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Athairne Áilgesach


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[Ir., importunate satirist; cf. OIr. aithirne, a kind of satire].

A court poet and satirist from the time of Conchobar mac Nessa, known for his demanding tributes. He once asked for and received the eye of Eochaid (6), a king from the midlands of Ireland. He continually exploited the tradition that a poet must not be refused a request. He sought cows, women, and many other things from the people of Leinster. These were given to him, and a bridge was built over the Liffey (where the modern city of Dublin lies) so that the cattle might be herded across, but the Leinstermen reneged on the promise to deliver the women. See AMAIRGIN (2) for his exchange with his foster-son about the appropriateness of the seasons for the composition of poetry. In some texts Athairne steals the three cranes of Midir. His altercation with Mesgegra/ Mesgedra, king of Leinster, is retold in Samuel Ferguson's poem ‘Mesgedra’ (1865).

Subjects: Religion.


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