minstrel: Documentation assistance

Taliesin of Earthstar taliesin_o at juno.com
Sun Jan 14 06:13:49 PST 2001

I saw the following on another list, given as what an Irish Bard would
learn in the Bardic Colleges:

----- Begin quote -----

Here is, according to _The Bardic Source Book_ the 12 year study of bards
broken down by Eugene O'Curry in his book _Manners and Customs of the
Ancient Irish_

1.  50 ogams or alphabets.  Elementary Grammar.  Twenty Tales.
2.  50 Ogams.  Six easy lessons in Philosophy.  Some Specified Poems.
Thirty Tales.
3.  50 Ogams.  Six minor lessons of Philosophy.  Certain Specified poems.
Grammar.           Forty Poems.
4.  "The Bretha Nemed" or Law of Privileges.  Twenty Poems of the Species
called "Eman.     (Births). Fifty Tales.
5.  Grammar.  Sixty Tales.
6.  The secret language of the Poets.  Forty Poems of the Species called
"Nuath" (Twins).      Seventy or eighty tales.
7.  "Brosnacha (Miscellanies).  The Laws of Bardism.
8.  Prosody.  Glosses (the meanings of obscure words) "Teinm Laeghda".
(Illumination of         Song)  "Imbas Forosnai. (Light of Foresight)
"Dicheltel do Chennibh" (Extempore Incantation), "Dindsenchas (Land
9.  A specified number of compositions of the kind called "Sennet" (?),
"Luasca (three oscillating springs over a Druid's head?), "Nena" (?),
"Eochraid (keys), "Sruith" (Streams), and "Duili Feda (Wisdom Tales).  To
master 175 tales in this and the next two years.
10.  A further number of the compositions listed above (part of the 175
11.  100 of the compositions known as Anamuin.
12.  120 Cetals (Orations).  The four Arts of Poetry.  During this and
two years previous to master 175 tales, along with 175 of the tales
by the Annruth - 350 tales in all.

------ End quote ------

I don't have the book cited, though I am considering getting it (John
Matthews (Editor): _The Bardic Source Book : Inspirational Legacy and
Teachings of the Ancient Celts_: July 1999 Blandford Press: ISBN:
0713727853), so I have a couple of questions if anyone present does have

1: What are the "Ogams" mentioned in the above quote? I am familiar with
the Ogham alphabet, but of course the two words do not seem to refer to
the same thing.
2: Is there any provenance or documentation for the list mentioned above?

I halfway suspect that the list above is "post-period Romanticism," but
if someone could direct me to some definitive sources, I'd love to
investigate further.

Justin W. Eiler / Madog Hir of Aire Faucon
taliesin_o <AT> juno.com

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