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The 2000-2008 Bardic Poetry Project

Director: Professor Damian McManus

Contact: e-mail

The ‘Bardic Poetry’ project was one of six projects for which the departments of History (Modern and Medieval), English and Irish in Trinity College, Dublin, secured funding from the Higher Education Authority’s ‘Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions’ (PRTLI), Cycles i and iii. The aim of  the project was to transcribe to disk all unpublished Bardic poems (of which there are approximately six hundred)  held in Irish libraries. The funding enabled the Irish department to appoint a number of Research Assistants to carry out the work of transcription. The assistants, Dr Eoghan Ó Raghallaigh, Ms Catherine Saunders and Mr Muiris Ó Raghallaigh, all graduates of the department, were appointed on contracts of varying duration, and worked under the director. Dr Ó Raghallaigh was with the project from beginning to end and worked closely with the director, checking and rechecking all transcribed texts.

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.

Bardic MiscellanyThe task of retrieving these texts, both published and unpublished, was the first stage and this has now been completed. 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.

Five hundred of the six hundred unpublished poems have now been published in 'A Bardic Miscellany.' This website also hosts a full alphabetic list of all poems retrieved by the project together with their place of publication or manuscript source, and all poems published in the 'Miscellany.' Other material, such as the full complement of quotations in the Irish grammatical tracts, both published and unpublished, is also available (see below).


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.
McManus, D. ‘Good-looking and irresistible: The hero from Early Irish saga to classical poetry’, Ériu 49 (2009) 57-109.
McManus D. and Ó Raghallaigh E.: A Bardic miscellany: five hundred poems from manuscripts in Irish and British libraries, Léann na Tríonóide/Trinity Irish Studies 2 (ISBN 978-0-9546882-1-9; ISNN 1649-4725), Department of Irish, Trinity College, Dublin (2010)

To see other titles available from the Irish Department, click here.

Further information on the database for consultation

The following files can be consulted here:
A Bardic Miscellany – Contents (MSWord 45kB) is a list of contents of the recently published A Bardic Miscellany.
A Bardic Miscellany (Complete Text) (PDF) is the full text of the book which is now out of print.
Database Index (MSWord 109kB) is an index to all poems in the Database on the DIAS website  ( and the sources from which our copies were taken.
Citations (MSWord 284kB) contains the full text of the citations from Bardic poetry in the medieval Irish Grammatical Tracts and the Bardic Syntactical Tracts arranged alphabetically with all duplicates and triplicates and identified citations noted.
Cited Poems (MSWord 26kB) contains an alphabetic list of all poems from which quatrains / couplets are cited in the medieval Irish Grammatical Tracts and the Bardic Syntactical Tracts together with details of the quatrains and/or couplets and where they are cited.

Tract on the Subjunctive (from two TCD manuscripts) (MSWord 141kB)