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The Gaelic abridgment of the Book of Ser Marco Polo (Author: [Marco Polo])

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The following text is taken from the Book of Lismore, an Irish manuscript of the fifteenth century, now belonging to the Duke of Devonshire, and kept in Lismore Castle, co. Waterford. The text, of which no other copy is known, begins, imperfectly, on fo. 79 recto and ends, incompletely, on fo. 89 verso. It is abridged with great freedom from the Latin version of Francesco Pipino, as to which see the introduction to the late col. Yule's The Book of Ser Marco Polo, London 1875, pp. 64, 79, 92.

Our text has been noticed by Todd, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy June 22, 1840: by O'Curry, MS. Materials of Irish History, pp. 25, 200, and by Yule, op. cit. vol. 1, pp. 100, 101 of the introduction. But no part of it has been edited save (1) four lines (absurdly misspelt)1 cited by Yule, p. 101: (2) the beginning and the end, cited in the preface to Lives of Saints from the Book of Lismore, Oxford 1890, pp. xxij–xxiv; and (3) the first two pages, printed in the appendix to Part III of the Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland, London 1879.

It is needless here to enlarge upon the desirability of printing the Celtic translations of Latin and French2 texts. They are the best evidence that the mediaeval Irish and Welsh were in touch with the literary life of the Continent: they add considerably to our vocabularies; and in the case of many words and idioms they enable Celtists to ascertain meanings which would otherwise remain unintelligible or ambiguous. They also throw some light on the condition of the Continental texts at the respective dates of the translations.

The Gaelic Marco Polo

(Book of Lismore, fo. 79 a, 1)

¶1] [...]{MS folio 79a1} riguibh & taisechaibh na cathrach sin. Bai brathair righ a n-aibit san Fronses isin cathraig in tan sin. Ba eoluch dano isna h-ilbherlaibh, Fransiscus a ainm. Berur iarum dú a m-batar na maithe ucut, & cuinghit fair in leabhor do clodh for cula o thengaidh na Tartairedh cusin tengaidh laitianda. ‘Is omun leamsa’, ol se, ‘saethar na menmanradh do chaithimh fria gnímhradh idhul & ainchreitmech’. Guidhit h-e fá an cétna doridisi. ‘Dogentar,’ or se; ‘ár gidh scéla aincristaidhi fhaisneidhter sunn, mírbhuili in fhir-Dhia iat-saidhhe, & gach aen do cluinfe in t-imut-sa a n-agaidh na h-irsi coimdeta guidhfidh co dichra faa clodh-sum for cula, & in nech nach guidhfe caithfidh calmacht a cuirp fria clodh. Nisam omhnach-sa riasin leabur-sa Mharcais, or ni fhuil gó ann. Do thadhaill mu rosc-sa h-e ac tabhairt mhind na h-eclasi naeime lais, & ro fhagaibh fria blaisecht m-bais gur' fhír son, & ba diadha intí Marcus.’

¶2] Cidh fil ann tra, acht ro-s-tinnta Pronsiscus in leabar-so Mharcuis a Tartairidh a Laitin, & fa h-iat bliadhna in Tigerna in tan sin .u. bliadna dec & da fhicit & .cc. & míle bliadan.