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O Ogma

I thought it was time to revisit the figures on the doors on the Adams Building and decided that it was Ogma’s turn.

Ogma (Oghma, Ogmae, Ogme) appears in Irish and Scottish mythology. I am not an expert in this area so I won’t recount all of his story, but he was an orator and warrior of the Tuatha Dé Dannan and along with Lug and Dagda, one of its three principle champions.

In his 1911 book The Religion of the Ancient Celts, J. A. MacCulloch says Ogma was the master of poetry and the inventor of ogham writing or alphabet which, according to the Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, was the earliest form of Irish writing where the Latin alphabet was adapted.  MacCulloch says the following:

It is more probable that Ogma’s name is a derivative from some word signifying “speech” or “writing,” and that the connection with “ogham” may be a mere folk-etymology.  Ogma appears as the champion of the gods, a position given him perhaps from the primitive custom of rousing the warriors’ emotions by eloquent speeches before a battle. (p.75)

So it seems Ogma was chosen to be on the doors because he is credited with inventing an alphabet, which was named after him.

One Comment

  1. Sarah McAuliffe-Bellin
    April 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    thanks for posting this. the alphabet is Ogham and the inscriptions which can still be seen on large stones, can also be found in parts of Norway and Iceland. there seems to be a sense that some of the inscriptions were commemorative, marking a place where a person of note was buried. The National Museum in Dublin has some stones on exhibit as well. I wasn’t aware there was a character from Celtic mythology on a door, much less one of the Tuatha De Danann

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