Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland

© Ronald Black, 2011

Adv. MS 72.1.48


Mackinnon, pp.98 f., 124, 158, 207; Mackechnie 203–5.

17th cent. Paper. 15 x 9 cms. Ff.1–34. This manuscript bears all the marks of a MacMhuirich provenance. The scribe who wrote the greater part of it is unknown, but his Gaelic hand is precise and well formed. Two poems (ff.9v, 10v) are in the hand of Niall MacMhuirich (c.1639–1726), of whom the chief scribe was evidently a contemporary. A third hand, unknown, is responsible for the text at f.32, which is farther distinguished from foregoing folios by its common “pot” watermark – the rest having what appears to be a crowned double-headed eagle displayed.

The latest dateable poem here was composed before 1678 (ff.9v, 16r); the MS. was written after 1660. Imitations of the signature of Cathal MacMhuirich (fl. 1618–50) at ff.7v and 15v suggest that some of the material was copied from the writing of that poet. On the other hand, at ff.1r, 3v, 12v, 15v, 20r and 27r words from the text are repeated in available spaces by intrusive hands, indicating that still farther copies were made. On f.1r the hand in question is Niall MacMhuirich’s. An 18th-century hand has written ‘Donald Johnestone with my [hand] / (?)Argile’ on f.26v, has scrawled illegibly on f.27r and has repeated ‘Donald Johnestone’ on f.27v. The manuscript ultimately came into the possession of the Highland Society of London, and was no.12 of the collection deposited by its secretary, John Mackenzie, in the Advocates’ Library on 5th January 1803. The following marginalia relate to this. F.1r: ‘London 5th January 1803 / John Mackenzie’; ‘12 / No 12.’ (pencil); the initials ‘J[ohn] C[ampbell]’, ‘D[onald] M[ackintosh]’, ‘D[onald] S[mith]’, ‘L[ewis] G[ordon]’ (i.e. committee members of the Highland Society of Scotland). F.30v: ‘London 5th January 1803 / John Mackenzie’; ‘13 JM cH’; ‘No 12 Copied in a book [by] the / Rd D[onald] M[ackintosh]’ (i.e. Keeper of Records to the Highland Society of Scotland).

The condition of the manuscript is fair, save for f.34 which is fragmentary. At one time numbers were allotted to the items. As they stand today, these start at 6 (f.4v) and continue to 17 (f.17r). Thereafter only 21 reappears (f.23r). There is now a pencilled foliation. At the beginning of the present century the manuscript was mounted and rebound, and its former deerskin binding inserted after the text.


1r Ni maoin gan bheith umhal do Chríosd, 5 qq. (1st line illegible but repeated as the saighin.) §5 (beg. Sin agad laoidh na cuig r[ann]) also appears elsewhere as the beginning of other didactic poems.

1v4 Soridh soir go hAlbain uaim, 9 qq.

2v6 A ri an bheatha bi gum leighis, 3 qq.

3r1 Sé hoidhche dhamhsa san dun, 5 qq. ‘Laoidh do rinne Niall Mor Mac Muiriche san dun do Ruaidhri Mor Mac Leoid’ (marg.).

3v1 [Ní hé] mo ghradh amhain acht Dia na ndul , 1 q.

3v5 Ge hiomdha mart 7 molt , 1 q.

3v9 D’feruibh Ile nar thoill toighbhem , 1 q.

3v13 Fir Leoghuis na long dearg , 1 q.

4r1 Iocht maith mo-hhenar do ní, 5 qq.

4v1 Luaithe cu na cuidecht, 3 qq. DG 76

4v14 Cethrar tainig anoir, 5 qq.

5r15 Goll mear milenta, 22 qq.

6v1 Caoin thu fein, a dhuine abhocht, 8 qq.

7r14 Clann Raghnuill fa Eoin san n-oilen n-aoibhinsi, 8 lines. On Iain Múideartach, chief of Clanranald 1618–70. In a darker ink the scribe had subjoined, in imitation of Cathal MacMhuirich’s signature, ‘Cathal Mac Muiridhig cecinit

7v4 Gabh a mhic mo mhunadh, 8 qq.

8v1 Clann an iarrla o iomluibh Bhanbha, 40 lines. Comparable in metre and subject-matter to crosántacht beg. Cennus Ghaoidheal do chloinn Colla, Red Book of Clanranald 218.

9v1 Dia bheatha ar ar los, a leinbh, 11 qq. On birth of heir, c. 1660–5, to Domhnall, heir to Clanranald. Scribe: Niall MacMhuirich. Headed ‘Niall Mac Muirichig cecinit’ by chief scribe of MS.

10v8 T’aire riut, a Ghiolla Easbuig, 12 qq. Advice to a poet. Scribe: Niall MacMhuirich. ‘Niall MacMuirichigh c ecinit’ added (f. 11v marg.) by chief scribe of MS.

12r1 Ge go ndubhramar go bfuilid cas airidh eile. cf. Aodh MacAingil, Scathan Shacramuinte na hAithridhe, (recent ed.) p. 80.

13r1 Cionnas mhaires me am aonur, 28 qq. Elegy on Eoin s. of Brian MacMhuirich. Two differen approximations to Cathal MacMhuirich’s signature are subjoined, on (‘Cathelus Mac Muriche cct’) by the present scribe, the other (‘Cathellus McMurch’) by the chief scribe of the Black Book of Clanranald.

16r1 Fuarus cara ar sgath na sgoile, 13 qq (12 + 1). To Sir James MacDonald (chief of Sleat 1643–78). ‘Niall Mac Muirichigh cec init’

17r15 Mor an lensa air aicme Ile, 17 qq. On the passing of the tribes of Islay. ‘Giolla Colluim Mac Ilebhride mhic Phersoin Chille Comain do roin an laoidhsi’ (son of Parson of Kilchoman, Islay, 16th cent.).

19r11 Mairg do ní uaile as oige, 9 qq.

20r12 Cnoc an Air an cnocsa shiar, 21 qq.

22r16 Se la gus an de, 18 qq.

23r10 Mairg duine bhrathis e fein, 14 qq.

24v1 Bliaghuin so sholas a dath, 71¾ qq. (incomplete). ‘O Dubhagan cecinit’ Entitled by a late hand ‘A Roman Calender in verse’.

31r1 Namha an chird nach [caithf] idher, 8 qq. On the demise of poetic learning.

31v13 Mor an teas ar aire an tsluaigh, 1¾ qq. (incomplete). Religious.

32r1 A dhuine, cuimhnigh an bás, 9 qq. ‘Ag sin roinn do rinnis do dhuine do chonnairc me ar ti pecadh do dhenamh nach raibhe iomchubhaidh dho peacadh ar bioth do dhenamh’.

33r Teach Domhnaill an t-iosdagh ge[al], 2 lines. Hand unknown. Page largely blank, with some text erased.

33v Blank.

34 Two fragments of different folios now mounted together. Verse text discernible on both sides of each, in hand of chief scribe of present manuscript. Also on f. 34b v., crudely written in Gaelic script, are the letters ‘Aong’, with the end torn off. This continues on f. 1r as ‘gus Mc D’, in such a position as to suggest that, at the time the above was written, f. 34b may have been at the top right-hand corner of the front of the manuscript, with f. 34b v. on the outside and the text upside down. F. 34b r. shows traces of §17 of Cathal MacMhuirish’s poem Mo-chean do-chonnarc a réir, on Domhnall Grom Og of Sleat (d. 1643), for which see Éigse xi, p. 4.

© Ronald Black, 2011