Set several hundred years after the death of Fionn mac Cumhaill, the frame story follows two aged Irish heroes as they travel Ireland with a newly arrived Saint Patrick. The pagans are Caílte mac Rónáin, Fionn's nephew, and Oisín, Fionn's son, both members of the famous warrior band the Fianna. For most of the narrative Caílte is the more important informant of the two, regaling Patrick with tales of Fionn and his men and explaining place names they encounter in the manner of another Irish work, the Dinsenchas.
The stories reiterate the greatness of Fionn and his departed age of heroes, often focusing on the rivalry between Fionn's family and that of his enemy Goll mac Morna, which threatened the stability of the island. Other stories record the Fianna's relationship with the Otherworld and the Tuatha Dé Danann, while those involving Patrick often stress the importance of integrating the values and culture of pre-Christian Ireland with the new ways of the Church. Some of the individual tales may predate their inclusion in Acallam na Senórach, though the authors adapted them with an eye towards narrative unity.
Acallam na Senórach survives in four late manuscripts. Three are from the 15th century: MS Laud 610 and MS Rawlinson B487 from the Bodelian Library, and the Book of Lismore. The fourth is a copy of MS A IV, Killiney, which dates to the 16th century. Several modern editions exist; the first complete English translation was that of Ann Dooley and Harry Roe, published by Oxford University in 1999.
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