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Meidhbhín Ní Úrdail



nineteenth century royal irish academy cath cluana tarbh gortnaclea battle of clontarf vikings story twelfth century

The battle of Clontarf story and Gortnaclea (2014)

Abstract One of the most popular texts among eighteenth- and nineteenth-century scribes in Ireland is a literary re-enactment of the historical battle at Clontarf in 1014 called Cath Cluana Tarbh (hereafter CCT). To its eighty-nine extant manuscript sources described in my recent edition of the text, one more is now to be added which came to light in 2012 and was subsequently purchased by the Royal Irish Academy where it is now preserved as MS 12 K 50. There are two principal reasons for the popularity of CCT: firstly, at the heart of its message is the fact that the battle itself amounted to Brian Bóraimhe’s victory over centuries of Viking heathen oppression in Ireland; secondly, rather than being a record of events, the historical battle at Clontarf in 1014 is presented as a story in which ‘heroes shine and villains play their sinister parts and dramatic incidents are invented or exaggerated for the benefit of the reading public’. These two reasons are not exceptional in the case of CCT, of course, as the same holds true for the earliest literary account we have in Irish concerning the battle of Clontarf, namely that in the early-twelfth century Irish text known as Cogadh Gáedhel re Gallaibh (hereafter CGG) or the ‘War of the Gaels against [lit. ‘with’] the Foreigners’.
Collections Ireland -> University College Dublin -> School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore
Ireland -> University College Dublin -> Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore Research Collection
Ireland -> University College Dublin -> College of Arts and Humanities

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Meidhbhín Ní Úrdail
University College Dublin
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