Tionól 2002

The following papers were given at the School’s annual Tionól, 22-23 November, 2002.

David Barnwell
Maitias Ó Conmhaí, teangeolaí, 1766-1842 (PDF (167KB))

Rugadh Maitias Ó Conmhaí i gCathair na Gaillimhe i 1766. Cainteoir dúchais Gaeilge ab ea é. D’fhág sé Eire in aois a 17 dó, agus de réir dealraimh níor fhill sé riamh. Chaith sé an chuid eile dá shaol i Meiriceá Thuaidh, seachas tréimhsí gearra a chaith sé ar oileáin éagsúla sa Chairib.

Teangeolaí agus foclóirí ab ea Ó Conmhaí. Tá tábhacht ag baint leis ar dhá chúis. Ar an gcéad dul síos, b’é Ó Conmhaí an chéad duine a d’fholsaigh acmhainní do mhúineadh na Spáinnise i SAM, dhá leabhar a tháinig amach thart ar 1810. Ceann amháin de na leabhair seo, is ainilís ar ghramadach na Spáinnise é, agus tá gach cuma air gurab é an chéad leabhar teangeolaíochta feidhmí a fhoilsíodh i Meiriceá. An leabhar eile, cnuasach d’ábhar léitheoireachta do lucht foghlamtha na Spáinnise is ea é. Go bhfios dom is é an chéad téacleabhar do mhúineadh na nuatheangacha i Meiriceá é. Bhí Fraincis ar a thoil ag Ó Conmhaí chomh maith, agus d’fhoilsigh se aistriúchán de dhráma Fraincise go Béarla. D’fhéadfaí a rá gurab é Ó Conmhaí athair múineadh na nua-theangacha sna Stáit Aontuithe, agus is deas an smoineamh go bhfuil an clú sin tuillte ag cainteoir dúchais Gaeilge.

An fáth eile gur fiú tuilleadh aird a thabhairt ar bheatha agus ar shaothar Uí Chonmhaí ná gur chaith sé cuid mhaith dá shaol ag obair ar an nGaeilge. Bhí dhá thionscnamh idir láimhibh aige ar feadh na blianta. Faraoir nár foilsíodh ceachtar acu riamh. Ceann amháin díobh seo ná staidéar iltheangach a chuirfeadh an Ghaeilge ina suíomh cuí i measc teangacha na hEorpa, an ceann eile ná foclóir Béarla-Gaeilge a chur le chéile.

Sa pháipéar seo tugaim cur síos gearr ar bheatha Uí Chonmhaí, déanaim iarracht eolas bunúsach a chur ar fáil maidir lena shaothar, agus tugaim stracfhéachaint ar fhadhbanna áirithe a bhaineann le na foinsí atá ar fáil chun breis staidéir a dheanamh ar an ábhar seo.

Máire B. de Paor
Gáir na Gairbe (Early Irish Lyrics no. 44)

This paper treats of the genre, structure, context and content of the poem beginning Gáir na Gairbe glaídbinne (Murphy, Early Irish lyrics, no. 44).

Wilson McLeod
The filidh in Scotland: towards a re-examination

Scholars studying the literary history of Gaelic Scotland have disagreed over the roles of the filidh and baird and over the extent to which the poetic hierarchy that prevailed in Ireland during the classical period was also operative in Scotland. In particular, some scholars have questioned whether the filidh were established in eastern and northern areas outwith the sway of the ‘Lordship of the Isles’. This paper will re-examine the evidence relating to the classical period and consider the meanings of the terms filidh and filidheachd in vernacular poetry and song from the seventeenth century onwards. Although the evidence is less than fully clear, it appears the filidh did hold an elevated position in the Scottish Gàidhealtachd and that the evidence of a restricted and regionalised role is limited.

Maxim Fomin
Recension A of Audacht Morainn: some aspects of language and style

An Old Irish wisdom-text Audacht Morainn is well-known to the Celticists due to R. Thurneysen’s edition of recension A (in German) and F. Kelly’s edition of recension B. However, they both aimed at restoring the original version of the text, and this approach influenced the presentation of the text in their editions and the subsequent translations of it. A Middle Irish version of the text (known as recension A) is an interesting composition on its own. In this paper we shall be looking at some passages of recension A in relation to their style, language, MSS tradition and subject-matter in the perspective of the corresponding passages in other recensions.

Cathy Swift
New Ogam stones and an old syllabic nasal

Over the last ten years, since the publication of Damian McManus’ A Guide to Ogam, a number of new ogam stones have been discovered. Many of these have come to light through the work of the various Archaeological inventories of the different counties. Others have been found during the course of excavation. One of the purposes of this paper is to draw together information on these various finds. The second part of the paper looks at the ogam stone from Andreas in the Isle of Man and re-examines its importance for the history of syllabic nasals in the light of a recent examination of the stone.

Gwen Awbery
Literary and folk traditions: who ‘owns’ the poems on Welsh gravestones?

Welsh-language inscriptions on gravestones often include a poem – a meditation on the brevity of life, an expression of religious faith, or praise of the departed. Hundreds of such poems have been recorded, though in many cases the same poem is found time and again on different gravestones, suggesting that it was felt to be particularly appropriate for this purpose. The actual form of the poem may vary, however, and although it is recognisably the ‘same’ poem in each case, not every instance is identical. This is perhaps not surprising where the author is unknown, and the verse has become part of the general body of folk poetry freely available to all. It is much more surprising to find that poems which are part of the official literary tradition, the work of well known authors, are also freely adapted to meet the needs of the inscriptions.There appears to be no particular respect for the original form of the poem, or for the poet as the ‘owner’ of his work; rather the poem, once made available, is part of the common store and belongs to the community as a whole.

Róisín McLaughlin
The Old Irish heptad on satire

The Old Irish heptad on satire, accompanied by glosses and commentary, is found in the fifteenth century manuscript Rawlinson B 487 and published in Corpus Iuris Hibernici 29.17-31.5. The purpose of this paper is to examine some of the types of satire listed in the heptad. This will include an examination of one of the sources used by the Middle Irish glossator and a discussion of various types of physical defects and social conditions which gave rise to mockery and ridicule.

Edel Bhreatnach
Middle and Early Modern Irish sources for the people and topography of Connacht

The tales Táin Bó Flidais, Cath Airtigh, Cath Leitreach Ruibhe and Cath Chumair have as a common theme the enmity between the Ulaid and the Connachta. However, these tales also serve as sources for information regarding the population groups and topography of north Connacht – a dimension explored in this paper with a view to contributing to dynastic and landscape studies of the region, and also to understanding the context in which these tales were composed.

Jacqueline Borsje
Fate in early Irish texts: aspects of development

In his pioneering article of 1910 – On the Idea of Fate in Irish Literature – Edward Gwynn draws the conclusion that a term for Fate or Destiny was absent from early Irish texts. He wrote, however, before the publication of the Dictionary of the Irish Language, in which several terms related to Fate are listed. This paper will give a sample of these terms and put them in a chronological order. Although Tom Sjøblom (Early Irish Taboos: 101) is right that we cannot expect to find a ‘uniform cultural notion of “fate” in early Irish thought’, it nevertheless seems that we can detect a certain development within the ‘wide range of cultural representations from the workings of chance to divine predestination’. It will be argued in this paper that there seems to be a development, in which Gwynn’s ‘passive notion of Fate’ in the Old Irish period is extended to include his ‘active notion of Fate’ in the Middle Irish period.

Colmán Etchingham
Irish, Anglo-Saxon and Pictish: the significance of some terms for brooch in Bretha Nemed Toísech

A passage in Bretha Nemed Toísech contains two terms for brooch, one an Old English loanword and the other explained elsewhere as Pictish. This is a significant reflex of the relationship between Irish, Anglo-Saxon and Pictish elite metalwork in the eighth century. This relationship is the subject of much discussion among art historians, who, together with other medievalists, should find the passage in question of great interest. In particular, the text of Bretha Nemed Toísech, together with glossary citations, show a precise awareness of the distinctive form of the eighth-century penannular brooch type from Pictland.

Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh
ScG iorram and the dían-metres: origin and significance

A number of important, though unsubstantiated, claims have been made with regard to Scottish Gaelic (ScG) iorram as an old metrical term (W. J. Watson, D. Macintosh), pertaining to the bard as opposed to the file (W. Matheson). However, the requisite linguistic cum metrical evidence to support such claims has not been forthcoming. This paper discusses new evidence to support the claim that ScG iorram may in fact be an old native metrical technical term, which has survived in Scotland but not in Ireland. The linguistic and metrical significance and relevance of the dían-metres (airthrom, midtrom, íarseng, airsheng, midsheng, íarseng) is also discussed.

Neil McLeod
Protection and sanctuary in Irish law

In Irish Law, violence done to an individual was an offence against their ‘protector’. This paper will outline the legal requirements for the various types of protection, including the provision of safe-conduct to travellers, the safe-guarding of those facing threats of unlawful violence, the protection of those being pursued for crimes, and the informal protection that arose from being in a person’s company or on his land. Examples will be given from Irish literature. The discussion will include the role of the bunnsach chomairce (‘rod of safe-conduct’) and the nature of ecclesiastical sanctuary.

Caoimhín Breatnach
The transmission and structure of Immram Curaig Ua Corra

The purpose of this paper is to re-assess the transmission of both the prose version and prose/poetic version of the narrative Immram Curaig Ua Corra and to draw attention to some important matters which have previously either gone unnoticed or have not been properly discussed. It is also intended to discuss certain aspects of this narrative with the intention of providing a better understanding of the nature of its composition.

Diarmuid Ó Sé
Syntactic differences between Irish dialects

Syntax has received only limited attention in Irish dialect studies to date. However, scholars who have written on Irish syntax from within the framework of generative grammar have noted the geographical distribution of some of the phenomena which they have discussed. This paper will offer an outline of the principal syntactic differences within the dialects, beginning with a point of basic word order.

Mike Baillie
Tree-ring chronologies, and stories from myth (PDF (98KB))

Myth is not something that a scientist expects to have to deal with at a professional level. Thus it was a surprise to me when, in attempting to better understand a global environental event in the time-window AD 536-545, I discovered that several bodies of mythology seemed to focus directly onto this time window. The background story goes as follows. In the Irish oak tree-ring chronology there is a strong suggestion of a catastrophic environmental downturn – with trees not just stressed, but some actually damaged – in the years around AD 540. Subsequently it transpired that other tree-ring chronologies from around the world also showed effects at the same time; hence the Irish oaks were merely showing the local aspects of a global phenomenon. History supplied information of the plague of Justinian starting in the early 540s and plague arriving in Ireland in the mid-540s. So, from a scientific viewpoint a dramatic environmental downturn could be implicated in both widespread famines and the outbreak of a major plague. It is then the duty of the scientist to attempt to understand the underlying physical cause of the environmental downturn; what physical mechanism could produce this catastrophic environmental outcome? Volcano or comet? This paper will allow the opportunity to show how mythology, and some otherwise disregarded history, seems to point best in the direction of the comet scenario. Some of the stories even come with traditional dates which focus inside the time window specified as AD 536-545 by the tree-ring chronologies. The logic seems clear. If the myth does contain a core of truth then it beholds us to take a fresh look at the mythology. If it contains a core of truth then it wasn’t all ‘made up’.

See: Baillie, M.G.L. 1994. ‘Dendrochronology raises questions about the nature of the AD 536 dust-veil event.’ The Holocene 4 (2), 212-217

Donnchadh Ó Corráin
St Patrick and the judges that never were

In Confessio par. 53 St Patrick has his famous encounter with kings and ‘illis qui iudicabant per omnes regiones quos ego frequentius uisitabam’. Scholars have been at loggerheads about this passage (e.g. Binchy vs Bieler, St Patrick and his biographers, p. 8) and the translators of Patrick have rendered it in contradictory ways. In this paper I revisit the problem and suggest a resolution.