verse beg. Can a mbunadus na nGáedel?

  • Old Irish
  • verse
  • Early Irish poetry, Irish legendary history
Initial words (verse)
  • Can a mbunadus na nGáedel?
“Whence the origin of the Gaels (Goídil)?”
Ascribed to: Máel Muru OthnaMáel Muru Othna
(d. 887)
Máel Muru of Othain
Early Irish poet and historian, who was apparently attached to the monastery of Othain (now Fahan, Inishowen barony, Co. Donegal), as his epithet suggests
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Máel Muru of Othan (d. 887).
  • Old Irish
verse (primary)
Textual relationships
Related: Lebor gabála ÉrennLebor gabála Érenn


Early Irish poetryEarly Irish poetry

Irish legendary historyIrish legendary history



In Edward O'Reilly, A chronological account of nearly four hundred Irish writers with a descriptive catalogue of their works (1820), O'Reilly tells of “a very fine copy of this poem ... in the collection of the Assistant Secretary [i.e. in his possession]” (p. lvii). Todd suspects that O'Reilly was merely referring to "a transcript in his own hand-writing made from the copy in H. 1. 15", which by 1848 was present in the Royal Irish Academy. Todd does not seem to have been aware of further copies of the text in RIA B iv 2 and NLI G 131.
T. K. Abbott • E. J. Gwynn, Catalogue of Irish MSS in TCD (1921).

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.] Todd, James Henthorn, Leabhar Breathnach annso sis: the Irish version of the Historia Britonum of Nennius, Dublin: Irish Archaeological Society, 1848.
CELT – edition: <link> CELT – translation: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
220–271 (Appendix 4). Based on LL and variants from TCD 1289 and TCD 1319.
[dipl. ed.] Best, Richard Irvine, Osborn Bergin, M. A. O'Brien, and Anne O'Sullivan (eds.), The Book of Leinster, formerly Lebar na Núachongbála, 6 vols, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1954–1983.
CELT – 1-260: <link> CELT – 400-470 (excl. Táin bó Cúailnge): <link> CELT – 471-638 and 663 (excl. Dinnshenchas Érenn): <link> CELT – 761-781 and 785-841 (excl. Dinnshenchas Érenn and Togail Troí): <link> CELT – 1119-1192 and 1202-1325 (excl. Esnada tige Buchet and Fingal Rónáin ): <link>
Vol. 3: 516–524. Diplomatic edition.
The first lines of the poem are cited in Ruaidhrí Ó Flaithbheartaigh's Ogygia (1685): 349 (part III, ch. 72).

Secondary sources (select)

McLaughlin, Roisin, “Fénius Farsaid and the alphabets”, Ériu 59 (2009): 1–24.  
This paper examines evidence for the existence of an alternative tradition to that found in Auraicept na nÉces concerning the role played by Fénius Farsaid in the invention of the alphabet of Irish and those of the three sacred languages—Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The sources to be considered are Auraicept na nÉces, In Lebor Ollaman, a Middle Irish text in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Laud 610, glosses on the copy of Auraicept na nÉces in TCD MS E 3.3 (1432) and the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville.
Jaski, Bart, “Aeneas and Fénius: a classical case of mistaken identity”, in: Corradini, Richard, Rob Meens, Christina Pössel, and Philip Shaw (eds.), Texts and identities in the early Middle Ages, Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2006. 17–33.
Jaski, Bart, “‘We are of the Greeks in our origin’: new perspectives on the Irish origin legend”, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 46 (Winter, 2003): 1–53.
Carey, John, “The uses of tradition in Serglige Con Culainn”, in: Mallory, James P., and Gerard Stockman (eds.), Ulidia: proceedings of the First International Conference on the Ulster Cycle of Tales, Belfast and Emain Macha, 8–12 April 1994, Belfast: December, 1994. 77–84.
Carey, John, A new introduction to Lebor gabála Érenn: The book of the taking of Ireland, edited and translated by R. A. Stewart Macalister, D.Litt., Irish Texts Society, Subsidiary Series 1, London: Irish Texts Society, 1993.
Carey, John, “The ancestry of Fénius Farsaid”, Celtica 21 (1990): 104–112.
Celtica – PDF: <link>
Scowcroft, R. Mark, “Leabhar Gabhála. Part II: the growth of the tradition”, Ériu 39 (1988): 1–66.  
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen, Ranke de Vries
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May 2011, last updated: March 2021