Texts

Lebor gabála Érenn‘The book of the taking of Ireland’

  • Middle Irish, Early Modern Irish
  • prose, prosimetrum
  • Cycles of the Kings, Irish legendary history, Mythological Cycle
Scope
multiple versions
Manuscripts

The various manuscript witnesses of the Lebor gabála are typically subdivided into a number of classes according to the recension or redaction to which these copies are thought to belong (such as A, B, M and C below). This does not mean that the manuscript texts of each recension present a uniform, homogeneous picture. In fact, these often exhibit innovations (interpolation, cross-contamination, rearrangement, etc.) that come with the scribe or that have been adopted from the exemplar. Nevertheless, there are also classes of closely related manuscript copies that form what might be called ‘subrecensions’.(1)n. 1 See R. Mark Scowcroft, ‘Leabhar Gabhála. Part I: the growth of the text’, Ériu 38 (1987) and R. Mark Scowcroft, ‘Mediaeval recensions of the Lebor Gabála’ in Lebor gabála Érenn... (2009). Lists of manuscripts and other details specific to each recension will be treated separately. See the following pages:

The four main medieval recensions or redactions :

  • Recension A = R1 (Macalister) = a (Scowcroft) = A (Thurneysen, Van Hamel)
  • Recension B = R2 (Macalister) = b (Scowcroft) = BI (Thurneysen) = Ba (Van Hamel)
  • Míniugud recension = Min (Macalister) = m (Scowcroft) = BIII (Thurneysen) = Bb (Van Hamel)
  • Recension C = R3 (Macalister) = c (Scowcroft) = C (Thurneysen, Van Hamel)

Modern recension :

  • Ó Cléirigh recension, i.e. the modernised version by Micheál Ó Cléirigh (1631) = K or R4 (Macalister) = D (Thurneysen, Van Hamel)
    Revision of the Ó Cléirigh recension (forthcoming)

Other :

Language
  • Middle Irish Early Modern Irish
  • Middle and Early Modern Irish.
Date
11th-12th century (Recension A) down to the 17th century (Ó Cléirigh's version)
Form
prose, prosimetrum (primary)
Textual relationships

The earliest references to the invasions tradition are in the Cambro-Latin compilation Historia Brittonum, and the poem Can a mbunadas na nGaedel by Máel Muru Othna, both dated to the 9th century.

Related: Historia BrittonumHistoria BrittonumCan a mbunadus na nGáedelCan a mbunadus na nGáedelForas feasa ar ÉirinnForas feasa ar ÉirinnThe prose history of Ireland completed by Geoffrey Keating (Seathrún Céitinn) in c. 1634. Comprising an introduction, two books and appendices, it narrates the history of the island from the time of Creation to the Norman conquest in the 12th century. As set out by the vindicatory introduction (an díonbhrollach), the work was written in response to the cultural biases of Anglo-centric writers (e.g. William Camden and Edmund Spenser).Annals of the Four MastersAnnals of the Four MastersIs fisigh cidh dia ndernad AdhamIs fisigh cidh dia ndernad AdhamIrish text on the divisions of AdamD'anmannaib na maiged atá fó lochaib ÉrennD'anmannaib na maiged atá fó lochaib Érenn

List of names for plains that are said to exist beneath the lakes of Ireland.

Associated items
Dinnshenchas of Druim Fíngin IDinnshenchas of Druim Fíngin I

Short  poem (3 qq) on the dinnshenchas of Druim Fíngin.

Dinnshenchas of Emain MachaDinnshenchas of Emain MachaProse story relating the dinnshenchas for Emain Macha.Ériu co n-uaill, co n-idnaibÉriu co n-uaill, co n-idnaib

Poem in Lebor gabála Érenn.

The four jewels of the Tuatha Dé DanannThe four jewels of the Tuatha Dé DanannShort text about the original homes of the Tuatha Dé Danann, their instruction in magical arts, and four magical instruments that they are said to have introduced into Ireland.Dinnshenchas of Laigin IIDinnshenchas of Laigin IIDinnshenchas of the LaiginLebor gabála Érenn, second redactionLebor gabála Érenn, second redactionThe so-called second recension of Lebor gabála Érenn.Lebor gabála Érenn, Ó Cléirigh recensionLebor gabála Érenn, Ó Cléirigh recensionA modern version of Lebor gabála Érenn, revised by Micheál Ó Cléirigh and his associates in 1631.Lebor gabála Érenn 1. The origins and wanderings of the GoídilLebor gabála Érenn 1. The origins and wanderings of the Goídil

First tract of Lebor gabála Érenn.

Lebor gabála Érenn 2. De gabálaib ÉrennLebor gabála Érenn 2. De gabálaib ÉrennSecond tract of Lebor gabála ÉrennLebor gabála Érenn 3. De fhlaithiusaib ÉrennLebor gabála Érenn 3. De fhlaithiusaib Érenn

Third tract of Lebor gabála Érenn.

Lebor gabála Érenn 4. Comaimsera ríg in domuin ocus gabal nÉrenn / fri rígaib ÉrennLebor gabála Érenn 4. Comaimsera ríg in domuin ocus gabal nÉrenn / fri rígaib ÉrennFourth tract of Lebor gabála Érenn. It contains synchronisms (comaimsera) that place Irish national history, from the legendary Partholón to the historical king Fergal mac Maíle Dúin, in the Eusebian chronological scheme of world history.Lebor gabála Érenn 5. Christian kings of IrelandLebor gabála Érenn 5. Christian kings of IrelandFifth tract of Lebor gabála ÉrennTuán mac Cairill ro closTuán mac Cairill ro closTúatha Dé Danann fo diamairTúatha Dé Danann fo diamair

Poem (11 quatrains) embedded in the Lebor gabála Érenn.

Classification

Cycles of the Kings
Cycles of the Kings
id. 80
Irish legendary historyIrish legendary history
...

Mythological CycleMythological Cycle
...

Subjects

Míl EspáineMíl Espáine (Míl of Spain)
(time-frame ass. with Míl Espáine)
in Irish pseudo-historical tradition, father of the Milesian invaders of Ireland, hence ancestor of the Goídil
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CesairCesair
Cessair, Cessair ingen Betha
Cesair or Cessair, daughter of Bíth and granddaughter of Noah
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PartholónPartholón
Partholón mac Sera (son of Sera)
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Nemed mac AgnomainNemed mac Agnomain
son of Agnoman
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Túatha Dé DanannTúatha Dé (Danann)
Tuatha Dé Danann, Túatha Dé
A common Irish designation for a group of supernatural or magical figures in Irish history, broadly equivalent to the áes síde. In the pseudo-historical tradition represented by Lebor gabála Érenn and other texts, they are presented and arguably, to some extent euhemerised as the pre-Christian people that conquered Ireland from the Fir Bolg and were later overcome by the sons of Míl (the Gaels).
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FomoireFomoire
No short description available
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Fir BolgFir Bolg
No short description available
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Contents
Under-construction.png
Work in progress

Following the example of R. Mark Scowcroft, ‘Leabhar Gabhála. Part I: the growth of the text’, Ériu 38 (1987), the compilation may be divided into five distinct tracts:

[1] The origins and wanderings of the Goídil » entry

A. Introductory matter » entry

[2] De gabálaib Érenn » entry

[3] De fhlaithiusaib Érenn » entry

[4] Comaimsera ríg in domuin ocus gabal nÉrenn / fri rígaib Érenn » entry

[5] Christian kings of Ireland » entry

Sources

Notes

See R. Mark Scowcroft, ‘Leabhar Gabhála. Part I: the growth of the text’, Ériu 38 (1987) and R. Mark Scowcroft, ‘Mediaeval recensions of the Lebor Gabála’ in Lebor gabála Érenn... (2009).

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.] Macalister, R. A. S., Lebor gabála Érenn: The book of the taking of Ireland, 5 vols, Irish Texts Society 34–35–39–41–44, Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1932–1942.
Internet Archive – Vol. 1 (1938 ed.): <link> Internet Archive – Vol. 2 (1939 ed.): <link> Internet Archive – Vol. 3 (1940 ed.): <link> Internet Archive – Vol. 4 (1941 ed.): <link> Internet Archive – Vol. 5 (1956 ed.): <link>
[ed.] [tr.] Macalister, R. A. Stewart [ed.], Lebor gabála Érenn: The book of the taking of Ireland, 5 vols, vol. 1, Irish Texts Society 34, Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1932.
Internet Archive: <link>
[ed.] [tr.] Macalister, R. A. Stewart [ed.], Lebor gabála Érenn: The book of the taking of Ireland, 5 vols, vol. 2, Irish Texts Society 35, Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1933.  

Concerning this section in the recensions which he calls R1, Min, R2 and R3, Macalister writes that it “has suffered modification in translation from the original Latin and in subsequent transmission [...] and in consequence two versions R1 and R2, differing widely, have come into being. [...] The version [of this section] in Min need not detain us: it does not differ essentially from R1. We turn now to R3, which in this section is very clumsy and awkward patchwork, based upon the two earlier versions, with the addition of some extraneous matter. [...] The close relationship of his [the compiler's] MS of R1 (*Q), to F, observed in the preceding section is here maintained.”

Internet Archive: <link>
[ed.] [tr.] Macalister, R. A. Stewart [ed.], Lebor gabála Érenn: The book of the taking of Ireland, 5 vols, vol. 3, Irish Texts Society 39, Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1937.
Internet Archive: <link>
[ed.] [tr.] Macalister, R. A. Stewart [ed.], Lebor gabála Érenn: The book of the taking of Ireland, 5 vols, vol. 4, Irish Texts Society 41, Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1939.
Internet Archive: <link>
[ed.] [tr.] Macalister, R. A. Stewart [ed.], Lebor gabála Érenn: The book of the taking of Ireland, 5 vols, vol. 5, Irish Texts Society 44, Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1942.
Internet Archive: <link>
[tr.] Carey, John [tr.], “[Various contributions]”, in: Koch, John T., and John Carey (eds), The Celtic Heroic Age. Literary sources for ancient Celtic Europe and early Ireland & Wales, Celtic Studies Publications 1, 4th ed. (1995), Aberystwyth: Celtic Studies Publications, 2003. [Various].
§ 108. Translation of the first recension (A).

Secondary sources (select)

Carey, John [ed.], Lebor gabála Érenn: textual history and pseudohistory, Irish Texts Society, Subsidiary Series 20, Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 2009.
Scowcroft, R. Mark, “Leabhar Gabhála. Part I: the growth of the text”, Ériu 38 (1987): 79–140.  
Scowcroft, R. Mark, “Leabhar Gabhála. Part II: the growth of the tradition”, Ériu 39 (1988): 1–66.  
Hamel, A. G. van, “On Lebor Gabála”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 10 (1915): 97–197.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts, Online: University College Cork. URL: <http://www.ucc.ie/celt>.
“Online index to the Lebor Gabála Érenn (Book of Invasions) based on R. A. S. Macalister's translations and notes”, compiled by Michael Murphy. direct link
Contributors
Dennis Groenewegen, Julie Le Blanc, Patrick Brown
Page created
May 2011, last updated: January 2022