Ní gilla i ngillaidecht é ...

Ní gilla i ngillaidecht é, ní óclach i n-óclachas, ocus ní gaiscedach i ngaisced.

(is not * page * in * pageship * he * is not * squire * in * squireship * and * is not * knight * in * knighthood)

His actions befit neither page nor squire nor knight.

This imprecation was delivered, entirely petulantly and inappropriately, by Gúaire against Finn Bán after losing a series of fidchell games to him. This episode is found in “Acallam na Senórach”. I have restated the line slightly, shifting it from indirect to direct speech, and normalizing the orthography to the Old Irish norm. I have also, rather more radically, translated the threefold insult in terms of Anglo-Norman chivalry. In more Gaelic terms, the “gilla” was a serving boy, the “óclach” was a young warrior, and the “gaiscedach” was a seasoned champion.

The original text is “Adubairt nár’ ghilla a n-gillaighecht h-é, & nár’ óclach i n-óclachus & nár’ ghaisceadach a n-gaisced.” (He said that he was not a page….) A very similar formula is found in the short tale “Erchoitmed Ingine Gulidi”, where it is used positively to praise Gulide:

“Is amlaid immorro bái Gulide, co mba laech ar laechdacht … ⁊ co mba feinnid ar fheinnidecht ⁊ ba mílid ar milidacht ⁊ ba brugaid ar brugamnus ⁊ ba cainti ar caintecht.” (Thus indeed was Gulide, having been a warrior in warriorship, and a fenian in fenianship, and a soldier in soldiership, and a landholder in holding land, and a satirist in satire.)

Topics: Curses & Insults The Characters Speak