Fís Mheirlíno: a diplomatic edition with introduction and notes

  • Ciaran Hegarty

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Despite a proliferation of ninety-five transcriptions between the years 1679 and 1895 and two edited versions executed by R.A.S. Macalister in 1903 and 1905 little information has been uncovered to date concerning the origins and authorship of the Modern Irish late vision tale Fís Mheirlíno (FMh). This thesis seeks to redress this state of affairs through the execution of a diplomatic edition of the earliest known instance of the tale – MS. TCD 1399 – which predates Macalister’s primary source MS. by thirty-four years. This project is envisaged as a preliminary step towards the eventual creation of a critical edition of FMh. A rigorous examination of this primitive version sheds light on its possible origins and authorship by furnishing a profile of an author of considerable literary and theological skill who appears to have fused elements from wellknown early seventeenth century Irish devotional texts with material of his own composition to create FMh. That this author might be identified as Owen O’Donnelly is argued on the basis of scholarly hypotheses that a figure of this name may have been the scribe of MS. TCD 1399 and the author of the contemporary satirical tale Comhairle Mhic Clamha. This argument is supported by the seemingly deliberate juxtaposition of the poem Aluinn Dún Mhic Muire, by ‘Eog[h]an Ó Donnaoile’ with FMh in a section of this MS. apparently dedicated to prose material alone. By way of contextualisation a diplomatic edition and translation of this transcription are preceded by consideration of previous editions, the manuscripts consulted and their relationship, along with an account of the process of transcription and the editorial method. The text is complemented by textual notes, an analysis of the language used as well as by appendices covering bibliography, a list of all MSS. containing the tale, the diplomatic transcription of the version found in MS. TCD 1399 and a glossary.
Date of Award1 May 2018
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsUlster University
SupervisorNioclas Mac Cathmhaoil (Supervisor) & Art Hughes (Supervisor)


  • Irish language
  • 17th century Irish literature
  • Christian
  • Devotional Literature

Cite this