Andrew McQuaid

Defining the genre of tecosc/speculum principum in early medieval Ireland in its historical context.

I first came to the University of Glasgow as an undergraduate to study History. During that time I picked up a number of modules on Anglo-Saxon England and Carolingian Frankia and found myself most interested in early medieval history, and in kingship in particular. When it was time to choose a postgraduate degree, I was keen to develop these interests, but I was curious to know more about my homeland in the early medieval period. After trying in vain to find a history department that could provide me with opportunity to study early medieval Ireland, I was pleased to discover that the Celtic and Gaelic department at the University of Glasgow could cater for my interests.

Currently, my research centres around the corpus of wisdom literature in Old Irish, Middle Irish and Latin that is often referred to as either tecosc or speculum principum in the secondary literature. This literature appears to be primarily concerned with the instruction of rulers in the exercise of their position. My main interests lie in the historical context surrounding these texts and in what they can tell us about early Irish kingship theory, but I am also interested in the concept of genre in early medieval literature and whether or not we can consider these texts to be part of one. Increasingly, I am also interested in the nature of the learned orders of early medieval Ireland, the degrees of separation between them and their working relationships with the other grades of society. For, as the authors and redactors of these texts, understanding them is surely key to understanding this literature.