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An Leabhar Breac

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Date  1408–11
Language(s)  Middle Irish and Latin
Place of origin  Duniry
Scribe(s)  Murchadh Ó Cuindlis
An Leabhar Breac
Also known as  Speckled Book, Great Book of Dun Doighre
Type  Compilation of Irish legends

An Leabhar Breac ("Speckled Book"), now less commonly Leabhar Mór Dúna Doighre (The Great Book of Dun Doighre") or possibly erroneously, Leabhar Breac Mic Aodhagáin ("The Speckled Book of the MacEgans"), is a medieval Irish vellum manuscript containing Middle Irish and Hiberno-Latin writings. The manuscript is held in the library of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, where it is catalogued as RIA MS 23 P 16 or 1230.

Contents

It was most probably compiled by Murchadh (Riabach) Ó Cuindlis of Bally Lough Deacker, at Duniry between the years 1408 and 1411. Duniry — Dún Daighre, Dún Doighre — in eastern Clanricarde (now east County Galway) is situated south-east of the town of Loughrea, and in the medieval era was home to a branch of the bardic Clann Mac Aodhagáin (the MacEgans), who served as brehons for the O'Connors of Clanricarde.

History

In the 16th century, the manuscript was in the possession of the Mac Egans of Duniry, hence the older title Leabhar Mór Dúna Doighre. In 1629, when the manuscript was held in the convent of Cenél Féichín (Connacht), it was consulted by Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, brother of the Four Masters, who copied pp. 272–7. The book passed into the possession of Eamon Ó Ceallaigh (Co. Roscommon) in 1732, then of Dr. John O'Brien by 1768 and finally of Cornelius O'Daly (Mitchelstown, Co. Cork). The Royal Irish Academy acquired the first volume in 1789, when General Charles Vallancey purchased it for the academy for 3 guineas from Cornelius O'Daly. O'Daly also owned the second volume, which comprises nine leaves, but was unaware that it belonged to the larger volume. In 1789, this volume was acquired by Chevalier O'Gorman, by George Smith of College Green in the next century and by the Academy sometime after 1844. The manuscript is held in the Academy's library in Dublin to this day.

Description

The manuscript is of a large size, measuring 40.5 cm x 28 cm, which makes it the largest Irish vellum manuscript to have been written by a single scribe. It contains 40 folios, which are written in double columns. Capitals are decorated in a simple style, with some letters having been interwoven with zoomorphic patterns and coloured in red, vermilion, yellow and blue. There are two drawings, a flower-like diagram on p. 121 and a drawing of the Crucifixion on p. 166.

Contents

The manuscript consists almost entirely of religious writings in Latin and Middle Irish. It includes homiletic Lives of Saint Patrick, Saint Columba, Saint Brigid, Saint Cellach, and Saint Martin, the earliest version of Félire Óengusso ("Martyrology of Óengus"), the Rule of the Céli Dé, Aislinge Meic Con Glinne ("The Vision of Mac Conglinne"), a version of Fís Adamnáin ("The Vision of Adamnán"), Saltair na Rann, Stair Nicomeid ("Gospel of Nicodemus"), Amra Choluim Chille, a Marian litany, and various ecclesiastical legends, hymns, catecheses and homilies. Exceptions to the predominantly religious contents are Sanas Cormaic ("Cormac's Glossary") and a history of Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great.

References

An Leabhar Breac Wikipedia


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