Betha Adamnáin‘The Life of Adomnán’

  • Middle Irish
  • prose
  • Irish hagiography
Early Middle Irish Life of Adomnán, abbot of Iona (d. 704), written about the middle of the tenth century.
Initial words (prose)
  • Accinge sicut uir lumbos tuos
  • Middle Irish
  • early Middle Irish
According to the latest editors, Herbert and Ó Riain, the text was written about 950 (968?), at a time when the centre of Columba's familia moved from Iona to Kells (Co. Meath).
prose (primary)
verse (secondary)


Irish hagiography


AdomnánAdomnán (fl. c.628–704) – abbot of Iona; author of a Life of St Columba
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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.] Herbert, Máire, and Pádraig Ó Riain, Betha Adamnáin: The Irish life of Adamnán, Irish Texts Society 54, London: Irish Texts Society, 1988.
CELT – edition: <link>
[ed.] Best, R. I. [ed.], “Betha Adamnáin”, in: Bergin, Osborn, R. I. Best, Kuno Meyer, and J. G. O'Keeffe (eds.), Anecdota from Irish manuscripts, vol. 2, Halle and Dublin, 1908. 10–20.
Celtic Digital Initiative – PDF: <link> Internet Archive – vols 1-5: <link>
[tr.] Joynt, Maud, “The Life of Adamnan”, The Celtic Review 5 (1908–1909): 97–107.
Internet Archive: <link>

Secondary sources (select)

Wadden, Patrick, “Trácht Romra and the Northumbrian episode in Betha Adamnáin”, Ériu 62 (2012): 101–111.
Carey, John, “Varieties of supernatural contact in the Life of Adomnán”, in: Carey, John, Máire Herbert, and Pádraig Ó Riain (eds.), Studies in Irish hagiography: saints and scholars, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2001. 49–62.
Dennis Groenewegen
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