Bo Almqvist

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Bo Gunnar Almqvist
Born5 May 1931
Edsgatan, Alster, Värmland, Sweden
Died9 November 2013
Dublin, Ireland
Occupationwriter, academic, folklorist
Alma materUppsala University

Bo Gunnar Almqvist (5 May 1931 - 9 November 2013) was a Swedish academic and folklorist.


Born in Edsgatan, Sweden in 1931, Almqvist entered Uppsala University in 1950, studying Nordic languages and folklore. While there, he learned Irish from Kevin Danaher. In 1953 Almqvist first visited Ireland on a scholarship to study Irish at the UCD summer school. He graduated from Uppsala in 1954 and took a BPhil degree in Icelandic language and literature at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. Almqvist worked at the University of Iceland as lecturer in Swedish from 1956-60. He married Jane Houston and their daughter Marja was born in Iceland. The marriage ended in divorce in 1975.

Bo Almqvist returned to Sweden in 1960 and lectured at Uppsala University, completing a PhD thesis on magical, satirical and insult poetry in the Nordic countries (Norrön niddiktning, 2 vols. 1965, 1972).

Between 1966 and 1972 Almqvist carried out fieldwork in Dunquin, working with traditional storytellers such as Mícheál Ó Gaoithín and Cáit ‘Bab’ Feiritéar. In 1972 Almqvist was appointed Professor of Irish Folklore at UCD. He developed the academic study of Irish and comparative folklore at UCD and served as director of the archive of folklore, later the National Folklore Collection. Along with Pádraig Ó Héalaí, he edited Béaloideas, the journal of the Folklore of Ireland Society, for twenty years.

In 1982 he married Irish writer and folklorist Éilís Ní Dhuibhne. They had two sons, Ragnar and Olaf.

Selected works[edit]

Norrön niddiktning. Vol. 1 Nid mot furstar. Vol. 2 Nid mot missionärer. (Stockholm : Almqvist & Wiksell, 1965, 1972).

'The Uglier Foot (AT 1559B*). An Anecdote in Old Icelandic Literature and Its Counterpart in Irish Folk Tradition' Béaloideas 27–28 (1973) 1–58 (first published in Swedish in Scripta Islandica 17 (1966)).

(with David Greene (eds.)), Proceedings of the Seventh Viking Congress. Dublin 15–21 August 1973. (London: Viking Society for Northern Research, 1976).

An Béaloideas agus an Litríocht. (Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, Co. Chiarraí, Ireland : Cló Dhuibhne, 1977).

‘The Irish Folklore Commission. Achievement and Legacy’ Béaloideas 45–47 (1977–79) 6–26.

‘Scandinavian and Celtic Folklore Contacts in the Earldom of Orkney’ Saga-Book 20 (1978–81) 80–105.

(with Séamas Ó Catháin and Pádraig Ó Héalaí (eds.)), Fiannaíocht: Essays on the Fenian Tradition of Ireland and Scotland. (Dublin: Folklore of Ireland Society, 1987).

(with Séamas Ó Catháin and Pádraig Ó Héalaí (eds.)), The Heroic Process: Form, Function, and Fantasy in Folk Epic. The Proceedings of the International Folk Epic Conference, University College, Dublin, 2–6 September 1985. (Dublin: Glendale Press, 1987).

‘Of Mermaids and Marriages. Séamus Heaney’s ‘Maighdean Mhara’ and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s ‘An Mhaighdean Mhara’ in the Light of Folk Tradition.’ Béaloideas 58 (1990) 1–74.

‘The Mysterious Mícheál Ó Gaoithín, Boccaccio and the Blasket Tradition. Reflections Occasioned by James Stewart’s “Boccaccio in the Blaskets”’ Béaloideas 58 (1990) 75–140.

‘Irish Migratory Legends on the Supernatural. Sources, Studies and Problems’ Béaloideas 59 (1991) (special issue: The Fairy Hill Is on Fire!) 1–44.

‘Waterhorse Legends (MLSIT 4086 & 4086B). The Case for and against a Connection between Irish and Nordic Tradition’ Béaloideas 59 (1991) 107–120.

Viking Ale: Studies on Folklore Contacts between the Northern and Western Worlds. Presented to the Author on the Occasion of his 60th Birthday. ed. Éilís Ní Dhuibhne-Almqvist and Séamas Ó Catháin. (Aberystwyth: Boethius Press, 1991).

Färingasagan. Faereyínga saga. Hedemora 1992.

‘Fylgjor, livsfjärilar och livsfiskar. Några bidrag till isländsk-irisk själstro’ in Ailbhe Ó'Corráin (ed.), Proceedings of the Third Symposium of Societas Celtologica Nordica. Uppsala Uppsala Universitet 1994, 115–145.

(With Dáithí Ó hÓgáin) Skálda: éigse is eachtraíocht sa tSean-Lochlainn. (Indreabhán, Co. na Gaillimhe: An Clóchomhar, 1995).

‘Gaelic/Norse Folklore Contacts: Some Reflections on Their Scope and Character’ Bildung und Literatur (1996) 139–172.

‘Before Columbus. Some Irish Folklore Motifs in the Old Icelandic Traditions about Wineland’ in Folke Josephson (ed.), Celts and Vikings. Göteborg: Göteborgs Universitet 1997, 225–252.

‘Is Búkolla a Celtic Cow?’ in Ailbhe Ó Corráin (ed.), Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium of Societas Celtologica Nordica. Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet 2001, 101–116.

‘C. W. von Sydow agus Éire: scoláire Sualannach agus an léann Ceilteach (C. W. von Sydow and Ireland: a Swedish Scholar and Celtic Studies)’ Béaloideas 70 (2002) 3–49.

(with Roibéard Ó Cathasaigh (eds.)), Ó Bhéal an Bhab: Cnuas-scéalta Bhab Feiritéar (From Bab’s Mouth. A Collection of Bab Feiritéar’s Stories). Indreabhán 2002.

‘The Scholar and the Storyteller: Heinrich Wagner’s Collections from Peig Sayers’ Béaloideas 72 (2004) 31–59.

(with Roibéard Ó Cathasaigh (eds.)), 'Paidreacha agus Orthaí ó Bhab Feiritéar (Prayers and Charms from Bab Feiritear)' Béaloideas 73 (2005) 135–171.

‘Arastotail ar an mBlascaod (Aristotle in the Blasket Islands)’ in Dónall Ó Baoill, Donncha Ó hAodha and Nollaig Ó Muraíle (eds.) Saltair Saíochta, Sanasaíochta agus Seanchais. A Festschrift for Gearóid Mac Eoin. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013, 6–16.

(with Pádraig Ó Héalaí (eds.)), Peig Sayers, Labharfad le cách: scéalta agus seanchas taifeadta ag Radio Éireann agus BBC/I will speak to You All: Stories and Lore Recorded by Radio Éireann and the BBC. Dublin: RTÉ 2009.


Obituary, The Irish Times, 16 November 2013.

Terry Gunnell, 'In Memoriam: Bo Almqvist (1931-2013)', Folklore 125 (August 2014), 258-61.

Anne Markey and Anne O'Connor (eds). Folklore and Modern Irish Writing. Sallins, Co. Kildare, Ireland : Irish Academic Press. 2014.

Fionnuala Carson Williams. In Memoriam: Tribute to Professor Bo Almqvist. Proceedings of the Seventh Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Proverbs, November 2013, at Tavira, Portugal, ed. by Rui J. B. Soares and Outi Lauhakangas, pp. 483–484. Tavira: Tipografia Tavirense. 2014.

Séamas Ó Catháin. 'Bo Almqvist 1931-2013' Fabula Vol. 55 Issue 3/4 (2014), 318-21.