Contributions to journals
Two versions of the saga of Fergus mac Léti are found in legal material associated with the Senchas Már; one in the original text, and one in the eighth-century commentary. The commentary version and §2 of the older version have both been edited by D. A. Binchy. It is argued here that §1 of the older version and §2 of the commentary version are both in verse. The older version is then analysed in terms of the law of distraint. It is concluded that the saga was written as a legal teaching tale, with its plot-twists deliberately designed to highlight aspects of the law. An appendix argues for the inclusion of an additional section, omitted by Binchy, in the commentary version of the saga.
The Old Irish legal texts and the Middle Irish commentaries award a range of different body-fines for mild injuries. These differences are the result of a recoverable process of historical development. We can sort the various texts and commentaries chronologically. The earliest recorded stage appears to include a three-sét fine for an injury that caused bruising or swelling or loss of skin (but not all three). This fine is found in the text edited here under the title Di Ércib Fola. An edition is also offered of the commentaries to that text. The best witness for these commentaries is a composite text, which consciously combines two distinct commentary traditions. These commentaries discuss the size of the body-fines for various injuries, the honour-price fractions paid along with those fines, the defining characteristics of the injuries, payments for medical expenses, and court procedure in cases of assault.
McLeod, Neil, “Irish law and the wars of the Túatha Dé Danann”, in: Breatnach, Liam, Ruairí Ó hUiginn, Damian McManus, and Katharine Simms (eds), Proceedings of the XIV International Congress of Celtic Studies, held in Maynooth University, 1–5 August 2011, Dublin: School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 2015. 75–94.
McLeod, Neil, “The not-so-exotic law of Dian Cécht”, in: Evans, Geraint, Bernard Martin, and Jonathan M. Wooding (eds.), Origins and revivals: proceedings of the First Australian Conference of Celtic Studies, Sydney Series in Celtic Studies 3, Sydney: Centre for Celtic Studies, University of Sydney, 2000. 381–393.
McLeod, Neil, “900 years of mayhem: the Irish legal materials”, in: O'Neill, Pamela, and Jonathan M. Wooding (eds.), Literature and politics in the Celtic world: papers from the Third Australian Conference of Celtic Studies, Sydney Series in Celtic Studies 4, Sydney: University of Sydney Celtic Studies Foundation, 2000. 182–206.