verse beg. Fo réir Coluim cén ad-fías

Bécán mac Luigdech
  • Old Irish
  • verse
  • Early Irish poetry
This poem was brought to scholarly attention by James Carney, who describes it as an “important item unknown, so far as I am aware, from other sources, Fo reir Choloim cen ad-fias (pp. 107-14). This is an archaic glossed poem attributed to Dallán Forgaill. It consists of twenty-five stanzas of alliterative syllabic rhyming verse, but a single line of one quatrain is missing. The poem was known to the compilers of medieval glossaries, but so far as I have noted they have only used it for a single example: nib[u] fri coilcthe tinchu (cf. Ériu xiii. 80).”(1)n. 1 James P. Carney, ‘Two Old Irish poems’, Ériu 18 (1958): 1.
First words (verse)
  • Fo réir Coluim cén ad-fías
Addressee: Colum Cille
Colum Cille
(fl. 6th century)
founder and abbot of Iona, Kells (Cenandas) and Derry (Daire).

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Bécán mac LuigdechBécán mac Luigdech
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Ascribed to: Dallán Forgaill
Dallán Forgaill
(fl. 597)
early Irish poet, known as the author of Amra Choluim Chille

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Bécán mac LuigdechBécán mac Luigdech
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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The heading (Laoidh imrind innso dorinne Dallan do Coloim Cille)) ascribes the poem to Dallán Forgaill (fl. 6th. c.), although this is “unlikely on linguistic grounds” (Kelly: 2). According to Fergus Kelly, a more probable attribution is that to Bécán mac Luigdech in the gloss to the words Seghdhai brathair (l. 24a).
pp. 107 (line 21)–114 (line 2)
Headed Laoidh imrind innso do rinne Dallan do Coloim C. and written in capitals; accompanied by Middle Irish glosses written in small characters.
qq 2, 14 and 22 are quoted elsewhere.
  • Old Irish
7th century (Kelly)
verse (primary)
Number of stanzas: 25
A line is missing from one of the quatrains (Carney).
Textual relationships
See also the poem beg. Doféd andes andáil fíadhat. “Like our poem it has 25 verses, and has so much in common—linguistically, stylistically and metrically—that their ascription to the same author [Bécán] could well be correct” (Kelly).
Related: Tiughraind Bhécáin meic Luigdech do Cholum CilleTiughraind Bhécáin meic Luigdech do Cholum CilleEarly Irish poem (25 qq) in praise of Colum Cille, attributed Bécán mac Luigdech for Colum Cille here.


Early Irish poetryEarly Irish poetry

Early Irish poetryEarly Irish poetry



James P. Carney, ‘Two Old Irish poems’, Ériu 18 (1958): 1.

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.] Kelly, Fergus, “A poem in praise of Columb Cille”, Ériu 24 (1973): 1–34.
[ed.] [tr.] Greene, David, and Frank OʼConnor, “1: Hymn to St. Colum Cille”, in: David Greene, and Frank OʼConnor [Michael O'Donovan], A golden treasury of Irish poetry, A.D. 600 to 1200, London: Macmillan, 1967. 19–22.
An incomplete edition, with translation. Stanzas 4-11 and 16-21 have been omitted.

Secondary sources (select)

Ní Shéaghdha, Nessa, Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the National Library of Ireland, fasc. 2: Mss G 15 – G 69, Studies in Irish Manuscripts, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1961.
– Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies: first 9 fasciculi: <link>
NLI G 50
Carney, James P., “Two Old Irish poems”, Ériu 18 (1958): 1–43.  
comments: Edition and translation of two poems from Dublin, National Library of Ireland, MS G 50:
  1. ‘Imbu macan coig bliadhna’ (pp. 10-26), Irish version of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (apocryphal text)
  2. ‘Mairi mathair, an maic bic’ (pp. 26-29), poem on the Virgin Mary.
Cites the incomplete stanza, but not its gloss.
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
May 2012, last updated: January 2024