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List of unpublished medical Manuscripts in Irish Libraries

Source: Winifred Wulff, Rosa Anglica seu Rosa Medicinae Johannes Anglici (London 1929), Introduction pp. L-LVI

1. In Dublin, Trinity College, Library

In all there are 29 Medical manuscripts in TCD. The following are the more important of these:

  1. E. 3. 30 (1235) was used by Wulff in her edition of A Tract on the Plague, Ériu 10 (1926-1928) 143–154.
  2. H. 1. 9. (1283): Medical Tract. Imperfect, lettered on back Guido de Chauliac. Apostemata, wounds, cancer, etc.
  3. H. 2. 8. (1299): Medicine and physiology, functions of brain, heart, etc..
    Lilian Duncan edited and translated 'A treatise on fevers', RC 49 (1932), 1–90 from this MS. The Irish text is available here, and the English translation here.
  4. H. 2. 12. (1302): no. 1. Treatise on diseases, particularly fevers; (1306): no. 5. Fragment on Materia Medica.
  5. H 2 13; 222 pages, written in double columns; the text of the Regimen na Sláinte is on pp 126-186. On p. 121b, a note dates the MS to 'anno domini 1486' and a colophon follows, however from this the name of the scribe has been erased. James Carney (Samus Ó Ceithearnaigh) edited the Irish translation of the Regimen Sanitatis Magnini Mediolanensis (1942-44) from this MS and Royal Irish Academy, MS 24 P 26. It is available here.
  6. H. 2. 16. (1318): Yellow Book of Lecan (cf. supra).
  7. H. 3. 2. (H.) (1321): Two fragments on fevers, boils, etc. and diseases of the nose (cf. supra).
  8. H. 3. 7. (1326): Several medical tracts. Lettered on side: Sillanus de Nigris in Almansorem; p. 20, treatise on Anatomy. (See W. Wulff, A Tract on the Plague, Ériu 10, 143–154 who cites variants from this MS.)
    This manuscript was the subject of an unpublished PhD thesis submitted by Séamus Mac Gairraigh at Queen's University of Belfast in 1922.
  9. H. 3. 14. (1333): Contains commentary on Hippocrates' Aphorisms, Lilium Medicinae, etc.
  10. H. 3. 15. (1334): List of plants, etc.; Symptoms, etc. of wounds, cure of mania, melancholy; de urina, etc.
  11. H. 3. 20. (1341): Medical Treatise; Translation of Lilium Medicinae (cf. Egerton 89.)
  12. H. 3. 22. (1343): Medical treatises on diseases, Materia Medica (short); p. 115, tract on evacuation, phlebotomia, etc.
  13. H. 4. 16. (1357): Medical Treatises, including several on urine, de febre, and a medical dictionary.
  14. E. 3. 3. (1432) (E): Grammatical and medical treatises containing portions on ulcers, paralysis, diseases of the eyes, ears, etc.; cough, stomach, dropsy, smallpox (cf. supra).
  15. E. 3. 30. (1435) (E1.): Medical Treatises, imperfect, containing sections on boils, wounds; artetica, litargia, hernia, palsy, dropsy; flux, liver, stomach, plague, bladder complaints; phlebotomia, materia medica. Two treatises by Johannes de Sancto Amando; and portion of Lilium medicinae, Aphorisms of Hippocrates etc. (cf. supra). (See W. Wulff, A Tract on the Plague, Ériu 10, 143–154 who edits pp. 200–202 from this MS.)
  16. E. 4. 1. (1436): Medical Treatises, imperfect, containing translation by Donlevy of Guy de Chauliac's tract on anatomy; diseases of women, gout, etc. Materia Medica; Gualterus, De dosibus.
    Variants from this MS (101ra–106a) are used in Wulff's edition of A mediaeval handbook of gynaecology and midwifery preceded by a section on the grades and on the treatment of wounds and some good counsel to the physician himself finishing with a discussion on the treatment of scabies, in John Fraser, P. Grosjean, & J. G. O'Keeffe (eds.), Irish texts, v (London 1934).
    Shawn Sheahan edited and translated An Irish version of Gualterus De dosibus (Washington DC 1938) from this and other manuscripts (BL Harley 546, TCD 1326 (H 3 7); TCD 1302 (H 2 12)). The Latin text is mentioned (but was not edited) by Paul Diepgen, Gualteri Agilonis summa medicinalis: nach den Münchener Cod. lat. Nr. 325 und 13124 [...], Leipzig 1911.
    Eithne Ní Ghallchobhair edited and translated Guy de Chauliac's (imperfect) tract on Anatomy (De anathomia) from this manuscript (pp17a-35a), and from NLI G 453 and NLS Adv. 72.1.12, in an edition entitled Anathomia Gydo, Irish Texts Society, v. 66, Dublin 2014. The Latin text was edited by Michael McVaugh, Inventarium sive Chirurgia magna (New York 1997).

2. In the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin

  1. The RIA has a large number of medical manuscripts. Amongst these are the following:
  2. 3. B. 15: Materia Medica.
  3. 23 F 19. This is described by Wulff as 'a scrapbook of Irish medical tracts from Latin sources' and 'written on beautiful vellum, richly illuminated, with good ink which has scarcely faded, except a few pages which were probably exposed to the weather. The capitals are rubricated. Some are green, which is most unusual in Irish MSS. The scribe's name and the translator's name are lost. The date given is 1352, which, if correct, would establish it as the oldest Irish medical manuscript.' It was at one time in the possession of the Ó Céirín family of Co. Clare. Wulff used this manuscript, as well as RIA MS 23 M 36 and TCD MS E 4.1 (1436) for her edition of A Mediaeval Handbook of Gynaecology, for the text On Wounds (Irish Texts 5, London 1934), and for De Amore Hereos, Ériu 11 (1932) 174–181.
  4. 23. N. 16: (Cat. 1488), Containing the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, sections on acute diseases, medicines, diet, fevers, opening chapters of Lanfrank's Science of Cirurgie (Lanfrank, Chirurgia Magna, Venice 1490).
  5. 23. P. 10: (P1): Book of the O'Lees. Cf. supra.
  6. 23. P. 20 (P.): Present text.
  7. 23. O. 23 and 23. Q. 5: containing Materia Medica.
  8. 23. I. 40: contains a Medical poem by Eochaidh O'Hussey to a friend suffering from the effects of high living.
  9. 23. K. 42: Book of the O'Shiels, containing Aphorisms of Hippocrates, de urinis, Materia Medica. Cf. supra, XLVI.

3. In the King's Inns Library, Dublin

The King's Inns Library contains several medical manuscripts, including the important MS 15, one of the finest Irish medical manuscripts in existence. It has 125 folios. The greater part of it was written by Mailsheachlann Mac an Leagha, hereditary physician to the Mac Donnchaidhs in co. Sligo (see ISOS catalog entry), in 1512 (See W. Wulff, An liaigh in Erinn anallod, Lia Fáil 1.) It contains De Chirurgia by Petrus de Argellata; and compilations derived from Gerardus de Solo, John of Gaddensden's Rosa Anglica and Bernard de Gordon's Lilium Medicinae, on the following topics: Ulcers, wounds, cancer, tertian, quotidian and quartan fevers; sinocus, ephemera, baldness, greyness, itch, frenitis, hemicrania, madness, lethargy, apoplexia, stupor, spasmus, epilencia (sic), tears, deafness, eyes, nose, noli me tangere, teeth, throat, pleurisy, peripneumony, continual fever, phthisis, tremor cordis, stomach, hiccup, liver.

In the portion on Quotidiana (fol. 80r) John of Gaddesden is quoted; and there is frequent reference to Gerard de Sabloneta, along with the usual list of mediaeval doctors.

  1. MS 16 contains chapters on leprosy, sweat, lientery, dysentery.
  2. MS 17 is interesting. O'Reilly says that it was written at least as early as the 12th or 13th century (?). Drawings of figures of peasants, etc., on pp. 1 and 5, in the costume of that period, tend to confirm this opinion. It contains sections from Galen and Hippocrates, a chapter on gonorrhaea from Constantinus, diabetes, etc.
  3. MS 18 is similar in contents, in various hands.

4. In the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh (Advocates' Library)

A considerable number of Gaelic manuscripts in this Library are taken up with medical matter.

Of these MS 2 contains various MSS of different sizes bound together evidently by someone who did not understand the contents. Vellum pages at the beginning contain treatises on blood, fevers, bone, herbological and philosophical subjects. On paper there are treatises on secretion, sediments, fever, veins, diseases of different parts of the ear, philosophy, pregnancy, astronomy, medical terms, gout, prescriptions, etc. Also a tract on the virtues of aqua vitae, one on diseases of the eyes, teeth, and heart; and a panegyric on Hippocrates. (Variants from this MS are used in Wulff's edition of De Amore Hereos, Ériu 11 (1932) 174–181.)

  1. MS 3: a treatise on botany and herbology, a materia medica in alphabetical order.
  2. MS 4: a tiny MS, vellum, 99 leaves, 2 1/2" x 1 3/4"; a collection of definitions and technical terms, chiefly in medicine, by the great authorities. On fol. 56b. 'Gadisten' explains Apostema .i. nescoid.
  3. MS 10: (Kilbridge Collection, No. 6) is well written on ten large leaves; a treatise on fevers, diet, etc., compiled from Hippocrates, Galen, Rhases, Isidurus, Isaac, Averroes, Serapion, John of Damascus, Aristotle and the Commentators.
  4. MS 12: (K. C. no. 8) contains 21 large leaves, consisting of anatomy, the Calendar, Natural Philosophy, physiology, etc.
  5. MS 13: (K. C. no. 9) contains a treatise on medicine, especially the use of medicine for different temperaments, chronic diseases, convalescence, climate and paralysis, etc. (Variants from this MS are used in Wulff's edition of De Amore Hereos, Ériu 11 (1932) 174–181.)
  6. MS 20: (K. C. no. 16) on different kinds of fevers from red blood and from impure blood, etica, diabetes, on the breast, its diseases and other cures. cf. supra.
  7. MS 21: (K. C. no. 17) A treatise on gynaecological subjects and sundry disorders, translated from Hippocrates.
  8. MS 33: (K. C. no. 19) Highland Society, Kilbride no. 2, contains a Calendar on vellum, with notes on the diet for the various months. The rest is on paper, very worn and ragged, consisting of a tract on anatomy from Galen, treating of the brain, heart, liver, testes; a physiological treatise on the brain, the senses, the nerves, etc.; spells, medical aphorisms and a tract on urine. The transcriber of the last is Donald mac an Olla, at that time in Donegal. On the first page in Latin is written John Macbeth is this book's possessor; Culrathine 22 April 1700; on the last page is Leabhair Giolla Choluim Macbeathadh, the books of Gille-Colum (Malcolm) Macbeth.
  9. MS 60: (Miscellaneous no. 3) partly Latin, partly Gaelic. A compendious treatise on medicine, 476 pages, probably for the most part taken from Galen. A list of diseases with glosses in Gaelic; a copy of Schola Salernitana, written to the King of England; anatomy, materia medica, etc.; treatise on urine, written by Angus O Concuber.
  10. MSS 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 27, and half of 26, all belonging to the Kilbride Collection, are medical.
  11. MSS 33 and 60 of the Highland and Agricultural Society are almost exclusively medical, and No. 41 is bound in a piece of medical MS.

Since 1934 deposited in the National Library of Scotland, MS 2076

Translation of Lilium Medicinae of Bernard of Gordon (Bernardus Gordonius), and De Decem Ingeniis curandi morbos. 714 pages. One of the longest Gaelic manuscripts which are extant. It belonged to the (Husabost) Beatons of Skye; and was presented to the Antiquaries' Society in 1784 by Rev. Donald Macqueen, of Kilmuir, in Skye. See also John Bannerman, The Beatons. A medical Kindred in the Classical Gaelic Tradition. [Paperback] (Edinburgh 1998).


  1. MS I, in Laing Collection, contains a history of the Macbeths of Beatons; also medical matters, fevers chiefly.


(cf. O'Gr. op. cit. and Flower, op. cit. p. 629.)

Harl. 546, dated 1459, written by Cormac Mac Duinntshléibhe and another scribe, contains the following

  1. Translation of Gualterus de Dosibus.
  2. Tract on diseases of head etc. (Lil. Med.) apoplexy, epilepsy, eye affections. Tract of more general nature on various diseases, phrenitis, paralysis, spasm (Lil. Med.) megrim (Lil. Med.) scotoma, etc., lethargy, incubus, catarrh, quinsy, pleurisy, etc., hiccup, eye treatment (Lil. Med.), nose affections, cancer, stone, scrofula (Lil. Med.) heart (Lil. Med.) gout.

  3. Shawn Sheahan edited and translated An Irish version of Gualterus De dosibus (Washington DC 1938) from this and other manuscripts (TCD 1326 (H 3 7); TCD 1302 (H 2 12)). The Latin text was edited by Paul Diepgen, Gualteri Agilonis summa medicinalis: nach den Münchener Cod. lat. Nr. 325 und 13124 [...], Leipzig 1911.
  4. Tract on fevers; Tertian Accidents condensed from Gaddesden; Quotidian. Cf. P1. (O'Gr. op. cit. , p. 199).
  5. Harl. 4347, paper, 16th century: the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, translated from the Latin version of Nicolaus Leonicennus, the Italian humanist, died 1524. Flower op. cit. p. XXXV.
  6. Egerton 89: Lile na h-eladhan leighis.
  7. Additional 15, 403, fols. 3-72 Tract on Materia Medica.
  8. Arundel 333, Medical, metaphysical and physical tracts, compiled from various sources. Fol. 6: 'Agus tait 3 gneithe ar an fiabras tig o morgad fola deirge.' Cf. P. and H. Also fol. 27b: Uilidecht (universality). Cf. P., pp. 18b, 23b.
  9. Arundel 313. A.D. 1519, Vellum. Medical excerpts from various sources.

Additional 15, 582, ff. 8-69: Medical tracts and excerpts from various sources:

  1. Tract derived from a portion of John of Gaddesden's Rosa Anglicana (sic): De passionibus Stomachi.
  2. Collection of recipes against various diseases.
  3. Tracts on Materia Medica, etc.; Portion on Lithotomy, translation of Gaddesden's , De operacione cum ferro in lapide . Cf. supra, YBL, p. 352.

Egerton 159, paper, 1592:
Medical tracts, a compilation from various sources.


Mention must also be made of the large number of herbals in manuscript, which contain for the most part explanations of the Latin Materia Medica. Many of these are quaintly ingenuous and fantastic, cf. the remark that rhubarb is a tree that grows in India, etc. Among these I have made special use of RIA. 3. B. 15 in the vocabulary. This MS bears the following interesting title page:

An luibheadoir iar na chuma a Salmanca sa Spainn le Villiam O Hiceadha liaig san mbliaghain daois ar tTighearna 1132 (!) — iar na sgriobhu chuim usaide 7 caitheamh aimsire Hannraoi Joseph Heard dochtuir diadhachta a ccorca le Michael O Longain isan mbliaghuin 1829.

Several of these herbals have been published by Whitley Stokes.

Rendered into HTML by Beatrix Färber in July 2009; updated May 2017.

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