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Skįldskaparmįl

						Hostellers in Landnámabók                                   169
assumed its care his cauldron has not gone from the fire but has been on the boil with
food for the men of Ireland.
Once in the fatal hostel, Conaire is told by Da Derga: 'Even if the greater part
of the men of Ireland were to come with you, I would feed them' (11. 532f.). The
host's bustling about the great hall is particularly relevant and is described as
follows: 'Ar-icc arechtain cacha himdae isin tich di lind 7 bíud ossé cosalach oc
timthirecht in tslóig uili — He came to every compartment in the hostel supplying
drink and food, and him dirty-footed (or incessantly) attending to the entire
host.'17 The Irish verbal noun airec 'providing, supplying (food, entertainment),'
in this instance in the augmented form airechtain, is suggestive of Þorbrandr's
nickname orrek, although such a derivation is not problem-free.18 The more
plausible altemative derivation is to be sought in Irish airech 'heedful' and we may
think of Þorbrandr as 'the Attentive' (if not 'the Provider').19
While the male hosteller in the Northem Quarter bears a fortuitous resem-
blance to Da Derga in the tale of the destruction of his hostel and the death of
Conaire mór, the women Langaholts-Þóra and Geirríðr invite us to look to
another strand of early Irish tradition. In particular, the common feature in the
two accounts of the woman sitting outside their halls inviting passersby to enter
is more suggestive of story-telling tradition than of historical 'fact'.20 The Finn
16
17
19
20
'Ó gabais trebud ní ro dúnít a doirse riam ó da-rignead in Bruiden, acht leth dia mbí in gaeth is
fris bís in chomla 7 6 gabais trebad ní tudchaid a chairi di theni acht no bid oc bruith bid diferaib
Hérenn'(l\. 1310-14; the editor calls attention to the slightly confusing reduplication in
phrasing).
Lines 1306ff. Comparable phrasing occurs in Táin Bó Froich 1970,1. 299 and Scéla Mucce Meic
Dathó 1935, par. 2.
On the basis of the limited number of Irish words use as Icelandic bynames we cannot say with
certainty what degree of syntactic correctness might have been observed in the loan. Might a
verbal noun airarsimply have been placed in apposition to a proper name or would the genetive
airic have been required, in a rare but not unprecedented use of the genetive as qualifier of a
proper noun? Otherwise we could entertain the notion of an unattested adjectival form
*airecachl*aircech.
Other typical deployment of the hosteller motif in the Ulster cycle of tales includes the
appointment of the hosteller Blaí as one of the foster-fathers of the hero Cú Chulainn (Compert
Con Culaind) and Buchet as the foster-father of Eithne, daughter of the king Cathaer Mór
(Esnada Tige Buchei). The story of Cú Chulainn's wooing (Tochmarc Emire) opens with his
followers wondering whether there is a daughter of a king or chief or hosteller suitable for him
to marry and later in his stand during the Cattleraid of Cooley (Táin Bó Cúailnge) sutlers are
shown supplying him with provisions; discussion in Mac Eoin (forthcoming in ZcP). Professor
Mac Eoin (pers. comm.) points out that the motif of a generous woman sharing the house with
a mean man that is exemplified in Geirríðr and Þórólfr is found in the Irish tale Erchoitmed
Ingine Gulide (The Excuse of Gulide's Daughter,' in Meyer 1894, 65-69).
Before ascribing this motif wholly to the story-telling tradition, it should be recalled that one
Irish legal tract stipulated that the hosteller have a servant posted outside to solicit guests actively.
There may also be some resonance of the mythological type-scene of the visit of the divine hero
to the home of a giant female in order to acquire knowledge, favour or treasure, e.g., Óðinn
and Gunnloð, Þórr and the daughters of Geirraðr, Gjálp and Greip. For anothet applications
of the mythic model, in statements on the legitimacy of royal rule, see Steinsland 1991.
					
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