Tales of the Elders of Ireland (Acallam na Senórach)

By Ann Dooley; Harry Roe | Go to book overview

NOTE ON THE TEXT AND TRANSLATION

THERE are in all four manuscript witnesses to Tales. Three of these are from the fifteenth century, namely: MS Laud 610, Bodleian Library, Oxford; The Book of Lismore, Library of the Duke of Devonshire; and MS Rawlinson B 487, Bodleian Library, Oxford, and also a copy of MS A IV, Killiney from the sixteenth century. Of these texts the most complete is that contained in the Book of Lismore, a southern manuscript, though the Laud text is probably to be dated somewhat earlier (c. 1450). Laud contains material allegedly drawn, according to some marginalia, from a now lost Book of the Prebend of Cong, an important western Cistercian foundation much patronized by the O'Connor kings of Connaught. Rawlinson B 487 was written for Sadhbh O'Malley, wife of the Sligo chieftain of that name, and is hence also a western text. The manuscript contains a copy of Cath Fionntrágha ( The Battle of Ventry) one of the great battles supposedly fought by Finn and his men against a foreign invader and referred to in the Acallam. The Franciscan manuscript copy is also western in provenance; its text has been influenced by the expansive, alliterative prose style typical of early modern Irish tales. It is thus markedly different from and probably younger than the other three manuscript versions, and although it shares some features in common with a later medieval recension described below, it can hardly be said to amount to a second recension of the work.

Lismore also contains the only copy of yet another Acallam in which the principal characters are Patrick and Oisín rather than the Patrick and Caílte of our text. This is normally called the Acallam Bec, "'The Little Colloquy'", to distinguish it from Tales, "'The Great Colloquy'", and is probably to be dated a little later. At some further point, probably in the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century, yet another Acallam was assembled from both the earlier ones. This version included also a richer selection of those short narrative poems that subsequently became the generic norm for the transmission of Fenian story tradition. It is this later Acallam which was copied repeatedly in the paper manuscripts of the modern period.

This translation is based on the readings of the main manuscripts of Tales. We have checked the text against the facsimile edition

-xxxi-

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Tales of the Elders of Ireland (Acallam na Senórach)
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Content v
  • Introduction vii
  • Note on the Text and Translation xxxi
  • Guide to the Pronunciation of Irish Names xxxiv
  • Select Bibliography xxxviii
  • A Chronology of Fenian Tales in Ireland and Scotland xli
  • Prologue 3
  • Chapter I 5
  • Chapter II 33
  • Chapter III 47
  • Chapter IV 70
  • Chapter V 83
  • Chapter VI 105
  • Chapter VII 124
  • Chapter VIII 127
  • Chapter IX 151
  • Chapter X 179
  • Chapter XI 192
  • Chapter XII 215
  • Epilogue 220
  • Explanatory Notes 224
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