An inauguration ode written for the ceremonies when Brian na
Múrtha (executed in 1591) or his son Brian na Samhthach
was made king of the O'Roarkes. Fearghal Óg Mhac an
Bhaird wrote between 1560 and 1620. The text comes from the
manuscript RIA 3 C 13.
Brian Ó Ruairc mo rogha leannán *
lór a bhuga ag bronnadh séad;
'sis lór a chruas i gcrú chaoilshleagh,
an cnú do chnuas Ghaoidheal nGréag.
Murchadh mhac Briain, bradán Sionna,
samhail Í Ruairc ó Raith Té; *
nó Niall Caille nár éar aoinfhear, *
déar aille na n-aoigheadh é. *
Rí Calraighe na gcreach líonmhar*
budh leis Teamhair, treabh na Niall; *
bé Bearchán do bhí dhá labhra *
budh rí ar seanchlár Banbha Brian.
Brian Ó Ruairc, my chosen darling, *
gentle enough at the bestowal of a jewel;
and hard enough in an enclosure of slim spears,
the nut from the cluster of the Gael of the Gréag.
Another Murchadh mac Brian, a salmon of the Shannon --
Í Ruairc has a likeness to Te's Fort -- *
or Niall Caille who did not refuse one man, *
his face's _____ cliff. *
King of Calraighe of the numerous raids,*
and also of Tara; plow of Niall; *
two words from Bearchán's mouth; *
and king on the old plains of Banba -- Brian. *
*leannán/darling: the filidh use all kinds of affectionate terms towards their kings. This closeness is natural in part: they often had helped raise and school them, and they stayed with their kings from Halloween to Mayday. It is also a reminder that the king should reward his close friend. I also suspect the use of this term is a reminder that kings are also supposed to be the 'lovers' of their lands (yeah, that whole Sovereignty thing).
*Murchadh mhac Brian/a Murchadh mac Brian: Brian Boru's son Murchadh, who died heroically in the Battle of Clontarf, became the hero of a whole cycle of tales. Hence, this is another complimentary name.
*Raith Té/Te's Fort: Tara. Té was the woman it was named after, according to the Dinnshenchus-type stories; she was probably the goddess of the place in the old days. (Like Macha of Emain Macha, Lugh's fostermother(?) Tailltiu of the Tailltiu festival, etc.)
*Niall Caille: The high king from AD 831-844. He was known for generosity and for drowning in the River Callan (which gave him his nickname).
*déar aille/___ cliff: Nobody seems to know what it means, but it's another compliment.
*Calraighe: Someplace near Loch Gill in County Sligo.
*Teamhair/Tara: Teabhra (sort of pronounced Tara) is the genitive case of Teamhair. So, like Erin (Eirinn is the genitive form of Eire), the genitive form became the anglicized form of the name.
*Bearchán: a saint associated with a political prophecy that listed the kings of Ireland and Scotland.
*Banba: When the Milesians came to Ireland, they met 3 queens of the Tuatha Dé Danann: Banba, Fodla, and Eriu. Eriu was the old name of Ireland/Eire; and Banba and Fodla are poetic names for Ireland.
Back to the medieval Irish poem index
Stop me before I err again -- mail your comments and corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org This page belongs here. It is copy-permitted.
Home Page Medieval Irish Poetry Maureen's Filk Jewel Riders Home Page