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Lughaidh, Tadhg agus Torna (Author: Flaithrí Ó Maoil Chonaire)

Lughaidh, Tadhg agus Torna

Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, Stowe MS E.iv.3

Prefatory Note

In this quatrain, Flaithrí Ó Maoil Chonaire pronounces a shrewd verdict on Iomarbháigh na bhFileadh, described elsewhere as 'magna sed inutilis controversia'. The Contention of the Bards had its origin in an attack made by the Clare poet Tadhg mac Dáire Mac Bruaideadha, early in the seventeenth century, on a poem which he and his contemporaries assumed to have been written by Torna Éigeas, foster-father of Niall of the Nine Hostages. In response to this challenge, Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh defended Torna and claimed that the northern half of Ireland was entitled historically to pre-eminence over the south. Eugene O'Curry expresses the view that the Contention sought to 'rouse and keep alive the national feeling and family pride of such of the native nobility and gentry as still continued to hold any station or fortune in the country'.

The term 'easair' in line 4 can be translated to mean 'dish', literally 'litter; any strewn covering for a floor'. In his catalogue entry for the variant reading in Egerton 161, f. 46b., Standish Hayes O'Grady states that it is more accurately translated 'the empty kennel; i.e. when the pups of both are stolen'. See DIL s. v. 'esair'.

from Thomas F. O'Rahilly, Dánfhocail, Eleanor Knott, Irish Classical Poetry and Cuthbert Mhág Craith, Dán na mBráthar Mionúr.