On Thursday 9th October, we were honoured to welcome Professor Ralph O’Connor (University of Aberdeen) to Maynooth to give a lecture on ‘Historia, fabula, and everything in between: saga-writing and historical purpose in medieval Ireland and Iceland’. In a fascinating and stimulating lecture, Professor O’Connor explored the interventions by medieval Irish and Icelandic scribes which reveal something of the purpose of medieval saga narratives, whether as ‘history’ or ‘fiction’ or something in between the two. He referred in particular to scribal interventions which appeared to criticise some element(s) of the saga narrative as being implausible, but argued that these interventions – by anticipating possible specific criticisms from the intended audience – served to protect or insulate the historical integrity of the composition as a whole. Speaking to a packed room, Professor O’Connor inspired us with his rich and lucid consideration of the truth-value of medieval literary compositions. There was much fruitful discussion after the lecture, which continued with an informal wine reception. We would like to thank Professor O’Connor for his splendid talk – which we look forward to see in print in due course! – and look forward to our next visiting lecture, by Professor Liam Breatnach, at 5pm on Thursday 20th November, in An Foras Feasa Seminar Room.
A professorial triumvirate: An tOllamh Ruairí Ó hUiginn (Nua-Ghaeilge, Má Nuad); Professor Ralph O’Connor (Aberdeen); and Professor David Stifter (Early Irish, Maynooth).