verse beg. Oibind beith ar Beinn Edair

  • Late Middle Irish
  • verse
Middle Irish poem (24 qq) ascribed to Colum Cille, on Benn Étair.
First words (verse)
  • Oibind beith ar Beinn Edair
Ascribed to: Colum Cille
Colum Cille
(fl. 6th century)
founder and abbot of Iona, Kells (Cenandas) and Derry (Daire).

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ff. 23r.11–24r.6
rubric: ‘Colum Cille’
beg. ‘Oibind beith ar Beind Edair / re ndul tar fairrge findfind’

24 qq.

f. 126v.5 ff
beg. ‘Aibhinn beith ar B[i]nn Etair / re techt ar fairrgi fonngil’

4 qq, corresponding to qq 2–5 of the Brussels version.

Several quatrains cited in the course of the prose.
  • Late Middle Irish
verse (primary)
Number of stanzas: 24 qq.
Associated items
Fil súil n-glaisFil súil n-glais



Benn Étair
Benn Étair ... Hill of Howth
County Dublin
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.] Reeves, William, Life of St. Columba, founder of Hy, written by Adamnan, 1st ed., Dublin: Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society, 1857.
CELT – edition: <link> CELT – translation: <link> Internet Archive – original print: <link> Internet Archive – 1874 reprint: <link> <link> View in Mirador
[ed.] OʼRahilly, Thomas F., Measgra dánta: Miscellaneous Irish poems, 2nd ed., Dublin and Cork: Cork University Press, 1927.
Internet Archive: <link>
[id. 46. ‘Columcille's farewell to Ireland’]

As the notes make clear, item no. 46 is an amalgam pieced together from the O'Donnell life of Colum Cille (O'Kelleher and Schoepperle, pp. 188-200, 290-294), including seven quatrains from the present poem.

[tr.] Meyer, Kuno, Selections from ancient Irish poetry, London, 1911.  
A collection of early and medieval Irish poetry in English translation. The individual items are reprinted from earlier publications.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link>, <link>, <link>, <link>
83–85 (translation); 113 (note)

22 qq translated. “The poem, like most of those ascribed to this saint, is late, belonging probably to the twelfth century”.

[ed.] Connellan, Thaddeus, Reidh-leighin air ghnothuibh cearba, trachtail, tuarasdal, reic agus ceannach, agus ceannach: tairtheangtha anois maille re biseach, Dublin: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1835.
HathiTrust: <link>
60–61 Modern Irish version.

Secondary sources (select)

Herbert, Máire, “Becoming an exile: Colum Cille in Middle-Irish poetry”, in: Joseph Falaky Nagy, and Leslie Ellen Jones (eds), Heroic poets and poetic heroes in Celtic tradition: a Festschrift for Patrick K. Ford, 3, 4, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005. 131–140.
Celtic Digital Initiative: <link>

“The twelfth century verse beginning Oibind beith ar Beind Edair, unsubtly compares Scotland and Ireland in essentialist terms. The saint's place of exile lacks any redeeming features”.

Kenney, James F., “Chapter V: The monastic churches: II. The churches of the sixth to ninth centuries; general treatises”, in: James F. Kenney, The sources for the early history of Ireland: an introduction and guide. Volume 1: ecclesiastical, Revised ed., 11, New York: Octagon, 1966. 372–485.
Dennis Groenewegen
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December 2022, last updated: June 2023