Armagh Diocesan Historical Society

Poems of Blathmac the subject of Armagh lecture in February 2016

The new season of lectures organised by Cumann Seanchais Ard Mhacha gets under way on Wednesday 3rd February 2016 at the Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Library and Archive in Armagh. Dr Brian Lambkin presents a paper on the Poems of Blathmac with a particular reference to the archdiocese of Armagh.

The talk will highlight a contribution to the appreciation of Blathmac’s international importance by a priest of the archdiocese of Armagh, Canon Diarmuid Mac Íomhair. He became an expert on the history of Fir Roís – the Louth/Monaghan kingdom to which Blathmac belonged – during his long period of almost fifty years serving the Louth parishes of Togher (1936), Dunleer (1936-40), Ardee (1940-60) and Faughart (1960-81).

Canon Mac Íomhair was among the first to review Professor James Carney’s 1964 edition of the poetry in the journal of the County Louth Archaeological and History Society. Before that he had published two major articles on the ‘boundaries’ and the ‘history’ of Fir Rois (1962, 1964) and Dr Lambkin’s lecture will show how Mac Íomhair’s contributions remain extremely valuable. One fascinating part of this research is Canon Mac Íomhair’s daring suggestion that the territory of Fir Rois contains a stone circle, like that at Newgrange, but ‘on an immensely vaster scale’.

The speaker is Director of the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster-American Folk Park in Tyrone and a former Principal of Lagan College in Belfast. Dr Lambkin believes that ‘in the treasury of Irish religious literature, the eighth-century Poems of Blathmac deserve to be as well-known as the Book of Kells’. The fiftieth anniversary of Dr Carney’s edition of the peoms was marked by a seminar and a new book, The Poems of Blathmac son of Cú Brettan: Reassessments (Irish Texts Society 2015). Dr Lambkin has contributed a chapter to that latest publication.

The lecture begins at 8pm with free admission and everyone welcome.