Independent Narratives

So-called because the following stories are long works unconnected to any of the four accepted Irish cycles, the "Independent Narratives" are unconnected stories of madness ("The Frenzy of Suibhne", which prefigures the story of the Madness of Merlin), battles between druids ("The Colloquy of the Two Sages"), adventures at sea (the voyages of Bran and of Maildun), and an early version of the grail myth ("The Adventures of the Great Fool"). They even include the mock epic "Vision of Mac Con Glinne" a satire on the heroic tales of Irish myth, and the first satire in the vulgar tongue.

Despite what at first glance might seem a secondary status, these stories have had as much an impact as the Tain Bo Cuailnge or Book of Invasions. Tennyson wrote his own version of "The Voyage of Maeldun" while "The Frenzy of Suibhne" has been recalled in the poetry of T.S. Eliot ("Sweeney Erect" and "Sweeney Among the Nightingales"), Flann O'Brien's At Swim Two Birds, and has been translated by Seamus Heaney.

The Stories:

  • The Frenzy of Suibhne
  • The Voyage of Bran mac Febral
  • The Voyage of Maildun
  • The Tales of Mongan
  • The Colloquy of the Two Sages
  • The Adventures of the Great Fool
  • The King of Ireland's Son
  • The Voyage of Snedgusa and Mac Riagla
  • The Voyage of Curaig Ui Corra
  • The Vision of Mac Con Glinne

Most of these tales are available on the internet; otherwise, they can be found in Ancient Irish Tales, translated by Cross & Slover, Barnes and Noble, 1996.

Celtic Mythology & Medieval Celtic Manuscripts
Early Irish Literature Guide:
Mythological Cycle | Ulster Cycle | Fionn Cycle | Cycle of the Kings
Saints' Lives | Independent Narratives | Dindsenchas | Banshenchas

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