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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Radio Interview 26th August, thoughts.

Discussion on radio concerning my book King Arthur In Irish Pseudo-Historical Tradition

Radio interview below.
Well, the interview on Inishowen Conmmunity Radio was certainly a difficult one, not because of the questions asked, but of how to couch the replies when we are dealing on one hand with pseudo history/mythology and on the other with real history. I think in future I will have to point out the distinction between the two. It's also difficult when I am introduced as claiming that Arthur was Irish, when in fact I only ask the question. This is to be expected though when people have not read the book.

Mac Erca with the fairy woman Sheen
Yes, Mac Erca in mythology was the ruler of Ailech and the Grianan of Ailech would fall into that assumption, but in reality he is never associated with the Grianan, but with the house of Cletech on the Boyne. Furthermore, the O'Neills didnt acquire the Grianan until the late seventh century when they defeated the Cenel Conaill in battle as pointed out by Brian Lacey in his work on the O'Neills of the North. However, as what we know of the late fifth to mid sixth century was retrospectively added to the annals of Ireland it's quite possible the sons of Eoghan may have occupied the Grianan but then lost it again to the Cenel Conaill in the late sixth century.

The other difficulty, as pointed out in the book, is that Muircertach Mac Erca is a merged character , made up of the historical Mac Erce mentioned in the seventh century by Adamnan and in an early Irish MS called the book of Conn of the Hundred battles where he is called by the diminutive Mac Ercene and Muircertach Mac Muiredach, a member of the northern O'Neills in their genealogies. In the book I make this distinction so in effect we dont really know if Mac Erca was of the O'Neills at all or whether they just aquired or interpolated him into their clan by merging him with Muircertach Mac Muiredach. This would then  beg the question, who was Mac Erca? We do know he had a father called Muiredach but thats as far as it goes. Whether this Muiredach was a son of Eoghan is unknown.

The conversation covered some of the links with the similarities of the two stories, the Merlin type character Saigin the Druid and St Cairnech, who was closely associated with Mac Erca, the name of Mac Erca's wife, which translates into Welsh as Gwinau-verch, the story of his conquests of places known to have been conquored by Arthur, the dates of their death etc etc.

I think the people of Inishowen would have been left wondering what all the fuss was about when I could not give them a definate answer that Arthur was Irish and from that place, other than in mythology and Pseudo-history. How does one explain all this in a ten minute interview? Should I have concentrated on the mythology and left the real history or was I right to try and mention both in shuch a short time?

Listening to the interview for the first time today 31/8, I think I didnt actually do that bad.

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