Session 55: Ystafell 7
Early Modern literature: Irish and Gaelic

Chair: Maxim Fomin

From Dún Chaoin to Antarctica – the role of place in the poetry of Piaras Feiritéar (c.1600 - c.1652)

Deirdre Nic Mhathúna
Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath (DCU)

This paper will examine the role of place in the poetry of Piaras Feiritéar (c.1600 – c.1652), poet and military leader. A descendant of Anglo-Norman settlers to the Dingle peninsula, Co. Kerry, Feiritéar’s poetry displays a keen sense of attachment to his native area. Many place names from Counties Kerry, Cork and Limerick are employed, as are the names of historical and mythological figures from the Irish tradition. However, Feiritéar’s outlook extends beyond Munster and Ireland, reflecting his immersion in the cultural and intellectual life of contemporary Western Europe. Geographical allusions range from the local (Dún Chaoin) to the global (Antarctica). Detailed knowledge of the English aristocracy is evident in the courtly love poem ‘Tugas annsacht d’óigh Ghallda’ (‘I loved an English maiden’), while the elegy ‘Mo thraochadh is mo shaoth lém ló thu’ (‘You are the cause of my lifelong exhaustion and distress’) commemorates a friend who died while serving in the Spanish army in Flanders. In addition to these concrete examples of connections with the wider world, Feiritéar’s corpus of poetry reveals an outlook that is, at times, humanist in character. It will be argued that references to place and to figures associated with specific areas and cultures reflect both Feiritéar’s deep connection with Gaelic literary tradition and his affinity with contemporary European intellectual thought.

Alasdair Mac Mhaighsdir Alasdair’s 'Cath Finntrágha'

Martina Maher
Faclair na Gàidhlig, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, UHI

Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Adv. MS 72.2.11 is an 18th-century version of the tale ‘Cath Finntrágha’ (‘The Battle of Ventry’), in the hand of the well-known poet and scholar Alasdair MacDonald, better known as Alasdair Mac Mhaighsdir Alasdair, with a strong element of Scottish Gaelic. This text is of interest as the only distinctly Scottish, rather than Irish, version.

In this paper, having edited this tale, I will examine the distinctive Scottish Gaelic features of the text and why it is of interest to the Faclair na Gàidhlig project. Arising from the examination of the text’s language, some initial findings on literary aspects of the tale will also be presented. The editor of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson B 487’s text of ‘Cath Finntrágha’ (1962), Cecile O’Rahilly, does not discuss Adv MS 72.2.11 in the introduction to the text. Consequently, some similarities with and differences from other (particularly 18th-century) versions of 'Cath Finntrágha' will be explored to investigate if and how this corresponds to the groups into which the other copies of the tale fall, as well as considering whether the lay of Cath Finntrágha, as preserved in the Book of the Dean of Lismore, appears to have had any influence on this Scottish version of the prose tale. Furthermore, if a relationship can be established between this and other versions of the tale, it becomes possible to examine whether we may thus obtain an insight into eighteenth-century Gaelic scribal networks.