Saltair na Rann

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For the manuscript referred to as Saltair na Rann, see Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson B 502.

The title Saltair na Rann "Psalter of Quatrains" refers to a series of 150 early Middle Irish religious cantos, written in the tenth century. Together they narrate the sacred history of the world, from its creation down to the last days of humanity. In the principal manuscript, Rawlinson B 502 (Bodleian, Oxford), it is followed by two poems of devotion and ten ‘Songs of the Resurrection’, which were added in the late tenth century.

In the second devotional poem, Poem 152, the author identifies himself as Óengus Céile Dé: is me Oengus céle Dé (line 8009). Whitley Stokes took this to mean that the work as a whole was ascribed to the famous Óengus mac Óengobann, monk of Tallaght and author of the Félire Óengusso (Martyrology of Óengus), who since the 17th century also happens to have been nicknamed Céile Dé (Culdee). However, since the ascription occurs in appended material and therefore outside the core of Saltair na Rann, it is possible that it refers to the one or two devotional poems, which were either attributed to the earlier Óengus or composed by a late tenth-century namesake.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Follett, Céli Dé in Ireland. 162.

Primary sources[edit]

  • Stokes, Whitley (ed.). Saltair na Rann. A Collection of Early Middle Irish Poems. Oxford, 1883. Available in html markup from CELT and PDF available from Celtic Digital Initiative
  • Greene, David and Kelly, Fergus (eds., tr.). The Irish Adam and Eve Story from Saltair na Rann, Vol. 1 Text and Translation; Vol. II Commentary by Brian Murdoch, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, 1976.
  • Carey, John (tr.). King of Mysteries. Early Irish Religious Writings. 2nd ed. Dublin, 2000. 98-124 (with short introduction at p. 97). Translation of cantos 1-3.

Poem 151, beginning "Isam aithrech (febda fecht)" (c. 987):

  • Murphy, Gerard (ed. and tr.). "Prayer for forgiveness." Early Irish Lyrics. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956. 36-9 (no. 16). Available from CELT
  • Stokes, Whitley (ed.). Saltair na Rann. 114-5.
  • Kinsella, Thomas (tr.), "The time is ripe and I repent." In The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse. Oxford, 1986. 54-55 (poem no. 54). Sixth stanza left untranslated.

Further reading[edit]

  • Follett, Westley. Céli Dé in Ireland. Monastic Writing and Identity in the Early Middle Ages. London, 2006.
  • Mac Eoin, Gearóid (1982). "Observations on Saltair na Rann". Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie. 39: 1–28.