The history of rhetorical traditions in Ireland is one that is slowly forming but that offers much promise. The scope of the vernacular and Latin learned tradition from the seventh century forward is wide-ranging, including grammars, learned handbooks, letters, liturgical texts, hagiography, lawtexts, genealogy, lore of place-name, verse, and pseudo-history. As primary scholarship advances new editions and translations, the door is opened for scholars in adjacent fields, and Ireland should no longer escape the attention of rhetorical studies. Below, I briefly review some of the texts mentioned in the preceding chapters only as a representative sample of areas ripe for rhetorical inquiry.
The writings of Columbanus offer important insight into rhetorical education in the sixth and seventh centuries not only in Ireland, but in continental centres of learning. In addition to his letters, sermons, and hymns, there remain unedited and untranslated manuscripts associated with Columbanian circles on the continent, works associated with rhetorical learning, and more that is yet to be discovered. Several hagiographic works, including the Life of Columbanus (and the writings of Adomnán generally) and the Latin and vernacular lives of Patrick, will also prove to be of value in our pursuits, as epideictic and other rhetorical genres inform their composition. The examples from early Ireland are plentiful, and such studies are wanting.
There are a number of Irish learned Christian poems that demonstrate a special interest in language, especially, ‘Versus Cuiusdam Scotti de Alphabeto’, ‘Aipgitir Chrábaid’, ‘Interpretatio mystica progenitorum Domini Iesu Christi’ of Ailerán the Wise, De Mirabiilibus sacrae scripturae, and the Carmen Paschale. Though these poems have in part been the subject of stylistic studies, much remains to be done regarding linguistic theories preserved therein, including the rhetorical.
The grammatical texts discussed also deserve further study. All of these, with the exception of the learned vernacular text, Auraicept na nÉces (‘The Scholar's Primer’) (the edition of which is incomplete) remain to be translated, though they are all now edited. The Auraicept is perhaps the most important as it is a vernacular learned handbook informed by the tradition of Latin grammatica, but rhetorical theories can also be detected. The Insular Latin grammars are all of interest, but Vergilius Maro Grammaticus's grammar proves of special interest to rhetoric, as he specifically discusses rhetorical theory.