Log in

28 November 2009 @ 11:31 pm
I was thinking about hospitality and both its importance in Irish culture and its centrality in GRP today. As such, I was interested if anyone has found any articles or could recommend any books which discusses hospitality.

I did find an article from the 1999 Celtica Journal, "Old Irish briugu `hospitaller' and connected words" by Gearóid Mac Eoin, and while interesting its main focus is on the etymological development of the term. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Serenheilun_coo on November 29th, 2009 09:13 am (UTC)
Fergus Kelly's Early Irish Law is probably the best place to start, especially in relation to the briugu. To a lesser extent he also goes into it a bit in Early Irish Farming as well, but this is more to do with the land and livestock he was expected to have, not necessarily to do with how it all actually worked.

Looking at the myths, I'd suggest Cath Maige Tuired - the episode where the Dagda is hounded by the satirist Cridenbél is a good demonstration of the philosophy of hospitality. The Dagda is forced to give up the three best bits of his portion because Cridenbél thinks his own is too small, and the Dagda can refuse him because to do so would be against the law. Cridenbél is being greedy and unreasonable, and the Dagda suffers for it until his son Oengus comes up with the solution. He gives the Dagda three gold coins to put in his meal, and when Cridenbél makes his demand, the Dagda is forced to give him the coins as they are the three 'best bits'. Cridenbél chokes to death, and the Dagda is free of his problem.

There's also the episode where the Fomorians abuse the laws of hospitality when the Dagda goes to see them - they make him an unreasonable amount of porridge, which the Dagda has to eat in order to uphold the laws of hospitality (to leave some of the porridge would have caused offence, which was the Fomorians' intent - to engineer the offence for their own gain). The Dagda manages the whole lot, which royally pisses the Fomorians off, and to really put the boot in, he then shags the Fomorian king's daughter (after taking a giant dump, of course...). I'd say the moral of both stories, when giving or receiving hospitality, is: Don't be a dick. It won't end well.

If you have access to an academic library/ILL, I'd recommend getting hold of Elizabeth Gray's commentary on her translation of the tale. You'll find it in Éigse Volumes 18 and 19. The commentary (“Cath Maige Tuired: Myth and Structure") is split into four parts, with two parts in each volume. Each part deals with a particular section of the tale.

Henry Glassie's Passing the Time in Ballymenone has a lot of good stuff on modern hospitality in practice - it's kind of incidental to the main focus of the book but you'll learn a lot along the way...

F Marian McNeill goes into modern hospitality in a Scottish context in her books The Scots Kitchen and The Scottish Cellar (especially the latter, if I recall correctly), and Barbara Fairweather's Highland Heritage has a lot of excerpts from various old and obscure sources that mention the legendary hospitality of the Scots. Probably not what you're looking for, but I thought I'd mention them anyway.
Gorm_Sionnachgorm_sionnach on November 29th, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
Much Obliged.

I had always thought that Dagda complied with the demands of Cridenbel because of the power he had as a satirist?
Serenheilun_coo on November 29th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
To an extent, yes - because of the power that satire was believed to carry it was a persuasive bargaining chip and Cridenbél abused his position as a satirist to exploit the Dagda for his own greed.

Cridenbél would only have been justified in making a satire against the Dagda if there was reason to - such as the Dagda's failure to provide the proper hospitality. To make an illegal satire carried a heavy penalty, so it wasn't something that Cridenbél would have done lightly without good cause.