Apologies for my tardy completion of these conference notes. it seems with May, comes activity.
David Stifter (NUI Maynooth) presented the final paper of the conference. Professor Stifter made news last year with his ground-breaking translation of one of the oldest written passages in Old Irish. His comprehensive translation of the third of the three charms in the Stowe Missal – a ninth century mass book, or pocket book – contributed greatly to the understanding of these important passages. This book was one of practical use, to be used by the priest in tending to his daily tasks. Those tasks would undoubtedly have included tending the sick. The performer of the charm speaks in the first person singular, the patient in the second person singular, and the supernatural power in the third person. The structure of the charms is of heading, spell, and historiola.
The three charms:
Against the red eye
I invoke the bishop of Ibar who heals.
May you be saved!
May the blessing of God
and the protection of Christ heal your eye.
[with an eye with him, with his vision with him?]
The sight of your eye is whole.
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay of the spittle
and rubbed the clay over his eyes
and said to him:
‘Go and wash yourself in the pool of Siloe’
(which means ‘sent’).
He then went away and washed himself and he came seeing.
Against a thorn
My splendid spittle, it presses out a thorn.
May it not be a blister, may it not be a blemish,
may it not be a swelling, may it not be a disease,
may it not be bloody gore,
may it not be a grievous hole.
My charm, the splendour of the sun,
heals a swelling, smites a disease.
Against urinary disease
Let it flow like a camle lets it flow,
Give a liquid like excellence (?) gives liquid,
run like streams run.
Let forth a gush.
three pigs went into their aí,
It should be there where one goes.
Let if flow what has not flown,
Give your unrine into an aí.
Your strength and your health.
May a healing of health heal you.
I wondered just who Iber was, as the Carmina Gadelica mentions an “Ivor” in connection with Brighid:
The Feast Day of the Bride,
The daughter of Ivor shall come from the knoll,
I will not touch the daughter of Ivor,
Nor shall she harm me.
My notes make a connection with the Old Irish for Yew, and a pre-patrician saint. Four of these saints are listed: Ailbe, Ciaran, Declan, Iber (who was associated with Ulster and the Beggerin Island, and perhaps also Aran, Kildare, Meath and Munster).