A sixteenth century bardic poem composed for Seán Mac Conmara, Lord of West Clann Chuiléin
Seanchas Ard Mhacha (2010)
In this paper, Luke McInerney examines the late 16th century bardic poem Créd fá seachnaim síol Aodha? composed by Domhnall Ó Maoilchonaire for his patron Seán Mac Conmara, Lord of West Clann Chuiléin. The paper gives an overview of the role of bardic poetry in late medieval Ireland and provides information on the bardic families of Thomond. The paper also offers an approximate translation of the poem, with notes. This article first appeared in the 2010 issue of the journal ‘Seanchas Ard Mhacha’. We are grateful to Luke McInerney for donating this article.
The corpus of bardic poetry that has survived the collapse of the Gaelic order consists of some two thousand poems, now catalogued as part of the Trinity College initiative known as the Irish Bardic Poetry Database. Irish bardic poems are unique in historical sweep and purpose and also their discipline in terms of complexity of composition and regulated metre. Medieval and early modern Ireland was a divided polity where Gaelic lordships existed alongside the palatinate territories of Anglo-Irish lords, and where a gradation of ‘Gaelicisation’ penetrated deep into the latter territories. This resulted in a mixed culture that appreciated – and used – Gaelic concepts of law, kinship and literature. In Gaelic regions, it was the secular hereditary bardic families that ran schools of history and poetry and sought the patronage of the ruling lineages.