'Unique' Gaelic manuscript to go on display in Cork


A MAJOR medieval Irish manuscript will go on public display in Cork for the first time next month. The Book of Lismore or Leabhar Mac Cárthaigh Riabhachwas written in the 15th century for Irish nobleman Finghin Mac Cárthaigh Riabhach and his wife Caitilín.

The Chatsworth Settlement Trust in Derbyshire is lending the book to University College Cork. The book survived a siege and being lost in the walls of Lismore Castle before arriving at its current home, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire.

The book includes many important texts of the era such as the masterpiece Acallam na Senórach, which tells of a conversation between St Patrick's and surviving Fianna warriors.

It also contains secular and ecclesiastical European works such as Irish translations of The Travels of Marco Polo and biblical text The Evernew Tongue.

UCC president Michael Murphy paid tribute to the duke and previous owners of the text without whom "the book might, like many other Gaelic manuscripts of its time, have been lost or remained undiscovered".

The book was compiled at the Franciscan House, Timoleague, west Cork and was taken from the Mac Cárthaigh Riabhach residence in Kilbrittain, west Cork during a siege in the 1640s.

After the siege it was given to the Earl of Cork at Lismore Castle, Co Waterford where it was stored in a wall for safe keeping.

It remained hidden there until renovation work in 1814 when it was rediscovered with an 11th century crozier.

Soon after this it was lent to a Cork antiquary and copied by local scribes.

It was returned incomplete to Lismore Castle but was restored in the 1860s. More than 80 years ago it was transferred to Chatsworth.

The book was described in a statement by UCC as a "powerfully symbolic artefact" which occupied a "unique position" in the "sometimes complex history between Britain and Ireland".

A portrait by Flemish painter Sir Anthony Van Dyck and extra material on Irish manuscripts will also be displayed with the book.

The exhibition, "Travelled Tales - Leabhar Siúlach, Scéalach: The Book of Lismore at University College Cork", will open at the Glucksman Gallery from July 22nd until October 30th.