incredibly, was not removed from naval charts until 1865. The UK’s Daily Star (21/5/16) with typical tabloid accuracy told its readers(f) that Hy-Brasil was off the coast of ‘Britain’!
In 1976, Steiner Books, New York, republished a book under the misleading title of Atlantis in Ireland. One may be excused for viewing this as a blatant case of exploitative opportunistic publishing. The original text was written by Henry O’Brien and published in London (1834) as The Round Towers of Ireland. Apart from being written in the rather turgid English of the period, there is not a single reference to Plato or Atlantis to be found in that volume.
Diodorus Siculus, in a well-known passage (Bk 1.158), that is claimed by some as a reference to Ireland(h), describes it as ”an island in the ocean over against Gaul, to the north, and not inferior in size to Sicily, the soil of which is so fruitful that they mow there twice in the year.” Some consider this to be reminiscent of the Platonic reference to the two crops a year gathered in Atlantis. However, I am more inclined to think that Diodorus was referring to Britain. Diodorus also mentions the Irish singular temples of ’round form’, however, this seems too early to be a reference to the round towers and more likely to be an allusion to the astronomically aligned mounds such as Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth in Ireland or Stonehenge in Britain!
Bob Quinn has written and lectured on possible ancient cultural links between North Africa and Ireland. This idea may have been reinforced by a number of 19th century reports that visitors from North Africa were able to understand the Irish language!(i)
In 1923, Conor MacDari, who’s eccentricity was comparable with that of Comyns Beaumont, published Irish Wisdom Preserved in the Bible and Pyramids , which among a litany of bizarre claims, proposed that Atlantis had been located in Ireland.
When Ignatius Donnelly came to the subject of Ireland, he attributed an Atlantean origin to so the various waves of settlers that came to the post-glacial island. He substitutes evidence with assertion and speculation. Donnelly further claimed that the famous round towers of Ireland are proof that the people of Atlantis settled in Ireland.
More recently Ulf Erlingsson, a Swedish geographer, insisted that with a claimed probability
factor of 99.98%, that his interpretation of Plato’s text demonstrates that Ireland was home to Atlantis . The subtitle of the book, Mapping the Fairy Land, is probably a good guide on how seriously to take this book, particularly as it is by an author who hails from the land of the original Trolls.
In March 2008, it was reported that a Dr. Jac Hummer had mounted an expedition to South America with the intention of discovering the remains of St. Patrick under a pyramid there. But it gets better – he then explains that such a discovery will prove his theory that Ireland is Plato’s lost island of Atlantis!I can only conclude that this is a hoax story.
Irish legend speaks of the Domnu, people of the deep sea from a land that disappeared beneath the waves. However, Ireland is still above the waves and in contrast to Plato’s statement that even in his time the location of Atlantis was marked by impassable shallows. Since sea levels have generally risen only slightly since Plato lived, he cannot have been referring to Ireland.
John Douglas Singer in his slender book, Ireland’s Mysterious Lands and Sunken Cities , has carried out an investigation into the ancient legends of Ireland and their possible connection with Plato’s Atlantis. He points out that Ireland has the greatest number of legends relating to sunken cities and islands! He draws on the works of Egerton Sykes and Lewis Spence among others.
Ireland was also nominated by Thomas Dietrich as an early colony of Atlantis in The Origin of Culture.
Somewhat incongruously, the website of extremist, Dejan Lucic, has an extensive and fully referenced article entitled The Irish Origins of Civilisation(a), including not a few controversial sources such as, Comyns Beaumont, Ralph Ellis and John Gordon.
Around 2010, a father and son team Francis J.Ward & Francis P.Ward seeminglly published their first book The Truth Against the World-Red Phoenix Rising & the Return of the Thunder Gods , in which they express the view that “Atlantis was a global, maritime empire based in Ireland”.(c)
In 2013, Skender Hushi informed the world that Albanian had been the original language of Ireland and Atlantis! Another equally odd claim came from Zoltán Simon who proposed that the ancient Hun Calendar came from Ireland [0549.147]!
Evidence for the earliest humans in Ireland is now dated as 10,500 BC.(d)(e)
In July 2020, Erlingsson’s Atlantis in Ireland theory was recycled by a website(j) with the title of ‘Keystone University’. It promises to build a world-class enterprise centre in Ireland in 2025. The site implies that Keystone has the support of Brian Tracy, an American self-development speaker. While Keystone seems to focus on business success and personal development, it incongruously includes a study of Atlantis a la Erlingsson as part of its course! It has published two papers on the Ancient Origins website(k)(l).
>The Atlantis claims of Keystone were found earlier in January on YouTube and while it ostensibly appeared to add the gravitas of an educational institution to the subject of Atlantis, it was only a smokescreen for an attempt to intice people to sign up for overpriced seminars. Jason Colavito drew attention(m) to this at the time and to the more recent articles on Ancient Origins(n).<