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Church Island (Oileán an Teampaill), Co. Kerry

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© 2017-01-11


Following McManus (1991, 69-70): BECCDINN MACI/ R/ITTECC


'Beccdinn mac Rethach/Ráthach'


There is much confusion regarding the final personal name on this inscription (which appears to read RIVVESS, but see O'Kelly (1957/9, 81) for various other interpretations). The most convincing and simplest explanation, put forward by McManus (1991, 69-70) is that the turn of the stone confused the lapidary so that he carved VVESS for TTECC. The faint score-like mark opposite the first score of the first V may reflect this hesitation. This would make RITTECC the name in the gen. that was actually intended, which could be taken as an Early Old Irish form of Primitive Irish *Ritavicas (cp. CIIC 211. RITTAVVECC (Kilcoolaght East) and CIIC 250. RITTAVVECAS (Corkaboy) found in two neighbouring baronies). Furthermore, a later form of this name survives in the name of the Barony, Iveragh (Íbh Ráthach), in which this stone was found. Similar confusion by the lapidary at the turn of the stone is to be found on the famous Arraglen stone. Indecision may have also led to the ambiguity between the second V and the first S. As McManus suggests, he may have begun carving E, with two of the four notches, then changed his mind and decided to use X instead but, since X can have the E or consonantal value C, he reverted back to his original plan by placing two further notches on top of the X in an attempt to ensure that E would be read.

The initial name in this inscription is unattested elsewhere but the first element BECC could be bécc 'cry' or becc 'small'. There is no doubt that the form, like RITTECC (if this is the correct interpretation), is post syncope, suggesting a date in the late sixth or early seventh century. MACI, with an artifical -I reflecting 'the tenacity of the orthographical convention of writing final I in this formula word' would also suggest a late date (McManus 1991, 70, 90, 96-7, 100).

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