BOOK REVIEW Sacred Histories: A Festschrift for Maire Herbert

Full Title: Sacred Histories: A Festschrift for Maire Herbert

Editors: John Carey, Kevin Murray, and Caitríona Ó Dochartaigh

Publisher: Four Courts Press

Copyright: November 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1846825644

Pages: 460 including

Synopsis: Sacred Histories is a collection of essays that focuses on the historical subtext of narrative (in Latin and Irish) from medieval Ireland. Contributions engage with this topic across numerous genres, such as hagiography, apocrypha, ‘historical tales,’ and the literary portrayal of women. Such sustained interrogation results in numerous fresh insights and new perspectives. The volume is a festschrift in honor of Maire Herbert, and the contributors are among the foremost experts in their disciplines. [Subject: History, Irish Studies, Medieval Studies, Literary Criticism, Cultural Studies]

Review: As the description says, this text is made up of a collection of essays in honour of Máire Herbert. It focuses primarily on the textual culture of Ireland (both in Latin and in Irish) in its historical context from the medieval period to modern times. Contributions are made in different genres such as poetry, saga, hagiography, apocrypha, and ‘historical tales’, and with themes that range from the cults of the saints in early medieval Ireland to the literary portrayal of women. The essays provided fresh insights and new perspectives on their subject matter.

There are many amazing writers/experts that have contributed to this volume and they deserve to be listed.

Duine dár laochra
Seán Hutton. (This is in Irish)

Keening in the poems of Blathmac
Alexandra Bergholm

Observations on the Book of Durrow memorandum
Edel Bhreathnach 

Senchas Gall Átha Clíath: aspects of the cult of St Patrick in the twelfth century
Elizabeth Boyle and Liam Breatnach 

Comhar na mban
Pádraig A. Breatnach (This is in Irish)

Cethri prímchenéla Dáil Ríata revisited
Dauvit Broun

Yonec and Tochmarc Becfola: two femaile echtrai
John Carey 

Táin bó Cúailnge, hagiography and history
T.M. Charles-Edwards

‘An t-éitheach; is an fíor? …’: a note on two late poems by Máire Mhac an tSaoi
Patricia Coughlan

‘Pé rí bheas i gcoróin’: Seán Caoch Ó Cearbhaill agus an tiarna talon
Pádraig de Brún (This is in Irish)

Murchadh Ó Cuindlis and Aided Muirchertaig Meic Erca
Clodagh Downey 

The shield of Fionn: the poem Uchán a sciath mo rígh réigh in Leabhar Ua Maine
Joseph J. Flahive

St Patrick and Antaeus: two bardic apologues
Margo Griffin-Wilson 

An Early Irish category of swindler: the mindach méith
Fergus Kelly

Colum Cille and the lorg bengánach: ritual migration from Derry
Brian Lambkin

De initiis: Apacrafa, an Bíobla agus léann luath-eaglais na hÉireann
Máirtín Mac Conmara  (This is in Irish)

Na taoisigh Ultacha agus an Veronica
Mícheál Mac Craith  (This is in Irish)

Maoil Mhuire agus a shinsear
Gearóid Mac Eoin (This is in Irish)

The paruchia of St Lúrach of Uí Thuirtre
Kay Muhr 

The dating of Branwen: the ‘Irish question’ revisited
Kevin Murray 

The bells of the saints
Próinséas Ní Chatháin 

The Hectors of Ireland and the Western World
Máire Ní Mhaonaigh

Tús na heagna omhan Dé: penance and retribution in a poem by Aonghus Fionn Ó Dálaigh
Emma Nic Cárthaigh

On the genealogical preamble to Vita Sancti Declani
Tomás Ó Cathasaigh

Véarsaí ó oirthear Chorcaí ar an ngorta a lean sioc mór an gheimhridh 1739–40
Breandán Ó Conchúir (This is in Irish)

A cult of Saint Theacla in early medieval Ireland?
Caitríona Ó Dochartaigh

‘Ceasta Fhíthil’: buaine agus ilghnéitheacht na gaoise i litríocht na Gaeilge
Pádraig Ó Macháin (This is in Irish)

Saint Cataldo of Taranto: the Irish element in the Life of an Italian saint
Pádraig Ó Riain

Maidenhood, mourning and Old English meowle
†Lísi Oliver and Andrea Adolph

Columba at Clonmacnoise
Jennifer O’Reilly

Librán as monastic archetype
Katja Ritari 

O’Friel’s ghost
Katharine Simms

Leprechauns and Luperci, Aldhelm and Augustine
Patrick Sims-Williams

Each essay has its own notes either at the end or as footnotes. The Irish essays took the longest for me to read and comprehend because my Irish is still not up to par. (I read it well, understand it for the most part, but speaking it is another story) Another thing that you need to know about this volume is that it is not for beginners. I am familiar with Máire Herbert’s work but I had to look up a few things while reading the essays. You also need to be familiar with Irish mythology and how scholars analyze it. It is a great book but you need your brain to always be present. Though some essays might seem simple they still have a lot to offer and information that makes you think. All in all I liked it but it took me a long time to finish reading it, so be aware.