Bardic Poetry and the MacMahons of Oirghialla

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For most Gaelic families during the ‘Classical’ period of the Irish language (c.1200 - c.1650), literary patronage centred on Bardic poetry. This poetry was written in strict syllabic metres, and was defined by metrical and linguistic rules which, having developed over the preceding centuries, were fixed in the late twelfth century. Around this same time, c.1200, specific ‘learned’ families emerged that would dominate the world of Gaelic learning for the next five hundred years. The most prominent chieftains retained some of these specific families whose role it was to compose encomia and occasional poems for inaugurations, weddings and deaths in their chieftains’ families.1 This essay aims to provide an account of Bardic poems of this kind on the Mac Mahons in the period c.1200 - c.1650. The poets themselves – particularly the Mac an Bhaird family – will be discussed, and their relationship with the Mac Mahon family will be evaluated.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMonaghan History and Society: Interdisciplinary Essays on an Irish County
EditorsWilliam Nolan, Patrick Duffy, Eamonn O Ciardha
Place of PublicationDublin
PublisherGeography Publications
ISBN (Electronic)9780906602836
ISBN (Print)n/a
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 3 Mar 2017


  • Bardic Poetry
  • Bardism
  • Irish Language
  • Patronage


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