In November 2019 Richard wrote:
“… I remember feeling sadness that such a treasure was firstly fragmented, and secondly the bulk of which was no longer within Ireland. While in London one day, I naively presented myself at the British Library asking to see the manuscript, much to the amusement of the Librarian who explained that this was a categorised document, which would need a letter of introduction in order to be able to gain access it.
It must have been the expression of disappointment on my face that then prompted the kind Librarian to ask why did I actually want to view it in the first instance? I explained that my reason was no more or less compelling than I was a Davern, and I just wanted to “behold” this document, not for any knowledge I could gain from it, as I would not be able to read it, but simply to touch it and be re-connected back through the centuries to its origin, and to my ancestor, that Dónal ODavoren was, one way or another.
I think today, that the Manuscripts Librarian was so amused with my naivety, that to my amazement, he told me he would make an exception on this occasion and would have it presented from their Library archives to myself, within the hour.
The sense of history was overwhelming as my white-gloved hands first touched the folios. My over-riding memory was to ask myself; “I wonder who was the last Davern to touch this manuscript. To my delight I found on the inside cover some handwritten notes which were attached. I got some small pieces of paper and transcribed them to the very last word. They being in English, and giving some details about the manuscript and its history. This was the only information I could take from it, but this information paled in significance when compared to that sense of history which still lives in my heart to this very day.
The story moves on … “
Read the full story in the page Donal’s Book >>>
Note: Both Egerton 88 (British Library) and the segment held at the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin of Dónal’s Book are now on display at Galway city museum, until 30 January 2020.