Marion Gunn wrote:
> I hesitate to even offer this comment, Dennis, but - given the
> appalling spelling of the text below, perhaps there is no reference
> to a cat in it at all - why remove the "l" from "/caitlín/" when
> Caitlín is a girl's name? To me "dul fa(oi) c[h]aill[e]" indicates
> to me "to take the veil", rather than "to take to the woods". How
> far out is that?
It is certainly worth considering. DIL gives one instance (s.v.
"caille") where being "under veil" means "having taken the veil". The
usual idiom is "gabais caille" = she took (the) veil.
c[h]êt mblîadna dî fo c[h]aill- (with the dative singular ending -
iu provided by the editor)
= her first year as a nun
Caitlín is certainly a girl's name.
Before continuing, I want to give the original again, along with my
proposed edition of it, which I've given in Modern Irish orthography,
for easy reference:
> Is truag in sgeal dime horta Concobhair .i. tingin do mucha. agus
> ata ni is mesa lium na sin .i. linn caitlin a roisdi do dul facaill
> uile agus ni gan abhar
Is truagh an scéal a d'imigh ort, a Chonchobhair, .i. d'iníon do
mhúchadh. Agus tá níos measa liom ná sin, .i. linn caitín arís (??)
do dhul faoi choill uile agus ní gan ábhar.
The main argument I see against a girl named Caitlín becoming a nun
centers on the old expression "fo chaill". It was very common at one
time, although it has fallen out of use. It is followed here by
"uile", which fits well with "fo chaill" but not with "fo chailliu".
That is, a cat might take to the woods "entirely", after having come
and gone, visited and disappeared and visited, over a period of time.
But taking the veil is a one-time all-or-nothing event. One can't
become a "part-time" nun, so taking the veil "entirely" doesn't make
I am not at all happy about my provisional reading of "a roisdi" as
As for "caitlin", it could be a pen slip for "caitin", or possibly the
name of the cat, agus playful alteration of "caitín = little cat".