The quarrel about the loaf
verse beg. A bairgen ataí i ngábud

  • Middle Irish
  • verse
  • Early Irish poetry

Middle Irish dialogue poem (18qq) with prose epilogue in the Book of Leinster. The poem is presented as a contentious dialogue between an old woman (callech) of Leinster and a servant (gilla) of the king of Munster (Cerball mac Muirecáin), in which the latter insists on his entitlement to meals and hospitality. The prose epilogue goes on to explain the reasons for the quarrel.

Poetic dialogue (18 quatrains) and a prose epilogue.
First words (verse)
  • A bairgen ataí i ngábud
“Loaf, you are in danger”
  • Middle Irish
verse (primary)
prose (secondary)
Number of stanzas


Early Irish poetryEarly Irish poetry


Cerball mac MuirecáinCerball mac Muirecáin
(d. c. 909)
king of Leinster
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Munster/Cúige Mumhan
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Leinster/Cúige Laighean
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Mag DálaMag Dála

No description available

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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.] OʼNowlan, T. P., “The quarrel about the loaf”, Ériu 1 (1904): 128–137.
Internet Archive: <link>
[dipl. ed.] Best, Richard Irvine, Osborn Bergin, and M. A. OʼBrien, The Book of Leinster, formerly Lebar na Núachongbála, vol. 1, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1954. 260 pp. + 4 pl.
CELT – edition (pp. 1-260): <link>
223–225 Diplomatic edition.

Secondary sources (select)

Mac Cana, Proinsias, “The motif of trivial causes”, in: Alfred P. Smyth (ed.), Seanchas. Studies in early and medieval Irish archaeology, history and literature in honour of Francis J. Byrne, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000. 205–211.
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
April 2012, last updated: June 2021