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Trinity College Dublin

The Bardic Poetry Project
Director: Professor Damian McManus e-mail

With funding received from the HEA under PRTLI I and III, the Irish Department in Trinity College has for the past few years been directing a Bardic Poetry Project, the aim of which was to transcribe to disk all unpublished Bardic poems (of which there are approximately six hundred) held in Irish libraries. From the beginning the plan was to bring together this corpus of texts and Dr Katharine Simms’s Bardic Poetry Database (now hosted on the website of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies), thus providing scholars in this area with a very efficient research tool. The published corpus of poems, amounting to approximately one thousand and four hundred, could not be ignored in this enterprise and so it was decided by the team working on the project to include this material as well.

The task of retrieving these texts, both published and unpublished, is now complete and, with the cooperation of the DIAS School of Celtic Studies, we are now moving on to the next stage, namely the insertion of this material into the Bardic Poetry Database. The combination of the two will enable fine-tune searches by poet, patron, period, location, date, topic and motif, with immediate retrieval of relevant text as well as the ability to search for individual words, personal names, place-names, phrases, letter-sequences, rhyming patterns, key words in motifs and all kinds of data relevant to the linguist. It will bring Bardic Poetry into the digital era and will, hopefully, inspire young scholars to take up the essential task of editing and elucidating this rich literary heritage.

The six hundred unpublished poems are also being prepared at present for publication and it is hoped that this task will be completed early in 2008, with a publishing date, hopefully, in the middle of the year. The CISCS website will also soon host a full alphabetic list of all poems retrieved by the project together with their place of publication or manuscript source. Other material, such as the full complement of quotations in the grammatical tracts, both published and unpublished, will also be added very soon.

Publications related to the Bardic Poetry project:
Ó Raghallaigh, Eoghan, ‘A poem to Aodh Buidhe and Alasdar Mac Domhnaill of Tinnakill, Queen’s County’, Ossory, Laois and Leinster, 1156-1606 (Dublin, 2006).
McManus, Damian: ‘The bardic poet as teacher, student and critic: A context for the grammatical tracts’, Unity in diversity, ed. C. Ó Háinle and D. E. Meek, Trinity Irish Studies I, School of Irish, TCD (2004), 97-124
‘”The smallest man in Ireland can reach the tops of her trees”: images of the king’s peace and bounty in Bardic poetry’, Memory and the modern in Celtic literatures, ed. Joseph Falaky Nagy, Celtic Studies Association of North America Yearbook, V (2006), 61-117
‘Varia III: Miscellanea on Bardic poetry: Metre, language and style’, Ériu, LV (2005), 147-66.
Forthcoming: Unpublished syllabic poetry from manuscripts in Irish and British libraries (approx 1,000 pages).

Contact: Pat Carty Last updated: Feb 13 2008.