Session 50: Ystafell 2
Medieval Irish literature and manuscripts

Chair: Donald Alasdair Morrison

The floruit of Gilla Cóemáin

John Carey
Coláiste na hOllscoile, Corcaigh (Cork)

That the Middle Irish poet Gilla Cóemáin was active in the year 1072 has been generally accepted on the strength of a poem attributed to him, in which this is given as the date of composition. But the poet does not name himself, and the attribution to Gilla Coemain appears to depend on a heading in a single medieval copy. This paper will examine this evidence afresh, and will attempt to determine whether there are any other indications that speak for or against Gilla Cóemáin authorship.

Extraction and expansion: the Aidbriugh and Adhmad glossaries

Alice Taylor-Griffiths
University of Cambridge

Glossaries are an intriguing and understudied area of medieval Irish legal literature. They were designed to aid comprehension and engagement with difficult or important texts, by citing a headword from the main text and providing a brief explanation, and were intended to be read alongside the main text. Ultimately some were absorbed into larger glossaries, eventually structured in alpha-order. The Aidbriugh (TCD H 3.18 pp. 61a–62b) and Adhmad (TCD H 3. 18 pp. 422a-b) glossaries reflect two different interim stages in this process.

In both glossaries, most of the entries are in textual order. They focus on different parts of the same poetico-legal text, Bretha Nemed Dédenach (BND), and may have formed part of the same glossary in origin. Both contain additional material, and this provides a point of comparison in the process of how a fragmentary glossary moves away from its primary textual focus. In Aidbriugh, we see the first stage of a growing glossary: additional material from BND has been added in the margins. In Adhmad, we see a later stage of development, where material which may once have been marginalia has been incorporated into the main text. The material in Adhmad is also not restricted to BND, but rather reflects a variety of sources and cites poetical stanzas and categories, showing a wider interest in poetry.

Together, they provide an insight into a work in progress, and this paper will explore the process and rationale behind these glossaries.

Linguistic dating and the revision of Lebor na hUidre

Gregory Toner
Ollscoil na Banríona, Béal Feirste (Queens, Belfast)

This paper will examine the evidence for the dating of the revisions in the twelfth-century manuscript, Lebor na hUidre. The name of only one scribe, Máel Muire, is given in the manuscript and the identity of H, recently split into six distinct hands by Duncan, remains unknown. Most recent scholarly opinion places it firmly in the twelfth century. Breatnach, who has carried out the first detailed linguistic survey of the H material, places it in the first quarter of the twelfth century, whereas Duncan would place the later scribes on palaeographical grounds in the last quarter of the twelfth century and into the thirteenth. In this paper, I will re-examine the linguistic arguments for the dating of H through a more detailed analysis of the texts concerned. This investigation raises questions about scribal practice, the representation of linguistic change, and the theory and practice of linguistic dating methods.