Session 66: Ystafell 6
Early Irish texts - religion and propaganda

Chair: Gregory Toner

‘Is ferr fo-cēllamar inda сōіс dala…’: some notes on the Irish context of the Last Things

Mikhail Kiselev
Moscow State University

In my PhD thesis, 'An interpretation of the Christian anthropology in Apgitir chrábaid' I develop the research of V. Hull, P. Ó Néill, W. Follett and others, who previously studied the Apgitir chrábaid, an Old Irish monastic wisdom tract written c.7th-8th centuries  

One of the goals of my thesis is to develop a list of authentic sources that could have influenced the author/authors or compiler/compilers of the Apgitir chrábaid. It seems especially profitable to identify the influence of the Christian Scriptures, ideas of European theology and Continental monastic wisdom tradition on Apgitir chrábaid.

In my paper, I present my preliminary results and concentrate on the concept сōіс dala ‘five trysts’: i.e., ‘a tryst with groaning, a tryst with death, a tryst with the household of God, a tryst with devils, [and] a tryst with resurrection on Doomsday’ (translated V. Hull). I discuss the origins of this concept in Early Irish literature as well as its relations with anterior and posterior Christian tradition, particularly that of the Last Things.

The commentary to Broccán’s Hymn, and Brigidine tradition

Dorothy Ann Bray
McGill University

Broccán’s Hymn (c. 9C.) is a ‘biographical’ hymn to St. Brigit of Kildare, which relates in verse many of the same miracles found in Cogitosus’ Life of St. Brigit (c. 650). A commentary composed in the early 12C. exists in only one of the two manuscript versions of the Irish Liber Hymnorum and includes anecdotes from other sources in St. Brigit’s tradition to accompany the verses. The commentator also includes material of no known source, or variations on events in Brigit’s hagiography, thereby adding further material to Brigit’s hagiographical dossier. The commentary often seems connected to the verse that it accompanies, taking up an allusion in the verse, but sometimes not.

What is the connection between the Hymn and the commentary? What kind of information was the commentator giving and for what purpose? What hints does the commentary give regarding St. Brigit’s cult and tradition in the early 12C.?

In a previous paper (delivered at ICCS 2015), I explored in detail the first of the anecdotes in the commentary, the story of Plea, and its connection to tales of drowned cities, sea voyages, St. Brendan the Navigator, and monastic rules. This paper proposes to examine the commentary a bit more broadly in the context of Brigidine tradition, the Hymn itself, and the rumbles of reform as the Irish Church entered the 12C. and perhaps find some answers to the above questions.


Senchas Airgialla in so: an edition of the 'Tale of the Three Collas'

Mark David L. Gibbard
University of Toronto

The text sometimes referred to as Senchas Airgialla, or otherwise the story of 'The Three Collas', is often cited by historians as an example of Uí Néill 'propaganda', the origin-myth of the Airgialla dynasty, and for the implications of the kinslaying the three Colla brothers committed, thereby disqualifying their descendants from the high-kingship of Tara. Although the text is very short and straightforward, it appears to have some significant differences across its manuscript witnesses. Although the text has been edited before, this study shall focus on the version found in the Great Book of Lecan, which was not studied by previous editors. It will be argued that this version features several linguistic and narrative features unique among the other witnesses, and a working diplomatic edition will be presented. Its relationship to the other witnesses will also be discussed, as well as its significance to historical studies as an example of the 'origin myth' of the Airgialla dynasty.