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MS A 1 (Psalter of St Caimín)

Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in University College Dublin



Late 11th or early 12th cent. Vellum. 36 × 26 cms. Ff. 6, with modern pagination 1-12. Two gatherings: 1-8, 9-12. 14 to 18 lines of text to the page. Formerly attributed to St Caimín of Iniscealtra (7th cent.). Upper part of p. 1 water-stained and some loss of text on inner margins. MS has been repaired with vellum and inner margins strengthened with paper and fine gauze. Enclosed in full-cloth cover with pasteboard backing, on which is printed in gilt: 'Psalmus CXVIII manu S. Camini scriptus'. Former press-marks, A i, G. ii, and present press-mark, A 1, labelled on outside front cover. Main body of text written in semi-uncial script with illuminated capitals, chiefly in brown, vermilion, green, yellow and purple. Notes and scholia in pointed minuscule.

Brief general description of MS by J. T. Gilbert in HMC rep. 4 (1874) app., 601, with quotations from Ussher (1639), Ware (1639), Colgan (1645), and trans. of Ó Cléirigh's note on p. 3; see also F. Henry and G. L. Marsh-Micheli, PRIA 62 C 5 (1962) 117-19 Facsimile of some lines and capitals in J. T. Gilbert, Facs nat. MSS Ire. IV pt ii (1884) p. cxii, pl. xxi; see also M. Esposito, PRIA 32 C 5 (1913) 78-88, pl. vii; Henry and Marsh-Micheli, art. cit., pll. ii, iv, v. The MS has been described in detail by M. Esposito, 'On the so-called Psalter of St. Caimin', loc. cit., who calculates that, assuming the MS contained the whole Psalter, it must have consisted of about 216 folios and 'must have been one of the finest of the later Irish MSS.' 'But it is quite possible also that the psalm existed by itself (Henry and Marsh-Micheli, art. cit., 119).

There are two notes in the MS with a bearing on its history: (a) 'At the bottom of folio la is a much faded note, Ex libris Conventus de Dunnagall, possibly in Colgan's handwriting' (Esposito, art. cit., 79). Only the first two words of the note are now legible. There may have been a similar note at the bottom of p. 2, but that is now also illegible. (b) P. 3, lower margin. 'Do réir ghnathchuirnhne chloinne mheic Bruaidedha Flann et Bernard amhail do chualattar aga nathair et ag cach go coitchionn as é Caimin naomh o Inis Cealtra for Loch Deircc Dheirc i tTuadhmumhain do sccriobh an leabhar ina raibhe an duillennso. Ni machtnadh firinne do bheith accan aés ealadhna sin oir is i tTermonn Chaimín atad in ionatacht et in aitreabhadh et a sinnsir rempa. As fiadhain meisi an brathair bocht Michel O Cleirigh go ffacadhas fein mac Bruaidedha na comhnaidhe i tTermonn Caimin, et a chlann iarna eccsoin. As iadsein et Diarmait O Duibhchertt[aigh?] dorad na duilleanna so do leabhar Caimin damhsa an brathair reimhrai[t]e et guidhedh gach aon dia ffeicionn (?) [iad?] arar nanmannaibh diblinibh.' Printed Esposito, art. cit., 79.

The later history of the MS, as far as known, has been traced by Esposito. It is first mentioned by Ussher and Ware (both 1639), the latter of whom states it to have been 'among the books of the Convent of Franciscans at Donnegall', but it is not clear whether he himself had seen it there. It was seen by Colgan before 1645 and Esposito suggests that it may have been among the folia aliquot Hibernica, aliquot Latina found in Colgan's cell at Louvain after his death in 1658 (see A 34, 2). It was discovered at St Isidore's College, Rome, by J. O. Westwood in 1868 and was brought to Dublin with the other MSS from the Louvain collection in 1872.

The MS contains several marginalia and interlinear scholia ('ex-tracted from various patristic commentaries': Esposito, art. cit., 86 n. 1) and some Irish glosses, for editions of which see J. F. Kenney, Sources for the early history of Ireland I (New York 1929) 646-7. There are also some late marginal notes and scribblings on pp. 4-6, 10, 12.


1 . [Psalm 118 of Vulgate.] Beati immaculati in uia qui / ambulant inlege Domini. [vv. 1-16, 33-116]. Divided into sections of 8 vv., each with introduction. Folio missing between pp. 2-3 (as noted in English, p. 2 i) with loss of vv. 17-32; the conjugate folio must have been cancelled as there is no loss of text between pp. 6-7. Ends imperfectly (p. 12 i): Suscipe me secundum eloquium tuum et / uiuam.