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Texts

Oidheadh Con Culainn‘The death of Cú Chulainn’

  • Early Modern Irish
  • Ulster Cycle
This is the Early Modern Irish version, the later 'Version B', of Cú Chulainn's death-tale, as distinct from its early Irish predecessor Brislech Mór Maige Muirthemne (also Brislech Mór Maige Muirthemne). It consists of two main sections, or three if the concluding poem is considered separately:
  1. Brisleach mhór Mhaighe Muirtheimhne (‘The great defeat on the Plain of Muirtheimhne’), the hero's death-tale proper
  2. Deargruathar Chonall Chearnaigh (‘The red rampage of Conall Cearnach’), an epilogue about Conall Cearnach's tour of revenge
  3. The poem Laoidh na gCeann (‘The lay of the heads’)
It is in prosimetrum (a mixture of both prose and verse), but the choice of poems may differ from one manuscript to another.
Manuscripts

The text is preserved is many manuscripts of dates ranging from the 16th to the late 19th centuries. These include:

Language
  • Early Modern Irish
  • Early Modern Irish

Classification

Ulster Cycle

Sources

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.] Kühns, Julia Sophie, “The pre-19th-century manuscript tradition and textual transmission of the Early Modern Irish tale Oidheadh Con Culainn: a preliminary study”, PhD thesis: University of Glasgow, 2009. 
abstract:
The Early Modern Irish recension of the tale relating Cú Chulainn’s death, Oidheadh Con Culainn, has received comparatively little scholarly attention, especially compared with its Early Irish counterpart, Aided Con Culainn. Consequently, little is known about the textual transmission and manuscript tradition of the Early Modern Irish tale. The present thesis seeks to rectify this and give a more accurate view and preliminary analysis of the extant manuscripts, concentrating on the manuscripts that date to before the 19th century. A core element of this thesis is a draft catalogue of these pre-19th-century manuscripts. Taking advantage of the tale’s prosimetric structure, it will be argued and demonstrated that it is possible to classify the manuscripts of Oidheadh Con Culainn into distinct groups. Within the extant manuscripts preserving the tale we can identify a number of versions of it, differing most notably in the poetry that they contain. The classification of the manuscripts into groups can be established on the basis of the poetry that a version of the tale contains; the emerging groups thus established can be used to comment on the transmission of the tale. In order to corroborate the argument for the manuscript groups, we will explore a number of aspects of the text and the manuscripts, such as textual comparisons on both intra- and inter-group levels, possible relations (e.g. geographical) of the scribes, linguistic and metrical variations, the ‘rhetorics’, and different versions of the tale written by the same scribe. The thesis will further investigate the most famous poem from the text, Laoidh na gCeann (‘The Lay of the Heads’), in order to establish to what extent the evidence from the poem can be used to add to our understanding of the transmission of the overall tale.
Glasgow Theses Service – PDF: <link>
[ed.] Hamel, A. G. van [ed.], Compert Con Culainn and other stories, Mediaeval and Modern Irish Series 3, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1933.
CELT – Compert Con Culainn (1-8): <link> CELT – Aided Óenfir Aífe (9-15): <link> Internet Archive: <link>
69–133. Based on the oldest manuscript Gaelic XLV, with variants.
[ed.] O'Neill, Patrick [ed.], “Aidheadh Conculainn”, in: O'Neill, Patrick, Pádraig Ó Fithcheallaigh, and Tomás de Róiste (et al.), Mil na mBeach: sliocht do shein-leabhraibh anmeud so idir prós agus filidheacht, Dublin, 1911. 48–56. 
comments: See note on p. 97.
Internet Archive: <link>
Edition of part of the text, based on two Maynooth MSS, 4 D 11 and 3 D 4.
[ed.] [tr.] Hogan, John, and J. H. Lloyd (ed. and tr.), “Brislech mhór Mhaighe Mhuirtheimhne”, Gaelic Journal 11 (1901): 128, 132–135 + 81–83, 145–147, 161–164, 177–180 (‘Brislech’); 123–127 + 1–3, 17–19, 33–38, 49–52, 65–67 (‘Dearg–ruathar’).
[ed.] [tr.] Hogan, John, and J. H. Lloyd (ed. and tr.), “Brislech mhór Mhaighe Mhuirtheimhne”, Gaelic Journal 17 (1907): 305–383.
– – Foclóir na Nua-Ghaeilge online archive: <link>
[tr.] O'Grady, Standish Hayes [tr.], “The great defeat on the plain of Muirthemne before Cuchullin's death”, in: Hull, Eleanor [ed.], The Cuchullin saga in Irish literature: being a collection of stories relating to the hero Cuchullin, Grimm Library 8, London, 1898. 236–249.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Incomplete translation of the version in Egerton 132.

Secondary sources (select)

Kühns, Julia Sophie, “The pre-19th-century manuscript tradition and textual transmission of the Early Modern Irish tale Oidheadh Con Culainn: a preliminary study”, PhD thesis: University of Glasgow, 2009. 
abstract:
The Early Modern Irish recension of the tale relating Cú Chulainn’s death, Oidheadh Con Culainn, has received comparatively little scholarly attention, especially compared with its Early Irish counterpart, Aided Con Culainn. Consequently, little is known about the textual transmission and manuscript tradition of the Early Modern Irish tale. The present thesis seeks to rectify this and give a more accurate view and preliminary analysis of the extant manuscripts, concentrating on the manuscripts that date to before the 19th century. A core element of this thesis is a draft catalogue of these pre-19th-century manuscripts. Taking advantage of the tale’s prosimetric structure, it will be argued and demonstrated that it is possible to classify the manuscripts of Oidheadh Con Culainn into distinct groups. Within the extant manuscripts preserving the tale we can identify a number of versions of it, differing most notably in the poetry that they contain. The classification of the manuscripts into groups can be established on the basis of the poetry that a version of the tale contains; the emerging groups thus established can be used to comment on the transmission of the tale. In order to corroborate the argument for the manuscript groups, we will explore a number of aspects of the text and the manuscripts, such as textual comparisons on both intra- and inter-group levels, possible relations (e.g. geographical) of the scribes, linguistic and metrical variations, the ‘rhetorics’, and different versions of the tale written by the same scribe. The thesis will further investigate the most famous poem from the text, Laoidh na gCeann (‘The Lay of the Heads’), in order to establish to what extent the evidence from the poem can be used to add to our understanding of the transmission of the overall tale.
Glasgow Theses Service – PDF: <link>
Contributors
Dennis Groenewegen
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