The library at Mount Melleray Abbey, Co. Waterford, houses a small collection of Irish manuscripts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This collection of manuscripts was chosen as a pilot undertaking of the ISOS project as it afforded the opportunity to digitise a small collection for which a published catalogue was already in existence.
The earliest manuscript in the collection (MS 1) was written in 1712 by Aindrias Mac Cruitín, a well-known poet and scribe from Moyglass, Co. Clare. This manuscript contains two main texts of the seventeenth century: Forus Feasa ar Éirinn by Séathrún Céitinn (Geoffrey Keating), and the poetic debate known as Iomarbhágh na bhFileadh. There are also some additions on the endpapers from the second half of the eighteenth century. An interesting feature of this manuscript is that it contains an incomplete copy, in the poet's own hand, of Mac Cruitín's address to the local mythological figure Donn na Duimhche. This may in fact be the earliest surviving version of that poem.
Two other manuscripts in the collection also date from the 18th century. MS 2 was written in 1733, and is possibly of Meath provenance. It contains a copy of An Scáthán Spioradálta. MS 3 was written in 1789 by Eamon Cochlainn. This manuscript, which may have been written in Co. Cork, contains Forus Feasa ar Éirinn.
The remainder of the Mount Melleray collection of Irish manuscripts belongs to the 19th century. MS 4 is a missal, the scribe of which is unidentified, and probably belongs to the early years of the century. MS 5 was written in Co. Kerry by Michael Cronin, probably in the first quarter of the century. It contains a religious work by Séathrún Céitinn, Eochairsciath an Aifrinn.
MSS 6 and 7 were written by Seán Ua Buachalladh, in north Co. Cork, between the years 1824 and 1844. These two books are representative of the miscellaneous type of manuscript produced in Munster in the 18th and 19th centuries, containing anthologies of ossianic verse, political verse, and occasional verse, in addition to a variety of commonplace entries.
The Melleray library also contains an important series of letters and papers of Fr Maurus Ó Faoláin (1853-1931), whose interest in the Irish language, and in promoting it in the seminary at Melleray, was possibly one of the reasons for the formation of the collection of Irish manuscripts. These papers, numbered MS 8 in the catalogue, are not to be digitised.
The manuscripts catalogued as 9 and 10 are books which were microfilmed by the National Library of Ireland in 1960 but which were subsequently removed from Melleray. Their present location is unknown.
MSS 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16, are all the work of John Morrissey and his grand-daughter Mary (MS 16 and part of MS 14). John (c. 1819-1891) was a farmer from the Sliabh gCua area of Co. Waterford, a district with strong Gaelic traditions down to the present day. The manuscripts came into the possession of the library at Melleray on the death in 1995 of John Morrissey's grand-daughter, Kate O'Brien, a well-known tradition-bearer from near Mount Melleray.