Eriu 13 141.20 is a short note by T.F. O'Rahilly
entitled '-Genn for -Chenn'. It discusses various
compounds of 'cenn' and another word, in which the
Middle Irish and Early Modern Irish forms fail to show
lenition of the second element, as one would expect.
In fact, they tend to show a voiced form, as if 'cenn'
had been nasalised.
Some of the words are: dícenn 'result' which is
spelled 'dígeann' in Early Mod.Ir. This word also
means 'headless man' apparently. Another word is
'clocend' which is 'cloigeann' in E.Mod.Ir.,
'claigeann' in Scots Gaelic, etc. This means 'skull'.
For each of these, O'Rahilly gives the Brittonic forms
as well, which are: Welsh: diben 'result', Breton
dibenna 'decapitate', Welsh pengloch, Breton cloben.
(Note, I'm quoting the Brittonic forms from memory, so
I may be off on a bit of them).
After this, he gets into the words that are important
in this verse:
a) táilcend 'adze-head', which becomes 'táilgeann'
This is a name applied to early missionaries in
general, and St. Patrick especially.
According to O'Rahilly, this means 'with perforated
head' and can be used various as:
i. a personal name
ii. a marine animal
(na tollcenn 7 na corrcenn C.Cath 4333)
(toilgind, npl. in Eriu 3 156.7, for which see
iii. in what seems to be a plural form:
this is a name for early christian missionaries
(Meyer's Cath Finntrága p162, 1.33)
c) crommcenn 'with bent head, crooked headed'
O'rahilly says that this can be used to refer
i) christian clerics
ii) croziers (a stylized staff carried by Roman
The example he gives to show the two meanings is:
cromcind ataconnacsa cona crannaib cromcenna (LL
298 b. 16-17)
'clerics I saw with their crozier-staffs'
d) meirceann 'crazy-headed, furious'
In this light, I'd translate the Bethu Phátraic poem
The Adze-head will come across the furious sea,
(with) his cloak with a perforated head, (with) his
Looking at Eriu iii 156.7, I found that this is
Eachtra Airt Meic Cuind. In this passage 'toilgind' is
used as follows:
'gur eirgheadar fon curach roin 7 lifidhna 7
toilgind 7 muca mara 7 ilpíasta ingantach na fairrgi
'And seals and leviathans and
adze-heads/perforated-heads and porpoises and many
wonderous beasts of the sea rose up around the
It is unclear whether or not the word 'toilgind' is
the same as 'tollcend' or 'táilcend' in this sentence.
Either way, matching this sentence with the poem in
Bethu Phátraic is rather interesting. Was there some
sort of idea that Pátraic, having come from 'across
the sea' was in some way associated with the sea? A
Beyond the discussion of the words, there is nothing
in the way of discussing the type of 'bratt' that
Patrick had in either of the Eriu articles.
> "Bethu Phátraic" contains this well-known verse:
> > Ticfa tailcend
> > tar muir meircenn,
> > a bratt tollcend,
> > a chrand cromchend.
> > James Carney's translation:
> > Across the sea will come Adze-head*,
> > crazed in the head,
> > his cloak with hole for the head,
> > his stick bent in the head.
> > * a nickname for Patrick
> > Is there any other
> > historical/archaeological/literary
> > evidence for simple (unhooded) poncho-type brats
> > early Ireland?
> > In DIL s.v. "toll", under Compounds, it says
> > "tollcenn
> > (for form and discussions see Ériu xiii 141.20)".
> > don't have access to this now. If there's any
> > relevant
> > discussion there, perhaps Elliott or one other of
> > the
> > company could let us know?
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