Tales of Gluttony and Fantasy from Medieval Ireland Subject of NUI Galway Sympos

Monday, 8 September 2008

Medieval Irish humour and fantasy is the subject of an international event being held at NUI Galway on Friday, 12 September. The one-day colloquium will focus on one of the classics of medieval Irish literature: Aislinge Meic Conglinne or, as it is known in English, The Vision of Mac Conglinne. The event is being hosted by the University's Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences and will welcome expert speakers from Ireland, Germany, Scotland, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway and North America. Aislinge Meic Conglinne, composed around 1100 AD, tells how the king of Munster came to be afflicted by a monstrous parasite because of his gluttony. The tale describes how a poor student's fantasies of food eventually rid the king of this parasite. The work is a satire on the clerical and learned orders of medieval Ireland, on their pieties and sense of privilege. It also parodies the major literary forms of the time, making a play on saints' lives, visions, voyage-tales, prophecies and the New Testament. Professor Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha, School of Humanities, NUI Galway, is organising the colloquium. According to her, "Aislinge Meic Conglinne is a brilliant comic masterpiece and one of the great treasures of our Irish-language literary heritage". The original medieval work had various twentieth-century retellings in English, by authors including W.B. Yeats, Austin Clarke, Pádraic Fallon and Peter O'Shaughnessy. There was also a notable Irish-language version by An tAthair Peadar Ó Laoghaire, An Craos-Deamhan (1905), which was well-known to earlier generations of students.
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