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Tiónol 2015

Tionól 2015

The 2015 Tionól took place at the School of Celtic Studies, 10 Burlington Road, Dublin 4, on 19, 20 and 21 November 2015.

Download the full programme.


Jacopo Bisagni
The Hiberno-Latin exegesis of musical instrumentsa nd a newly-discovered Old Irish gloss
Caoimhín Breatnach
Editions and dating of Acallam na Senórach
Colmán Etchingham
The so-called Osraige Chronicle in the Fragmentary Annals Sections IV and V reconsidered
Aaron Griffith
A minor Old Irish sound law and the copula
Ben Guy
The Manuscript Tradition of the Llywelyn ab Iorwerth Genealogies
Micheál Hoyne
Lower-class entertainers at the later medieval Gaelic court
Mona Jakob
Conceptual rhyming patterns in Old and Middle Irish – A case study
Brendan Kane / Wes Hamrick
Reading Early Modern Irish: a digital guide to reading and paleography, c. 1200–1650
Anton Kukhto
Mora-count and stress retraction in Gaeilge Chorca Dhuibhne
Paper withdrawn — speaker unable to attend.
Elliott Lash
“Non-canonical” subject positions in passive sentences
Síle Ní Mhurchú
Na dánta grá: léargaisí ós na lámhscríbhinní
Silva Nurmio
The Shape of Water: Mass nouns in Irish and Welsh
Tomás Ó Cathasaigh
Dubthach’s laíd in Táin Bó Cúailnge
Eamon O Ciosáin
A Breton narrative of four and half years on the front lines, 1914–18: Kammdro an Ankeu by Loeiz Herrieu
Liam P. Ó Murchú
A War Poem, circa 1599
Gordon Ó Riain
Remarks on the citations in IGT V
Peadar Ó Muircheartaigh
A Manx ballad in Belanagare and its significance: Fin as Ossian revisited
Aidan O’Sullivan / Brendan O’Neill / Eileen Reilly
How to build an early medieval round house: some perspectives from archaeology, early Irish history, and experimental archaeology
Andrea Palandri
The Irish Marco Polo in the Book of Lismore: an introduction and some linguistic issues.
Fangzhe Qiu
Manuscript contexts of early Irish law tracts: a preliminary study
Guto Rhys
Pictish *kon versus Brittonic *kun — A Distinctive Pictish Feature Questioned
Paul Russell
The Lincoln Vita S. Davidi revisited
Nicole Volmering
Reading and Writing the Félire Oéngusso
Ksenia Borisova
Veneration of the 12 apostles of Ireland in the 9th -12th c.
Paper withdrawn — speaker unable to attend.


Jacopo Bisagni: The Hiberno-Latin exegesis of musical instruments and a newly-discovered Old Irish gloss

This paper focusses on the Early Medieval Pseudo-Jerome text known as Epistula ad Dardanum de diversis generibus musicorum, a short tract which provides descriptions and allegorical interpretations of several musical instruments whose names occur in the Bible. The analysis of this curious work’s sources and textual affiliations indicates that its anonymous author may have relied on exegetical materials of Irish provenance, and this hypothesis receives further support from the recent discovery of an Old Irish gloss in the 9th-century manuscript Angers, Bibliothèque Municipale, 18, containing instrumental descriptions closely related to the Epistula ad Dardanum.

Caoimhín Breatnach: Editions and dating of Acallam na Senórach

In this paper some matters pertaining to the editions of Acallam na Senórach, especially that by Whitley Stokes, will be discussed. Attention will be drawn in particular to attempts to date the text linguistically on the basis of Stokes’ edition. The dating of the text on non-linguistic grounds will also be discussed.

Colmán Etchingham: The so-called Osraige Chronicle in the Fragmentary Annals Sections IV and V reconsidered

Since publication in 1978 of Joan Newlon Radner’s edition of the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland, the notion has prevailed that Sections IV and V incorporate an ‘Osraige Chronicle’. This has been cast as Middle Irish ‘dynastic propaganda’, like that in Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib and Caithréim Cellacháin Chaisil, the product of self-promotion by the eleventh-century Mac Gilla Pátraic kings of Osraige and, briefly, of Leinster, who sought to bask in the reflected glory of their earlier Viking-age ancestor, Cerball mac Dúngaile. This paper argues that to cast the discursive passages of Sections IV and V as Osraige dynastic propaganda is misleading and does not do justice to the substantial interest of this material in Vikings.

Aaron Griffith: A minor Old Irish sound law and the copula

A few years ago Breatnach (2005: 141–151, in A companion in Linguistics = FS Ahlqvist) noted a small exception to the Old Irish third palatalization which involves irregular palatalization of clusters resulting from syncope before a palatalized *s:

regular: tuicse ‘chosen’ < *tu-gussii̯o-
irregular: do·maisi, prot. ·toimsi ‘elaborates, devises, invents, concocts’

Here, I add a few examples to the roster of forms showing this exception and offer a possible interpretation of the phonetic basis of the exceptions. I argue that unaccented vowels before palatalized *s are raised to high vowels. If this high vowel is syncopated, it yields a palatalized cluster via the regular rules of Early Irish historical phonology. A number of forms in the glosses appear to offer support for this interpretation.

In the final part of the talk, I turn to a discussion of some forms of the copula. The rule proposed above allows a straightforward derivation of 3sg. present indicative is*esti > *essi > *es’s’i > *is’s’i (the proposed raising) > *is’ > is (loss of palatalization in clitics). Furthermore, the 3pl. it can also be explained via a simple analogy. Neither form is easily explained under most current theories. The proposal offered here thus plays a small but not unimportant role in the historical phonology and morphology of Early Irish.

Ben Guy: The Manuscript Tradition of the Llywelyn ab Iorwerth Genealogies

The ‘Llywelyn ab Iorwerth genealogies’ is my title for a complex of Welsh genealogical tracts composed during the reign of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth in Gwynedd, probably around 1220. Peter Bartrum is the only scholar before now to have given sustained attention to the text, which he divided into four parts and published in his Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts (Cardiff, 1966), united under the title ‘“Hanesyn Hen” and related manuscripts’. Bartrum broke significant new ground with regard to the identification of manuscript copies of the text, but he made little sustained effort to determine the relationships between those copies. Consequently, his published editions cannot be considered to contain critical texts. In order for such a critical text to be produced, I have conducted a detailed study of the text’s manuscript tradition, which has yielded remarkable results. The text is found in over seventy manuscripts dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. The manuscripts can be divided into six different groups, which ultimately resolve themselves into a stemma of two main branches. Two of these groups are associated with the creation of new, distinct recensions of the text: one by Gutun Owain in 1497, and another by Syr Thomas ab Ieuan ap Deicws in 1510. In this paper, I intend to provide a survey of the transmission of the text across the five centuries of its reproduction, focussing on the reasons for the emergence of particular textual groupings.

Micheál Hoyne: Lower-class entertainers at the later medieval Gaelic court

In this paper, I will draw upon Early Modern Irish literature (both poetry and prose) and contemporary English-language sources to provide an overview of the evidence for lower-class entertainers, such as amhrán-makers, jesters and fools, at the courts of the patrons of the arts in Gaelic Ireland and Scotland c.1200–c.1650. This paper will also examine the attitude of the prestigious, well-educated filidh to these lower-class entertainers and demonstrate the importance for a proper understanding of some Early Modern Irish texts of the tensions and rivalries that existed in this period between men of art and entertainers.

Mona Jakob: Conceptual rhyming patterns in Old and Middle Irish – A case study

In this paper I propose to present some of the data I have gathered during my research project on conceptual rhyming patterns. It will be interesting to explore the possibility that the poet(s) created an associative expectation in their audience’s mind, i.e. when the first rhyming word was read or heard the second word would be anticipated, just as a modern reader of English expects ‘stones’ to rhyme with ‘bones’. I will discuss those rhyming words that are frequently combined with the same rhyming partner, looking at various poems as a single unit, but also comparing the data across the whole corpus. The focus will be on the epic Middle Irish poem of Saltair na Rann, but other poems of a different genre and a different metre (of the Old and Middle Irish period) will serve as comparative material.

Brendan Kane / Wes Hamrick: Reading Early Modern Irish: a digital guide to reading and paleography, c.1200–1650

Reading Early Modern Irish is a collaborative project led by the University of Connecticut and the University of Notre Dame and involving partners in the US and Ireland that aims to produce a web-based tutorial and resource for learning how to read and translate Early Modern Irish verse and prose, in both print and manuscript. The centuries covered by Early Modern Irish are among the most momentous in Irish and British history. The period opened with the Norman invasion (1169), which introduced the first English colonial presence in Ireland. It closed with the Tudor/Stuart “reconquest,” namely the creation of Ireland as a kingdom under the English crown (1541) and the subsequent efforts to subjugate the island and its peoples through the use of plantations and colonies of British settlers. Mirroring that momentous social and political change were important developments in the language itself. Yet, for all the importance this period and its literary remains have for scholars across disciplines, too few researchers make use of Early Modern Irish sources in their work.

The need for such a globally-available, digital resource is great. There are many sources available for learning Modern and Old Irish (Middle Irish is typically approached through study of Old Irish), but there are no comparable materials for learning Early Modern Irish: no comprehensive grammar, no guide to translation and interpretation and no dictionary. Consequently, nearly 500 years of Irish and Scottish writing remains grossly underused by scholars as the difficulty of acquiring the language limits access. Moreover, it is a small subset of those who read the language who also read it in manuscript. Consequently, numerous manuscripts that would tell us much about Irish and Scottish history and letters remain under-utilized – let alone transcribed and edited – in libraries and archives across Europe and the United States. Influenced by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies’ Summer School program, and advances in digital humanities such as ISOS and the Bardic Poetry Database, Reading Early Modern Irish seeks to create and offer the means by which a global audience of scholars can build reading and transcription skills in verse and poetry and thus incorporate this rich archive. By offering the first systematic introductory apparatus for learning to read, transcribe and translate this material, Reading Early Modern Irish seeks to provide the means by which complete beginners may access the language.

In the presentation we will discuss the concept and rationale for the project, demonstrate the progress made so far, and describe what future work needs to be done.

Anton Kukhto: Mora-count and stress retraction in Gaeilge Chorca Dhuibhne

Lexical stress patterns in Gaeilge Chorca Dhuibhne (GCD) have so far been analysed in some detail, cf. Sjoestedt 1931, O’Rahilly 1932, Blankenhorn 1981, Ó Sé 1989, 2000, 2008, Doherty 1991, Gussmann 1995, Green 1996, Hickey 2011, and Iosad 2013, among others. All these authors concentrated primarily on the mechanisms of stress assignment to a certain word, whereas in the present talk I would like to discuss a post-lexical phenomenon in the field in question — the so-called stress retraction.

By stress retraction I understand a replacement of lexical stress to the leftmost syllable in a word under the influence of the word’s immediately following context, e.g.:

  1. a. cailín b. cailín óg
    [kaljˈiːnj] [ˌkaljiːˈn̪joːg]
    ‘girl’ ‘young girl’

In this talk I will argue that the traditional ways of analysing phenomena of the like, such as (Liberman, Prince 1977) or (Hayes 1984) are not quite applicable to the system of GCD, and what we might need here is a new approach to account for the data. I propose an analysis based on mora-count: the necessary and sufficient condition for retraction is that when the distance between two stressed syllables in two consecutive stressed words is equal or less than two morae. Thus, stress retraction happens in cases like (2), where there is a single long vowel í comprising to morae between the two underlying stressed syllables, and does not in cases like (3), where there is one long and one short vowel in between.

  1. 2 μ: múinteoir [muːn̪jˈt̪joːɾj] ‘a teacher’ ⇒
    múinteoirí scoile [ˌmuːn̪jˌt̪joːɾjiːˈskɪljə] ‘school teachers’;
  2. 3 μ: amhránaí [aʊˈɾɑːn̪iː] ‘a singer’ ⇒
    amhránaí as Albain [aʊˌɾɑːn̪iːəs̪ˈaləbənj] ‘a singer from Scotland’.

In this talk I will also discuss some of the constraints on stress retraction imposed by segmental make-up of words and prosodic phrasing of sentences.


Blankenhorn, V. S. 1981. Pitch, quantity and stress in Munster Irish. Éigse 18, pp. 225–250.

Doherty, C. 1991. Munster Irish stress. Phonology at Santa Cruz 2, ed. by A. Mester and S. Robbins, pp. 19–32.

Green, A. D. 1996. Stress placement in Munster Irish. CLS 32, pp. 77–92.

Gussmann, E. 1995. Putting your best foot forward: stress in Munster Irish. Celts and Vikings: proceedings of the Fourth Symposium of Societas Celtologica Nordica, ed. by Folke Josephson, pp. 103–133.

Hayes, B. 1984. The Phonology of Rhythm in English. Linguistic Inquiry 15, pp. 33–74. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Hickey, R. 2011. The Dialects of Irish: Study of a Changing Landscape. No. 230 in Trends in Linguistics. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin.

Iosad, P. 2013. Head-dependent asymmetries in Munster Irish prosody. Nordlyd 40.1, special issue ‘A Festschrift on the Occasion of X Years of CASTL Phonology and Curt Rice’s Lth Birthday’, ed. by S. Blaho, M. Krämer and B. Morén-Duolljá, pp. 66–107.

Liberman, M. and Prince, A. 1977. On Stress and Linguistic Rhythm. Linguistic Inquiry 8, pp. 249–336. MIT Press.

O’Rahilly, T. F. 1932. Irish Dialects: Past and Present, with chapters on Scottish and Manx. Browne & Nolan, Dublin.

Ó Sé, D. 1989. Contributions to the Study of Word Stress in Irish. Ériu 40, pp. 147–178.

Ó Sé, D. 2000. Gaeilge Chorca Dhuibhne. Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann, BÁC.

Ó Sé, D. 2008. Word stress in Munster Irish. Éigse 36, pp. 87–112.

Sjoestedt, M. L. 1931. Phonétique d’un parler Irlandais de Kerry. Librairie Ernest Leroux, Paris.

Elliott Lash: “Non-canonical” subject positions in passive sentences

In this paper, I have put together a corpus of passive sentences from the following sources: the lexicon of the Würzburg Glosses (Kavanagh 2001), the Milan Glosses Database (Griffith 2013), the 7th, 8th, and 9th century texts in POMIC (Lash 2014a), the Priscian Glosses Database (Bauer 2015), the ‘minor’ glosses (i.e. all other glosses besides Würzburg, Milan, or St. Gall) in the Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus (Stokes and Strachan 1901–1903).1 This corpus was used to examine the frequency, structure, and context of passive sentences having subjects placed in positions other than immediately after the verb. I have distinguished three types of subject positions in this regard: (a) subjects placed after discourse particles such as danó or trá, (b) subjects placed at the end of the sentence or clause, (c) subjects placed in some other position than (a), (b), or immediately after the verb. Types (a) and (b) have been covered by Lash (2014b) and Mac Giolla Easpaig (1980) while the type covered by (c) has not been discussed before and is the main subject of this paper. This is illustrated by example (1).

  1. …brethae PP[hōsuidiu] Subject[mór dusētaib] PP[do Abimeleȧch] PP[hiterfochraic marbtha Dauid].“…much treasure was brought from the latter to Abimelech as the price of slaying David.”(Griffith 2013: Ml. 52x00)2

In this example the subject is found after a prepositional phrase representing the source, and preceding two other prepositional phrases, one representing the indirect object, and the other representing a kind of adjunct. While not particularly common in the corpus, the construction is found at least once in all of the databases consulted, an occasionally more than once, thus demonstrating the fact that it was a possible construction for many speakers of Old Irish in the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries. Furthermore, the fact that it is used in Glosses rather than in highly literary poetic compositions might imply that it represents a real fact about the functional and formal syntax of early Irish, as opposed to certain stylistic constructions, like Bergin’s law or Tmesis whose non-Latinate origin have been repeatedly questioned in the literature.

I will examine the types of constituents found preceding and following the subject in this construction and attempt to characterize the formal structure of such examples. I will suggest that examples like (1) are similar to there-associate constructions in English, which constitute a class of constructions, found with both passive and intransitive verbs containing an expletive ‘there’ followed at some point in the sentence with an associate which is normally characterized as bearing nominative case. An example of this type is (2).

  1. There were, in the course of events, several demonstrators arrested by police.

In such examples the subject (several demonstrators) is located far from the finite verb (were) while the position where the subject normally occurs is occupied by an expletive. The suggestion in this paper is that examples like (1) can be understood in a similar way, except that in early Irish expletives equivalent to there (and it) are normally null (or put a different way, they are expressed as endings on the verb).

Just as in English, the there-associate construction in Irish is also found with certain types of non-passive intransitive verbs, such as, in particular, téit ‘go’. Verbs having this meaning are normally characterized as ‘unaccusative’ in the syntactic literature. I have therefore also included in the corpus all instances of the verb téit from the various databases listed above.


1 Fully bibliographical information will be provided in the handout.

2 I have added macrons to unmarked long vowels. I have also included labeled brackets to indicate constituency and grammatical function. Otherwise, I have maintained the word breaks and spelling found in Griffith 2013.

Síle Ní Mhurchú: Na dánta grá: léargaisí ós na lámhscríbhinní

Tá an chuid is mó den dtráchtaireacht atá déanta ag scoláirí ar na dánta grá go dtí seo bunaithe ar eagráin Thomáis Í Rathile (1916, 1926). Is annamh a thagraítear do théacsanna na ndánta mar atáid sna lámhscríbhinní. Sa pháipéar seo, féachfar ar roinnt dánta grá a bhfuil difríochtaí idir na téacsanna mar atáid sna lámhscríbhinní agus an téacs a chuir an Rathileach ar fáil. Ina theannta sin, féachfar ar dhánta grá nár foilsíodh roimhe seo agus pléifear na tuiscintí breise a d’fhéadfaidís seo a thabhairt dúinn ar na dánta grá mar sheánra.

Silva Nurmio: The Shape of Water: Mass nouns in Irish and Welsh

The features MASS and COUNT in nouns are currently the subject of much cross-linguistic interest (see esp. Count and Mass Across Languages, ed. Massam (2012)). In recent scholarship the theoretical debate has shifted from regarding MASS and COUNTas lexical features of nouns to viewing them as features of noun phrases as a whole, meaning that at least some nouns can be mass nouns in one NP environment and count in another. For instance, English cake can be both; cf. cake is good for you (mass) and three cakes (count). Celtic languages are so far absent from the debate and this paper is a preliminary investigation of how MASS and COUNT are coded in Welsh and Irish and how they interact with other noun categories of these languages. The question is also asked to what extent the semantics and morphology of MASS could go back to Proto-Celtic inheritance and to what extent do Irish and Welsh innovate. For example, MASS / COUNT and COLLECTIVE / SINGULATIVE have a complex interrelationship in Welsh. Irish lacks a noun category corresponding exactly to Welsh collective/singulative nouns, showing that MASS must be studied within the context of the overall nominal system of each language.

Tomás Ó Cathasaigh: Dubthach’s laíd in Táin Bó Cúailnge

In Recension I of TBC, Dubthach Dóel Ulad utters a prophetic poem of five quatrains, warning the men of Ireland of what lies ahead as they set out on their invasion of Ulster. Thurneysen deemed the poem (in its transmitted state) incomplete and defective, and C. O’Rahilly took a poor view of it was well. This paper offers a fresh reading of the poem.

Eamon O Ciosáin: A Breton narrative of four and half years on the front lines, 1914–18: Kammdro an Ankeu by Loeiz Herrieu

Loeiz Herrieu (1879–1953) was arguably the most important writer in the Vannes dialect of Breton in the 20th century. His work comprises poetry, collections of traditional songs, drama, textbooks and journalism. He was editor-publisher of the review Dihunamb (‘Let us awake’). He was mobilised in 1914 and spent almost five years on or near the front in Northern France. During this time he kept a diary – which he illustrated – and sent letters to his wife for safe keeping. These sources were later combined in a substantial prose work covering the whole duration of the war, which he entitled Kammdro an Ankeu and which he published in the Dihunamb review between 1933 and 1942. An edition in book form was published in 1974 and two French translations and a revised edition in Breton have been published since. Kammdro an Ankeu is an exceptionally vivid description of the humdrum horrors and of the absurdity of warfare, written in a linguistically rich and frank style which draws on the lexicography and literary tradition of the Vannes area in particular. It deserves a place as a major work of 20th century Breton literature and also as an important contribution to war literature from a minority language perspective.

Liam P. Ó Murchú: A War Poem, circa 1599

The 63 quatrain poem beginning Maith bhur bhfíor catha, a chlann Róigh is attributed to Tuileagna Ó Maolchonaire. The poem encourages Uaithne Ó Mórdha of Laois in his efforts against the Elizabethan army during the Nine Years War. The themes treated of include the bellum justum, the territories of Laois being granted by the Laighin to Laoiseach of the Clann Róigh in ancient times, Ó Mórdha’s valour which in an apologue is compared with that of Cú Chuluinn. The possibility of a rendezvous between Ó Mórdha and Ó Néill is mentioned in one quatrain and may well refer to the Earl of Tyrone’s campaign in Munster in the winter of 1599–1600 and thus indicate a possible compositional date.

Gordon Ó Riain: Remarks on the citations in IGT V

Various aspects of the citations in the Early Modern Irish tract on faults known as IGT V will be discussed in this paper, including their nature and subject matter.

Peadar Ó Muircheartaigh: A Manx ballad in Belanagare and its significance: Fin as Ossian revisited

This paper will examine the occurrence of a copy of the Manx ballad Fin as Ossian among the papers of Charles O’Conor of Belanagare. The text itself will be examined as well as the context in which O’Conor came to acquire it. Although variants of this Manx ballad have been edited in the past, it will be argued that O’Conor’s text provides a unique insight into the preservation of this ballad and the preservation of Manx secular literature in the eighteenth century more generally.

Aidan O’Sullivan / Brendan O’Neill / Eileen Reilly: How to build an early medieval round house: some perspectives from archaeology, early Irish history, and experimental archaeology

This paper will describe a current experimental archaeology project investigating the architecture and technology of early medieval round houses in Ireland, based specifically on the 7th century houses excavated at Deer Park Farms, Co. Antrim, but drawing from wider archaeological, ethnological, textual and palaeoenvironmental evidence. It will also outline the potential of experimental archaeology for investigating the practical, lived experience of inhabiting such structures, as well as their social and ideological roles.

Andrea Palandri: The Irish Marco Polo in the Book of Lismore: an introduction and some linguistic issues.

Since the Irish adaptation of Marco Polo’s Travels was edited and translated by Whitely Stokes in 1896–97, there has been no comprehensive study of the text. The focus of this paper will be to provide an introduction to the first in-depth study of the Irish adaptation of Marco Polo’s Travels, which survives in a unique copy in the Book of Lismore, compiled for Fínghin Mac Carthaigh Riabhach towards the end of the fifteenth century. This paper will mention some of the principal issues which concern this text, such as the importance of the Latin version of Marco Polo’s Travels written by Francesco Pipino between 1314 and 1324 and the main palaeographical problems which affect the reading of the text. However, this paper will primarily discuss the text’s linguistic features, such as infixed pronouns, feminine numerals and issues with the comparative degree, all of which are signs of pseudo-archaisation.

Fangzhe Qiu: Manuscript contexts of early Irish law tracts: a preliminary study

The various early Irish law tracts survive mainly in late medieval manuscripts from the 14th century on, despite that the earliest stratum of these texts can be dated to the 7th century. Many of these law tracts are not preserved in exclusively legal ‘lawbooks’, but are transmitted together with other texts such as wisdom texts, literature, grammatical works and genealogy in the manuscripts. The manuscript contexts of early Irish law tracts, especially the arrangement of texts, have barely been studied so far. This paper aims to examine, firstly, the manuscript environment of early Irish law tracts in general; and to focus, then, on the manuscript contexts of a particular law tract Uraicecht Becc. This tract is found, in its various copies in manuscripts of different times and origins, often in close proximity to certain texts or type of texts: these texts, mostly non-legal, are however obviously regarded as a closely related group and transmitted as such across different manuscripts. This poses interesting questions: how was Uraicecht Becc perceived by the scribes? Who read Uraicecht Becc and for what purpose? A preliminary study on Uraicecht Becc suggests that this tract was primarily intended as a synopsis of law that is part of the basic curriculum for a wide spectrum of intellectuals.

Guto Rhys: Pictish *kon versus Brittonic *kun — A Distinctive Pictish Feature Questioned

In 1982 John Koch proposed that Pictish /u/ was sometimes perceived as /o/. Three items were adduced as evidence for this change: WenikonesMeilochon and Congust. Moreover it was noted that this would define a clear-cut Pritenic (the purported ancestor of Pictish) innovation from Gallo-Brittonic in the first century A.D. If this were to hold it would represent one of the exceedingly rare features that would indicate that Pictish was diverging from Brittonic at an early period. Additionally this development was seen as supporting Jackson’s view that Pictish was a dialect of Gaulish. In this paper the evidence will be examined in detail and alternative explanations will be suggested that will both complexify the situation and argue that all aspects of the original theory are open to significant doubt.

Firstly the item Congust will be demonstrated to be spurious, based on garbled forms in the Pictish king-lists and one pictified Irish name.

Secondly other items which could attest reflexes of *kuno- in Pictland will be investigated i.e. the ogham segment CONMORS and a place-name which may attest the personal name ‘Conmark’.

Thirdly, as background to the second part of this presentation, the reconstructed declensional paradigm of Proto-Celtic *kuno- will be introduced. This will lead to a brief discussion of the problematic plural reflexes in Neo-Celtic languages.

Fourthly, the ethnonym Wenikones will be discuss as will the name Meilochon. Alternative etymologies will be discussed and the other evidence for the fate of Celtic /o/ in Pictish will be surveyed.

The presentation will conclude noting that a Pictish /kon/ is plausible. but that the variation between /kon/ and /kun/ is widely attested elsewhere in Brittonic, perhaps indicating the incomplete generalisation of root-vowel variation. The evidence is therefore insufficient and too ambiguous to argue that /kon/ is evidence for Pictish proximity to Gaulish or indeed to posit any significant or early divergence from Brittonic.

Paul Russell: The Lincoln Vita S. Davidi revisited

Lincoln, Cathedral Library 149, with Lincoln 150 and Gloucester, Cathedral Library 1, forms a three-volume legendary made for the priory of Leominster (Herefordshire). It contains a short life of St David which has received intermittent attention as it has some textual similarities to (but also differences from) the Middle Welsh Life of David. Previous discussion (James, Evans) of the Lincoln version predates the revision of our understanding of the relationship between the different versions of the Latin life by Sharpe (cf. also the edition of Rhygyfarch’s Life by Sharpe and Davies). In the light of their work, the Lincoln version is re-visited and its place in the manuscript tradition of both the Latin and Welsh lives re-assessed.


Evans, D. S. (ed.), The Welsh Life of Saint David (Cardiff, 1988).

James, J. W., ‘The Welsh Version of Rhigyfarch’s “Life of St. David”’, National Library of Wales Journal, 9 (1955–6), 1–21.

Sharpe R. and J. R. Davies, ‘Edition of Rhygyfarch’s Life’, in Evans and Wooding, St David of Wales, pp. 107–55.

Sharpe, R., ‘Which life is Rhygyfarch’s Life of St David?’, in Evans and Wooding, St David of Wales, pp. 90–105.

Evans, J. W. and J. M. Wooding (eds.), St David of Wales. Cult, church and nation (Woodbridge, 2007).

Nicole Volmering: Reading and Writing the Félire Oéngusso

The manuscript witnesses of the Félire Óengusso are relatively late in date and have not hitherto received much critical attention in their own right. In this paper I intend to present the results of a preliminary case study carried out as part of an IRC-sponsored project on the transmission and reception of the Félire Óengusso, which will include a new edition. I will primarily focus on scribal interaction with the text, as copyists and contemporary readers and interpreters, and consider the implications for their – and our – understanding of the text.

Ksenia Borisova: Veneration of the 12 apostles of Ireland in the 9th -12th c.

Medieval Ireland seems to be the only European country that created its own twelve apostles. Two possible lists of these saints appear in a number of Irish texts dating approximately from the 10th to the 13th centuries. All of these saints (except for Patrick) belong to the 6th century and come from various parts of Ireland, which makes it difficult to define the origins of the cult. Among them, along with the most famous Irish saints such as Patrick, Columba or Cíarán, are listed nearly forgotten ones, such as Ninnid or Senán. Besides, only two of these saints were actually missionaries while the others could not be called “apostles” according to Catholic tradition. This situation leads to a number of questions about the appearance and existence of the “twelve apostles of Ireland” as a cult. However, none of the texts mentioning them makes it clear how the list of these saints was formed and why they are called “apostles of Ireland”. In historiography, as far as I know, these questions remain unexamined.

My paper deals with the veneration of the “12 apostles of Ireland” in medieval Irish church tradition. The research is based on various sources including saints’ Lives, sagas, hymns, annals and missals. An examination of these texts and analysis of the lists of saints have allowed me to make some suggestions about the origins and development of the cult of the twelve apostles of Ireland.