verse beg. Maire máthair in maic bic

  • Old Irish
  • verse
  • extent: more or less complete
Short Old Irish poem (7 qq + 1 possibly interpolated) on the Virgin Mary, preserved only in a 17th-century manuscript (NLI MS G 50).
First words (verse)
  • Maire máthair in maic bic
p. 121
beg. ‘Mairi mathair an maic bic’
8 qq. The fourth stanza, beg. Gein ro génair re mbethaib, is in a different metre, a type of rannaigecht, and seems to be extraneous. Carney explains its presence by assuming it was originally an early marginal quatrain but ended up being unintentionally incorporated in the poem.
  • Old Irish

c.700? According to Carney, this poem and the longer one that precedes it (Imbu maccán cóic blíadnae) “seem somewhat older than those of Blathmac, and a seventh- rather than an eighth-century date may perhaps be thought of.”.

verse (primary)
  • deibide
Number of stanzas: 7 or 8
Textual relationships
Related: Old Irish metrical version of the Infancy Gospel of ThomasOld Irish metrical version of the Infancy Gospel of ThomasOld Irish metrical version (48 qq) of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which is preserved in a late manuscript (NLI MS G 50) only. It relates a number of deeds which Jesus is supposed to have performed as an infant, such as the creation of sparrows out of clay, his encounters with boys thwarting him, his revelations to the scholar Zacharias and various miracles. The Irish poem may have been based on an Old Latin version, which ultimately goes back to a Greek or Syriac text.
Associated items
Gein ro génair re mbethaibGein ro génair re mbethaibView incoming data



Mary [mother of Jesus]
Mary ... mother of Jesus
(s. i BC–i AD)
No short description available

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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.] Carney, James P. [ed.], The poems of Blathmac, son of Cú Brettan: together with the Irish Gospel of Thomas and a poem on the Virgin Mary, Irish Texts Society, 47, London: Irish Texts Society, 1964.
[ed.] [tr.] 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.
26–29 (text and translation), 42–43 (textual notes), 4 (comments) Critical and diplomatic edition, with translation and notes.
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
December 2020, last updated: June 2023