ISOS logo

MS 23 Q 16

Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in The Royal Irish Academy


23 Q 16

Caithréim Thoirdhealbhaigh

16th (?) cent. Vellum. 10⅘ × 8 (many of the ff. are smaller, the margins having been cut away). Of the original ms. 33 ff. remain, now paged consecutively, in pencil, 1-66.

Scribe: Michal mac Concub[air], who wrote the ms. (in part) at Limerick and Drumline ("I nDruim lan-daingen lethtor( ) Laidhin [Drumline] damh indiu iar bfagbail Luimnigh ane iar comlinad mis fa mormiadh isin mbaile sin .i. caicis ria Cais[c] co caicis . . . Michal mac Concub[air]" end cut away with margin, p. 7, inf. marg.; "A Dia is truagh nach e dogh na laogh ara rabatar na croicinn-si do roinneadh resin rofennad fesi. Mithal sc(i) q(i) bsit [= qui scripsit] ", p. 25, inf. marg.). In a later hand (possibly that of Aindrias Mac Cruitin) occurs on p. 7, inf. marg.,

211[o] do sgriobhadh an l[eathanach so]."

It is highly probable that 1509 is the date of writing this ms., the person who entered this date on p. 7 deriving his information from the now defective scribal note. A note in English (in a different hand), "15th cent. this was wrote" (p. 64, sup. marg.) probably refers to the date of composition. Unfortunately the marginal notes in the ms. have been treated with a chemical, presumably by someone anxious to decipher them, with the result that the vellum has got discoloured and the writing is obscured.

The original foliation of the quires is still visible at lower right-hand corner of the page. Of those lettered quires six remain, bound in wrong order, and mostly defective:— c (ff. 1, 2, 7, 8 wanting), g, h, f (ff. 4, 5 wanting), i (ff. 4, 5 wanting), k (one folio only left = pp. 65, 66). It can be thus shown that 18 ff. are lost from the beginning of the ms. ; a similar number of ff. after p. 8; 2 ff. after p. 46; 2 ff. after p. 58; at least 4 ff. (including an excised folio) after p. 64, and an indeterminate number of ff. at the end. These defects in the ms. are not shown in the present pagination, but an earlier pagination which at p. 66 reads "145" shows them to some extent. The ms. should be rearranged to read in correct sequence, i.e.: pp. 1-8, 41-46, 47-52, 9-40, 53-58, 59-64, 65-66. The lower margins of pp. 11-14, 19-22 (= quire g, ff. 2, 3, 6, 7), 31-34 (= h, ff. 4, 5), and 55, 56 (= i, fo. 2) have been cut away, and the majority of the pp. have been clipped at the side margin (especially pp. 35-44, 47-56, 59-62). Pp. 65, 66 are injured and stained. The writing is in double column. "Emanuel" or "Ihc" appears at the top left-hand corner of the pp. (e.g., pp. 13, 25, 32). The initial capitals in the ms. are finely coloured. Bd. in half leather (binding damaged), gilt-lettered on back, "Leabhar Dal gCais." Betham Collection, 77.

There are some textual comments in the ms. in an unknown hand, pp. 3, 13, 41, inf. marg., 50 sup. marg. 51 sup. marg., and cancelled or erased scribblings also appear. A signature, "Heinri Ua Briain," occurs p. 51, inf. marg., and a note, "Mise Heinri Ua Brian do leigh in leabhar so san mbliadhain d'aois Chriost, 1253," on p. 9, inf. marg. The signature of this Henry O'Brien resembles the signature of the scribe of T.C.D. 1415 so closely that we may safely identify him with that scribe, and read the date given as 1753.

O'Curry, Acad. Cat., p. 365, believes that the ms. mentioned by the Chevalier O'Gorman in a letter to Sir Lucius O'Brien, dated at Dublin the 12th July, 1781 (24 D 18, p. 3 ff.), is our ms. O'Gorman speaks of bringing over from the Continent the "Acta O'Brienorum, known as the Wars of Thomond." This ms. passed into Sir William Betham's hands from James O'Brien, of Drimelehy, in the County Clare, the nephew-in-law and so legatee of the Chevalier O'Gorman. O'Curry (Acad. Cat., p. 351). states that it was in his own hands for a short time in the year 1828.

On the front flyleaf is written by Sir William Betham: "This is a portion of the original ms. of the Wars of Thomond by Shane Mac Rory McCraith, written 1459. I have a copy on paper by Michael O'Longan [i.e., 23 G 26]. W. Betham." The verso of this leaf is blank.


1 . Seán (mac Ruaidhri) Mac Craith. Caithréim Thoirdhealbhaigh. Acephalous and defective. Beg. here borbruathar 7 tuc Tordhealbhach trénaiseg dona triathaibh, sin tar cenn a mbraighet 7 a mbiadhcana (= 23 E 2, p. 40, l. 17). Comparison of the text with 23 E 2 shows that the ms. should be rearranged to read as follows (see also Description of this ms.) :—pp. 1-8 (= 23 E 2, pp. 40, l. 17-82, l. 13), 41-46 (= loc. cit., pp. 167, l. 1-179, l. 22), 47-52 (= loc. cit., pp. 187, l. 28-201, l. 2), 9-40 (= loc. cit., pp. 201, l. 2-266, l. 15), 53-58 (= loc. cit., pp. 266, l. 15-278, l. 10), 59-64 (= loc. cit., pp. 288, l. 5-300, l. 12), 65-66 (= loc. cit., pp. 304, l. 12-308, l. 24). There are thus lacunae in the text after pp. 8, 46, 58, 64, and a considerable portion of text is missing at the beginning and end (see Description of this ms.). The absence from the text (p. 8, col. b, l. 19) of some lines which are found in 23 E 2, 23 F 14, 23 G 26, 23 O 31, and 24 M 1 proves conclusively that none of these latter are independent (since they all show a common addition to the original), or alternatively that our text is not the original (see Description of this ms.). The note, "Hic patet defectus" (in a later hand), of p. 11, inf. marg., has been copied into 23 E 2, p. 207 (from T.C.D. 1292)