Aí mac Ollamh

In a curious little story called "The First Utterance of Aí son of Ollam", we are given an Irish tale that has much in common with the Hanes Taliesin. Briefly, King Fiachna and Ollamh, sons of Delbaeth, were out riding when a wind came up. Fiachna asks a druid what this means, and was told that Ollamh will have a son whose rank will be equal to Fiachna. Instantaneously, a boy is born to Ollamh. The boy demands a cauldron and provisions. Fiachna then names him Aí, meaning "recitation."

actually means "poetic inspiration", and is an Irish cognate to the Welsh awen. Ollamh means master, and is used to refer to the highest grade of poet. And so we have "Inspiration son of Master Poet". "Fiachna" itself is a fairly common name in the Irish tales, but may be a pun on the word fiach, meaning "debt."

Like Taliesin, he is able to speak immediately. Like Taliesin, it is through his words that he gets the best of his elders. Like Taliesin, he is associated with a cauldron, and with inspiration. It is possible that in both Aí and Taliesin we have a Celtic archetype of a child-god of inspiration. However, it is important to note the difference in that with the Taliesin story, Inspiration gives birth to the poet; in the Aí story, the Poet is the father of Inspiration.

Koch, John, and Carey, John. The Celtic Heroic Age.

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Mary Jones © 2009