verse beg. Marbh anocht mo cholann-sa

  • Early Modern Irish
  • verse

Medieval Irish poem (38 qq), unattributed but apparently uttered by Colum Cille, who laments the disintegration of his familia in Ireland and Scotland.

First words (verse)
  • Marbh anocht mo cholann-sa
Speaker: Colum CilleColum Cille
(fl. 6th century)
founder and abbot of Iona, Kells (Cenandas) and Derry (Daire).
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  • Early Modern Irish

Thomas Clancy has argued that the poem was composed about 1210, in response to the breaking down of the Columban network under the pressure of diocesan changes in Ireland. A specific event that was cause for concern is the foundation of a Benedictine monastery on Iona in 1203, (possibly) by Raghnall mac Somhairlidh, which would help explain why the harsh words in q. 7 are directed at the Clann Somhairlidh. Another is the Norse raid on Iona in c.1210.

verse (primary)
Number of stanzas
38 qq.



Colum CilleColum Cille
(fl. 6th century)
founder and abbot of Iona, Kells (Cenandas) and Derry (Daire).
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Í (Choluim Chille) ... Iona
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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.] Meyer, Kuno [ed.], “Mitteilungen aus irischen Handschriften: Colum Cille .cc. [etc.]”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 12 (1918): 392–395.
Internet Archive: <link>
[tr.] Clancy, Thomas Owen (ed.), The triumph tree: Scotland's earliest poetry AD 550–1350, Canongate Classics, 86, Edinburgh: Canongate, 1999.  
Translations, with notes. Latin texts translated by Gilbert Márkus, Welsh texts by Joseph P. Clancy, Gaelic and Old English texts by Thomas Owen Clancy, Norse texts by Paul Bibire and Judith Jesch.
242–246 [‘Columba’s legacy: Dead is my body tongiht’]

Secondary sources (select)

Clancy, Thomas Owen, “Columba, Adomnán and the cult of saints in Scotland”, The Innes Review 48:1 (Spring, 1997): 1–26.
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
December 2022