Buile Suibhne


This review is not going to be about content but about what is available on this story in the Irish Text Society. I said a while back that I had finished all my Little Green Books but apparently I didn’t.

The three books discussed in the review.

Book One: A New Introduction by Joseph Falaky Nagy.

I read this Introduction two times, once before reading the main book and once after reading the main book. The first time I will admit that I didn’t really understand everything in the Introduction but after reading the main book it became very clear. Just a heads up if you have this book no need to read the first 32 pages of the main book as they are the same.

Main Book: Buile Suibne

This is the 1996 edition which has the same Introduction as the book above on top of the 1913 Introduction to the text. The Introduction, translation notes, and glossary of the original were all done by J. G. Keefe.

The original Introduction begins after page 32 and has a summary of the story, the manuscripts used, the dates of the manuscripts, a summary of the Battle of Magh Rath. Suibhne Geilt, the origins of the tale, and finally the composition of the tale.

The first chapter is the tale itself with the left side being the Irish and the right side being the English translation. The tale and translation end on page 159 (Not including the 32 pages of the Nagy Introduction). The notes start on page 161 and end on page 173. There is also a glossary that starts on page 179. The Index starts on page 193.

Book Three: Buile Suibhne – Perspectives and Reassessments

This is the text that I found most interesting. The 6 essays included in the volume all have interesting hypotheses and re-appraisals of scholarship related to the text.

The essays are:

  1. The Cult of St. Moling and the Making of Buile Shuibne by Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha.
  2. The “Death of the Wild-Man” in the Legend of Suibhne Geilt by Brian Frykenberg
  3. The Authorship and Transmission of Buile Shuibne a Re-Appraisal by Alexandra Bergholm
  4. James George O’Keeffe 1865-1937 by Pádraigín Riggs
  5. At Swim-Two-Birds: Sweeny and Many Others by Breandán Ó Conaire
  6. A Study of the Irish Legend of the Wild Man by Pádraig Ó Riain

My favorite ones are the first and the last essays. They have good analysis and interesting hypotheses.

The three books read together or if you have the 1996 or 2011 versions of the main book then just the main book and the assessments, are a great edition to the library of any Irish Literature buff and anyone who wants to understand the tale of the Frenzy of Suibhne.

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