The Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement are donating The Book of Lismore to University College Cork. Created in the late 15th century, this major medieval manuscript is from the golden age of Irish literature. It is one of the Great Books of Ireland.
Consisting of 198 large vellum folios, The Book of Lismore contains important texts drawn from Irish tradition. Some are also translations of contemporary European works. The book reflects an Ireland that is deeply engaged with the contemporary European culture of the time.
The Book of Lismore highlights an important part of the cultural heritage of Cork, Munster and Ireland. Like other surviving manuscripts in Irish, it illustrates the multi-layered histories and traditions of the past. The manuscript is also significant for its place in the Irish manuscript and scribal traditions. Plus, this unique book illustrates how an object can be subject to the cultural, social, and political interactions between neighboring countries. In this case, Ireland and Great Britain.
Compiled for Fínghin Mac Carthaigh, Lord of Carbery (1478–1505) it became known as Leabhar Mhic Cárthaigh Riabhaigh. It begins with religious-themed material. It mainly tells the lives of the Irish saints and apocryphal tales associated with them. Next, it moves to material in translation. Included are the “History of the Lombards” and the “Conquests of Charlemagne.” It also contains the only surviving translation in Irish of the travels of Marco Polo. A collection of native, secular texts follow dealing with the theme of Kingship. Finally, the Book concludes with the exploits of the popular mythological hero Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Fianna, as told in the lengthy tale known as Agallamh na Seanórach.
Ireland’s leading centre for the study of Gaelic Ireland
With over 200 Gaelic manuscripts in its collection, University College Cork is Ireland’s leading center for the study of the materiality of the literary artefacts of Gaelic Ireland. The Book of Lismore will be the centerpiece of this large collection at UCC’s Library. The donation of the manuscript to UCC marks a further stage in the commitment of the Cavendish Family to the scholarship of The Book of Lismore. These Gaelic manuscripts already form the basis for extensive teaching and research, and The Book of Lismore, written on vellum and being at least 150 years older than any other manuscript volume in the collection, offers a rare field of study.
For the fascinating entire article, images and more. Our thanks to society member Paul Albright for sharing this article with us.