An early manuscript

Egerton MS 88, f 65r. Zoomorphic initial. Ireland, c 1564. British Library

The Clan story in four periods recently posted on the History page includes a reference to an early Irish manuscript of legal nature in the British Library, known as Egerton 88. The Library recently featured this document in a recent blog post, describing it as ‘famous’ and ‘important’.

Here’s an extract:

The Irish collections also include many important poetic and legal texts, but we finish with the famous Egerton MS 88, a legal and grammatical miscellany produced by the school of Domhnall Ó Duibhdábhoirenn in around 1564.

This manuscript is not only important for its contribution to the study of Irish legal history, but also for the many scribal notes found throughout the manuscript, which give a vivid insight into the everyday lives (and sufferings!) of 16th-century scribes. Many of these complain about the poor working conditions in which Domhnall’s scribes have to work, and we can quote only one here: “Is fuar mairt cin dinér a Domnaill .i. ria nodlaig” (A dinnerless Tuesday is a cold thing, Donall, and before Christmas too). And it would be hard to argue with that!

The later history of Egerton MS 88, including the unusual box it was housed in when it arrived at the British Museum, is another story altogether, and one that will have to wait for another day. (Parts of the manuscript are now also to be found in the Copenhagen, Kongelige Bibliotekat MS 261B, and Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 23 Q 6.) – See more > 

The Clan has had a special interest in this manuscript in recent years. Here is an extract from Edward’s advice in February 2011:

Dear Clan Member

Wish to tell you that the campaign to adopt a manuscript at the British Library has now been completed. Kate Bower at the British Library has provided confirmation that the requested £1,000.00 has now been received, which will allow for the further conservation of Egerton 88, our most ancient symbol of gaelic heritage.

This Adoption completes a trilogy of gaelic Manuscripts:

  • Donachadh OLochlin’s 1845 manuscript (5522) was donated to the National Library of Ireland, Dublin by Roddy OLoghlin (Ennistymon)
  • The Book of OLochlainn – E iv 3 (1727) is located at the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.

We acknowledge each individual who generously subscribed to the Adoption, as well as a note of thanks to those individuals who campaigned for subscriptions, since October 2010.

All those who supported the Adoption will be named on a list, located with Egerton 88 at the British Library.

Thanks Edward and all.

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About BrendO

Musician in Canberra Australia
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