Commentary on the Amra Choluim Chille

  • Middle Irish
  • prose
  • Irish glosses, Medieval Irish literature, Medieval Irish literature about poets, commentaries
Middle Irish commentary in the form of scholia accompanying copies of the Amra Choluim Chille.
Known copies of the early 7th-century (or late 6th-century) elegiac poem Amra Choluim Chille ascribed to Dallán Forgaill ultimately derive from an annotated redaction that was made in the beginning of the 11th century. The poem is here accompanied by extensive commentary in Middle Irish, comprising:
  1. A prose preface or introduction (rem-fhocul, not to be confused with the verse preface of the canonical poem), beginning ‘Loc dond remfhoculsa chetus Druimm Cetta ...’ in Rawlinson B 502. It tells that the poet Dallán Forgaill composed the Amra for Columba on the occasion of the convention at Druim Cett, where the abbot secured the release of Scandlán Mór, negotiated terms of peace between Ireland and the Irish settlers of Scotland and saved the learned classes from expulsion (Dallán recited it after the abbot's death). The story varies in length and detail from one manuscript version to another.
  2. Interlinear gloss to the Amra (verse preface and chapters I-IX)
Both preface and gloss cite verses, some of which are known from contexts elsewhere.
Initial words (prose)
  • Loc dond remfhoculsa chetus Druimm Cetta ...
“The place of this preface, first of all, was Druimm Cetta ...”

A distinction is sometimes made between a shorter and longer version of the commentary (e.g. Brian Ó Cuív, ‘Some items from Irish tradition’, Éigse 11 (1965–1966)).

First division
Second division
Additional fragments
  • Middle Irish
  • Middle Irish

early 11th century
prose (primary)
verse (secondary)


Irish glosses Medieval Irish literature Medieval Irish literature about poets
Work in progress

remfhocul » entry

Verse preface

Chapter 1


Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10


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.] Stokes, Whitley [ed. and tr.], “The Bodleian Amra Choluimb Chille”, Revue Celtique 20 (1899): 31–55, 132–183, 248–289, 400–437. Corrigenda in Revue Celtique 21 (1900): 133–136.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link>
36–55, 132–149 (introduction), 148–183 (preface + chapters I–IV), 248–287 (chapters V–VIII), 288–289 (corrections and additions), 400–419 (VIII–IX), 430–437 (appendix) Edition and translation of the text from Rawlinson B 502, including commentary
[ed.] Bernard, J. H., and Robert Atkinson (eds.), The Irish Liber hymnorum, 2 vols, vol. 1: Text and introduction, Henry Bradshaw Society 13, London: Henry Bradshaw Society, 1898.  
comments: Volume 1: Text and introduction
Volume 2: Translation
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>, <link>
162–183 Text and commentary from TCD 1441 (E 4. 2). The poem proper, with interlinear commentary, begins on p. 167.
[tr.] Bernard, J. H., and Robert Atkinson, The Irish Liber hymnorum, 2 vols, vol. 2: Translation and notes, Henry Bradshaw Society 14, London: Henry Bradshaw Society, 1898.  
comments: Volume 1: Text and introduction
Volume 2: Translation
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books (missing: pp. 18-19): <link>
53–80 Translation
[ed.] Best, Richard Irvine, and Osborn Bergin (eds.), Lebor na hUidre: Book of the Dun Cow, Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1929.
CELT – edition (pp. 1-338): <link> Internet Archive: <link>
11–41 Diplomatic edition of the text in LU.
[ed.] [tr.] Crowe, John O'Beirne [ed. and tr.], The Amra Choluim Chilli of Dallan Forgaill, vol. 1, Dublin: MacGlashan and Gill, 1871.  
comments: Volume 1 contains an edition and translation of the text. Volume 2, which was to include "notes, a grammatical analysis of the text and copious indexes" (as the title announces), was never published.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link>, <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>
Early edition from the text in LU and partly from the Leabhar Breac.
Betha Choluim Chille in Gaelic MS XL:
[tr.] Hennessy, W. Maunsell [tr.], “The old Irish Life of St. Columba: being a discourse on his life and character delivered to the brethren on his festival”, in: Skene, William F., Celtic Scotland: a history of ancient Alban, 3 vols, vol. 2: Church and culture, 2nd ed. (1877), Edinburgh: Douglas, 1887. 467–507.
Internet Archive: <link>
494–502 Translation of the preface as inserted into the Betha Choluim Chille copy of Gaelic MS XL, compared with the Leabhar Breac and YBL version. direct link
[ed.] Stokes, Whitley [ed. and tr.], Lives of saints from the Book of Lismore, Anecdota Oxoniensia, Mediaeval and Modern Series 5, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1890.
CELT: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>, <link> Internet Archive: <link>
316–317 Quotations from the Amra and its gloss direct link
Dennis Groenewegen