Preface (and epilogue) to Amra Senáin

    • Middle Irish
    • prose
    • Medieval Irish literature, Irish religious texts, minor Irish prose tales, prefaces and epilogues, Irish hagiography
    A Middle Irish preface and epilogue to the poem Amra Senáin ‘The eulogy of Senán’ mac Geirrcinn, abbot and saint of Inis Cathaig (Scattery Island, Co. Clare), in two parts: (1) a short miracle story which relates how Senán delivered an artisan named Nárach from a monster inhabiting the estuary of the Shannon in which the river island is located, and (2) a short passage, directly before and after the poem (except in NLI MS G 30), attributing the poem to Dallán Forgaill. The first part seemingly derives from a version of the story as it is told in the Commentary to Félire Óengusso (8 March). Both versions take their cue from a reading of two lines in the Félire (Senan Indse Cathaig / crochais écrait n-árach ‘Senán of Inis Cathaig / disabled the enemy with a binding’, for which see Breatnach’s text and translation). The tale of Senán’s encounter is expanded, if without mention of Nárach, in Betha Shenáin.
    Initial words (prose)
    • Ba sanct n-amra inti Senan
    • Middle Irish
    prose (primary)


    Medieval Irish literature Irish religious texts
     minor Irish prose tales (foscéla)  prefaces, introductions and epilogues  Irish hagiography

    Subject tags

    Senán of Inis CathaigSenán of Inis Cathaig / Senán of Scattery Island – Senán mac Geirrcinn, patron saint of Inis Cathaig (Scattery Island, Co. Clare)
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    Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.
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    Dallán ForgaillDallán Forgaill (fl. 597) – early Irish poet, known as the author of Amra Choluim Chille
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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.] Breatnach, Liam, “An edition of Amra Senáin”, in: Ó Corráin, Donnchadh, Liam Breatnach, and Kim R. McCone (eds.), Sages, saints and storytellers: Celtic studies in honour of Professor James Carney, Maynooth Monographs 2, Maynooth: An Sagart, 1989. 7–31.
    9, 13, 15
    [ed.] [tr.] Stokes, Whitley, “Amra Senáin”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 3 (1901): 220–225.
    Internet Archive: <link>
    Based on Leabhar Breac and TCD MS 1336.

    Secondary sources (select)

    Baumgarten, Rolf, “Creative medieval etymology and Irish hagiography (Lasair, Columba, Senán)”, Ériu 54 (2004): 49–78.
    Borsje, Jacqueline, From chaos to enemy: encounters with monsters in early Irish texts. An investigation related to the process of christianization and the concept of evil, Instrumenta Patristica 29, Turnhout: Brepols, 1996.
    Plummer, Charles, “A tentative catalogue of Irish hagiography”, in: Plummer, Charles [ed.], Miscellanea hagiographica Hibernica: vitae adhuc ineditae sanctorum Mac Creiche, Naile, Cranat, Subsidia Hagiographica 15, Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1925. 171–285.
    223 [id. 177.]
    Dennis Groenewegen
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