The preface (remfhocul) to Amra Choluim Chille and its commentary

  • prose, prosimetrum
  • Medieval Irish literature

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.

The text relates 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.

First words (prose)
  • Loc dond remfhoculsa chetus Druimm Cetta ...
Rawlinson B 502 version.
Context(s)The (textual) context(s) to which the present text belongs or in which it is cited in part or in whole.
prose, prosimetrum (primary)
verse (secondary)
Textual relationships
Related: De liberatione ScandlaniDe liberatione Scandlani
Associated items
Aod mac Ainmerech na n-allAod mac Ainmerech na n-allIrish poem (10 qq) on different persons called Áed who were present at the convention of Druim Cett.
Beir mo bachaill lat im láimBeir mo bachaill lat im láim

Early Irish poem which occurs in the prose preface to the Amra Choluim Chille and related textual contexts. It is a dialogue poem between Colum Cille and Scandlán Mór, apparently in continuation of the previous dialogue poem (beg. Slécht sís, a Scandláin, dom réir), in which Scandlán has promised to deliver tribute at Durrow. In the present poem, Colum Cille offers him his crozier (bachall) as a means of protection against trouble on the road to Durrow, specifically any trouble he might encounter from Domnall mac Áeda.

Cormac cain buich neoitCormac cain buich neoitEarly Irish poem (2 qq) in praise of Cormac, presumably Cormac mac Airt. It is ascribed to Colum Cille and addressed to Áed, probaby Áed mac Ainmirech.
Druimm Cetta céte na noemDruimm Cetta céte na noemEarly Irish poem (31 qq, unattributed) on the convention of Druim Cett and those who attended the meeting.
Fil súil n-glaisFil súil n-glaisNas-geib ferg in rigan deNas-geib ferg in rigan de

A poem (4 qq) cited in the prose preface to the Amra Choluim Cille and closely related textual contexts, all dealing with the convention at Druim Cett. The prose relates that when Colum Cille blessed Domnall, son of Áed mac Ainmirech, and promised the kingship to him, he incurred the anger of Domnall’s stepmother, Áed’s then wife. After she had accused the saint of corrgainecht (‘sorcery’), he uttered words that transformed her and her handmaiden into cranes (corr ‘crane’). Part of the poem renders the exchange between Colum Cille and the queen.

Ní disceoil duib Néill andesNí disceoil duib Néill andes

Early Irish poem (7 qq) in praise of Colum Chille, with ample quotations from the Amra Choluim Chille.

Rige duit a Choirpri chainRige duit a Choirpri chain

Early Irish dialogue poem (8 qq) between Colum Cille and Coirpre mac Lugdach, with whom he bargains the terms and conditions of his kingship. It is found in the prose preface to the Amra Choluim Chille, according to which Coirpre Líath mac Lugdach was made king instead of his brother Crimthann, although he was later killed while under Colum Cille’s protection (fáessam).

Ro thinnscanad in tAmraRo thinnscanad in tAmra

An Irish quatrain attributed to Máel Suthain, which is cited in the prose preface to the Amra Choluim Chille as supporting evidence for the composition of the Amra having been begun in Áth Féine Ollarba and completed in Tech Lomráin.

Slécht sís a Scandláin dom réirSlécht sís a Scandláin dom réirEarly Irish dialogue poem betwen Colum Cille and Scandlán Mor, in which the latter promises him tribute from the Osraige and receives a blessing from the saint. Specifically, Scandlán and the Osraige are asked to pay tribute at Durrow every third year until Judgment Day.


Medieval Irish literatureMedieval Irish literature

Work in progress

Place, time, author and cause of composition

Why Columba came to Ireland

Why Columba did not see Ireland at first

Includes verse: Fuil suil nglaiss

Columba and his retinue at the assembly

Includes verse: Cethracha saccard a lín

Story of Domnall mac Áeda and the cranes

Includes verse: Nas-geb feirg in rígan de

The poets make music (aidbse) for Columba

Includes verse: Luin hic helaib, uingge oc dírnai

Columba's pride and the demons

Includes verse: Mór a ferta in chlerig caid

The poets of Ulster

Includes verse: Emain Ulad inmain lemin, bunad feile co forcenn

Columba's plea to Áed to retain the poets in Ireland

Includes verse: Cormaic cain buich neóit

Columba and Scandlán Mór

Includes verse: Robith Calggach dom laim deis

Columba, Scandlán Mór and Cummíne

Includes verse: Slecht sis, a Scandláin, dom reir

Verse: Beir mo bachaill lat im láim

The advice of Comgall mac Comgelláin

Includes verse: A chubus con, a anim glan

The composition of the Amra postponed

The recitation of the Amra (1)

Includes verse: Dallan mac Calla mac Eircc, meic Feradaig cen timmeRo thinnscanad in t-Amra

The recitation of the Amra (2)

Includes verse: Ni disceoil d'uib Néill andes

Druim Cetta

Includes verse: Druim Cetta cete na noem

The sons of Lugaid Lámderg

Includes verse: Mithig tene is'teg n-oegedFethaig a Crist in muir mallRige duit, a Choirpri chain



The editors of the Liber Hymnorum text subdivide the preface into a praefatio and an introduction proper beginning ‘Locus huius artis Druim Cetta ...’.

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

Secondary sources (select)

Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
March 2013, last updated: January 2024