37 0 183 - 206 2016

Am Buadhfhacal Meadhan-Aoiseach Meranach agus mearan, mearanach, dàsachdach, dàsan(n)ach na Gàidhlig

Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh


The epithet meranach is found in Irish sources from the eleventh century. The same element may be present in the Irish surname Merna(gh) and perhaps also in the early thirteenth-century Scottish epithet Marrenah. It is suggested that the underlying element is meránach (‘delirious, mad, insane’), which survives in Scottish Gaelic mearan(ach). The rich variety of forms which survive (or survived until recently) in Scotland are discussed. Parallels are drawn with the use of dásachtach as an epithet of the Scottish king Domnall mac Causaintín (†900AD) and the survival of dàsanach, dàsannach and related forms in Scottish Gaelic. These epithets may in origin have referred to the persons classified as mer and dásachtach in early Gaelic law. The epithet méránach / méranach from mér (‘finger’) is also considered in the context of the name Gofraidh Crovan / Gofraidh Mérach; the epithet Crovan is explained as deriving from crobh+án rather than crobh+bhán as has been previously suggested.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.2218/ss.v37i0.1808


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ISSN 2052-3629 (Online)
ISBN 978-0-900949-03-6