Muirenn ingen Dúnadaig

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Resides:Concordia of the Snows, East Kingdom
Awards:Visit the Order of Precedence to access a list of this person's awards.

Argent, three fox's masks and a chief indented vert.
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Muirenn, called Ruad, joined the SCA in 2009, and divides her interest between the early/middle Irish period (up to 1000 AD) and the High Middle Ages on the continent (late 1100's), specifically the history surrounding Eleanor of Aquitane. She resides in the East Kingdom in Concordia of the Snows, with frequent disregard of the borders between there, Anglespur, and Glenn Linn.

Her major interests are heraldry (names and research) and the bardic arts (voice and performance.) Hobbies that loom on the horizon are nalbinding, herbalism, tablet weaving, and her harp.


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Muirenn lived in Ireland in the [1] beginning of the 9th century, at a time when the [2] Viking raids were just beginning. Iona had been burned and sacked, and there was raiding all along the coasts, but the Vikings had no permanent settlements. [3] Concochobar mac Donnchad was High King during most of Muirenn's lifetime.

Muirenn lived in the [4] Corcu Duibne lands in what is now Kerry. As a peninsula along the southwestern coast, these lands were subject to frequent raids during Muirenn's lifetime. The Corcu Duibne trace their ancestry back to [5] Conaire Mor, and they claim Dob(h)inia as their devine ancestor. The Cailleach Bheirre is of the Corcu Duibne as well.

Christianity was well-established, the [6]Abbey of Kells was under construction, and Muirenn was torn between a fascination with the faith of the Christians and her family's waning traditional pagan beliefs.

The Old Woman of Beare - a lament

The island of Beare is off the southern coast of the territory of the Corcu Duibne. Cailleach Bheirre represents a pagan goddess, although [7] in this poem the persona is somewhat Christianized. Different interpretations of this poem have it as a lament for the passing of youth, or an allegorical poem about the decline of pagan beliefs in Ireland.

The Old Woman of Beare said this when senility had aged her:

Ebb-tide has come to me as to the sea;

old age makes me yellow;

though I may grieve thereat,

it approaches its food joyfully.

I am Buí, the Old Woman of Beare;

I used to wear a smock that was ever-renewed;

today it has befallen me, by reason of my mean estate,

that I could not have even a cast-off smock to wear.

It is riches

you love, and not people;

as for us, when we lived,

it was people we loved.

Beloved were the people

whose plains we ride over;

well did we fare among them,

and they boasted little thereafter.

Today indeed you are good at claiming,

and you are not lavish in granting the claim;

though it is little you bestow,

greatly do you boast.

Swift chariots

and steeds that carried off the prize,

there has been, for a time, a flood of them:

a blessing on the King who has granted them!

My body, full of bitterness,

seeks to go to a dwelling where it is known (?):

when the Son of God deems it time,

let Him come to carry off His deposit.

When my arms are seen,

all bony and thin!

-the craft they used to practise was pleasant:

they used to be about glorious kings.

When my arms are seen,

all bony and thin,

they are not, I declare,

worth raising around comely youths.

The maidens are joyful

when they reach May-day;

grief is more fitting for me:

I am not only miserable, but an old woman.

I speak no honied words;

no wethers are killed for my wedding;

my hair is scant and grey;

to have a mean veil over it causes no regret.

To have a white veil

on my head causes me no grief;

many coverings of every hue

were on my head as we drank good ale.

I envy no one old,

excepting only Feimen:

as for me, I have worn an old person’s garb;

Feimen’s crop is still yellow.

The Stone of the Kings in Feimen,

Rónán’s Dwelling in Bregun,

it is long since storms (first) reached their cheeks;

but they are not old and withered.

I know what they are doing:

they row and row off (?);

the reeds of Ath Alma,

cold is the dwelling in which they sleep.

Alack-a-day (?)

that I sail not over youth’s sea!

Many years of my beauty are departed,

for my wantonness has been used up.

Alack the day (?)!

Now, whatever haze (?) there be,

I must take my garment even when the sun shines:

age is upon me; I myself recognize it.

Summer of youth in which we have been

I spent with its autumn;

winter of age which overwhelms everyone,

its first months have come to me.

I have spent my youth in the beginning;

I am satisfied with my decision:

though my leap beyond the wall had been small,

the cloak would not have been still new.

Delightful is the cloak of green

which my King has spread over Drumain.

Noble is He who fulls it:

He has bestowed wool on it after rough cloth.

I am cold indeed;

every acorn is doomed to decay.

After feasting by bright candles

to be in the darkness of an oratory!

I have had my day with kings,

drinking mead and wine;

now I drink whey-and-water

among shrivelled old hags.

May a little cup of whey be my ale;

may whatever may vex (?) me be God’s will;

praying to thee, O living God,

may I give . . . against anger.

I see on my cloak the stains of age;

my reason has begun to deceive me;

grey is the hair which grows through my skin;

the decay of an ancient tree is like this.

My right eye has been taken from me

to be sold for a land that will be for ever mine;

the left eye has been taken also,

to make my claim to that land more secure.

There are three floods

which approach the fort of Ard Ruide:

a flood of warriors, a flood of steeds,

a flood of the greyhounds owned by Lugaid’s sons.

The flood-wave

and that of swift ebb:

what the flood-wave brings you

the ebb-wave carries out of your hand.

The flood-wave

and that second wave which is ebb:

all have come to me

so that I know how to recognize them.

The flood-wave,

may the silence of my cellar not come to it (?)!

Though my retinue in the dark be great,

a hand was laid on them all (?).

Had the Son of Mary

the knowledge that He would be beneath the house-pole of my cellar!

Though I have practised liberality in no other way,

I have never said ‘No’ to anyone.

It is wholly sad

(man is the basest of creatures)

that ebb was not seen

as the flood had been.

My flood

has guarded well that which was deposited with me.

Jesus, Son of Mary, has saved it

till ebb (?) so that I am not sad.

It is well for an island of the great sea:

flood comes to it after its ebb;

as for me, I expect

no flood after ebb to come to me.

Today there is scarcely

a dwelling-place I could recognize;

what was in flood

is all ebbing.


Murphy, Gerard. Early Irish Lyrics: Eight to Twelfth Century. Oxford: OUP 1956

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