Beara: Book Notes

Texts, People and Events referenced in the novel


  • Acallam na Senorach – The Colloquy of the Ancients. A late 12th century text containing many Fenian narratives. The tales are told from the perspectives of warriors Oisín and Caílte mac Rónáin who recount many of the Fenian adventures to Saint Patrick.
  • An Cathach – The “Battle Book”. A 6th century manuscript psalter. This is Ireland’s oldest illustrated document. Only 58 leaves survive from the original manuscript.
  • Annals of Tighernach – The Annals of Tighernach are believed to have been compiled at Clonmacnoise towards the end of the 11th century. They are named after Tigernach Ua Braín, the abbot of the monastery there.
  • Codex Usserianus – An early 7th century Old Latin Gospel Book. The manuscript’s traditional name – the First Book of Uss(h)er – refers to James Ussher the Archbishop of Armagh.
  • Dúnaire Finn – A compilation of late medieval Fenian Cycle poems compiled by Aodh Ó Dochartaigh in 1627 for the use of Captain Somhairle Mac Domhnaill, an Irish mercenary fighting with the Spanish army during the Thirty Years War. The Irish Texts Society published the text in three volumes between 1908 and 1953 (vol. i, ed. Eóin MacNialll (Dublin, 1908), vol. ii, ed. Gerard Murphy (Dublin, 1933), and vol. iii, ed. Gerard Murphy (Dublin, 1953)
  • Fadden Psalter – An early medieval manuscript found in July 2006 in a peat bog at Faddan More, County Tipperary. It is considered one of the most significant Irish archaeological discoveries in Ireland for decades
  • Feis Tighe Chonáin – The Feast at Conán’s House. A late medieval text in which Fionn is given hospitality for the night in the sidhe (fairy fort) of Conán. During the text, Fionn recounts many of his adventures.
  • Leabhar Laighneach – The Book of Leinster. A medieval manuscript compiled around 1160.
  • Macgníamhartha Find – The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn. A text biography of Fionn’s youth based on Leinster folklore.
  • Springmount Bog tablets – Wax tablets discovered in a bog in County Antrim and believed to be the oldest example of writing in Latin from Ireland (around 600 A.D.)
  • Tóraiocht Dhiarmada agus Gráinne – The Pursuit of Diarmaid and Gráinne. A Fenian narrative from the 10th century. It concerns the elopement of Fionn mac Cumhal’s bride with the Fenian hero Diarmuid ua Duibhne


  • Brú na Bóinne – An ancient temple constructed more than 5000 years ago in the Boyne Valley
  • Cashel – The Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary, an ancient fortress later replaced by a monastery.
  • Tech nDuinn – The House of Donn (a pre-historical deity associated with the realm of the dead)
  • Tír na nÓg – Land of the Young (literally): Also a synonym for the Otherworld


  • Caibre Lifeachair – Mythological High King of Ireland and son of Cormac mac Art. According to the Fenian Cycle, he initiated events leading to the battle of Gabhra because of his jealousy of the Fianna and was killed during that battle by Fionn’s nephew Oscar who later died of his own wounds
  • Éogánachta – A federation of tribes of common lineage spread throughout Munster from the 3rd century. Internal septs included the O’Briens, the MacCarthys, the O’Donohues, the O’Keefes, and the O’Sullivans, among others.
  • Lugaid of the Red Stripes – Lughaidh Riabhdhearg. A fictional king who was said to have reigned during the prehistoric period.
  • Murchiú – Muirchu moccu Machtheni. A 7th century monk from Leinster
  • Muircheartach Ua Briain – great-grandson of Brian Boru. He was King of Munster but later declared himself High King of Ireland.
  • Seathrún Cétinn – Geoffrey Keating (in English). A 17th century Irish historian poet and priest most renowned for his work Foras Feasa ar Éirinn.