Clarke, Michael, “The Leabhar gabhála and Carolingian origin legends”, in: Pádraic Moran, and Immo Warntjes (eds), Early medieval Ireland and Europe: chronology, contacts, scholarship. A Festschrift for Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, 14, Turnhout: Brepols, 2015. 441–479.

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Citation details
“The Leabhar gabhála and Carolingian origin legends”
Abstract (cited)
The Irish Leabhar gabhála is poised between several different literary modes: conduit of ancient traditions, bogus charter of national identity, by-product of commentary on Latin cosmography and world history. Attempts to explain the themes and purposes of its earlier sections (Tracts I and II) usually focus on parallels between the story of the ancestors of the Irish and that of the Hebrews of the Old Testament. This article attempts to situate the work in the context of Carolingian global and national histories, focussing on the theme of the origins of each nation in the westward wanderings of fugitives from the classical heartlands of the eastern Mediterranean or western Asia. It is argued that the narrative of the travels of the ancesters of the Goídil (Irish) involves an implicit parallel with the travels of the ancestors of Romans, Franks, and British from the fall of Troy. The paper proposes that this parallel may have been prominent in a lost Latin version of the Leabhar gabhala of which parts are preserved as embedded quotations in hagiographical texts.
Subjects and topics
Dennis Groenewegen
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June 2016, last updated: September 2018