Since finishing my MA, I’ve continued with my independent research into medieval and early modern Irish literature. Here’s what that entails, and where you can find it…
MA Early & Medieval Irish (University College Cork), completed 2021. Final thesis: “Favourite charioteer, beloved foster-brother: the role of Láeg mac Ríangabra in medieval and early modern Ulster Cycle tales.”
BA (Hons) Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (University of Cambridge), completed 2018. Final dissertation: “A beardless boy: ambiguities of gender and sexuality in Táin Bó Cúailnge and related tales.”
“The Case for Queer Theory in Celtic Studies” – A discussion of the validity and importance of queer readings and theoretical approaches to medieval Celtic literature and history
“Publish and Persist” – A discussion of harassment I’ve received for my queer theory work (and for being a queer/trans scholar), and why it is necessary not to let this push me out of academia
“Understanding Standish” – A series of 5 blog posts exploring Standish James O’Grady’s The Coming of Cuculain from a medievalist perspective.
“An Early Modern Melancholy” – Reflections on Oidheadh Con Culainn and Hamlet
“The Early Modern Irish for ‘Stress Relief’” – Reflections on Oidheadh Con Culainn and the value of translation, particularly amateur translation.
I do everything I can to make my work available as widely as possible, while complying with journals’ copyright regulations. If you’ve benefited from my work, please consider buying me a coffee. If you have any difficulty getting hold of one of my articles, please reach out to me directly via finn [at] finnlongman [dot] com.
‘Lament: A One-Day Celebration of the Tradition of Irish Keen’ in Dúchas: Iris Staire Dhúiche Ealla (The Dunhallow Historical Journal) II (2023).
This article is primarily a report on a one-day colloquium of the same name which took place in Cambridge in May 2023. In this paper I give an overview of the papers and discussion that took place during the day, and offer my own thoughts on lament, gender, and other topics which arose. It is based on, although not identical to, my blog post on the same topic; the article is somewhat more restrained and academic, with more references. You can buy this volume of the journal for €15 here; please get in touch if you would like to read/cite my article and can’t get your hands on it.
‘“What manner of man is this Hound?”: Gender, Humanity and the Transgressive Figure of Cú Chulainn‘: published in the Proceedings of the Association of Celtic Students of Ireland and Britain VIII and IX (2023)
Adapted from my undergraduate dissertation and a paper given at the Celtic Students Conference in 2020 (see abstract below), this article explores theories of gender and monstrosity to examine Cú Chulainn as a liminal figure who transgresses boundaries and whose heroism is not undermined by but dependent on his status as an outsider. I explore how Cú Chulainn’s masculinity is presented as unconventional and challenged by those around him in a way that creates space for transmasculine readings, as well as how his ‘uncontrollable’ body can be read as monstrous and explored through paradigms more often used for the villains / opponents in other medieval literature.
You can purchase the conference proceedings for 2020 and 2021 proceedings on Amazon (affiliate link), or read an open-access PDF of my article via the link above.
‘Faithful to the End: The Changing Role of Láeg mac Riangabra in The Death of Cú Chulainn‘: published in Quaestio Insularis 22 (2022).
Originally presented as a conference paper at CCASNC 2021 and adapted from a chapter of my MA thesis, this paper explores how the role of Láeg mac Riangabra differs between the medieval Brislech Mór Maige Muirthemne and the early modern Oidheadh Con Culainn. See below for full abstract. Quaestio Insularis is available to read online.
‘Naming the Seven Maines’: published in Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 83 (Summer 2022). Winner of the 2022 CMCS Prize for Young Scholars.
This article includes an edition and translation of a fragmentary text from Trinity College Dublin MS 1336 (H.3.17) concerning the naming of the seven sons of Ailill and Medb. In the commentary that follows, I explore the relationship between this text and Cath Boinde / Ferchuitred Medba, as well as other appearances of the seven Maines across the Ulster Cycle. I consider ‘inconsistencies’ and variations between texts as to the names, fates, personalities, and even number of the Maines. Spoiler alert: there aren’t always seven of them.
Volume 83 of CMCS can be purchased for £5 here. Due to copyright restrictions, I can’t make this article available online, but if you’re unable to access it and need it for your research, please contact me at finn [at] finnlongman [dot] com, and we’ll work something out.
The XVIIth International Congress of Celtic Studies (July 2023): “A Champion Who Could Fight A Hundred: Láeg mac Riangabra in Tóruigheacht Gruaidhe Griansholus”
The seventeenth-century romantic adventure tale Tóruigheacht Gruaidhe Griansholus (‘The Pursuit of Gruaidh Ghriansholus’) depicts Cú Chulainn on a journey around the world, slaying giants and rescuing transformed maidens – accompanied, as always, by Láeg mac Riangabra, his faithful charioteer. But Láeg’s role in this text goes far beyond his usual position as Cú Chulainn’s driver and weapons master: as well as the expansion of his responsibilities to encompass sailing Cú Chulainn’s ship, Tóruigheacht Gruaidhe Griansholus portrays Láeg as a champion in his own right, capable of vanquishing groups of enemies sent against Cú Chulainn, sometimes with Cú Chulainn’s own weapons. This idea first appears in less developed form in the later versions of Táin Bó Cúailnge (the fragmentary third recension, and the fifteenth-century Stowe version of Comrac Fir Diad). As such, its presence in Tóruigheacht Gruaidhe Griansholus illustrates the author’s use and development of earlier material to create a new tale shaped by early modern literary sensibilities. Moreover, this story also reflects the developing interest in Láeg and his relationship with Cú Chulainn during the early modern period, placing significant emphasis on the loyalty and love between them, such that Láeg expresses a desire to die at Cú Chulainn’s side and be buried in his grave. In this paper, I will demonstrate how a close reading of Láeg in Tóruigheacht Gruaidhe Griansholus thus illuminates not only this understudied text itself, but also the wider literary development of the Ulster Cycle after the medieval period.
The 22nd Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (May 2021): “Faithful to the End: The Changing Role of Láeg mac Riangabra in The Death of Cú Chulainn”
Abstract: Láeg mac Riangabra, Cú Chulainn’s charioteer, is the hero’s closest and often only companion, and he remains faithful to his master even amidst mortal danger. Never is this more clearly illustrated than in ‘The Death of Cú Chulainn’, known variously as Aided/Oidheadh Con Culainn or Brislech Mór Maige Muirthemne, which shows the two in their final battle together. In this paper I will explore the significant differences between the Middle Irish and the Early Modern versions of this narrative, and the crucial – but different – role that Láeg plays in each. The Middle Irish version of the tale, from the Book of Leinster, reflects Láeg’s function as a double and narrative foil for Cú Chulainn himself, and his death shortly before Cú Chulainn’s prefigures the hero’s own downfall. Meanwhile, the Early Modern versions of the text show Láeg in his function as mediator and messenger for Cú Chulainn: he is wounded, but survives to assist the dying Cú Chulainn and to take news of his death back to Ulster, where he mourns him alongside Emer, Cú Chulainn’s wife. Although surviving in a great many late manuscripts, this later version lacks a full translation into English, and so these developments have largely passed unremarked. However, they provide a fascinating insight into the aspects or functions that Láeg performs in other Ulster Cycle texts, and illustrate both divergence and development in the tradition.
The 8th Celtic Students’ Conference (October 2020): “A beardless boy: exploring a transmasculine reading of Cú Chulainn in Táin Bó Cúailnge”
Abstract: The medieval Irish hero Cú Chulainn is often read as a hypermasculine figure, with his martial pre-eminence and extreme feats in combat seen as expressions of heroic masculinity. Yet he is small and beardless – facts frequently remarked upon by his opponents – and he is an outsider, marked by his exemption from the curse that renders the men of the Ulaid unable to fight. None of these traits are unique to Cú Chulainn: he can be read as conforming to a heroic ideal, reflected in Classical and chivalric literature, or as a precocious youth, made liminal by his age. However, I would argue that the Táin problematises Cú Chulainn’s masculinity, repeatedly presenting it as atypical and outside of societal norms, and that by interrogating his gender more closely, we can disrupt these conventional readings and offer an alternative. I will therefore explore a transmasculine reading of Cú Chulainn, showing how he transgresses categorisation not necessarily (or solely) because he is precocious and has assumed a ‘man’s role’ before it is expected, but because he has done so without it being expected at all. Moreover, I will discuss how, far from undermining his heroic identity, this instead helps to constitute it.