Tionól 2011

The following papers were given at the School’s annual Tionól, 18–19 November, 2011.

Fangzhe Qiu
‘The legal context of Echtra Fergusa maic Léti
Anna Matheson
‘On the terms drúth go rath and mer gin rath in Early Irish legal commentary’
Mícheál Briody
‘In ár Lazarusannaí ag imeacht: Campa Géibhinn an Churraigh agus Bunús Cré na Cille
Barry Lewis
‘Hagiographical links in late-medieval Welsh poems to saints’
Morfydd Owen
‘Myth and Medicine in Wales’
Aaron Griffith
‘The Milan Glosses database’
Pádraic Moran
‘The date of O’Mulconry’s Glossary and its place in the Irish glossary tradition’
Paul Russell
‘Henry Bradshaw, Old Breton and the editing of glossed texts’
Fergus Kelly
‘Irish words and phrases in the English of Massbrook, Co. Mayo: notes from the 1960s’
Riitta Latvio
‘The world according to ‘neimed’: categorising space, people, and legal procedures in early medieval Ireland’
Raymond Hickey
‘Irish Phonology: examining how contrast works’
Alessio Frenda, Elaine Uí Dhonnchadha, Pauline Welby
‘Not missing the bád: a spoken language corpus for Irish’
Michael Clarke
‘The Mythologies of Fulgentius in the Irish reconstruction of pagan antiquity’
Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha
‘At the helm: some new light on early Irish monasticism’
Roisin McLaughlin
(IRCHSS Postdoctoral Fellow) ‘A text on judges and poets in the pseudo-historical prologue to the Senchas Már
Caoimhín Breatnach
‘The transmission of an abridged version of the Gospel of Nicodemus in Irish sources’
Patricia Kelly
‘Cormac’s Glossary: the Book of Uí Mhaine version’
Dan McCarthy
‘The Ó Cléirigh compilation of the Martyrology of Donegal’
Niamh Whitfield
‘What was findruine?

Abstracts

Fangzhe Qiu

The legal context of Echtra Fergusa maic Léti

Ever since the edition by Binchy in 1952, the saga Echtra Fergusa mac Léti (The Adventure of Fergus mac Léti) has seldom attracted scholarly attention despite the antiquity of its language and its manifold connections with important institutions in early Irish law. This saga is found embedded in the law tract of Di Chethairshlicht Athgabálae (‘On the Four Divisions of Distraint’), obviously because the compiler of the tract thought it had relevance to the institution. Binchy’s edition, regrettably, severed it from its legal context and treated it as a bare literary composition with vague meaning and little historical value. This paper firstly re-integrates the saga within its textual context and supplements the passages omitted by Binchy to form a full story line, in which the adventure of Fergus is only one layer out of several. Analysis of the various legal institutions involved in the story, by referring to specific rules in Di Chethairshlicht Athgabálae and other law tracts, shows that the saga has provided sample cases concerning the law of déorad, homicide, pledge, distraint and tellach. The compiler had consciously collected relevant traditional materials, rather than created hypothetical cases, to illustrate and authenticate the law. However, the story does not only focus on the content of the tract, and many points remain ambivalent in law. Even in passages describing the ‘leading case’ of distraint, only the most conspicuous step instead of the full procedure was mentioned. Why did the compiler do so, and how would he evaluate the quality and function of his work await to be seen, but this paper may demonstrate to some extent how the relationship between law and tradition was understood in medieval Ireland, and how they interacted in the production of law tracts.

Anna Matheson

On the terms drúth go rath and mer gin rath in Early Irish legal commentary

Divergent readings have been put forward by modern scholars regarding the correct interpretation of the glosses go rath and gin rath in medieval Irish legal scholia elucidating the terms drúth and mer. While O’Donovan first translated go/gin rath as “one that can do work” and one “who can do no work” (Ancient Laws of Ireland I, 136.18, 20) Smith suggested “with/without talent” (‘Advice to Doidin’, Ériu 11 (1932) 77 and 80-81). Binchy disagreed, arguing for “with/without grace (of God)” (‘Bretha Crólige’, Ériu 12 (1938) 59). In this paper, I will argue that there is some truth to all of the above-mentioned readings. The reason why there have been divergent interpretations of the glosses go/gin rath, and the reason why each interpretation can be supported by evidence found in the commentary tradition, lies in the fact that there are at least two different meanings of the term mer: in some contexts, it represents madman as opposed to a drúth ‘fool’; in others, it signifies a female fool as opposed to a male fool (drúth). As the meaning of mer will differ according to context, so too will the meaning of the labels go/gin rath.

Mícheál Briody

In ár Lazarus annaí ag imeacht’: Campa Géibhinn an Churraigh agus Bunús Cré na Cille

Ó foilsíodh Cré na Cille an chéad uair, tógadh ceann de shuíomh an úrscéil (reilig) agus dá charachtair (corpáin). Ní nach ionadh, ní fada gur thosaigh léirmheastóirí agus tráchtairí éagsúla ag tuairimiú i dtaobh bhunús an úrscéil aduain seo. I measc nithe eile, tuairimíodh gur ón mbéaloideas a tháinig an bunsmaoineamh, nó gur Spoon River Anthology le hEdgar Lee Masters nó saothar Dostoyevski a chuir síol an smaoinimh in aigne an údair. I saothar chomh fada, chomh healaíonta agus chomh ceannródúil le Cré na Cille, d’fhéadfadh níos mó ná aon bhunús amháin bheith le suíomh agus comharthaí sóirt an scéil. Sa pháipéar seo féachfaidh mé ar cuid de na tuairimí éagsúla a caitheadh i dtaobh bhunús Cré na Cille sara soláthróidh mé fianaise (bunaithe ar an mórgóir ar scríbhinní neamhfhoilsithe an Chadhnaigh i gColáiste na Tríonóide) a thugann le fios, creidim, go raibh baint nach beag ag saol an Chadhnaigh mar ghéibheannach i gCurrach Chill Dara le linn an Dara Cogadh Domhanda ní hamháin lena fhorbairt mar scríbhneoir ach chomh maith lena chinneadh úrscéal a scríobh faoi mharbháin ag allagar lena chéile san úir.

Barry Lewis

Hagiographical links in late-medieval Welsh poems to saints

It is established that there are links between the hagiography of the Celtic lands: a well-known case is that of St Maedhóg of Ferns and St David, each of whom makes an appearance in the life of the other. However, further cases undoubtedly remain to be discovered. The corpus of late-medieval Welsh poems to saints has hitherto received little attention in this regard, yet several of these poems contain indications of external influences. This paper will examine a poem for St Mechyll which shows connections with St Machutes (St Malo) of Brittany, and a poem for St Cynog of Merthyr Cynog which reveals knowledge of the cult of St Do-Chonna of Inis Pádraig, Co. Dublin.

Morfydd Owen

Myth and Medicine in Wales

The written tradition of medicine in the Welsh vernacular has been inextricably bound up with one of the most famous of Welsh folktales, ‘The Legend of the Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach’. This paper will outline the nature of the medical texts, what is known about their historical origins and associations and then consider how a folktale which probably had its origins, like the inundation tradition of the Story of Cantre’r Gwaelod, in early myth.

Aaron Griffith

The Milan Glosses database

The Milan Glosses Project, started in 2007, is entering its final stages. While the printed lexicon (modeled on that of Kavanagh / Wodkto for the Würzburg Glosses) is still being put together, the electronic database on which the lexicon is based is finished. This database will be placed online by the end of 2011, giving scholars free access to a completely translated, analysed, and searchable corpus of the Old Irish glosses in Milan. I will give a demonstration of the database, showing its features and capabilities, and I will present a selection of other findings from the project, such as a few new (short) glosses that were discovered, as well as new and corrected manuscript readings.

Pádraic Moran

The date of O’Mulconry’s Glossary and its place in the Irish glossary tradition

Whitley Stokes in his edition of O’Mulconry’s glossary (ACL 1 (1898–1900), 232–324, 473–81, 629) dated the text to ‘the thirteenth or (at the latest) the fourteenth century’. This was contested by Eoin Mac Neill (Ériu 11 (1932), 112–29), who argued that the core of the text could be dated to ‘not later than the middle of the eighth century, and… probably as early as the middle of the seventh century’. Mac Neill’s arguments have not since been critiqued, and the question has not to my knowledge received any fresh investigation. This paper will explore the date of O’Mulconry’s glossary and consider its relevance for our understanding of the broader Irish glossary tradition. It will firstly discuss the methodological challenges of dating compiled texts. It will then review the linguistic evidence, some of which may be inferred from the structure and content of the text. Finally, the paper will look at the textual relationships of O’Mulconry’s glossary and other Irish glossaries in order to deduce some information about their relative dates and about the diachronic development of the tradition.

Paul Russell

Henry Bradshaw, Old Breton and the editing of glossed texts

The Henry Bradshaw archive in the Cambridge University Library has long been known as an important repository of inter alia letters, notes and notebooks on Celtic matters. Henry Bradshaw, University Librarian in Cambridge from 1867 until his death in 1886, was man of many parts: in addition to being an expert on Chaucer and fifteenth-century printing, he was an avid seeker out and transcriber of manuscripts of Celtic interest; much of his work in this area is preserved in his notebooks and his Celtic Papers (CUL Add. MS 6425) and accounts of his trips to search out manuscripts are recounted in his Collected Papers, ed. F. Jenkinson (Cambridge, 1889). In addition, there is a substantial body of correspondence from various scholars (CUL Add. MS 8916), such as Whitley Stokes, John Rhŷs, and others. One of Bradshaw’s preoccupations was the unwillingness of scholars like Stokes to accept that it was possible to identify Breton manuscripts (‘natives of Brittany’ as Bradshaw called them) and an Old Breton language; indeed a draft of a letter by Bradshaw to Stokes may well contain the earliest use of the term ‘Old Breton’. Despite the fact that Bradshaw published very little himself, another of his interests was the method of presenting glossed texts on the printed page; several experimental lay-outs are found in his papers. However, the materials he sent to Stokes for subsequent publication with philological commentary tended towards the skeletal, and it is that thinner mode of presentation which, until the last few decades, has prevailed in the presentation of texts glossed in Celtic languages. This paper explores these aspects of Bradshaw’s work and argues that in many respects he was ahead of his time in being as much interested in the main text of the manuscript as in the glossing.

Fergus Kelly

Irish words and phrases in the English of Massbrook, Co. Mayo: notes from the 1960s

In the 1960s I listed a few dozen Irish words and phrases employed in the English of Upper Massbrook, Bofeenaun, Co. Mayo (about ten miles north of Castlebar). This list is a very incomplete record based on conversations with relatively few speakers, most of them elderly. Nonetheless, it may be of interest as providing information on the Irish of a part of Co. Mayo which does not feature at all in Heinrich Wagner’s Linguistic atlas and survey of Irish dialects. Most of the terminology recorded relates to traditional customs, the seasons, the landscape, plants and animals.

Riitta Latvio

The world according to ‘neimed’: categorising space, people, and legal procedures in early medieval Ireland

This paper looks at the different legal procedures and sanctions connected with those entitled to a ‘neimed’ or privileged status in early Irish society, against the different social and spatial distinctions referred to by ‘neimed’ across vernacular legal sources. In rough agreement with Robin Chapman Stacey’s argument for the Neimed school of texts displaying a marked political agenda by juxtaposing professional training, moral qualities and demands for societal rights for the ‘filid’, it will be argued that the different categorisations of ‘neimed’ and legal procedures associated with them suggest a link between lords and performative legal acts marking out their land and other possessions as well as entitlement to status, while other, mainly verbal procedures are connected with church, literary learning and professional skill as represented by the other ‘neimed’ ranks.

Raymond Hickey

Irish Phonology: examining how contrast works

The current paper will be concerned with examining and describing the manner in which phonetic contrast is realised in dialects of Irish for the phonological segments which are recognised for the language. Key to the understanding of phonetic contrast in Irish is syllable position and word stress. Positions of high contrast can be recognised, above all in the onsets of stressed syllables and in intervocalic position after stressed vowels. Here all the contrasts of Irish can be observed, both those of consonants and vowels. The threeway contrasts for sonorants, e.g. baile, bailiú, balla, are also documented in this position. But there are also sites for low contrast and distinctions may not be made or realised by different means. Thus vowel quality is the key to recognising word-final consonants after an unstressed vowel. Equally vowel quality is often dependent on the value for [palatal] of a following consonant or cluster in words like blas:blais or olc:oilc.
The focus in this paper will be on determining what kinds of phonetic contrasts are essential to Irish and how these are realised. As a second step they will then be put in relation to the systemic distinctions posited in the phonology of the language. The analysis and discussion will be supported by recordings of native speakers from the Gaeltacht regions.

Alessio Frenda, Elaine Uí Dhonnchadha, Pauline Welby

Not missing the bád: a spoken language corpus for Irish

Linguistic studies are increasingly more dependent on the availability of spontaneous spoken data organized in large principled collections—corpora—that are annotated in such a way as to be machine readable for quick and reliable extraction of relevant occurrences and statistical analysis of large amount of tokens. Modern linguistic corpora present the primary data, in our case the (video)recordings of spontaneous interactions, linked with secondary data, such as various types of transcriptions (e.g. orthographic, phonological) and annotations (e.g. gesture and other types of non-verbal interaction).

No such corpus is available for Irish yet, and in this talk we will, based on our experience so far, outline the ongoing efforts towards building one and discuss the various applications of a similar resource in the Irish context: from the investigation of known (and not-yet-known-of) theoretical issues in linguistics to language planning and the development of technologies may prove instrumental in the effort to preserve the language.

Michael Clarke

The Mythologies of Fulgentius in the Irish reconstruction of pagan antiquity

This paper examines the transmission of Late Antique learning in medieval Ireland through a case study centred on the Furies of Graeco-Roman mythology. I begin from the famous equivalence in Táin Bó Cuailnge between the Morrígan and the Fury Allecto (TBC1 ll.954-6), which has remarkable forerunners in glosses associated with Irish peregrini from the Carolingian period. Are the parallels coincidental, or do they represent historical continuity among the literati? I identify as a key intertext the Mitologiae of the Late Antique mythographer Fulgentius. The direct influence of Fulgentius’ work is shown first in a Carolingian compilation associated with Martinus Hiberniensis of Laon; then in a passage of the commentary to Amra Choluimb Chille associated with the image in TBC; and finally in a double depiction of the Fury and the Morrígan in the version of Cath Maige Rath found in the Yellow Book of Lecan. The paper uses these texts to investigate patterns of cross-linguistic and cross-cultural translation, in which vernacular and Latin lore are systematically fused with each other in the construction of a self-consistent image of the pre-Christian past for both Irish and Graeco-Roman narrative contexts.

Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha

At the helm: some new light on early Irish monasticism

This paper will discuss the image of the church as ship, some aspects of its importance in early Irish monastic literature, and two key terms for monastic life which can be explained by reference to it.

Roisin McLaughlin (IRCHSS Postgraduate Fellow)

A text on judges and poets in the pseudo-historical prologue to the Senchas Már

The purpose of this paper is to discuss a text on judges and poets which forms part of the later prologue to the Senchas Már in TCD MS H 3. 17 (1336), published in CIH 1653.16-1655.26. This will be compared with a version in UCD MS A9 (ff 41a1-42a14).

Caoimhín Breatnach

The transmission of an abridged version of the Gospel of Nicodemus in Irish sources

Aspects of the transmission of abridged versions of the Gospel of Nicodemus in Irish sources will be discussed in this paper. Particular attention will be focused on an unpublished version which has hitherto received little attention. It will be argued that abridged versions of the Gospel, both in Irish and other traditions, are frequently not to be read in isolation but rather as part of longer narrative sequences. Linguistic features of the unpublished Irish version will also be discussed.

Patricia Kelly

Cormac’s Glossary: the Book of Uí Mhaine version

Thurneysen’s study of the manuscripts of Cormac’s Glossary in the Windisch Festschrift (1914) proposed a stemma on the basis of an examination of two of the longest entries. It also showed the importance of the Uí Mhaine version for reconstructing the full extent of the exemplar of Laud Misc. 610. Although ‘extremely carelessly written’, Uí Mhaine features a number of interesting readings, whose value will be considered in this paper.

Dan McCarthy

The Ó Cléirigh compilation of the Martyrology of Donegal

Micheál Ó Cléirigh’s preface to the Martyrology of Donegal indicates that it was his cousin, Cú Choigcríche Ó Cléirigh, who accomplished the first phase of the compilation, while the two surviving manuscripts, Brussels Bibliothèque Royale 5095–6 and 4639, were both written by Micheál. The former of these contains substantial additions by Hugh Ward, John Colgan, and Micheál himself, and so it is identified as the ‘annotated version’, whereas the latter, being nearly without additions, is referenced as the ‘short version’. In 1864 James Todd and William Reeves published the first and only edition of this Martyrology from Eoghan O’Curry’s transcript of the annotated version, and in their preface they stated that the short version dated from 1629, and that the annotated version was finished in 1630. The recent examinations by Pádraig Breatnach and Pádraig Ó Riain, while re-dating the short version to 1628, have maintained 1630 for the annotated version. However, examination of the AD data given in 157 entries of the Martyrology suggests rather that these manuscripts were first written by Micheál in the opposite order. As well, it establishes an interesting relationship between the Martyrology and the Annals of Ulster and the Annals of the Four Masters.

Niamh Whitfield

What was findruine?

Old and Middle Irish literature is full of references to findruine. Philologists agree that it refers to metal of some kind, but there agreement ends. Translations of the term by Celtic scholars include ‘white bronze’, ‘white brass’, ‘white metal’, ‘tinned bronze’, ‘white gold’ and ‘electrum’.

From his detailed study of its use in the Ulster cycle of tales, J.P. Mallory concluded that findruine emerges as the third most valuable metal, below gold and silver, but above bronze and iron. He also counted references to the various metals referred to in the Ulster cycle, and found that findruine came third, again below gold and silver. On this basis findruine should be fairly prominent in the Irish archaeological record.

The proposed paper argues that findruine was tinned bronze, ‘the poor man’s silver’, a form of plated bronze often found in early Medieval Irish metalwork, e.g., on zoomorphic penannular brooches, ‘house-shaped’ shrines, the Moylough book-shrine, the Donore door-handle and the Tullylough cross. The case is based on discussion by philologists of the primary meaning of the term (though I would appreciate some feedback about this), and on a review of the technologies that match both the literary and published philological evidence.