Literature in Irish - The Middle Irish Period


The period of the Viking incursions and settlements, when political strife was endemic, is frequently regarded as a period of literary stagnation. This is the MIDDLE IRISH period. Certainly, it lacks the freshness and vitality of the Old Irish period, but it produced all the same a substantial body of literature. This includes the long sequence of 150 cantos on biblical themes called Saltair na Rann (The Versified Psalter), a work believed to have been composed in AD 988 by Airbertach Mac Cosse Dobráin, though this is disputed by some scholars; the historical poems of Flann Mainistrech (c. AD 1000-56); the extensive compilations in verse and prose of legends about famous places, known as Dinnshenchas (‘lore about prominent places’); adaptations to the form of Irish prose sagas of Latin epics such as Virgil’s Aeneid and Lucan’s Bellum Civile. To the end of the period belongs the powerful satire on monks and literary men, Aislinge Meic Con Glinne (The Dream of Mac Con Glinne).

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by Michael Green

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