verse beg. Apair rim a Sétna

  • Late Middle Irish
  • verse
Late Middle Irish poem (20qq) in the form of a dialogue between Finnchú, saint of Brí Gobann (Brigown), and a certain Sétna, whose speech occupies the greater part of the text with prophecies of political upheaval and moral decline at the end of the world. The identity of this prophet is uncertain. The prose heading in one manuscript identifies him as Sétna of Clúain Becc (presumably Clonbeg, Co. Tipperary), but it may also be significant that in Irish genealogies, a Sétna is listed as either Finnchú’s father or his grandfather.
First words (verse)
  • Apair rim a Sétna
Speaker: Finnchú of Brigown
Finnchú of Brigown
(supp. fl. 7th century, d. 655/665?)
patron saint of Brí Gobann (Brigown in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork)

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Sétna [prophet]Sétna ... prophet
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Sétna of ClonbegSétna of Clonbeg
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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f. 121v
rubric: ‘Findchú o Brí Goband roimchomhairc Sétna Chluana Bic fónindass sa sís, ocus rofregair Sétna dó amail ata sísana’
beg. ‘Apair rim a Sétna’
20 qq. Stokes translates the prose rubric as follows: “Findchú of Bri-Gobann interrogated Setna of Cluain Becc in this wise below, and Sétna answered him as standeth below”.
p. 126a.m
beg. ‘Abair rim, a Shedna’
3 qq only. Later addition to the MS at some remove below the end of Sanas Cormaic.
In later copies, the poem is often preserved as part of a collection of prophetic poems.
p. 927
rubric: ‘Seadnain .cc. do Columcille’
beg. ‘Abair riom a Sheadna sgeul deireadh an domhuin’
f. 165v.7 ff
beg. ‘Abair liom a Sheanda’
London, British Library, MS Egerton 187
f. 87r
beg. ‘Abair riom a Seanda’
19 qq.
Cambridge, University Library, MS Additional 6532 b
p. 4
rubric: ‘Tarngaire Shednain ann so ar mhodh sgélaidhecht do Choluimcille’
beg. ‘Abair ream a Shedna, scéla dheiridh in beatha’
19 qq. Modern copy.
First quatrain only. To be verified.
  • Late Middle Irish
Dated by Kuno Meyer to the 12th century, “da Vers 10 die Vertreibung der Hui Carthaig aus Cashel (A.D. 1139) und Vers 14 ff. die englische Eroberung Irlands erwähnen”.
verse (primary)
prose (secondary)
Verse. The text in Rawl. B 512 has a brief introduction in prose.
Number of stanzas: 20
Textual relationships
Sétna’s prophecy is cited in a poem beg. Cia as sine cairt ar chrich Neill, ascribed to Domhnall Mac Bruaideadha.



id. 47094
Finnchú of Brigown
Finnchú of Brigown
(supp. fl. 7th century, d. 655/665?)
patron saint of Brí Gobann (Brigown in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork)

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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.] Meyer, Kuno [ed.], “Mitteilungen aus irischen Handschriften: II. Aus Rawlinson B. 512. Prophezeiung Sétna's”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 3 (1901): 31–32.
CELT – edition: <link> Celtic Digital Initiative – all Mitteilungen of ZCP 3: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Based on Rawl. B 512. Meyer omits the prose introduction.
[ed.] [tr.] Stokes, Whitley, The tripartite Life of Patrick: with other documents relating to that saint, 2 vols, vol. 1, Rerum Britannicarum Medii Aevi Scriptores, 89.1, London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1887.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link>
xxxvii Based on Rawl. B 512. Prose introduction and first stanza only.
[tr.] Translation wanted
No translation that meets modern standards is known at this stage.
[ed.] OʼCurry, Eugene, Lectures on the manuscript materials of ancient Irish history, delivered at the Catholic University of Ireland during the sessions of 1855 and 1856, Dublin, 1861.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link> Internet Archive – Originally from Google Books: <link>, <link>, <link> Internet Archive – multiple copies: <link>
629 (CXLVI, the poem); 422–423 (discussion in Lecture XX) First stanza only, transcribed from TCD H 1. 15.
[ed.] [tr.] OʼKearney, Nicholas, The prophecies of Ss. Columbkille, Maeltamlacht, Ultan, Seadhna, Coireall, Bearcan, Malachy, &c. : together with the prophetic collectanea, or gleanings of several writers who have preserved portions of the now lost prophecies of our saints, with literal translation and notes, Dublin, London: John O'Daly, John Russell Smith, 1856.  

O’Kearney’s source materials for the texts he provides are not clear. On pp. 16-17, he tries to assure the reader “that the original Irish accompanying the translation has been copied from old vellum manuscripts, and that no pains or expense has been spared to procure copies wherever they were known to have extant. To this may be added the care and trouble taken to collate the transcripts made with an old paper copy of most of those rophecies which belonged to a student, named O'Hagan, of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, who, at his decease, some years ago, bequeathed it to the Library of that Institution, where it now lies, and can be inspected by the curious. Hence, it is hoped that the antiquity of the language will be found a sufficient proof of their originality, and the purity of the metre, of their perfect correctness.” The paper manuscript referred to is not known today.

HathiTrust: <link>
110–117 [‘Sednan ro chan. Abair remsa a Shedna’] Manuscript source unspecified.
[tr.] Anonymous, “The prophecy of Seandain; The prophecy of Coirel Mac Croinean; Prophecy entitled A Oisin an Radharin; Extract of a prophecy entitled Feircheirtne; Columcill’s moral sayings; Extract from Maoltamhlachta; Extract from Fuaras a Saltoir Cashel”, The Irish Magazine, and Monthly Asylum for Neglected Biography 1 (1808): 434–436, 492–496.  
comments: Note: many of the English translations appear in NLI MS G 193.
434 For this English translation in MS form, see NLI MS G 193, pp. 214-215.
Dennis Groenewegen
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March 2021, last updated: June 2024