In honour of Eleanor Knott’s work on the Early Irish tale Togail Bruidne Da Derga (TBDD), ‘The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel’, this paper will investigate the group of remscéla, ‘prefatory tales’, associated with TBDD and the wider implications of medieval, literary serialization. The attested use of the term remscél appears sparingly throughout medieval Irish literature: apart from TBDD, the only other extant examples of the term refer to those tales associated with the Táin Bó Cúailnge (TBC) and to the various episodes in the Irish adaptation of Lucan’s Pharsalia, In Cath Catharda ‘The War of the Romans’.During this talk, I will draw comparisons between TBDD and TBC in particular and how the two extended narratives were prime candidates for literary serialisation. I will also investigate the differences in the nature of the textual relationship between the remscéla of TBC and TBDD; and, furthermore, how this impacts the definition of the term remscél. Taking stock of Erich Poppe’s study into the diachronic development of ‘cyclical impulse’ (Poppe 2008, 42), I will also comment on the manipulation of pre-existing tales for the purpose of complementing a literary series and if/how this manifests itself in the categorization of the TBDD remscéla.
Poppe, E., 2008: Of Cycles and Other Critical Matters. Some Issues in Medieval Irish Literary History and Criticism, E. C. Quiggin Memorial Lectures 9. University of Cambridge: Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic.
Early Irish literature.