minstrel: Documentation assistance

Taliesin of Earthstar taliesin_o at juno.com
Sun Jan 14 20:14:50 PST 2001

On Sun, 14 Jan 2001 10:30:04 -0800 Heather Rose Jones
<hrjones at socrates.Berkeley.EDU> writes:
> I suspect this is a reference to mnemonic lists of words in 
> a particular semantic field beginning with the letters of the 
> (Ogam) alphabet.  <snip>

I had guessed that it was something similar -- mnemonic poems, perhaps of
things such as geneological lists or what-have-you -- but was not sure if
I was reading in my own pre-suppositions.

> >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.
> There is a great deal of material on Irish bardic lore and 
> training to be found in surviving law tracts and similar 
> material.  Whether the above list exists in that precise form, 
> or whether it is a compilation by O'Curry from a variety of 
> sources, I don't know, but there's no particular reason to 
> be suspicious of it on general principle.<snip>

Perhaps my cynicism relates to my first example of "documentation" for
the Welsh Bards came -- I later found -- from Edward Williams/Iolo
Morgannwg. Being a cynic may not be a good thing, but "once bitten...."

> For a more direct line to period material on the Irish bardic 
> traditions, there are a variety of editions of medieval manuscripts 
> on the topic.  (If you start getting into things like manuals on 
> grammar or poetics intended for bards, you almost have an 
> unmanageable amount of material.) Four Courts Press 
> <http://www.four-courts-press.ie/> and the Dublin Institute for 
> Advanced Studies are good places to start breaking your budget on 
> this topic.

Splendid -- and my curiosity thanks you, even if my budget will probably
not <g>.

This looks like a great starting point for Irish Bards, and you mentioned
one for the Welsh (the "Statute of Gruffudd ap Cynan") -- let me add two
more questions, if I may.

1: Was there any real degree of documentable overlap or similarity
between the Welsh and Irish "bardic traditions" by "in period" times?
2: And reguarding the Statute specifically: admittedly, it's a
late-medieval document, but was there any relevance for a Welsh Bard of
earlier times (specifically, during the reign of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth)?

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

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