The Old Foundations of Life

Gaelic-speaking Ireland, because its art has been made, not only by the artist choosing his material from wherever he has a mind to, but by adding a little to something which it has taken generations to invent, has always had a popular literature. We cannot say how much that literature has done for the vigour […]

Geabairleog

Geabairleog Briollaic a bhí ann; bhí na tóibhí sleo ag gírleáil ’s ag gimleáil ar an taof. B’an-chuama go deo na borragóibh is bhí na rádaí miseacha ag braíomh. Fainic an Gheabairleog, a mhic! na gialla géara, greim na gcrúb! Fainic an Gumailéan is teith ó Bhandarsnap na bhfriúch! Thóg sé bórpalchlaíomh ’na ghlac is […]

Empress of Hell

Aue Marie mater Domini nostri Iesus Christi regina celi domina mundi imperatrix inferni misere mei & totius populi Christiani Amen. / Dia do betha a Muiri a mathair ar Tigerna .i. Isa Crist a righan nimi a bantigerna in domuin a banimpir ifirn / dena trocuiri orum agus ar in pobul ar c[h]ena. Antiphon from […]

Mael Ísu Ua Brolcháin

Mael Ísu Ua Brolcháin, the sage of Erinn in wisdom and in piety, and in the poetry of either language, suum spiritum emisit. Annals of Loch Cé. Moyle Issa o’Brothloghann, the ealder and sage of Ireland was soe ingenious and witty, and withall soe well learned that he composed great volumes containing many great Misteryes and […]

Pangur Bán

Preserved in the Reichenau Primer (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86b/1 fol 1v), and now kept in St. Paul’s Abbey in the Lavanttal, Pangur Bán (Gaelic “white fuller”) is a circa 9th century Old Irish poem composed by an anonymous Irish monk about his pet cat. The poem, which compares the activities of the cat with those of the scribe […]

A Culloden Lament

Fhir a shiùbhlas na frìthe Tha thu sìor thighinn fainear dhomh Tha mi ‘g innse le fìrinn An nì rinn mo sgaradh Chan e ghearradh a luaidh A rinn am bualadh fo’m neimheil Ach an dh’fhuirich dhe’m chàirdean Anns a’bhlàr a bha ‘s t-earrach Tha mo chiabhag air glasadh Tha mo leth-cheann air muthadh Tha […]

Mac Dathó Was His Name

There was a famous king of Leinster. Mac Dathó was his name. He had a hound; the hound defended the whole of Leinster. The hound’s name was Ailbe, and Ireland was full of its fame. Messengers came from Ailill and Medb asking for the hound. Moreover at the same time there came also messengers from Conchobar Mac Nessa to ask for the same hound. They […]

Táin Bó Cúailnge

But I who have written this story, or rather this fable, give no credence to the various incidents related in it. For some things in it are the deceptions of demons, other poetic figments; some are probable, others improbable; while still others are intended for the delectation of foolish men. — Colophon (Latin) at the […]

John Campbell of the Bank

John Campbell’s diary recounts how the Jacobite army took control of Edinburgh on 17 September 1745. On 1 October, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s secretary informed John Campbell that he had £857 of Royal Bank banknotes and wanted payment for them in gold. Upon failure to comply, the Jacobites would seize property from the Bank and its […]

Measuring the Boar Against the Bristles

I have already referred to a note by Mrs. MacTavish on this subject, vol. ii. 489. She tells how she learned Dan an Dearg (the Song of the Red) more than sixty years ago, from a ploughman who used to chant it at his work; and she adds– “The subject of the song is Diarmaid […]

Clo Mhic Ille Mhicheil

Lyrics: English Translation: Oganaich uir a’ chuil teudaich Oh noble youth with long black hair ‘S oil liom eudach a bhith dhith ort I hate it that you are wanting clothing Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Hug air clo Mhic’ille Mhicheil Chuir Roinn Eorpa clo am beart dhuit Europe has put cloth in the loom […]

Book of Deer: Folio 5 Recto

The Book of Deer (Leabhar Dhèir in Gaelic) (Cambridge University Library, MS. Ii.6.32) is a 10th-century Latin Gospel Book with early 12th-century additions in Latin, Old Irish and Scottish Gaelic. It is noted for containing the earliest surviving Gaelic writing from Scotland. The origin of the book is uncertain, however it is reasonable to assume that the manuscript was at Deer, Aberdeenshire, Scotland when the marginalia were […]