Tales of the Elders of Ireland (Acallam na Senórach)

By Ann Dooley; Harry Roe | Go to book overview

EXPLANATORY NOTES
3Commar, Gabair, and Ollarba : only in Tales are these three battles linked together as the final disasters that destroyed the Fíana. In a text in the twelfth-century Book of Leinster (LL) eds. R. I. Best, M. O'Brien, and A. O'Sullivan, 6 vols. ( Dublin, 1954-83), Do Fhlathiusaib hÉrenn (On the Lords of Ireland, pt. i, fo. 24, col. a, ll. 26-30), the three battles are listed in sequence as the battles in which mythical kings of Tara fell. In LL, Cairbre Lifechair is killed at the battle of Gabair by Senioth, son of Cerb, rather than Oscar as in Tales, p. 221. In another poem in LL, fo. 48, col. b, l. 39, Caílte is said to have slain Fothad Airgdech, who fell in the battle of Ollarba according to the LL poem above. The second of these battles, Gabair (listed first in the LL poem), is mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters (AFM) at AD 2 84), 2 85), but this collection draws much of its material from non-annalistic sources such as the LL material above, hence may not be an independent citation. Gabair is in the region of the River Liffey, Co. Dublin, Ollarba is connected with the River Larne in Co. Antrim, and Comur is in Co. Meath. Tales refers again to the battle of Ollarba, p. 165.
Oisín . . . Rónán : the convention that Caílte and Oisín survived until the time of Patrick is first established by Tales and remains a staple of Fenian tradition thereafter. According to Tales, Oisín's mother was a mysterious Blái, daughter of the otherworld Derg Díanscothach of Síd Ochta Cleitigh. The earliest reference to the persistent folkloric legend that his mother was a deer comes from some quatrains (dated to the eleventh century by K. Meyer, Fianaigecht, Royal Irish Academy, Todd Lecture Series, 16 ( Dublin, 1910), p. xxvi) in the margin of LL. Oisín rather than Caílte is the main protagonist and storyteller in the later recension of the Acallam ( Agallamh na Seanórach (AS 2), ed. and trans. N. Ní Shéaghdha , 3 vols. ( Dublin, 1942-5)). His name derives from os 'deer', so the deer association is of some antiquity; the name may also connect him with the Osraige, the important vassal people occupying the border area between Leinster and Munster, roughly corresponding to the extent of the present diocese of Ossory. His biography is not fully represented in the literary tradition but can be filled out from folktale evidence ( M. Ó Briain , "'Some material on Oisín in the Land of Youth'" in Sages, Saints and Storytellers: Celtic Studies in Honour of Professor James Carney, eds. D. Ó Corráin, L. Breatnach, and K. McCone (Maynooth, 1989), 181-99; Eoin Mac Neill and G. Murphy, Duanaire Finn: The Book of the Lays of Finn (DF), Irish Texts Society, 3 Parts, 7, 28, 43 ( London, 1908, 1933, 1953), vol. ii, no. xliii, pp. 100-1, and vol. iii, pp. 100-3). Caílte's name occurs with Finn in the commentary on the Leinster genealogical tract Senchus Laigin ( M. O'Brien, Corpus Genealogorum Hiberniae ( Dublin,

-224-

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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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