Index of Names in Irish Annals: Descriptive Bynames: in Gai Bernaig

by Mari Elspeth nic Bryan (Kathleen M. O'Brien)

© 2000-2007 by Kathleen M. O'Brien. All rights reserved.
Version 2.4, updated 28 May 2007

Descriptive Bynames: in Gai Bernaig


"[of] the Broken Spear" (from gae "spear, javelin" and bernach "gapped, broken, defective")


What we know as a set of Irish Annals are manuscripts that were each compiled during a particular time period, usually using older material as sources. For example, when the Annals of the Four Masters were written from 1632 to 1636, they covered events that occurred centuries and millenia before (including legendary history). So, when an entry in this set of annals refers to a person who lived in the year 738, the spelling used for that person's name is very likely not using the spelling that would have been used in 738.

Standard forms of this name (based on spelling systems of different periods) would be:

Frequency & Dates:

Number of men found in the annals with this name: 1
Found in Years: 1039, 1062, 1067, 1082, 1087, 1088, 1097, 1118, 1156

Research Notes:

[Answering a question about standard forms of this byname:]
The adjective is bernach 'having gaps, broken, defective'; in at least one case it is used as a nickname meaning 'gap-toothed'. It's derived from bern 'gap, breach, pass, defile'. Its genitive, according to the relevant paradigm in Thurneysen, is bernaig or bernig. I'd go with the former, since the rn is not palatal here.

The standard (early) form of the noun in the nominative is gae 'spear, javelin'. The genitive is attested in a variety of forms, but I believe that the one that fits the standard paradigm is gai.

A reasonable normalized early form would therefore be in Gai Bernaig. On the basis of Dineen the corresponding later form would be an Ghae Bhearnaigh or an Ghaoi Bhernaigh: the genitive exists in both forms, and there's lenition after the article in the gen. sing. masc.

> And should I render the meaning as 'Broken' or 'Gapped'?

While the underlying idea has to do with gaps, the adjective seems to have covered a much broader range; I see no reason not to use the idiomatic 'broken'. I'd make it

'[of] the Broken Spear' (from gae 'spear, javelin' and bernach 'gapped, broken, defective').

[email from Talan Gwynek - 25 Apr 2002]


Further information about the byname in Gai Bernaig, may be found in:

The Sources page lists the Annals referenced below. Information about secondary sources is included on that page as well.

Raw Data

In the table below, I have separated individuals with a blank line. That is, when there are multiple entries in the annals that refer to a single person, those entries are grouped together.

Within the list of entries refering to a single person, I have sorted the entries primarily by orthography when it is obvious that what I am seeing is the same entry showing up in multiple annals. The entries that tend to use older spellings are listed first.

NOTE: The Annals referenced below under the code letters A, B, C, E, & F tend to use later spellings than the other Annals. In some cases, the spellings listed in these Annals may not be appropriate for the year referenced in the Annal entry.

In some Gaelic scripts, there is a character that looks approximately like a lowercase f, but without the crossbar. This character (represented by an underscored , e, in the entries below) sometimes represents e and sometimes ea depending upon the context of the text.

[Standardized form of this man's name]
AnnalsEntryCitation (formatting preserved)
[Áed in Gai Bernaig mac Taidc in Eich Gil h-Úi Choncobair] (d. 1067)
TT1039.3h-Aedh h-Úa Concobair (.i. Aed in Ga Bernaig)
UU1061.5Sluagad lah-Aedh H. Conchobair co Cenn Coradh co ro bris in cathraigh & co ro much intiprait.
BM1061.11Slóichceadh lá h-Aodh Ua Conchobhair .i. An Gha Bhernaigh, co Cenn Coradh, go ro bhris an dúnaidh, & co ro muradh an tioprat lais, & ro thochaith a dí brattán, & ro loisc Cill Da Lua bheós. ["An army was led by Aedh an Gha-bhearnaigh Ua Conchobhair to Ceann-coradh Kincora; and he demolished the fortress, and destroyed the enclosing wall of the well, and eat its two salmons, and also burned Cill-Dalua."]
UU1062.1h-Aedh H. Conchobhair
BM1062.2n-Aodh an Gha Bhearnaigh h-Ua Conchobhair
UU1067.4Aedh H. Concobuir .i. Aedh in Ga Bernaigh airdrigh coicidh Conacht ["Aed ua Conchobuir i.e. Aed of the gapped spear, overlong of the province of Connacht" I suspect "overlong" is a typo for "overlord" - Mari]
TT1067.5Aedh in Ga Bernaigh mac Taidg in Eich Gil
TLC1067.3Aodh in Ghai Bhernaígh, mac Taidhg in eich ghil mic Cathail .i. airdrí choiged Connacht & luam gaiscid na n-Gaoideal
BM1067.5Aodh an Ghae Bherrnaigh Ua Concobhair, rí Connacht ["Aedh of the Broken Spear Ua Conchobhair, King of Connaught"]
TT1082.2Ruaidhrí mac Aedha in Ga Bernaigh h-Úi Choncobair
TT1087.2Ruaidhri na Saighe Buidhe, mac Aedha in Ga Bernaigh, h-Úi Concobair
BM1088.5Dubh Chablaigh, inghen Aodha Ui Conchobhair .i. Aedh an Ghae Bhernaigh, ben rí Mumhan ["Dubhchabhlaigh, daughter of Aedh Ua Conchobhair, i.e of Aedh of the Broken Spear, and wife of the King of Munster"]
TT1092.1Ruaidhri na Saidhe Buidhi mac Aeda in Ga Bernaigh h-Úi Choncobair, rí Connacht
TT1097.3h-Aedh ín Ga Bernaigh mac Taidhg in Eich Gil h-Úi Concobair
BM1097.11h-Aodh Ua Conchobhair (.i. Aodh an Gha Bhernaigh) ["Aedh Ua Conchobhair (i.e. Aedh of the Broken Spear)"]
MCB1MCB1118.5Ruaidhri Na Soighi Buighi, mac Aeda In Ga Bearrnaigh mic Taidhg An Eith Gil
MCB1MCB1156.2Toirrdealbac mac Ruaidhri mic Aedha An Gha Bearrnaidh mic Ruaidhri Na Soidhe Buidhi, airdri Teora Condacht

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