By Kevin Murray
Celtica, Vol. 25 (2007)
Introduction: Some of the medieval Irish legal material concerning cats has recently been scrutinised by Fergus Kelly. Elsewhere he has listed the surviving materials for this examination and has drawn attention to their fragmentary state. The central tract on cats, Catslechta ‘Cat-sections’, was part of the final third of the Old Irish legal compilation known as the Senchas Már (henceforth SM). Glossed fragments of this text survive in TCD ms 1363 (H 4. 22), p. 32 (CIH 1550.15–23), and part of a later commentary is also extant in Bodleian Library, Oxford ms Rawlinson B. 506, fo. 28b (CIH 110.14–21). Some citations from this material are also preserved in O’Davoren’s Glossary (henceforth O’Dav.). The tract on what a judge should know (CIH 2102.31–2103.32) lists knowledge of Catslechta among his requirements. Elsewhere in the Laws, fragments of material relating to cats survive in diverse texts.
The purpose of this article is to edit and translate the short passages (noted above) in their entirety so as to make the primary material readily available. All departures from the diplomatic text given in CIH (collated with microfilm copies of the mss involved) are explicitly marked. Thus, the extent of editorial invention (which is kept to an absolute minimum) can easily be judged. Material from Catslechta is edited in Part I; the dierent categories of cat are dealt with in Part II and all supplementary legal material on cats that I am aware of is edited in part III (a large percentage of parts II and III is from O’Davoren’s Glossary).