EMILI: Early Medieval Irish Latinate Inscriptions

GAL-003. Templebrecan 3: Cross Slab

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Description: National Monuments Service Record Number: GA110-023025-. A large cross slab, presumably of local limestone (Higgins 1987, 368), w: 0.85 x h: 1.93 (Converted from Petrie 1878). This stone is lost but, based on the illustrations of Petrie (1878, Plate XIII), Higgins (1987, 368) describes `a rather elaborate cross of Latin form. The cross itself is ringed and has a three-line shaft and two single-line arms each of which terminates in a ringed cross. The upper arms have an encircled Greek cross. The form of the terminal at the top of the cross is unknown as the slab is damaged in this area. The shaft rises from a trapezoidal, two-line case, the bottom of which is missing due to damage. The junction of the arms and shaft has a central roundel intersected by the transom of the cross, surrounded by a concentric annular ring deriving from the shaft of the cross'.
Text: The inscription is described as having been incised horizontally across the shaft in two lines (Waddell 1973, 23, no. 16).
Letters: Macalister (1949, 6) and Higgins (1987, 368) express doubts about the accuracy of Petrie's drawing and note that the letter forms seem to be 'too stylized' to allow much to be said other than that it is in half-uncial.

Date: Unknown.

Findspot: Discovered in the early 1800s (drawn by Petrie in 1822) at this site but already lost by 1878 (Waddell 1973, 23, no. 16). The site is a monastic complex known as na Seacht Teampaill/the Seven Churches, including Teampall Bhreacáin/Temple Brecan (GA110-010001-) and a number of associated domestic buildings (GA110-010006- to GA110-010013-), four leachtaí (GA110-023001- to GA110-023003- and GA110-023009-) and numerous cross slabs (GA110-023010- and GA110-023013- to GA110-023024-) (Archaeology.ie; Waddell 1973, 5-27; Monasticon Hibernicum Database).
Original location: Templebrecan (Teampall Bhreacáin), in the townland of Onaght (Eoghanacht), Inishmore (Árainn), Co. Galway, 53.145938, -9.777483.

Last recorded location: Lost

Interpretive


OR(ÓIT) DO
TIGE<R>NAC[H]

Diplomatic


ORDO
TIGENAC[.]

1: Read by Higgins (1987, 368-9) as OR(OIT) AR TIGERNAC[H].

Translation:

A prayer for Tigernach

Commentary:

As the stone is unfortunately lost and, as far as I am aware, the only illustration is by Petrie, it would appear that Macalister's reading (with do) is more accurate than that of Higgins' (with ar). Higgins does, however, correctly point out that there is no abbreviation stroke over the OR (usually for oróit) in Petrie's illustration. The word oróit 'prayer' is most commonly followed by the preposition do 'for'. However, a variant formula using the preposition ar 'on behalf of' is sometimes found. As noted by Okasha and Forsyth (2001, 28), Macalister (1949) listed examples of this variant from all over Ireland, even alongside the more usual do formula, suggesting that the variation is unlikely to be dialectal. It is worth noting that this variant with ar is actually more common so far (April 2022 with 30 inscriptions mainly from Ulster and Connacht) in the EMILI corpus. In fact, if this inscription did contain do rather than ar, it would stand out as unique at Templebrecan where all other examples of the oróit formula (4 in total) have ar.

Bibliography: Higgins 1987, vol. 2, 368-9, no.90 ; Macalister 1949, 6, no.533 ; Petrie 1878, vol. 2, 20-1, Plate XIII ; Waddell 1973, 5-27
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