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Ogam-Inschrift: CIIC-Nr. 147

Ogam Inscription: CIIC no. 147

Original location: Ballyneesteenig

County: Kerry

Surroundings: Centre of village

Year of discovery: 1790

Actual location: Burnham


Fig. 147, 001 Fig. 147, 002 Fig. 147, 003 Fig. 147, 004 Fig. 147, w01 Fig. 147, w02

Actual reading:

Latin Transcription: MOIN[E]NA MAQI OLACON

Ogam Transcription: []

Ogam Transliteration: [ ]

Direction of reading: lr

Other readings, history, comments etc.:

Location and history:

According to Brash, OIM 176 and Macalister, CIIC, this stone was found in 1790 by (H.) Pelham "in the middle of the village" called "Ballyfeeny" (cf. Vallancey, Collectanea vi, 1804, 185; n.v.). Brash states (OIM, 178) that there is "no church or Christian burial-ground" near the site; there is, however, "a Keel on the next townland of Lisdorgan; to the north of which, Mr. Hitchcock states, is a holy well, at which stations are performed."
Before 1804, the stone broke into two parts. According to Pelham (quoted by Brash, OIM 177), this was due to a fire; according to Macalister the back part was "flaked away". According to Brash, the stone was visited in 1838 by Windele who found it broken in "two pieces, the larger one sunk in the earth against the quoin of the Widow McDonnell's house, on the townland of Ballysteenig; he had to break away a portion of the masonry to copy some of the characters." Brash himself visited the stone in July, 1868, lying "in the farmyard of John Griffin, a few yards from the mail-coach road between Dingle and Aunascal, and about two miles from the former." At that time both parts were kept separately: "the upper portion was performing the ignoble duty of propping up a turf rick; the lower was built into an external angle of the fence of a small field, to the rear of his cottage".
Between the publishing years of Ferguson, OI (1887) and Macalister, Epig. 1 (1897) the stone was brought to Burnham into the lands of Lord Ventry where it is still today (together with four stones from Ballinrannig, {148, 149, 150, 151} and one more stone {175} of unknown provenance.
According to Brash, OIM 178, the stone "appears artificially formed", different from the Ballintaggart monuments {155-163} which "have been rolled into (their) present shape by the action of the waves on the sea-shore".

Length according to Pelham, quoted by Brash, OIM 177: 8'.
Original size according to Brash, OIM 177: 7'5" x 1'3"
Size according to Macalister, CIIC: 6'4" x 1'1" x 1'2"

Published illustrations:
Graves apud Ferguson, PRIA 15, 1871, 56 (woodcut).
Brash, OIM pl. XVII (draft)
Macalister, CIIC I, 143 (frontal and back side)

Reading Graves apud Ferguson, PRIA 15, 1871, 56:

[The reading was noted by Graves in half uncial script, which obviously means a transposition into normal ms. form; instead of CU the accompanying woodcut shows Q.]
"We seem to find a footing in an early part of the field of Ecclesiastical history. OLCHU was grandfather of St. Brendan; and MAOINEANN was the Bishop attached to St. Brendan's Monastery at Clonfert. He died in the year 571 (Tigh.). OLACON is plainly the genitive of Olchu." - The stone had been referred to before by Graves in PRIA 4, 1850, 177, as bearing the name "of Moinuna, a distinguished disciple of St. Brendan".

Reading Brash, OIM 177:

The E is not certain because it is damaged by the fracture. - It is not sure whether this means Moinuna, disciple of St. Brendan's, because "the name was a usual one. We have Monenna, a sister of St. Patrick's, and a Moenan, son of Cormac, A.D. 774. In the Mart.Don. p. 147, we have Moninne, a virgin .., and at p. 186, Moninne, a virgin .. The name here is masculine", however. "Gaulish forms, Menimana.. Stein, 544; Monimianus (Manius?).. Gruter.. 694,14. Moenius, Grut. 918, 19 Patav. - Again, it is unlikely that `a distinguished disciple of St. Brendan's' would have been interred in unconsecrated ground, as in this locality there is no Christian Church or burial-place; and no reverence whatsoever is attached to the stone. Again, it is unsanctified by the symbol of redemption, or the usual formula of Oroit, or Bendacht .. here we have nothing beyond the simple pagan form of inscription." - Olacon is not a genitive of Olchu as proposed by Graves but nominative as in the Book of Lecan, fol. 281 where we have Allican "in a poem by Flann-Mainistreach, who died A.D. 1056, in which he gives an account of the deaths of several of the Tuatha-de-Danann chiefs". Similarly we have Ollchan in the Book of Ballymote, fol. 21, in a "curious and ancient poem ascribed to Fintan, a poet and historian, who appears to have communicated to St. Patrick much information on the early history of Ireland. .. In later ages the name appears" as Allacan A.D. 912, Ullachan 932, O'Leochain 992" etc., "and as O'Lachan 1050". - "The finding of Olchu in the genealogy of Brendan was no doubt a great temptation to identify him with a monument found in the district of his grandson's labours. The tendency to identify local historic or traditionary names with those found on Ogam monuments has been a serious impediment to their study, and has led to a large amount of elaborate and useless philological criticism. Oreli's collection, No. 288, gives us the Gaulish form, Olkano."

Reading Ferguson, OI 36 (52.):

"Moinena maqi olacon".
Considering Graves's suggestions, it "seems not improbable" that the Bishop named Moinena "should have been interred in Brendan's ancestral district .., and certainly no one can reasonably .. question the appropriateness of the cross which accompanies the inscription."

Reading Macalister, Epig. 1, 51 (28.):

"Olacon is, of course, genitive of Olchu, but the Olchu here mentioned cannot be St. Brendan's grandfather", because we would have to expect *Olacona or even *Olaconas on a monument of his time. Instead the present inscription has to be dated into the 9th cent. "at earliest". - Moinena has to be taken as a genitive, not as a nominative as in Brash's treatise; "it is, as Professor Rhs has shown, a Pictic genitive taken as base of a Goedelic genitive - Moin-en-a<s>. The name Moin-, Mon- is not unknown"; cp. Moan, son of Muircertach mac Erca in the Book of Fenagh.

Reading Macalister, CIIC:

There is a fracture crossing the E letter so that this was readable as a U. Pelham's drawing shows the "fifth letter correctly as E, with a crack running through it; but he breaks off the top of the stone after the I of MAQI"; was OLACON "buried and inaccessible" at that time?

Interpretation Korolev, DP, 76:

This could have to be read *OLACONA, expecting both names to have the same ending. - The inscription dates from the 5th or 6th cent.

Reading McManus, Guide 65:


Reading Gippert (1978):

"Surface angle - left to right":
[ ]
The last name might possibly be read as OLACONA, but the existence of a final A is more than doubtful. - Of the supposed E in the first name, only the first and the last notch is preserved, the other two scores having got lost because of the fracture of the stone.

Additional literature:

Vallancey, Coll. 6, 1804, 185 (Pelham).

Last changes of this record: 27.04.97

Copyright Jost Gippert, Frankfurt a/M 1996. No parts of this document may be republished in any form without prior permission by the copyright holder.