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MS 23 P 26 (The Book of Fenagh)

Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in The Royal Irish Academy


23 P 26

Leabhar Chaillín (Book of Fenagh)

Early 16th cent. Vellum. Ca. 11⅘ × 9 (margins of ff. 38, 39, 40, 42, 45 clipped). Of the original ms. 41 ff. remain. The following numerations stand on the ms. : (a) recto, sup. marg., an early foliation 1-10, 11 (recte 12)-21, [23], 24, 27, 28, 30-32, 35-48. The references given in this Description are to this foliation. (b) ibid., a later foliation apparently in the hand of Tádhg Ó Rodaighe [of Crossfield, Co. Leitrim], a descendant of the man for whom the book was compiled. This foliation corrects (a) at certain points, viz., [23], 24 is altered here to 31, 32; 30-32 to 23-25; 35-37 to 28-30. These altered numbers possibly represent the sequence of folios at one period; they are incorrect. (c) inf. marg., a pencilled pagination, 1-20, 23-42, 45-48, 53-56, 59-64, 69-96. Ff. 11, 22, 25, 26, 29, 33, 34, missing from foliation (a), represent chasms in the ms. By a happy chance the fragmentary copy B.M. ms. Cott., Vesp. E II, transcribed from the present ms. when complete in 1535 supplies the text of the lost ff. 11 and 29. Similarly the copy in R.I.A., Stowe, C iv 3, fo. 246 r° ff., by the seventeenth-century scribe, David O 'Duigenan, supplies the missing ff. 26, 33, 34, a fact which was not known to D. H. Kelly and W. H. Hennessy when they printed the contents of this ms. from the O'Donovan transcript 23 P 8 480, infra. (The Book of Fenagh, Dublin, 1875). Scribe: Muirgius mac Paidín Uí Maelchonairi who incorporated into the present Life of St. Caillín in 1516, for Tadg O Roduighae, comharb of St. Caillín at Fenagh, Co. Leitrim, the metrical contents of an ancient ms. known as the Book of St. Caillín. The scribe died in 1543 (F.M. sub anno). See colophon fo. 39 r° b: " Orait raith et toicthi annso do Thadg O Roduighae .i. comurbu Caillín Fhidhnuchu ( da chommaim .i. Onoru inghen Uí Mailmhuaidh suprascript). Fear lan d'ecnu et d'aithni et d'eolus et do iudicechd et legthoir scotice, et fer doni segdu (.i. dan oclachuis suprascript) et occlachas, et fer conguss(?) buadha et gesa in baili a bfhuil (.i. Fidnacha Maige Réinsuprascript) .i. tech n-aoided (.i. i llo i n-oidchi suprascript) coitchend (.i. ar tuatuibh bochtaibh aes gach dana suprascript) et gan diultud re dreic nduine (.i. do treinn na do truagh suprascript) acht se ina oil nemchumscuigthi (.i. ara aen ait bis tre bitha amal chloich nach cumscaigter no amal ralaig no ibar suprascript) a ndaonnacht (?) tre bithu. Ise he in Tadg sin foderu (ar Muirges O Maelconaire suprascript) in lebur su do chor indso ina sgeloigecht tre imutt a eludun (.i. Gaidelg Laiten suprascript) et tre romet a duthruchtu do Chaillín, daig ni raibi acht ina dan isin tshenliubar. Rotharngair Caillín co ticfad app i Fidnachu ro thoibechod a chís ar Erind fri deredh domain, et dar linni is donti do rigni in duthracht so do budh choir sin .i. Tadg comarbu Fidnacha. Muirgius mac Paidín Uí Maelchonairi ro scrib in lebar sa dó co morica Caillín sin friu araon isin vethaid hsuthain etir aigglib nime." The date 1516 occurs in scribal note on fo. 48 v°, inf. marg., and in a marginal entry by the later Tadhg Ó Rodaighe, fo. 18 r°, inf. marg.: "As mór an t-ádhbhar maccach a beith ag éisdeacht re daoinibh ainbfheasacha ag síorrádha gar chuir Tadhg Ó Rodaige iomad brécc san Leabhar Caillín so do sgriobadh san mbliadhain d'aois Chríost, 1516."

The ms. is in excellent condition, the outer folios only having suffered from exposure, Chemicals have been used freely by former cataloguers, particularly on the marginalia, with the result that some items: are now almost indecipherable. Bd. in leather: gilt lettered on back "Book of Fenagh" (slip cover of black cloth). The later Tadhg Ó Rodaighe's hand appears throughout the ms. in various notes with dates 1685 (fo. 42), 1688 (ff. 2, 46), 1693 (fo. 7) and 1702 (ff. 24 r°, 38 v°). On fo. 47 v° stands an old signature "Misi Doigre."

The history of the ms. is detailed by D. H. Kelly, op. cit., Introd., pp. viii, ix. The book remained in the custody of the O'Roddys, hereditary comharbs of Fenagh, Co. Leitrim, and passed at the death of the last representative of the family, a parish priest of Kilronan, to his successor, Father Fitzgerald, and later to Father Slevin, parish priest of Gortlitteragh, Co. Leitrim. The ms. was in the possession of the Most Rev. Dr. Conroy, Bishop of Ardagh, in 1875, at the time of the publication of the Book of Fenagh. It was purchased in 1901 by the Royal Irish Academy from a Mrs. Eagar, presumably the then owner (see Acad. Library Minutes) for £1.

The ms. embodies much historical material relating to the two Breifnes, the present counties of Leitrim and Cavan. As it has been printed in full from O'Donovan's facsimile (23 P 8), op. cit., no analysis of its contents is given here; the first lines of the poems incorporated in the text are, however, cited, as well as the marginal quatrains, which do not appear in the edition.


1 . Muirgius mac Paidín Uí Maelchonairi and Tadg Ó Rodaige. Life of St. Caillín. Prose and verse. Beg. (homiletic preface): Ego sitienti dabo de fonte aquae uiuae gratis. This is a transcript and expansion of the Old Book of St. Caillín (cf. ff. 39 r°a, 48 v°, inf marg.; see Description of this ms.) ; the original material, which is stated to have consisted of the poems only, being considerably added to. The work was carried out in 1516 by the scribe, Muirgius mac Paidín Uí Maelchonaire (ob. F.M. 1543), at the instance of Tadg Ó Rodaige, successor of St. Caillín. The poems, which may thus be considered to represent the more ancient book, are as follows (the longer poems only are cited here):—

6 r°a. Caillín (acc. to internal evidence of poem). Ériu oll oilen aingeal, 199 qq.

13 r°b i. Fland mac Floind. Dún mBaili rigbailea caigh, 32 qq.

14 r°b i. Caillín. Is hi mo chainsi dom tigh, 13 qq.

15 v°b m. Eta sunn lecht Conaill chruaid, 36 qq.

16 m. Caillín. Cotlad sind imdaid siu, 7 qq.

17 r°b. idem. Gebhaid crith in talam tend, 15 qq.

18 r°a i. Colum Cille. Dés in chatha ticimsi, 24 qq.

20 (19) r°a. Fingal do triall Conmaicni, 30 qq.

21 r°b m. Caillín caidh cumachtach, 10 qq.

[ 23 ] (31) r°a. Colam Cilli. Mochean Caillín caid, 11 qq.

24 (32) r°a m. idem. Celiubroim do Dún mBaili, 24 qq.

27 r°a. Caillín. Berid bennacht, ergid uaim, 47 qq.

30 r°a. [Beir, a Chaillin, clog na righ.] Acephalous here, owing to chasm in ms., first line reading: mian sith ocus socht |mairg do ber dimbrig ar lo; 5½ qq. remain.

31 (24) v°a. Mag Rein, ga hadbar dia bfuíl, 62 qq.

35 r°a. [A Feircheirtne fhoirghlés fíora.] Acephalous, owing to chasm in the ms. First line here is craig na bruigne | dlegar dim turim a tenna; 7½ qq. remain.

35 r°a i. Da fegad na fatha, 25 qq.

36 v°b m. Caillín. A Manchan, romaiccill fein, 57 qq.

39 r°b. Conall cuingid cloinni Neill, 61 qq.

40 v°b. Enna dalta Cairpri cruaid, 47 qq.

41 v°b i. A eolcha Conaill ceoluig, 32 qq.

42 v°a i. Ata sunn senchus nach suaill, 18 qq.

43 r°a m, A liubair ta ar do lar, 18 qq.

43 v°a m. In cest for chloinn na Colla, 23 qq.

44 r°b. Abair frim [ ]. Acephalous in the exemplar (see scribal note fo. 44 r° a i.). Beg. here Oed in cet fer craides me; 28 qq. remain.

47 r°a. Cairbre, Eogan, Enna eim, 12 qq.

47 r°b m. Estid re Conall calma, 23 qq.

48 r°a. Caillin caid cumhachtach, 18 qq.

48 v° inf. marg. Dliged Caillin on tír thuaid, 1 q.

Marginal quotations, some almost illegible, are as follows:

2 r°, Ocht .xx. srubhán fa nai, 1 q. 2 v°, Nocha mian Achadh Aoibhe (?), 1 q. Cleith an uilc dogní co taoi, 1 q. 3 r°,Onoir oide maith in modh, 1 q. Secht raona asa roictear nem, 1 q. 3 v°, Aighidh Ísa sa croich síar, 1 q.Dena maith for degduine, 1 q. 4 r°, Mairg cuinges ni ar a charuid, 1 q. Is saoith lem int aos leigind, 1 q. 4 v°, A Guaire an imraidhe, 1 q. Bro ní laibéra co ngluaistear, 1 q. 5 r°, A mendagain imraidim (?), 1 q. Do mac Laigsi ba mor [ ], 1 q. 5 v°, Meoithe coicles glice scrutas, 1 q. Rig na sl[ ] dirigne, 1 q. 6 r°, O ibhim mo daothain, 1 q.Amail nach cin do credal, 1 q. 6 v°, Anti benas a duthaigh, 1 q. Is e dergadh is cora, 1 q. 7 r°,Fer gan mnai no ben gan fer, 1 q. Cia gabas ana salma, 1 q. 7 v°, Serc in bidba innsa duit, 1 q. Cu Cuimni |roleg suithe co druimne, 2 qq. (second on fo. 8 r°; see Annals of Ulster, p. 208). Cebe dían gnath ferg, 1 q. 8 v°, Cia sire an doman dongb[ ], 1 q. Aine umla indrucus, 1 q. 9 r°, Ni Temuir cech tilach, 1 q.Aongus ar Cairbri Musc mbind, 1 q. 9 v° Tar Uib Neill a Connachta, 1 q. Mer dontí gabas a duain, 1 q. 10 r°,Procept do borb, ceol do bodur, 1 q. M'egnachsa is cead do neoch, 1 q. 10 v°, Ante toimses gana troigh, 1 q. 31 r°, Mancan Caillín Caelan, 1 q. 41 v°, Ar bhéusaibh no ar míbheusaibh, 1 q. (in Tadhg ó Rodaighe's hand).