Poetry and performance in the Gaelic world, c.1200-c.1650

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter considers the performance of poetry in the early modern period of the Irish/Gaelic language (c.1200–c.1650). The poets do not comment explicitly on the nature of the vocal component. However, as the social context of the poetry was of great interest to contemporary observers, we consider some of these accounts before turning to issues of patronage, performance, and reception. Related genres, which have survived to some extent in oral tradition, may cast light on the vocal accompaniment of professional poetry as may later eulogy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, examples of which also survive as songs. In view of the primacy of the text for the professional poets, the musical element which accompanied court poetry may have been simple and flexible, and the number of tunes limited accordingly. Nonetheless, the vocal dimension may have played a role in some instances in bridging the gap between the written and oral traditions, and in the passing of poems from the former to the latter.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of Irish song, 1100-1850
EditorsConor Caldwell, Moyra Haslett, Lillis Ó Laoire
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780190859701
ISBN (Print)9780190859671
Publication statusEarly online date - 20 Oct 2022


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