Irish sea gods and linguistic colonisation
April 4, 2009
I really liked a recent creative short piece in the Guardian (Country Diary, 2nd April 09) about The Burren in County Clare, Ireland. Sarah Poyntz always writes about the same place and this week did a particularly good job, bringing in mention of c. C8th poem The Voyage of Bran featuring the god Manannán mac Lir.
The poem, by an unknown author, is a voyaging narrative based in myth. It is worth thinking about what happens to the Irish language throughout the centuries, invaded as Ireland was by Iron age Celts, the Vikings and the Normans — and the English in the C17th. The Irish campaigns of Elizabeth, Cromwell and William of Orange meant the import of a new ruling class who spoke English.
In the early C19th, the Ordnance Survey cemented the Englished landscape as place-names were Anglicised from the original Irish for use in the project. This is explained further here>>
You can read a bit of Bran in Old Irish here>>