Tochmarc Moméra
: A Critical Edition and Literary Analysis

  • Ksenia Kudenko

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Over the past decades, the discipline of Celtic Studies saw the emergence of literary-critical works which examine early Irish tales as literary compositions. These, however, with the exception of Ralph O‘Connor‘s all-embracing study of Togail Bruidne Da Derga, tend to be narrowly focused on tracing particular motifs, without exploring a narrative as a consistent whole. This dissertation endeavours to fill up this lacuna in our field at least partly, by presenting a systematic critical analysis of the Middle Irish tale Tochmarc Moméra, ‗The Wooing of Momera‘, an origin-legend of the Eóganacht of Munster. A new semi-diplomatic edition and translation of the text from the Yellow Book of Lecan were produced in order to provide a reliable text for the literary-critical groundwork to proceed. The tripartite analysis of the native mythological, Biblical and (pseudo)-historical motifs used in the compilation has demonstrated that the tale uses various literary devices to sanction Eógan‘s acquisition of kingship in Leth Moga, and hence, to legitimise the dynasty named after him. This interpretation of TM is supported by its manuscript context. In YBL, the tale is grouped together with early Irish legal tracts postulating the pre-eminence of the Eóganachta among the other Munster polities. As it is often the case in early Irish literature, the events of the past are presented to serve the aims of the present. I have tentatively dated the text to the late twelfth century, when the Eóganachta were no longer kings of Munster and the power has shifted to the Dál gCais. It might have been important, therefore, to remind that the Eóganachta were meant to be kings from legendary times. The scribes of the Book of Leinster, where TM, as I will argue, might have been once contained, were particularly interested in making this point. The tale, therefore, represents a propagandistic political scripture aimed at defending the ambitions of the Eóganachta as the only rulers in the south of Ireland.
Date of AwardMar 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPeter Smith (Supervisor) & Maxim Fomin (Supervisor)


  • Old Irish
  • Middle Irish
  • Middle Irish Literature
  • Eóganachta
  • Textual Criticism

Cite this