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Conspicuously recorded throughout ancient Erin's accounts of her men of learning are the O'Dalaigh; and their fame as literary scholars is heralded widely by the ancient historians of the Gael. Depicted as well in these records is the enduring renown of the O'Dalaigh. Indeed, in times past it must have seemed that the O'Dalaigh were destined to go on as literary scholars through the ages; so consistently did they maintain their exalted reputation not for generations merely but centuries. But conditions in Gaelic Ireland, the cradle of the O'Dalaigh litterateurs, were suddenly and devastatingly changed; and the talents of the men of learning of the Gael were finally trampled to destruction by English laws compelling Ireland's scholarly activities to cease, that the defiant spirit of the Gael might be subdued. From times immemorial Ireland had maintained a highly trained class of professional scholars. Originally, her learned classes appear to have been the pagan filidh, or druids, of the pre-Christian era. These druidical scholars claimed to be masters of all learning natural and preternatural. Their educational system appears to have embraced all the known higher branches of knowledge of their ages: astronomy, nature study, theology and other such subjects. Among the druidical filidh seven standardized grades or degrees of learning were awarded for scholarly accomplishment. Each grade designated the extent of the knowledge mastered by the filidh graduates and the awarded titles of learning ranged from that of the ollamh or master scholar down through six lower standards: the anruth, the cli, the cano, the doss, the mac fuirmid and the f ocloc. Concerning the druidical system of education Professor Eoin MacNeill says: "The druidical plan of education seems to have been: 1-Collegiate 2-Unlimited as to the range of subjects 3-Conducted in the method of graduation" ("Celtic Ireland" note, page 26.) Whether the druidical plan of learning was the mother of our modern university system is still a debated question. Regarding such a relationship Professor MacNeill comments: