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 Tara Belfast _ Suibhne

 

 

    Buile Shuibhne

 

Irish title of a 12th-century narrative of the Cycle of Kings known in English as The Frenzy of Suibne, The Madness of Sweeney, etc. It is the third and best known of a trilogy about a 7th-century Ulster petty king, Suibne Geilt [Irish, mad Suibne or Sweeney], who lost his reason at the Battle of Mag Rath (or Moira) in 637. The first story, Fled Dúin na nGéd [The Feast of Dún na nGéd], deals with events before the battle, which itself is described in the second story, Cath Maige Rátha [The Battle of Mag Rath]. Many modern readers have found Suibne's wanderings across Ireland, from treetop to treetop, among the most affecting in early Irish literature. Although Suibne first resists and later accepts Christianity, his story contains many elements of pre-Christian mystery.

Suibne son of Colmán is a king of Dál-nAraide in the former (until 1974) counties Antrim and Down of eastern Northern Ireland. He seeks to expel the evangelizing St Rónán from his kingdom, but his wife Eórann dissuades him. Angry at the sound of Rónán's bell, Suibne rushes from his castle, but Eórann grabs his cloak so that he goes through the door naked. The pagan king throws Rónán's psalter into a lake and is about to do violence to the saint when he is called to the Battle of Mag Rath. Rónán gives thanks to God for being spared but curses the king, asking that he may wander through the world naked, as he has come naked into his presence.

Rónán tries to make peace between the contending armies at Mag Rath without success. When he tries to bless the warriors, including Suibne, the king throws his spear at the saint; a second spear breaks against Rónán's bell, its shaft flying in the air. Rónán curses Suibne a second time, wishing that he may fly through the air like the shaft of his spear and that he may die of a cast spear. When Suibne tries to rejoin the battle he is seized with trembling and flees in frenzy like a wild bird. His feet barely touch the ground, and land at last on a yew tree. After Suibne's withdrawal, his opponents are victorious. When a kinsman is unable to bring Suibne back among his people, the mad king flies to different parts of Ireland, settling for long intervals in the glen of madmen known as Glenn Bolcáin.

His one faithful friend during this torment is Loingsechán, who may be a uterine brother or a foster-brother. Loingsechán rescues Suibne three times and keeps him informed about his family. Eórann, who has gone to live with Guaire, remains faithful to Suibne, even though he visits her and tells her she would be better off without him. On several occasions Suibne regains his reason, and once he seeks to return to his people, but Rónán prays that the king should not be allowed to come back and resume his persecution of the Church. The narrative is interspersed with a number of poems, some of them in Suibne's voice. Two of the most memorable, coming late in the narrative, are in praise of nature and of trees.

Suibne ends his wandering at the monastery of St Moling, Co. Carlow, whose monks fed and sheltered him and ask that his history be written. One night when Suibne is eating, Moling's cook's husband is jealous of the attention given the visitor. The husband's spear goes through Suibne's body, but not before he has accepted the faith. Many commentators see a link between the madness of Suibne and that of Myrddin or Merlin, who also begins a frenzied wandering after a battle; See WILD MAN OF THE WOOD. Among the modern writers attracted to Suibne's story are W. B. Yeats, whose ‘Madness of King Goll’ (1887) credits the madness to another king, and Flann O'Brien, whose title At Swim-Two-Birds (1939) translates a place-name in the original text. See also Seamus Heaney, Sweeney Astray (New York, 1984).

The standard modern edition is in the Irish Text Society, 12, ed. J. G. O'Keeffe (London, 1912). Fled Dúin na nGéd and Cath Maige Ráth were first edited by John O'Donovan (Dublin, 1848). Carl Marstrander re-edited Fled Dúin na nGéd in the Norwegian journal Videnskabs-Selkabets Skrifter, 2(6) (1909), and Cath Maige Ráth in Ériu, 5 (1911), 226–47.

 

The Buile Shuibhne (translates as "The Madness of Sweeney," or "Sweeney's Frenzy") is the tale of Sweeney (or Suibhne), a legendary king of Dál nAraidi in Ulster in Ireland.[1] The story is told in mixture of poetry and prose and exists in manuscripts dating from 16711674 but which was almost surely written and circulated in its modern form sometime in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. It is likely, from references in works going back to the tenth century, that some form of the tale of the mad king goes back to the first millennium.

 

Plot

The sound of a bell

In the legend, the king was annoyed by the sound of a bell. When he learned that the sound came from Bishop Ronan Finn as he set up a church, the pagan king stormed naked to the church, pulled the bishop forth, and threw his psalter into a lake. He would have killed the bishop were he not called at that moment to fight in the Battle of Mag Rath (near modern Moira, 637 A.D.). Prior to the battle, Bishop Ronan blessed the troops. Sweeney took the sprinkling of holy water as a taunt and killed one of the bishop's psalmists with a spear and threw another spear at Ronan himself. The spear struck Ronan's bell and broke it. At this, Ronan cursed Sweeney with madness. His curse was: 1) that as the sound of the bell had been broken, so now would any sharp sound send Sweeney into madness, 2) as Sweeney had killed one of Ronan's monks, so would Sweeney die at spear point. When the battle began, Sweeney went insane. His weapons dropped, and he began to levitate like a bird.

The effect of the curse

From that point on, Sweeney leapt from spot to spot, like a bird. Also like a bird, he could never trust humans. His kinsmen and subjects sent him mad with fear, and he could only flee from place to place, living naked and hungry. After seven years in the wild, Sweeney's reason was briefly restored by his kinsmen, who very gently coaxed him back to earth, but, while recuperating, a mill hag taunted him into a contest of leaping. As Sweeney leapt along after the hag, he again took flight and returned to madness. Eventually, after travels throughout Ireland and Western England, Sweeney was harbored by Bishop Moling. He lived, broken and old, with the bishop, and the bishop entrusted his care to a parish woman. Unfortunately, that woman's husband, a herder, grew jealous and killed Sweeney with a spear. On his death, Sweeney received the sacrament and died in reconciliation.

Literary style

The poetry in the story of Sweeney is deep and accomplished, and the story itself of the mad and exiled king who composes verse as he travels has held the imagination of poets through to the twentieth century. At every stop in his flight, Sweeney pauses to give a poem on the location and his plight, and his descriptions of the countryside and nature, as well as his pathos, are central to the development of the text.

Literary influence

Many poets have invoked Sweeney—most notably T. S. Eliot and Seamus Heaney. Heaney published a translation of the work into English, which he entitled Sweeney Astray. The author Flann O'Brien incorporated much of the story of Buile Suibhne into his comic novel At Swim-Two-Birds. Another version from the Irish text, titled The Poems of Sweeny, Peregrine by the Irish poet Trevor Joyce, is online at http://www.soundeye.org/trevorjoyce. Sweeney also appears as a character in Neil Gaiman's novel, American Gods. A contemporary version of the legend by poet Patricia Monaghan explores Sweeney as an archetype of the warrior suffering from "Soldier's Heart".[2]

Notes

 

See also

External links


 

http://www.answers.com/topic/buile-shuibhne

 

 

 

 

TEXT

Buile Suibhne (The Frenzy of Suibhne) being The Adventures of Suibhne Geilt

Author: [unknown]

http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T302018/index.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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