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 The Book of Lismore: MS description, edition and history

 The following extract of the manuscript description is reproduced from Medieval Irish books and texts (to appear, Turnhout: Brepols, 2014) with kind permission of Prof. Emeritus Donnchadh Ó Corráin:

Manuscript, Derbyshire, Chatsworth House, Book of Lismore; s. xv/xvi; 198 folios; c. 37 by 255 mm; scribes Aonghus Ó Callanáin and at least two other anonymous scribes; origin perhaps the Mac Carthaigh house at Kilbrittain, Co Cork. The MS is acephalous (missing 42 folios) and lacunose. It is a patron's book, written for Fínghin Mac Carthaigh Riabach (died 1505) and his wife Caitlín (died 1505?), daughter of Thomas, Earl of Desmond. The Codex was at the Franciscan Friary of Timoleague when it was used by Míchél Ó Cléirigh to copy the Life of St. Finnchua, as stated in a colophon dated 20 June 1629. This colophon is printed by Stokes in Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore p. 348. The Codex was kept at Kilbrittain and came into the possession of Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork during the Irish civil war in June 1642, before it disappeared from view. It was rediscovered in Lismore Castle in 1814 in the course of building works and transferred from Lismore to Chatsworth in 1930. Contents: Dígal fola Críst [acephalous fragment]; Lives of the Irish saints (SS Patrick, Colum Cille, Brigit, Senán, Finnian, Finnchua, Brénainn, Ciarán of Clonmacnoise, Mo Chua of Balla); hagiographical anecdotes; Acallam na senórach; In tenga bithnua; Gabháltas Shéarluis Mhóir (Ps-Turpin); Sdair na Lumbardach; translation into Irish of the Book of Marco Polo; Suidigud Tellaig Temrach; Airne Fíngein; Caithréim Cellacháin Caisil; Forbhais Droma Damhghaire; Tromdámh Guaire; Acallam bec; miscellaneous anecdotes and poems. There are two important copies of this MS (i) Dublin, RIA, 477 olim 23 H 5; paper; s. xix (AD 1839); scribe Eoghan Ó Comhraidhe (Eugene O'Curry); a facsimile transcript from the mutilated original, made for the Royal Irish Academy, and collated by John O'Donovan; (ii) Dublin, RIA, 478 olim 23 H 6; s. xix (AD 1868); vellum; scribe Joseph Ó Longáin; executed for the Royal Irish Academy.

 Edition and History:

R. A. S. Macalister (ed.), The book of Mac Carthaigh Riabhach, otherwise the Book of Lismore. Facsimiles in Collotype of Irish Manuscripts, 5 (Dublin 1950). With descriptive introduction and indexes by R. A. S. Macalister.

In his Facsimile edition, R. A. S. Macalister gives a detailed account of earlier literature about the Codex, a summary of its history prior to its rediscovery in 1814, and refers to Eugene O'Curry's account of its history after 1814 in Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History (1861) 196–200. (Read O'Curry's account). He also quotes an article by J. T. Collins, Journal of the Cork Hist. and Arch. Soc. 52 (1947) 88–90. Collins draws attention to two letters (preserved in the Lismore Papers, vol. 5, second series, p. 79) by Lord Kinalmeaky addressed to his father, Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork. The first letter is dated 3 June 1642 at Bandon. In it, Lord Kinalmeaky describes how the men of Bandon under his command captured Kilbrittain Castle, the residence of Mac Carthaigh Riabhach, who then owned the manuscript. In the second letter, dated 25 June 1642, Lord Kinalmeaky writes: "I present your Lordship with a manuscript found at Kilbritten."
This marks the Codex's transfer to Lismore. In July 1643 Lismore was attacked by Confederate forces under Lord Muskerry, but not captured. As the manuscript was found walled up in 1814 during building works, it has been suggested that the Codex was hidden from an enemy attack such as this. Macalister thought, however, that the manuscript was not hidden in a wall at that time, but in 1745, as someone using the manuscript noted the year '1745' on a page, possibly to calculate a date relating to a story in the Codex.

Macalister describes the 16 sections of the Codex as follows:
(1) Preliminaries; A History of Israel. (2) Lives of Saints (3) Anecdotes (4) The Ever-new Tongue (Tenga Bithnua) (5) Poems (6) The Conquests of Charlemagne (7) Anecdotes (8) A History of the Lombards (9) Marco Polo's Travels (10) Miscellanea, chiefly relating to Diarmait mac Cerbaill (11) The Book of Rights (12) The Victorious Career of Ceallachán of Caiseal (13) The Siege of Druim Damhgaire (14) Miscellanea (15) Imthecht na Tromdáimhe (16) Agallamh Bec, Agallamh na Senórach.

Brian Ó Cuív wrote on the manuscript, 'Observations on the Book of Lismore', in PRIA 83C (1983) 269–292.

In connection with the Book of Lismore Exhibition in summer 2011 at the Glucksman Gallery, UCC, the booklet 'Travelled Tales–Leabhar Scéalach Siúlach', co-written by Máire Herbert, John Carey and James Knowles was published to provide background information and bibliographic details.

Prior to Macalister's edition, the contents were described by Whitley Stokes in the Preface to his Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore (Oxford 1890), pp. v–xliv. A shortened form of Stokes's description follows below, with omissions marked [...].

 Manuscript Description


The Book of Lismore was compiled from the lost Book of Monasterboice and other manuscripts, in the latter half of the fifteenth century, for Finghin mac Carthaigh Riabhach and his wife Catherine, daughter of Thomas, eighth earl of Desmond. Hence it is sometimes called The Book of Mac Carthy Reagh. It is written in double columns on 197 leaves of
vellum, 15 1/2 inches by 10 1/2 inches. There are on average forty lines in each column.

The only ornaments are the initial letters with which some of the pieces commence. These letters exhibit the Celtic interlacement, but have no colour, except in two or three cases, where they have been reddened by an unskilful, and apparently modern, hand.

The handwritings of three scribes can be distinguished: one of whom was a friar named O'Buagachain, another calls himself Aonghus O'Callaid.

All of them were more or less careless and ignorant. They often omit marks of aspiration, sometimes even words. They constantly write gh for dh and dh for gh. So they write mh for bh and bh for mh. They use the digraph fh not only for the aspirated f[dot], but for the medialized f (bh-f). They use the digraph ts, not only for the eclipsing t (t-s[dot]), but for the aspirated s (s).

The manuscript has lost at least thirty-six leaves, and of those that remain, many are more or less illegible owing to fading, damp, or the re-writing of an ignorant person called O'Floinn, in whose hands part of the book appears to have been in the year 1816.

The contents of the remaining folios are as follows:
fo. 1 a, col. 1 (old foliation .f. xxxu.). Beginning of an Irish homily on the Life of S. Patrick, printed infra, pp. 1–19.
fo. 2 a, 2 b. A misplaced fragment of the historical piece called Dígal fola Crist, 'Revenge for Christ's blood,' which is founded partly on Josephus' account of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and corresponds with the mediaeval French Vengeance du Sauveur. Of this piece there are perfect copies in Laud 610, ff. 18 b, 1–22 b, 2, and in the Lebar Brecc, p. 150, col. 2, line 54–p. 157 b, line 29: others, apparently, in the Book of Fermoy, 44 a, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Celt, et B. 1, fo. 90 a, 2; and an
imperfect copy in Egerton 91, fo. 63 b, 2. The Lismore fragment is equal to LB., 156a, line 62–157 b, line 29 [...]
fos. 3, 4 (old foliation, .f. xxxui and .f. xxxuii). Continuation from fo. 1 of the Homily on S. Patrick. Two leaves are here lost.
fos. 5, 6 and 7 a. The remainder of the Homily on S. Patrick. Fo. 6 a is numbered in an old hand xxxxi.
fos. 7b–11 a, 1. Homily on the life of S. Colomb cille, printed infra, pp. 20–33. Folio 8 a is numbered in an old hand xxxxuii.
fos. 11 a, 2 (old foliation xxxxui)–16 b, 2. Homily on St. Brigit, with the hymn Brigit bé bithmaith and the preface thereto. Printed infra, pp. 34–53. Folio 12 a is numbered in an old hand xxxxuii.
fo. 17 a, 1–23 a, 1. Homily on S. Senán son of Geirgenn. Printed infra, pp. 54–74.
fo. 23 a, 2. Life of S. Findén of Clonard. Printed infra, pp. 75–83.
fo. 25 b, 2–30 a, 2. Life of S. Finnchua of Brí Gobann (now Brigown). Printed infra, pp. 84–98. At the end is the following scribe's note: In brathair o Buagachain roscribh an betha so as Leabhur Mainestrech Buiti 'the friar O'Buagachain wrote this Life from the Book of Monasterboice.
Folios 27 a and 28 a are respectively numbered in an old hand lxii and lxiii.
fo. 31 b–35 a, 1. Homily on S. Brenainn son of Finnlugh. Printed infra, pp. 99–116.
fo. 35 a, 2–39 b, 2. Homily on S. Ciarán of Clonmacnois. Printed infra, pp. 117–134. At the end is a note in the handwriting of O'Buagachain, complaining of the MS. which he was copying.
fo. 39 b, 2, line 10. Two short prose pieces and a poem in eleven quatrains, printed infra, pp. 135, 136.
fo. 40 a, 1–42 b, 1. Homily on S. Mochua of Balla. Printed infra, pp. 137–146.
fo. 42 b, 1. A story entitled Sgela an trir mac cleirech annso sis, Tidings
of the three young clerics here below. This legend is also found in the Book of Leinster, p. 283, whence it has been published, with a French translation and notes, by M. Henri Gaidoz in Mélusine, t. iv. cols. 6–11. The Lismore copy furnishes some various readings [...]
(ix), (x)
fo. 42 b, 2. Story of a young nun who waited on S. Molaisse of Leighlin, was seduced by a clerical student, and became pregnant. She tells her lover to flee from the wrath of the saint. 'It is enough,' she says, 'that I should be ruined' (as lor, ar si, mu mhudhugudh so). The saint curses her and deprives her of heaven. She dies in childbed and is buried in a bog outside the church. Her lover devotes himself to saving her soul from hell. He builds a hut by her grave, and every day he recites seven times the Beatus and the psalms, and he performs a hundred prostrations. After a year her spirit appears to him, blesses him, and declares that she is almost rescued, and that the Beatus has helped her most. [...]
fo. 43 a, 1–43 a, 2. Story of two young clerical fellow-students who agree
that whichever of them dies first shall come to the survivor with tidings of the other world. Another copy, beginning Diás macclerech, is in the Book of Leinster, 278 a. A third copy, beginning 'Da macclerech robadar a comann ac denam a leighiunn, is in Rawl. B. 512, fo. 140 b, 2. [...]
(xii), (xiii)
fo. 43 b, 1. Story of S. Brenainn maccu Altai of Clonfert, the young harper and the bird-like angel. Another copy in Rawl. B. 512, fo. 142 a, b. [...]
(xiv), (xv) fo. 43 b, 2. Story of SS. Colomb cille, Comgall and Cainnech and of Dathi the Presbyter. [...]
fo. 44 a, 1. Story of S. Patrick, Loeguire's queen, his son Lugaid and the archangel Michael.
[...] Similar legends are in Rawl. B. 512, fol. 108 a, 2, and fo. 143 a, 2.
fo. 44 b, 1. Story of Mael Póil and the ghost of a dead nun who chooses the Beatus for her requiem. [...]
fo. 44 b, 1. Story of Guaire of Aidne and the two saints Cumain the Tall and Cáimin of Inis Celtra. [...]
Other copies of this legend are in Lebar na hUidre, p. 116, in Rawl. B. 512, fo. 141 a, 2, and in some MS. (to me unknown) cited by Dr. Todd (Lib. Hymn., p. 87). The LU. copy is printed and translated infra, p. 304.
fo. 44 b, 2. Story of Mochuta of Raithen. [...]
fo. 45 a, 1. The legend of S. Muling and the Devil. Entitled Sgel ar Muling annso sis. [...]
Other copies of this legend are in the Book of Leinster, p. 284 a, Laud, 610 (in a note on the Calendar of Oengus, June 17), and Rawl. B. 512, fo. 141 b, 1. The copies in the Book of Leinster and Laud, 610, have been published, with translations, the one in Goidelica, p. 1 80, the other in the Calendar of Oengus, p. cv. A complete copy of the poem recited by the Devil is in the Book of Ballymote, p. 256 a, where it is said to be taken from the (lost) Book of Glendalough (Lebar Glinne da lacha sin uili). Two of the quatrains are in the ninth-century Irish MS. in St. Paul's Kloster, Carinthia. See Goidelica, p. 177, and Irische Texte, p. 319.
fo. 45 a, 2. Legend of Cairpre Crom, king of Húi Maine, and S. Ciarán the wright's son. [...]
There is another copy of this story in the Book of Fermoy, fo. 51 a, 1.
fo. 45 b, 1. Story of S. Brenainn son of Finnlug and of Dobarchú, who being cursed by Brenainn for killing his oxen, falls into Loch Lir and is turned into an otter. Edited with a translation, by Mr. S. H. O'Grady, in Mélusine, vol. col. 298. [...]
fo. 45 b, 2. A short note about S. Baithín son of Brenann, Adamnan's Baitheneus, St. Columba's first cousin (clann da dearbbrathar iat andís). Another copy is in Rawl. B. 512, fo. 142 a.
fo. 46 a, 1–fo. 52 a, 2. A tractate in reddish ink, entitled in black ink, Teanga bhithnua annso 'the Evernew Tongue here below.' [...]
This curious composition is a dialogue between the sapientes Ebreorum and the spirit of Philip the Apostle, who is called by the household of heaven the 'Evernew Tongue,' because when he was preaching to the heathen, his tongue was cut out nine times, and was nine times miraculously restored. In answer to questions by the wise Jews, the Evernew Tongue tells them about the creation of the universe, and especially about certain seas, wells, rivers, precious stones, trees, stars, etc.; and it, lastly, describes hell, doomsday, and heaven.
There are other copies in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Celt, et B. 1, ff. 24 a, 1–27 b, 2, and in the British Museum, Egerton 171, pp. 44–65. And
O'Curry, Lectures, 532, says that a MS. called Liber Flavus Fergusorum contains a 'tract on the greatness of God, etc. (commonly called Teanga Bithnua).'
fos. 48 a, 49 a, 50 a, 51 a, 52 a, are respectively numbered in an old hand, lxxxiii, lxxxiiii, lxxxu, lxxxui.
fo. 52 b, 1. Religious poem, in sixty-six quatrains, by Mael-Ísa ó Brolachain = the Mael-Ísu Hua Brolchain who wrote the hymns quoted in Goidelica, p. 175, and died A. D. 1086. [...]
fo. 53 a, 2. Anonymous poem on Doomsday, in twenty-five quatrains, of which the last twenty-two are hardly legible. Begins 'Bráth, ni ba bec a bresim' ('Doom, not little will be its uproar') [...]
fo. 53 b, 2. Poem in ten quatrains, beginning: 'Mithid dhamsa toirired' ('Time for me to journey') [...]
There is another copy of this poem in Laud 615, p. 15, where it is ascribed to S. Colum cille.
fo. 54 a, 1–66 b, 2. A romantic Life of Charlemagne, entitled in a late hand: Gabháltus Sheárlus Mháin (the Conquests of Charlemagne). Founded, apparently, on the Pseudo-Turpin. [...]
It will be remembered that Charlemagne is said to have been the first pilgrim to the shrine of S. James of Compostella. See Gaston Paris, La Littérature Française au moyen Age, section 34.
fos. 60 a, 61 a are numbered lxxxxu, lxxxxui; fo. 64 a is numbered lxxxxuiiii.
fo. 67 a, 1. A piece entitled Scél na samhna (the story of All Saints Day). [...]
Compare the piece entitled Fagail na Samna in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Celt, et B. 1, fo. 15 b, 2.
fo. 68 a, 1. A short tract on Antichrist, entitled in a late hand Sgél Ainnte Crisd annso. [...]
peoples. fo. 68 b, 1. A legend of S. Cainnech, entitled in a later hand Sgel ar Cainnech naom annso. [...]
of Fermoy, fo. 69 a, 1. A legend of King David, Solomon and a beggar. Entitled in a later hand: Sgel ar Dabid mhac Iese annso sís. [...]
Another copy in Egerton 92, fo. 26, has been published with an English translation by Mr. S. H. O'Grady, in Mélusine, tom. iv. cols. 163–166. There is a third copy in the Book of Fermoy, fo. 57 a, 1, and the latter half occurs in Rawl. B. 512, fo. 144 a, 1.
fo. 69 a, 2. A legend (almost illegible) beginning: 'Nobid didiu Dabid oc breith na hoeinbréthre cor intsamhlai et .l. bretheaman oca himradhadh artús conidh iaram nobereadh-somh forciunn fuirri.'
fo. 69 b, 1. The following copy of the tale of the Two Children, entitled Sgél an da leanabh annso sis. So faded as to be in parts illegible. [...]
(xxi), (xxii)
A copy of this story in the Bibliothèque Nationale (Celt, et B. 1, fo. 28 b, 2–29 a, 1), has been published by M. Henri Gaidoz, with a French translation, in Mélusine, tom. iv. col. 39. Wolter, in his book Der Judenknabe, Halle, 1879, mentions thirty-three versions in Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, German, Arabic, and Ethiopic. 'In the French versions,' says M. Gaidoz, 'the tale is localised, oftenest at Bourges and sometimes in Egypt.' So four of the Latin versions (including that in the Legenda Aurea) have 'in ciuitate Bituricensi ;' No. 18 has 'apud Bituricas;' and No. 19, 'apud Bituriges.'
fo. 69 b, 2. Note in nine lines about a monk who came from the East.
fo. 70 a, 1–78b, 2. A large fragment of a quasi-historical tract on the Lombards, and on 'Macametus' and the Saracens (71 b, 1–73 a, 2), 'Pepinus', 'Carulus', 'Carulus Mor', 'Childricus', 'Teodoricus ri Gotorum', 'Clodouius', 'Beda anorach', 'Rathordus ri Francc', Petronilla's relics (74 b, 1), 'Loduicus', 'Alcunius', 'Lotarius', 'Gregoir Mor', 'Henricus dux Bauarie', 'Lotagarius', 'Conradus', etc. [...]
This piece, which is founded to some extent on Paulus Diaconus' Historica Langobardorum, and which, in fo. 75 b, 2, cites 'Torpinus espug' (bishop Turpin), ends imperfectly on the verse of fo. 78, (f. ll.x.iii. of the old foliation), with a passage about the death of Hugo de Sancto Victore, A.D. 1138. Dr. Petrie (Ecclesiastical Architecture, p. 369) quotes from fo. 77 b, 1 the beginning of a story about Conrad the Salic and the Emperor Henry III.
fo. 79 a, 1. An abridgment of Marco Polo's travels, made, apparently, from the Latin of Francesco Pipino. [...]
The translation is incomplete, ending (fo. 89 b, 2) with the beginning of the chapter on Abaschia (=Yule's Marco Polo, bk. iii, c. 35, translated, vol. ii. pp. 421, 422): [...]
fo. 81 a is numbered in an old hand l.l.x.u.iii (i.e. 118).
fos. 90, 91, 93, are in a different hand and ink, and each column contains forty-four lines. The contents are a copy of the story called Suidigud Tellaig Temrach 'the settling of the manor [lit. hearth] of Tara.' [...]
I believe that there are other copies of this story in the Book of Lecan and in H. 2. 16, cols. 740–749. Some account of it is given in O'Curry's
Manners and Customs, iii. pp. 60–62 and pp. 241–242. It contains five poems ascribed to Finntan, of two of which older copies are found in the Book of Leinster, p. 4 b ('Heriu cia iarfaigther dím ') and p. 8 b ('Coic urranna Herenn eit muir 7 tír'). See also the Book of Ballymote, p. 21 b ('Heriu cia fiafaigear dim'). At the end of the piece is the following:
et reliqua. Suigigud Teallaig Temra conuici sin. Finitt. Aonghus o Callaid doscribh so do Mhag Carthaig .i. Finghen mac Diarmata, 7 bennacht leis dó. [...]
fo. 92 a, 2. A piece in ten lines, in the same hand but in blacker ink.[...]
This is the beginning of a tract in Laud 610, fo.57 b, 58 a, thus entitled:
INcipit interrogacio Cinnfaelad do Fintan mac Bochrai meic Lamiach. No Béc mac Déad cecinit, ut ailii dicunt. [...]
fo. 92 b, 1. An unfinished tract in two columns beginning thus:
Feacht n-oen dorala Oissín 7 Cailti a nDún Clithair oc Sliabh Crott. IS hí sin aimser tainic Patraic docum n-Eirenn. [...]
This is part of the story which Mr. Hennessy (Revue Celtique, 1, 54) called the Acallam Bec 'Little Dialogue,' and which is contained in the Book of Lismore, fo. 152 a, 1–fo. 158 b. It breaks off in the second column of fo. 92 b, and is followed by the conclusion of the above-mentioned 'Interrogacio Cinnfaelad do Fintan': [...]
fo. 93 a, 1. A story beginning thus: 'Aed Baclam, gilla gai Diarmada meic Cerbaill, rogabh slaotan tromghaluir he, 7 robuí bliadan a serg sirgaluir, [...]
It contains two poems, one (fo. 93 b, 2), beginning: 'Atconduic aislingi olc,' (I saw an evil vision), the other (fo. 94 a, 1), 'Mairg thachrus fri clerchib ceall' = Mairg thochras ri clerchib cell, Book of Leinster, p. 149 b, Mairg thachrus re cleirchib cell, Laud 615, p. 15 (Woe to him who contends with clerics of churches) a poem ascribed to King Diarmait after he had been cursed by two saints.
fo. 94 a, 2. A copy of the poem recited by Bec mac Dé to Diarmait, son of Fergus Cerrbél (Egerton, 1782, fo. 40 a, 1). [...]
fo. 94 b, 1. How King Diarmait slew his son Bresal for depriving a nun of her cow, and how S. Becan brought Bresal's soul back from hell. [...]
This story is also found in the Book of Leinster, p. 358, left margin. See, too, The Martyrology of Donegal at April 5.
fo. 94 b, 1, line. Account of the Battle of Cúil Dreimne, fought by Colomb cille against Diarmait, son of Cerball. This piece is extracted from the Aided Diarmata maic Fergusa Cerrbeoil, 'Tragical Death of Diarmait, son of Fergus Wrymouth' (Egerton, 1782, fo. 37 a, 1, and H. 2, 16, col. 870). [...]
fo. 94 b, 2. Account of the death of Diarmait, son of Cerball, when he wore a shirt made of the flax of a single pod (léne óenruaissni) and a mantle made of one fleece (d'oluinn oenchaerach dorónad), and when he had on his table ale made of the malt of one grain (coirm óengrainde), and the bacon of a pig that had never been littered. This, too, is an extract from the Aided Diarmata maic Fergusa Ceirrbeoil.
fo. 95 a, 2. Poem on the duties of a king. Entitled Dubh da thuath dixit. Begins: Diamad mheisi budh rí réil / nocha beruinn ceim tar cert. [...]
This poem is found also in Egerton 92, fo. 9 a, 1: in the Book of Leinster, p. 147 b, where it is anonymous; and in Laud, 610, fo. 72 b, 1, where it is entitled: Fingen cecinit do Cormac mac Cuilen[n]ain.
Fingen Cuilen[n]ain.
fo. 95 b, 1. Poem on the same subject, beginning: Cert gach righ co reil . do clannaib Néil nair.
Other copies are in the Book of Leinster, p. 148 a, and the Book of Fermoy, fo. 33 b, 2, where it is ascribed to Fothud of the Canon. O' Curry, Manners, ii. 176, says it was addressed to Aed Ordnide, overking of Ireland from A.D. 793 to 817.
fo. 95 2. A quatrain beginning: Toirrsi nocha maith in modh / um gach ní coimmsi rom-car [...]
fo. 96 a, i. Tale of Finghein son of Luchta and a ban-shee named Rothniam. Begins: Bai Finghein mac Luchta adhaigh samna i nDruim Fingein. [...]
It contains several single staves recited by Fingein, and a poem in twelve quatrains beginning: Gai gene Cuind Conn fo Eirinn. There is another copy in the Book of Fermoy, fo. 24 a, 1–25 a, 1, which is quoted by Mr. Hennessy in Revue Celtique, i. 41. See also O'Curry's Manners, iii. 201, 202, where the following passage from the Lismore version, fo. 96 b, is incorrectly given. [...]
fo. 98 a 1–104 b, 2. A copy of the Book of Rights, of which an edition by O'Donovan (from the Books of Lecan and Ballymote) was published by the Celtic Society in 1847. The Lismore copy is preceded by the tract on the tabus and prohibitions of the Kings of Tara, Leinster, Munster, Connaught, and Ulster, also found in Egerton 1782, fo. 35 a, 1. In the Book of Lismore, the Book of Rights (Lebar na Cert) begins at fo. 98 b, 2. The Testament of Catháir Mór (Book of Rights, ed. O'Donovan, p. 192–204) is omitted. S. Patrick's blessing (ibid. p. 234) and Dubthach's decision as to the rights of poets (ibid. p. 236) are in fo. 104 b, 2. The tract ends (fo. 104 b, 2) with the poem (in thirty-four quatrains) beginning Teamuir teach i mbui mac Cuinn (ibid. pp. 238–250).
fo. 105 a, 1. A short piece in prose and verse, on the nine saints of the seed of Conaire. The prose begins thus: 'Nonbur noebh sil Conuire .i. Seanach mac Cairill, Eolangan a nAithbi Bolg a Muscraidhi Mhitaine, etc.'
The verse begins: Nonbur sin sil Conuire o nach berur ní ndeoluigh.
fo. 105 b, i. A poem, in (about) 32 quatrains, beginning: A Chaisil, as dimbrig soin (O Cashel, this is weakness). [...]
fo. 105 b, 2. Short notes on the three Cries of the world (the cry of the Israelites when they entered the Red Sea, the cry of Hell when Christ carried off his prey from it, the cry of Doomsday when the righteous separate from the sinners): on the four things that resemble earthly (xxxii)
glory (wind, smoke, sleep and a flower): on the worst sin (pride); and the greatest good (humility).
fo. 1 06 a, 1. A quasi-historical tractate, in prose and verse, on the war of Cellachan and the Danes. Quoted by O'Curry, Manners and Customs, ii. 276. [...]
There is a facsimile of this page in Gilbert's National MSS. of Ireland, Part iii, No. lvii. There are poems on ff. 112 b, 2; 114 a, 1; 114 a, 2; 114 b, 2. The tractate breaks off in the middle of the second column of fo. 115 a.
fo. 115 b, was left blank by the old scribe. On the upper half one Donnchadh O'Floinn has written an Irish note dated 1816.
fo. 116 a. A poem in forty stanzas, written across the page and beginning: Ni téd anégen anaisgidh. fo. 116 b. Two-thirds of the first column are occupied by two short pieces obscure to me. Caitilin ingen an iarla (Catherine the daughter of the Earl, i.e. Thomas, eighth earl of Desmond) is mentioned in 1. 4. The second column is blank.
fo. 117 a, 1. The Adventure of Tadg son of Cian, son of Ailill Ólomm, as to which see Prof. d'Arbois de Jubainville's Essai dun catalogue, p. 125. The story belongs to the Ossianic cycle [...]
fo. 120 a, 1. In the margin, at line 33, is a cross and the following scribe's note: Dogébthur an cuid ele don echtra-sa Thaidg meic Cein andiaigh in catha-so thís (xxxiii)
Crinna, 7 legthar roimh in croissi an cuid-sin di.
The story breaks off in the second column of fo. 120 b. The scribe notes: Andiaigh an catha so dod láimh dheis ata an chuid ele don echtra so Thaidhg meic Cein, uair hi [fdot]uarus a n-aoinecht re scribad hi.
fo. 121 a, 1–123 a, 2. A saga entitled, in a modern hand, Cath Críona, 'the Battle of Crínna.' As to this battle (said to have been fought A.D. 254) see O'Mahony's Keating; pp. 323–327 ; O'Curry's Manners, ii. 139; d'Arbois de Jubainville's Essai d'un Catalogue, p.64. There is another copy in the Book of Fermoy, fo. 29 a, 132 a. [...]
fo. 122 b, 2, lower margin. A quatrain beginning Atach Dé ar teithed na tond.
fo. 123 b. Continuation of the Adventure of Tadg, son of Cian, marked with a + and preceded by the following scribe's note: 'Ní andso bhudh choir an chuid-si sios d'Echtra Thaidhg meic Cein, 7 ni meisi is cintach, ór ni fhuarus ar suidhiughudh choir isin tsheinleabar hi, 7 gebe bhias ag leghadh no ag scribadh an sceoil, fechadh an t-inad isin Eachtra a mbia samuil na croisi so amuigh, 7 bereadh an cuid-se don sceol roimpe.'
fol. 25 a, 1. Story of Loegaire Liban, son of Crimthann, and the elf Fiachna mac Retach, who comes to ask for aid in his war with Goll, son of Dolb, king of the fortress of Magh Mell, one of the Irish names for fairyland. [...]
fo. 125 b, 1. How Conchobar mac Nessa got the kingship of the Ulaid when he was seven years old. [...]
This story (of which there is an older and better copy in the Book of Leinster, p. 106) has been imaginatively balladized by the late Sir Samuel Ferguson in his Lays of the Western Gael, London, 1866.
fo. 125 b, 2. On the first poem made in Ireland. Begins: 'Ceist, cia cétduan doronad i n-Éirinn, 7 cia dorine, 7 cia dia ndernad, 7 cia baili i ndernad?' [...]
This is followed by some verses beginning: Ailim bairc mbraenaig fo ramuibh, fo bhuadhaib [...]
fo. 126 a, 1–140 a, 2. A saga of the Ossianic cycle, entitled, in a modern hand, Forbhuis Droma Damhghaire, 'the Siege of Druim Damgaire,' now called Knocklong, in the county of Limerick. There is another copy in the Book of Lecan, fo. 167 et seq., and the story is analysed by O'Curry, Lectures, pp. 271, 272; Manners, etc., ii. 278–282. The Lismore copy begins thus: 'Ba shaorclaind shocheneoil batar ind Eirinn. As iat luaitter o sunn amach .i. Fiacha Muilleathan mac Eoguin dalta Mogu Ruith 7 Cormac mac Airt mheic Cuinn; Ocus i n-oenlo romarbait a dhá n-athair i cath Mucraimhe. [...]
fo. 140 a, 2. A topographical tract on the two Fermoys, preceded by the following quatrain:
Crichadh an caoilli gu cruaid
in bhfhuil uaibh nech no imluaidh?
tucad do mac sonaisc sin
ar an forbhais d'foiridhin, et cetera.
The prose begins thus: Na dá triuchad roboi an tir sin suil tucadh hi do Mhogh Ruith, 7 ocht tuatha a ngach triucha, et asi so roinn in da triucha sin .i. mar ghabus glaisi muilinn Mairteil i Sleib cain 7 Loch Luingi ar an machaire 7 Gleann nanDibergach ar Monaidh Moir.
fo. 141 b, 1. A poem in eleven quatrains ascribed to Cormac mac Cuilennáin, King-bishop of Munster, beginning: Bai fáidh an feinnidh bái sunn ('the warrior who dwelt here was a prophet') [...]
fo. 141 b, 2. A poem in thirteen stanzas beginning: Truag Caiseal gan Cormac / righphort na slógh salmgrad.
fo. 142 a, 1. A poem in ten quatrains on Ailill Ólomm's nineteen sons. [...]
fo. 142 a, 1. A short tract on the destruction of the nobles of Ireland by the vassals, led by Cairpre Cat-head, and the disastrous consequences. See O' Curry, Lectures, pp. 230, 262–264, 590.
The story seems abridged from the tale entitled Bruiden maic Da-reó preserved in the Book of Fermoy, ff. 32a–33a, and elsewhere. It ends with a poem in twelve quatrains [...]
fo. 14a b, 1. Poem by Feidlimid mac Crimhthainn, in twenty-three quatrains, of which the first {line} is: Abair dhamh ra Muimnechu [...]
fo. 142 b, 2. Poem in thirteen quatrains, beginning thus: Maithi Muman, ba fir soin / im Fheidhlimid mac Crimhthainn [...]
fo. 143 a, 1. Poem in eighteen quatrains beginning: Erigh frisin iarméirghi / na bi it cotlud, a Shelbaigh [...]
fo. 143 a, 2. Poem in eight quatrains, entitled 'Lomaidhi cecinit. lo filed bui for a thengaidh.' [...]
fo. 143 a, 2. Poem in thirteen quatrains, by Flaithbertach hua h-Inmhoinen, on the battle-stone of Cormac hua Cuirc. [...]
fo. 143 b, 1. Poem in three quatrains, of which the first {line} is: Tri ceimmenn cindti do chách
Another copy is in Laud 610, fo. 112 b, 3, where it is attributed to Adamnán.
fo. 143 b, 1. Story about a bishop Cainchomrac (ob. A. D. 901), who knew when everyone would die, and whether he would be rewarded or punished in the other world. Begins: 'Easpac uasal rabhai i Clúain mac Nois, Caoncomrac a ainm, 7 Mochta a ainm artús.' [...]
It is a copy of the story called Scél saltrach na muice ('The tale of the Pig's Psalter') preserved in the Book of Fermoy, fo. 42 b.
fo. 144 a, 1–151 b, 1. A story belonging to the Conchobar-cycle, called Imthecht na Tromdaime, 'the going of the great (bardic) company.' Begins: 'Bai ri uasul oirdnidhe for Airghiallaib fect n-aill .i. Aed mac Duach Dhuib.' [...]
This story has been edited with a translation by Owen Connellan in the Transactions of the Ossianic Society, vol. v. Dublin, 1860.
fo. 151 b, 1, 2. A much faded copy of the tract on the conditions required from the Fiann. See O'Mahony's Keating, pp. 349–350, and O'Curry's Lectures, p. 301. Other copies of this tract are in the British Museum Harl. 5280, fo. 49 a, and Egerton 1782, fo. 25 a, 2. The Lismore copy begins thus: 'Fiche ar tri .L. tegluch Find hui Bhaiscne. Naenbur 7 ocht fichit do righfeinedaib co tri nonburaib la cech fer dib.'
The conditions above referred to were nine in number:—1. The relatives and tribe of a member of the Fiann were to give pledges (slana) not to sue his slayer. 2. He must be a poet (fili), and have made the twelve books of poesy. 3. He must be placed in a hole in the ground (toll talman), with his shield and a staff of hazel the length of his arm. Nine warriors, with their nine javelins and with nine ridges between them and him, were then to cast at him at the same time, and if they wounded him he was not received into the Fiann [...] 4. His hair must be woven, and he must be sent running through one of the chief woods of Ireland, and if his pursuers, with only one tree between them and him, overtook him and wounded him, he was not received. So if during this run, (5) a tree took a hair from the weft, or (6) his weapons trembled in his hands,
or (7) a withered stick broke under his foot, or (8) he failed to stoop under a branch as low as his knee, or to leap over one as high as his ear, or (9) he failed to pluck a thorn out of his heel with his nail without interrupting his course.
fo. 151 b, 2. Here follows this curious bit of folklore:
A year for the stake.
Three years for the field.
Three lifetimes of the field for the hound.
Three lifetimes of the hound for the horse.
Three lifetimes of the horse for the human being.
Three lifetimes of the human being for the stag.
Three lifetimes of the stag for the ousel.
Three lifetimes of the ousel for the eagle.
Three lifetimes of the eagle for the salmon.
Three lifetimes of the salmon for the yew.
Three lifetimes of the yew for the world from its beginning to its end, ut dixit poeta: Ten ...
There is a poem, in ten stanzas, on the relative length of life of a stake, and a field, of man and other animals, in the Book of Fermoy, fo. 98 b; and Mr. S. H. O'Grady has pointed out to me two short notes dealing with the same matter, one in Egerton, 118, fo. 51 a, the other in Egerton 133, fo. 229 a. The note in Egerton 118 resembles one in the Book of Ballymote, p. 14 a. Furthermore, from the tale of the transmigrations of Tuan (LU, pp. 15, 16), it may be inferred that the Irish of the eleventh century held four of the oldest animals to be the stag, the wild boar, the hawk, and the salmon.
The Welsh had similar traditions. See the Mabinogion, ed. Guest, ii.
297, Rhys, Hibbert Lectures, 555, and a paper by Professor Cowell in Y Cymmrodor for October, 1882, entitled 'The Legend of the oldest Animals.' But in Wales the order of the animals was as follows: ousel, stag, owl, eagle, salmon. Or thus: eagle, stag, salmon, ousel, toad, owl. Or, lastly, according to Ap Gwilym in his poem Yr Oed: eagle, stag, owl—the lifetime of the eagle being, apparently, thrice as long as that of a man. The parallel Greek tradition is given in a fragment of Hesiod (ed. Lehrs, Fragm. ciii.) [...]
Compare also Aristoph. Aves, 610, and Auson. Idyll., xviii. Professor Cowell (ubi supra) quotes two Buddhistic legends, in one of which the animals whose ages are compared are a partridge, a monkey, and an elephant, and in the other, a vulture and an owl. See also Mr. Rhys Davids' Buddhist Birth-stories, 1880, vol. i. p. 312; the Demaundes Joyous, imprinted ... by Wynkyn de Worde, 1511, and reprinted by Wright and Halliwell, Reliquiae Antiquae, vol. ii. p. 75, ll. 3–15; seven letters in The Academy for Oct. 27, Nov. 3, and Dec. 1, 1888, pp. 274, 291, 356: Pamphilus Gengenbach, ed. Gödeke, s. 562–564; and W. Wackernagel's Kleinere Schriften, iii. 186.
After this comes a note in five lines, of which only a few words are legible. It begins: 'Ben rola muir inn Albain', and seems to refer to the marine monster cast ashore in Scotland, and mentioned in the Chronicon Scotorum, ed. Hennessy, A. D. 900, the Annals of Ulster, A. D. 890, the Annals of the Four Masters, A. D. 887, and thus in the Annals of Inisfallen (Rawl. B. 503, fo. 16 a, 1), at a. d. 892. [...]
A similar monster is mentioned in the Life of Brenainn, son of Finnlug, infra pp. 109, 255.
fo. 152 a, 1. A prose tract about Oisín and Cailte, beginning like the fragment in fo. 92 b, 1, supra, p. xxv. This tract is called by Mr. Hennessy (Revue Celtique, 1. 54), the Acallam Bec, 'Little Dialogue'; and he there cites the greater part of the following passage from fo. 154 a, 2. [...]
fo. 158 b, 2. A note, in seven lines {about the five hostels of Ireland.} [...]
The rest of the codex (fo. 159 a, 1–197 b 2) is a copy (ending imperfectly) of the Acallam na Senórach ('The Dialogue of the Ancient Men,' Oisín and Cailte). [...]
Other vellum copies of this composition, which well deserves to be edited, are in the Bodleian (Rawl. B. 487, fo. 12 b et seq., and Laud 610, fo. 123 a, 1–fo. 147 b, 2), and in the Franciscan monastery, Merchants' Quay, Dublin. All are more or less imperfect. Its contents are analysed by O'Curry, Lectures, pp. 307–312, and extracts from the Lismore version, foll. 166 a, 166 b, are given ibid. pp. 594–597.
fo. 198 is a leaf of discoloured vellum added by the bookbinder, with a small fragment of the codex (about 3 1/2 by 2 inches) inlaid on the recto.
This fragment, which is much faded, seems to contain the beginnings of six quatrains. The words 'Na tab . . . Deich . . . gidh mor . . . Suid(iu)gud . . . senchas. Aírmeim . . . Eintriucha i crich Connacht . . . Coic triucha dec', are legible.
Four pieces mentioned by O'Curry (Lectures, p. 200) as contained in the Book of Lismore I did not find. They are: 1. The story of Petronilla, St. Peter's daughter; 2. 'The discovery of the Sibylline oracle in a stone coffin at Rome;' 3. An account 'of some modifications of the minor ceremonies of the Mass'; and 4. An account 'of the correspondence between Archbishop Lanfranc and the clergy of Rome.' Nor does the MS. contain a Life of S. Finnbarr, as stated in the Introduction to O'Curry's Manners and Customs, i. cccxxii.

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