Session 53: Ystafell 5
Mapping Irish martyrologies: creation, composition, and manuscript copies

Chair: Mikhail Kiselev

Mapping the saints: Máel Muire Ua Gormáin and the Irish martyrological tradition

Elva Johnston
University College Dublin

Máel Muire Ua Gormáin (d. c.1181), abbot of Knock Abbey in Co. Louth, was the author of an extensive verse martyrology, generally known as the Martyrology of Gorman. Fortunately, Máel Muire identified two of his key sources, the ninth-century Martyrology of Tallaght and Félire Óengusso; others can be inferred from his text. An analysis of Máel Muire’s work shows that while he was deeply indebted to earlier martyrologies, especially the Martyrology of Tallaght, indebtedness did not extend to merely copying. In particular, his interest in locating cult sites shows that Máel Muire did not hesitate to diverge from his sources, reinterpret them or provide additional onomastic detail. Moreover, it is arguable that the martyrology was a product of the reform of the Irish Church and subsequent ecclesiastical and political events. Máel Muire’s vision of an Isle of Saints was a powerful demonstration of the antiquity and ongoing vitality of the Irish Church, as refracted through its holy men and women.

Míchel Ó Cleirigh’s Commentary to the Félire: the two Brussels manuscripts

Nike Stam
Institiúid Ard-Léinn Bhaile Átha Cliath (DIAS)

The Commentary to the Félire Óengusso is found in seven Irish manuscripts, covering the period between 1400 and 1500. It is, however, also found in two manuscripts of the seventeenth century, both of them by the hand of Mícheál Ó Cleirigh: KBR 5100-4 and KBR 5057-5059. While Whitley Stokes included 5100-4 in both his editions of the Félire (Stokes 1880: 3; 1905: viii) and used its variant readings to reconstruct the calendar proper, he never used it to augment the readings of the commentary. The fragments of the commentary that occur in 5057-5059 he did not use at all, apart from briefly noting their existence in his edition of the Martyrology of Gorman (1895: xv). This makes the material found in these paper manuscripts all the more intriguing: it is, for example, unknown exactly what type of notes they contain. It is also unknown what their relation is to each other and to the earlier tradition of the Félire as found in the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century manuscripts. This paper will present the first findings of ongoing research into these questions.