Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland

© Ronald Black, 2011

Adv. MS 72.1.3

(Gaelic MS III).

Formerly Gaelic ms III. ?15th cent. Vellum. i + 98 ff. Octavo, 17 x 13 cms. A materia medica, with some specifics and a calendar. Written in single columns. Text, decoration and certain of the hands all bear comparison with John Rylands Library (Manchester) ms Ir. 35, a manuscript of Scottish provenance for which see Ingliston ms A.i.9 ( = NLS Mf. ms 286) no. 50; John Bannerman, The Beatons (Edinburgh, 1986) 46–48, 139, 143; Whitley Stokes, ‘On Lord Crawford’s Irish Medical Ms.’, The Academy 49 (1896) 405–07; N. R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries 3 (Oxford, 1983) 456–58.

HANDS: 1 Text, ff. i–33, 36–39. A very fine hand bearing similarities to that of Domhnall Albanach Ó Troighthigh, BL ms Eg. 89, cf. Robin Flower, Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the British Museum 3 (London, 1953) plate 6. 2 Text, ff. 34–35, 40–52; notes 1, 3, 4, 6, ?21. Broadly similar to hand 1. Referred to in note 5 as Gilla Padrig O Toindidh. The ‘T’ of the name is very clear, otherwise it would be tempting to read it as O Coindidh and interpret it as an alternative to Ó Conchubhair. Coinneach/Cainneach and Giolla Pádraig were common forenames among the Ó Conchubhair physicians of Lorn and Ossory, see Bannerman, op. cit. 144–46; Adv. ms 72.1.2 hands 22, 70; Adv. ms 72.1.3 hand 4; Adv. ms 73.1.22. 3 Text and colophon, ff. 53–97. Gilla Coluim (note 13). A particularly painstaking hand with distinctively square characters, cf. Adv. ms 72.1.2 hand 28. The hand of Rylands ms Ir. 35 ff. 72r–79v and 113r–123v bears some similarities to it. Giolla Coluim was a common forename among the Beatons. 4 Note 5. Domhnall mac Coinnigh, cf. Rylands ms Ir. 35 f. 67v. He was probably an Ó Conchubhair, see Bannerman, op. cit. 144–46, Adv. ms 72.1.2 hand 70. 5 Notes 11, 14, 19. Resembles Adv. ms 72.1.27 hand 5. 6 Note 18. James Beaton, Dervaig, Mull ( fl. 1558), for whom see Bannerman, op. cit. 49, 51, 53, 79–80, 92, 137, 139, 142. 7 Text, ff. 60v20–24, 80v11–20; notes 2, ?15, 16, 23. James Beaton, Dervaig, Mull (fl. 1613–21), for whom see Adv. ms 18.2.11 hand 2. 8 Note 22. Allan Stewart, son of Donnchadh Óg. The identification is provided by note 23. 9 Notes and glosses, ff. 1r–78v passim; text and notes, ff. 80v, 81v; notes 7–10, 12, 17, ?20, 24. Rev. John Beaton (?1640–1714), for whom see Adv. ms 18.2.11 hand 5. He writes here in Gaelic, English, Latin and Greek (mostly in the appropriate character). Note similarity of his hand at ff. 80v and 81v to hand 7.

This is the most lavishly decorated of the library’s surviving Gaelic manuscripts. The illuminator embellished ff. i–33, 36–39, 41v and 45–51 (i.e. the work of hand 1 and much of that of hand 2) by the addition of ornamental initials and the application of red, crimson, brown, blue and yellow. Some of the capitals provided inspiration for those in Carmina Gadelica, see Alexander Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica 1 (2nd edn, Edinburgh, 1928) xxxv and Bannerman, op. cit. 109. Ó Toindigh may himself have been responsible, as he writes in blue-black and yellow-brown in preference to the more usual shades of brown and black; on the other hand, his work at ff. 40r–41r is very carefully daubed in brown. Hand 1 writes in yellow-brown at ff. 26v–28v, and part of this seems to have been re-inked for clarity. Giolla Coluim leaves blank spaces for capitals, according to custom, at f. 53, but inserts his own thereafter (apparently as he writes), with a little decoration but no colouring. His work is characterised by having been ruled in ink – red at f. 84r. F. 1r is reproduced in The Caledonian Medical Journal (New Ser.) 6 (Glasgow, 1906) following p. 40, illustrating Dr George Mackay’s paper ‘Ancient Gaelic Medical Manuscripts’ (pp. 34–45), and in John D. Comrie, History of Scottish Medicine 1 (2nd edn, London, 1932) 100. F. 19r is reproduced ibid., frontispiece, in colour.

NOTES (i.e. the most substantial notes by hand 9, and all notes by other hands): [3r] 1 ‘sug’ (hand 2). [22r] 2 ‘A deoch so thabart ren ól do Catlín nin Neil bean mheic Eoin’ (hand 7, apparently referring to the article on betony on the same page, see Bannerman, op. cit. 92). [25r] 3 ‘amen’ (hand 2). [33r] 4 ‘dona .l.’ (hand 2). [52r] 5 ‘Comhortus ann so re Gilla Padrig O Toindidh 67b17 bu’ (hand 4). [52v] 6 ?‘seeain’ (hand 2). 7 ‘20: die Septe:’ (hand 9). 8 ‘Ιοαννης βεττονυς / εγραπ [sic] αυτοχειρ / αυτων / 1677’ (hand 9). [55r] 9 ‘Melampodion, from the neam of the shipheard Melampus who cured all the maidins and daughters of Proetus from the distracton of memorie’ (hand 9). [56v] 10 ‘This hearb is found by Jub: King of Libia who called it after the neam of his physition, the brother of Musa who was also the Emperor Augustus phitition’ (hand 9, referring to euphorbium). [77r] 11 ‘amen’ (hand 5). [77v] 12 ‘τετελημενον:’ (hand 9). [79r] 13 colophon, see i(v)1 (hand 3). [80v] 14 ‘amen’ (hand 5). 15 ‘amen’ (hand ?7). 16 ‘A ceann mhis domhar do chuiagh me aSiunna 7 a ceann mhis do gheamradh do theanic me ann 7 da oidhce do bi mi ann 7 risd a ceann .vi(?) seachtmhuin 7 iii(?) oidhce do thanigh me risd go folbh’ (hand 7). 17 ‘Ffinem composui; sit laus, et gloria Chisto. Gloria perpetua sit tribuenda Deo. αμεν: λεγθυσι’ (hand 9). [83r] 18 ‘Amen nartar meisi Semus mac in ollaimh’ (hand 6, see Bannerman, op. cit. 49, 51). [93r] 19 ‘fecan’ (hand 5). [95v] 20 ‘2 3 4 5 6 7’ (hand ?9). [98r] 21 ‘amen dico vobis amen’ (hand ?2). 22 ‘for the (?)name of Duncane Steuart’ with pen-trials (hand 8). 23 ‘Ailian Stiuar / Ailian mac Dhonnchadh oig rom sriobh so a leabar Semuis mc nollaimh’ (hand 7, see Bannerman, op. cit. 49, 51). 24 ‘Is anroghach misi an dhiu aig fuacht 7 aig ocris 7 ni dom deoin, 7 fost ni leginn a less. E M Bh 1677’ (or 1671; hand 9, discussed Bannerman, op. cit. 36, 38).

The manuscript was thus in the hands of James Beaton, Dervaig (fl. 1613–21) at a time when, like his kinsman Malcolm in 1593–96, he was attending the household of Mac Iain Stiùbhairt, Stewart of Appin. Note 2 shows him prescribing an infusion of betony for bean mheic Eoin, presumably (judging from the patronymic) the wife of Stewart of Appin, of the latter’s neighbour and feudal vassal MacIan of Glencoe, or of MacIan of Ardnamurchan. Her forename suggests that she was an Irishwoman, perhaps (if we may read Ní Néill in preference to inghean Néill) a daughter of Ó Néill himself; it may be noted that Stewarts and O Neills were connected through Katherine, daughter of MacLean of Duart, who had married John Stewart of Appin by 1576 following a five-year liaison with Seán Ó Néill, lord of Tyrone (John Bannerman and Ronald Black, ‘A Sixteenth-Century Gaelic Letter’, SGS 13 (1978) 56–65: 60–61). Note 16 appears to be James’s record of visits to Appin House during the months from August to January. Siunna may safely be taken to be the old name for the house; it lies in the district of Lettershuna, Leitir Shiùna, facing the cultivated Island Shuna, Eilean Shiùna, in Loch Linnhe (John J. H. Stewart and Duncan Stewart, The Stewarts of Appin (Edinburgh, 1880) 100, 118, 130, 169). Notes 22 and 23 indicate the presence of an Alan Stewart, possibly the Alan who was younger son of Donnchadh Óg the seventh chief and brother of Donnchadh Mór the eighth chief (Stewart and Stewart, op. cit. 112–16; Bannerman, op. cit. 51).

The manuscript had passed to the Rev. John Beaton by 1677 (notes 8, 24). He died in 1714, and at some stage it appears to have been obtained by Captain Robert Seton (d. 1732), see introduction to Adv. ms 18.2.11 supra. In 1736 it was sold by Robert Freebairn, bookseller, Edinburgh, to the Advocates’ Library with Adv. mss 18.2.7, 18.2.11 (q.v.) and 72.1.4. Like Adv. ms 72.1.2, it was bound about a century later in calf, with both the library stamp and ‘MSS Literis Hibernicis’ gilt on the spine. The outsides of the first and last leaves were pasted to the covers, and whether or not they bore text cannot at present (1993) be determined. Each diploma was numbered for the binder in the same way as Adv. ms 72.1.2, i.e. on the verso of the leading folio, top right. There are ten gatherings: ff. i–9, 10–19, 20–29, 30–39, 40–52, 53–60, 61–66, 67–76, 77–82, 83–98. Ff. 42–44 are without conjuncts. As with Adv. ms 72.1.2, some mistakes were made: in particular, the bifolium ff. 34–35, which is of inferior parchment with hair still adhering in places, is bound in the centre of a gathering to which it belongs neither calligraphically nor textually. Ff. 13, 17, 26, 28 and 98 are made up of more than one piece of vellum, stitched with thongs. There is some severe staining but little or no loss of text. The spine being in disrepair, the manuscript is currently (1993) in several pieces. Foliation modern. Previously catalogued: Mackinnon 17–22, Mackechnie 129–34.


i (r). Stuck to cover.

i (v)1. (Hands 1–3.) MATERIA MEDICA. Beg. 1r1 Aron barba iarus pes vitulii .i. tri hanmanna in gheidhir. Most of the sections (which are arranged alphabetically by initial letter only) are preceded by an index; that for A occupies f. i(v), headed ‘Titul ann so doreir Platiarius’. The text is complete and unbroken, but having been written in separate sections and indifferently bound, it is disarranged. The correct order is as follows: ff. i–33v (aronconium), 36r–39v (coniumdiptanus), 53r–66v (diptanusipofila), 34r–35v ( laclinga b(o)vina), 40r–52r (lactuca(q)uercus), 67r–79r (rafonosziucra). There are altogether 287 articles, and the chief authority cited is Platearius. Ends 79r6 ‘gohuilidhi sa lictubaire so’ followed by Giolla Coluim’s colophon attributing the translation to Tadhg Ó Cuinn, who dictated it to Giolla Pádraig Ó Callanáin: ‘Gurab amlaidh sin fhágbhamuid crich inmholta cumair tarbhach aran leabarsa noch dothairr ngedh ahAinntitairibh 7ahEisimlairibh Catrach Salernitani 7 doreir sduider comaontaigh do dhocturibh Shleibhi Pisalain 7adubradar namaighistrecha sin gach ni tinnscainter anainm Dé gurab dingmala acrichnugud anainm Dé. Gurab amlaidh sin docrichnuighedh anleabar so o Tadhg hUa Cuinn .i. Baisiler abhFisigeacht amí Octimber asollamain Lucáis Suibhisceil 7is íad dobuimir bliadhan óghein Crísta conuigi sin .i. mílebliadhan 7 .iiii. céd bliadhan 7 .v. bliadhna d ég ní ismó 7gach neach léghfas an leabarsa tabradh bennacht ar anmain Taidhg ÍChuinn 7Ghilla Padraic hÍChallannáin. neach doghabh hé anGaidheilcc. F.i.n.i.t. Amen. Misi Gilla Coluim.’ For other versions of text and colophon see e.g. Adv. ms 72.2.10, p. 303; EUL ms Mackinnon 3; NLI ms G 11, p. 1; Rylands ms Ir. 35, f. 1r. The only article unique to the present text appears to be that onfeibrid fucca. It is followed at 60v by a space, signifying the end of a gathering, in which hand 7 notes a treatment for urinary disorders beg. Labhrum anois do leigis agallar fhual. The text as a whole is glossed and annotated in English, Latin, Greek and Gaelic by hand 9.

79 r17. (Hand 3.) TREATMENTS, including charms, for various conditions: colic, wounds, burns, felon, insanity, loss of speech, lack of sleep, and after letting a vein; charm for safe childbirth; epilepsy, erysipelas, sterility; to ensure the birth of a male child; to abort a dead foetus; menstruation; to stem the flow of blood from a vein; charm against all evil, etc. Beg. Artregaid .i. glas duilleog oghruighi docoimilt ar uisgi. Ends 80v10: ‘Ar rith fuail .i. luaith chongn fuar do chumasc arcoirm 7aol 7icaid acédóir. F.i.n.i.t.’ Hand 9 adds ‘te???:’.

80 v11. (Hand 7 begins.) Note 16 supra.

80 v14. Charm against menstruation copied from lines 8–9.

80 v15. Cure for toothache. Beg. Gabh pipar 7 pronn e. Headed ‘Contra dedadh’.

80 v18. Cure for jaundice. Beg. Deoch is ferr fa neimh ar uichachar.

80 v21. (Hand 9 begins.) Cure beg. Confectio testiculorum. See 81v1.

80 v22. Cure for stomach flux. Beg. Ventris fluxis supera bundantem. Cf. 81v2.

80 v26. Cure for flatulence. Beg. Contra ventocitatum. Cf. 81v5. 81r blank.

81 v1. As 80v21. Headed ‘ar bod’. Beside this is ‘Jesus’.

81 v2. As 80v22.

81 v5. Cure for flatulence as at 80v26. 82 blank. 83r blank save for note 18. 83v blank.

84 r. (Hand 3 resumes.) CALENDAR. Printed (exclusive of astronomical detail) in Alexander P. Forbes, Kalendars of Scottish Saints (Edinburgh, 1872) 81–92, with notes at pp. xxix-xxx. 96r blank.

96 v. Tabular concordance of astronomical and astrological information, cf. Adv. ms 72.1.33, f. 8r. 97v blank. 98r blank save for notes 21–24. 98v stuck to cover.

© Ronald Black, 2011