The quarrel about the loaf
    verse beg. A bairgen ataí i ngábud

    • Middle Irish
    • verse
    • Early Irish poetry

    Middle Irish dialogue poem (18qq) with prose epilogue in the Book of Leinster. The poem is presented as a contentious dialogue between an old woman (callech) of Leinster and a servant (gilla) of the king of Munster (Cerball mac Muirecáin), in which the latter insists on his entitlement to meals and hospitality. The prose epilogue goes on to explain the reasons for the quarrel.

    Poetic dialogue (18 quatrains) and a prose epilogue.
    Initial words (verse)
    • A bairgen ataí i ngábud
    “Loaf, you are in danger”
    • Middle Irish
    verse (primary)
    prose (secondary)
    Number of stanzas


    Early Irish poetry

    Subject tags

    Cerball mac MuirecáinCerball mac Muirecáin (d. c. 909) – king of Leinster
    See more
     Munster  Leinster  Mag Dála


    Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

    [ed.] [tr.] O'Nowlan, T. P., “The quarrel about the loaf”, Ériu 1 (1904): 128–137.
    Internet Archive: <link>
    [dipl. ed.] Best, Richard Irvine, Osborn Bergin, and M. A. O'Brien, The Book of Leinster, formerly Lebar na Núachongbála, vol. 1, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1954.
    CELT – edition (pp. 1-260): <link>
    223–225 Diplomatic edition.

    Secondary sources (select)

    Mac Cana, Proinsias, “The motif of trivial causes”, in: Smyth, Alfred P. [ed.], Seanchas. Studies in early and medieval Irish archaeology, history and literature in honour of Francis J. Byrne, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000. 205–211.
    Dennis Groenewegen
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