Texts

Conailla Medb míchuru‘Medb enjoined bad/illegal/evil contracts’
verse beg. Conailla Medb míchuru

  • Old Irish
  • verse
  • Early Irish poetry, Ulster Cycle
Obscure 'accentual poem' by or at least attributed to Luccreth moccu Chíara. The first section deals with the Ulster hero Fergus mac Róich, his situation as an exile in the service of Medb and Ailill, and his participation in their wars over the cattle () of the Ulstermen. The account is thought to refer to an early version of the Táin bó Cúailnge.
Initial words (verse)
  • Conailla Medb míchuru
Author
Ascribed to: Luccreth moccu ChíaraLuccreth moccu Chíara (fl. 7th century) – early Irish poet
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Manuscripts
Language
  • Old Irish
Date
7th century
Form
verse (primary)
Textual relationships
The account is thought to refer to an early version of the Táin bó Cúailnge.(1)n. 1 According to Olmsted, other stories alluded to are the exile of Fergus (cf. Longes mac nUislenn), a raid undertaken by Fergus's son Fiacc to retrieve his grandfather's cattle (cf. Bruiden Da Choca) and the migration of Cland Cethirnd to Munster (cf. Tochomlod na nDéssi); the poem synthesizes these narratives in an attempt to explain why some peoples of Munster (dal Cethirnd) claim Ulster origins. Garrett S. Olmsted, ‘The earliest narrative version of the Táin: seventh-century poetic references to Táin bó Cúailnge’, Emania 10 (1992): 6–7; Garrett S. Olmsted, ‘The earliest narrative version of the Táin: seventh-century poetic references to Táin bó Cúailnge’, Emania 10 (1992): 337.

Classification

Early Irish poetry Ulster Cycle

Subjects

Fergus mac RóichFergus mac Róich (ass. time-frame: Ulster Cycle) – warrior in tales of the Ulster Cycle; former king of Ulster in exile in Connacht; Medb’s lover
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Medb ChrúachnaMedb Crúachna / Medb of Crúachan / Medb of Connacht (ass. time-frame: Subject:Ulster Cycle) – Queen of the Connachta, co-ruler with her husband Ailill mac Máta, in the Ulster Cycle. She is said to have a daughter, Findabair, and seven sons known as the seven Maines. Her lover is Fergus mac Róich.
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Sources

Notes

According to Olmsted, other stories alluded to are the exile of Fergus (cf. Longes mac nUislenn), a raid undertaken by Fergus's son Fiacc to retrieve his grandfather's cattle (cf. Bruiden Da Choca) and the migration of Cland Cethirnd to Munster (cf. Tochomlod na nDéssi); the poem synthesizes these narratives in an attempt to explain why some peoples of Munster (dal Cethirnd) claim Ulster origins. Garrett S. Olmsted, ‘The earliest narrative version of the Táin: seventh-century poetic references to Táin bó Cúailnge’, Emania 10 (1992): 6–7; Garrett S. Olmsted, ‘The earliest narrative version of the Táin: seventh-century poetic references to Táin bó Cúailnge’, Emania 10 (1992): 337.

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.

Henry, P. L. [ed.], “Conailla Medb míchuru and the tradition of Fiacc son of Fergus”, in: Mac Mathúna, Séamus, and Ailbhe Ó Corráin (eds.), Miscellanea Celtica in memoriam Heinrich Wagner, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Celtica Upsaliensia 2, Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet, 1997. 53–70.
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Meyer, Kuno [ed.], “The Laud genealogies and tribal histories”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 8 (1912): 291–338.
CELT – edition: <link> Celtic Digital Initiative – PDF: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Olmsted, Garrett S., “The earliest narrative version of the Táin: seventh-century poetic references to Táin bó Cúailnge”, Emania 10 (1992): 5–17.
Olmsted, Garrett S., “Conailla Medb míchuru and the origins of the Táin”, Études Celtiques 29 (1992): 333–342.  
abstract:
[FR] Conailla Medb Michuru et les origines de la Táin.
Analyse du poème irlandais archaïque Conailla Medb Michuru. L’auteur réfute la théorie de James Carney selon laquelle la Táin bó Cúailnge se fondait plutôt sur l’histoire que sur un mythe. C’est seulement dans les 27 premiers vers que le poème de Luccreth (qui en compte 71) parle de la Táin , et les deux-tiers restant contiennent des matériaux tirés d’une légende mineure de vol de bétail, combinée à un mythe de migration tiré de “L’Expulsion des Déssi”. Cette analyse montrerait que le vers-clef n° 32, condailset a maic marthire, devrait être traduit “Ses fils [à Fergus] se partagèrent un grand territoire”, plutôt que comme il a été précédemment proposé, “Ses grands loups se rassemblèrent”. Contrairement à l’opinion de Carney, le poème s’accorde ainsi avec d’autres poèmes du VIIe s. faisant allusion à la Táin, comme le Morrigan Rosc et les Verba Scathaige. Considérés ensemble, ces trois poèmes montrent que la Táin s’est peu modifiée entre le VIIe et le IXe s.

[EN] This paper analyzes the archaic Irish poem Conailla Medb Michuru. The paper refutes James Carney’s theory that the poem proves that Táin bó Cúailnge had a basis in history rather than in myth. Only in the first 27 of the 71 lines does Luccreth’s poem actually refer to the Táin, while the remaining two-thirds of its lines contain material adapted from a minor “cattle-raid” tale combined with a migration myth adapted from “The Expulsion of the Déssi”. This analysis would indicate that the key line 32, condailset a maic marthire, should be translated, “His [Fergus’s] sons shared great land”, rather than as previously suggested “His great wolves gathered”. Contra Carney, the poem thus agrees with other 7th century poems referencing the Táin, such as Morrigan Rosc and Verba Scathaige. Taken together, these three poems demonstrate that the Táin changed little between the 7th and 9th century.
Journal volume:  Persée – Études Celtiques, vol. 29, 1992: <link>
Olmsted, Garrett S., “Luccreth's poem Conailla Medb míchuru and the origins of the Táin”, Mankind Quarterly 29 (1988): 3–72.

Secondary sources (select)

Carney, James P., “Three Old Irish accentual poems”, Ériu 22 (1971): 23–80.
Carney, James P., “The history of early Irish literature: the state of research”, in: Mac Eoin, Gearóid, Anders Ahlqvist, and Donncha Ó hAodha (eds.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Celtic Studies, held in University College, Galway, 6–13 July, 1979, Proceedings of the International Congress of Celtic Studies 6, Dublin, 1983. 113–130.
Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí, “Prosopographical analysis of Táin bó Cuailnge in a historical setting”, in: Tristram, Hildegard L. C. [ed.], New methods in the research of epic / Neue Methoden der Epenforschung, ScriptOralia 107, Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 1998. 153–159.
Olmsted, Garrett S., “Gaulish, Celtiberian and Indo-European verse”, The Journal of Indo-European Studies 19:3-4 (1991): 259–307.
Sproule, David, “Complex alliteration, full and unstressed rhyme, and the origin of deibide”, Ériu 38 (1987): 185–200.
Contributors
Dennis Groenewegen,Patrick Brown
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