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November 28, 2018 1 min read

As we look at Celtic Mythology, there is a wealth of material that will be brought out in this series of articles that is a great starting point for anyone interested in learning more. Sources are spread throughout the Celtic nations and we will look at each in turn, starting with Irish Mythology.

The three main manuscript sources for Irish mythology are: -

  • Late 11th/early 12th century Lebor na hUidre, meaning Book of the Dun Cow. Sadly only 76 pages remain
  • Book of Leinster compiled c. 1160 CE
  • Bodleian Library, also referred to as Book of Glendalough. The first part written c.1110 CE and the second compiled in the mid-12th

Despite the dates of these sources, examination of the language used date most of the material further back to the 8th century and may even go back to the 6th century from even earlier oral retellings. Other important sources are: -

  • The Yellow Book of Lecan (which contains the missing material from Lebor na hUidre) written in two parts in 1391 and 1401.
  • The Great Book of Lecan, written between 1397 and 1418 (which contains transcribed material from the Book of Leinster)
  • The Book of Ballymote transcribed 1390 or 1391 (a compilation of older works, loose manuscripts and valuable documents handed down from antiquity).

It has to be noted that most of the manuscripts were created by Christian monks (especially the later works), whose religious hostility to pagan beliefs resulted in some of the ancient stories being adapted and reworked to fit in with accepted Greek or Biblical genealogy.  

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