Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland

© Ronald Black, 2011

Adv. MS 72.1.31

(Gaelic MS.XXXI). COLUM-CILLE POEMS; TALE; CONTRACT.

Mackinnon, p.90; Mackechnie, p.172.


?15–17th cent. Vellum and paper. 8 ff. Three fragments: the detritus of the Kilbride collection, but two of them (ff.1–5, Colum-cille poems, and f.8, a MacDougall contract) are of very great independent value. Formerly also part of this manuscript are Adv.MS.72.1.8, f.7 (Hugh Kerr’s no.27, replaced by Mackinnon 14 July 1892) and Adv.MS.72.1.23, ff.3–4(?) (unnumbered, replaced by Mackinnon 8 December 1908). Foliation modern; corresponds to Mackechnie’s section A-D as follows. A = f.1; B = ff. 2–5; C = ff.6–7; D = f.8. Where Mackechnie’s foliation differs from the present one, i.e. in B-C, it is added below in brackets for reference. It was not entered on the manuscript.

Ff.1–5 (Mackechnie’s “A”, “B”)

?15th cent. Vellum. Oblong quarto, 12.5 x 18 – 27 cms. These fragments contain an orderly sequence of poems illustrating the life of Colum-cille. They are of roughly uniform height (except f.4, which is vestigial) but vary considerably in length. They have been much reduced in places by the action of rodents, notably f.3, which has lost its outer edge completely and is now only 13 cms. long. Ff.2–5, the remains of a gathering, are still bound by a thong. The conjuncts of ff.2 and 4 are excised without apparent loss of text. Most of f.4 has been cut away, leaving a triangular remnant 8 x 2.5 cms. max. F.1, now separate, is the least perished leaf, effects of damp and rubbing excepted; it is also by far the largest. Its conjunct is excised, but there are traces of ruled text on the stub. Written across the page. The hand is that which inscribes the Colum-cille poem Aingeal Dé dom dhín on the fly leaf of BL MS. Eg. 2899 (14th – cent. psalter, 15th – cent. calendar). From an inscription on the verso of the flyleaf, Eg. 2899 appears to have been the property of Colin Campbell, Laird of Glenorchy 1513–23. It is a clear, formal hand with some unusual calligraphic and orthographic features, notably the following: tall “t” crossed below the top, like the modern printed letter; “T” consisting of three straight strokes, rather like “E” without centre-stroke; elongated “Y” (for ‘Iona’, genitive Ya); “k” (in Colum-kille ). The tall “t” in particular seems to suggest a toying with renaissance forms. Elongated “y” was used (dymond) over a century later in another poem formally inscribed for a Campbell of Glenorchy, apparently by Neil MacEwen, now SRO RH.13/40 (MacNicol’s Remarks, 1779 ed., pp.245–6, 269–70; facsimile, Nat. MSS. Scot. 3, no.96). It may perhaps be conjectured that the present hand is also that of a MacEwen. Another inscribes the alphabet and “et est autem” at the foot of f.1r. Kilbride no.20 by Major MacLachlan’s enumeration (“20th (?)Poetry”, f.3r). F.1 is Hugh Kerr’s no.28, ff.2–5 his no.29; his name or initials appear on every leaf except f.4.

f.

1 r1 Inmain corp at……. 5 qq. Imperfect.

1 r5 Octor alaind Aengusa. 4 qq.

1 r9 Odhran mac Fialcholba find. 4 qq.

1 r13 Caradrad Colum-cille. 4 qq.

1 v1 Colum-cille. A Choluim-cille roclos, 5 qq.

1 v6 Idem. (A dh)une na creid don taegal, 8 qq. (Cf. dúnadh.)

1 v18 Idem. (Ath)ghabail do….na….ric . arna salmaibh lith gan loct, 4 qq. (Cf. dúnadh.)

2 (1)r1 Seacht sailm s[unn re haithrighe], 7 qq. Imperfect, but cf. ZCP 13, p.10, where qq.1–6 are printed from other sources.

2 (1)r10 Urbairt na termeisg go brat, 6 qq.

2 (1)v1 (Mairg) do-ni peta da colaind, 5 qq. Imperfect, but cf. dúnadh; printed ZCP 12, p.395, from other sources.

2 (1)v8 (A Bhae)thin, na ceil re cach, 9 qq.

3 (2)r1 Sgela Colaim comdhalaidh, 14½ qq. Life of Colum-cille. Imperfect and incomplete, f.3 being partly perished and f.4 vestigial. A fresh ink is used from f.4v, suggesting change of poem.

4 (3)v Cath……… (thus dúnadh). On battle of Cúl Dremhne. Acephalous and imperfect; substantial portion beg. 5r1 Enbale rugud an breith, 29 qq.

Ff.6–7 (Mackechnie’s “C”)

16th cent. Vellum. Quarto, 22–26.5 x 20 cms. A bifolium, the innermost one of a gathering: irregularly shaped, now tattered and torn. There are traces of thread binding, and also threads passed through the text close to the outer edges, suggesting that it served latterly as a cover for some other manuscript. Written in double columns in bluish ink by hand 5 of Adv.MS.72.1.40, the ?Scottish scribe of a life of Colum-cille. Cf. also hand 31 of Adv.MS.72.1.2. Marginalia: at f.6v the text-hand writes “mhael (?)nis niairba éduib isim rutlau” and others write “an fogn(adh) an gles” and “amen”. There is an illegible note at f.7v, top. Kilbride no. 30 by Hugh Kerr’s enumeration (7v). Much text lost through damp, rubbing and the above-mentioned vicissitudes, especially at f. 7v.

6 (1)r.a1 Part of CAITHRÉIM CONGHAIL CLÁIRINGHNIGH. Beg. acephalous Is maith linn catair Muirne d’faicsin amlaid sud, ar se. Ends incomplete “rolatha Uladh 7 Erenn ina fochair”. Cf. ed. MacSweeney, ITS 5, pp.144–168 z.

F.8 (Mackechnie’s “D”)

17th cent. A roughly diamond-shaped fragment of paper, 16 x 14 cms. approx. No watermark visible. Text in top portion of one side only. Hand: Eoghan Mac Pháill, cf. Adv.MS.72.1.34. The paper is torn off, mouse-eaten or otherwise perished on all four sides. It has been folded or crushed in places and bears stains of various kinds, including the encroachment of damp at the top, where it has become extremely fragile and tattered. The result is that the text is defective at the beginning and end of every line, and even what remains of the first 4 lines is largely illegible. Kilbride no.31 by Hugh Kerr’s enumeration (8r).

8 r Contract, in Gaelic, between Duncan MacDougall (? i.e. chief of the MacDougalls, ?1590–1616) and his óglach or servitor. Acephalous, imperfect. Ends 1. 11 “Iad so an fiaghnuise Eogan mhic Eoin vich Eogain…”; below is added “Dunc……”

8 v Blank save for pen-marks.

© Ronald Black, 2011