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Tales of Three Gormlaiths in Medieval Irish Literature

Máire Ní Mhaonaigh
Ériu
Vol. 52 (2002), pp. 1-24
Published by: Royal Irish Academy
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30008176
Page Count: 24
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Abstract

A body of literary material in Middle and Early Modern Irish has survived pertaining to two historical queens both named Gormlaith: Gormlaith (ob. 948), daughter of Flann Sinna, and Gormlaith (ob. 1030), daughter of Murchad mac Finn. In addition, the latter was confused at an early period with an earlier royal Gormlaith (ob. 861), daughter of Donnchad Midi, about whom passing references have also come down to us. As actual personages who have engendered a corpus of fictional material, our trio of regal Gormlaiths parallel the host of male rulers whose deeds are celebrated in what have come to be known as king-tales. By addressing aspects of the traditions that have come to be associated with these three queens, this article seeks to chronicle their development as distinct literary entities and to shed light on the process whereby an historical figure is transformed into a complex literary character.

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