Edited by : Maurice Harmon
Publication Date 7th, February, 2009
One of Ireland’s greatest collections of stories and poems, The Dialogue of the Ancients of Ireland is a new translation by Maurice Harmon of the 12th century Acallam na Senorach. Retold in a refreshing modern idiom, the Dialogue is an extraordinary account of journeys to the four provinces by St. Patrick and the pagan Cailte, one of the surviving Fian. Within the frame story are over 200 other stories reflecting many genres – wonder tales, sea journeys, romances, stories of revenge, tales of monsters and magic.
The poems are equally varied – lyrics, nature poems, eulogies, prophecies, laments, genealogical poems. After the Tain Bo Cuailnge, the Acallam is the largest surviving prose work in Old and Middle Irish. Emeritus Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature, UCD, Dr. Harmon is an internationally known poet, critic, editor, biographer and scholar. He has been engaged throughout his distinguished academic career with the rich traditions of his own country. As a poet, he brings to life the various poetic forms of the medieval text. The title poem of his most recent collection, The Mischevious Boy and other poems, 2008, has been set to music by Derek Ball.
‘Maurice Harmon brings to his translation a wide experience of modern Irish literature in English, in many areas of which, from O’Faolain to Beckett, he is an acknowledged expert. He here contends directly with a much earlier expression of Irishness as a part of a continuing process of cultural and textual renewal in which we as readers are privileged to participate’. From the Preface by Sean O Coilean, Professor of Modern Irish, NUI, Cork