Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland

© Ronald Black, 2011

Adv. MS 72.1.8


Mackinnon, pp.112, 195; Mackechnie, p.145.

14–15th cent. Vellum. 37 ff. Folio. 32 x 22 cms. (ff.1–7, 9–27); 31 x 13.5 cms. (f.8); 29 x 21 cms. (ff.16–17); 33 x 21–2cms. (ff.28–37). Basically two separate manuscripts.

The first, which ends at f.27, may have once formed part of the manuscript that constitutes YBL cols.573–958 (Ériu 25, p.170, n.17). Written in two columns.


1. Text, ff.1r-5v.b40, 9r-22v. Gilla Ísa Mac Fir Bhisigh, poet and historian to Ó Dubhda Tír Fhiachrach (bar. Tireragh, co. Sligo), c.1400. See Ó Concheanainn, “Gilla Ísa Mac Fir Bhisigh and a Scribe of his School”, Ériu 25 (1974), p.157, where his hand is illustrated in photographs from YBL and Adv.MS.72.1.8, f.16v (plates 1, 2).

2. Text, ff.5v.b40–6r.a27. Similar in style to text-hand(s) of Adv.MS.72.2.3.

3. Text, ff.6r.a28–8v, 23r-27v. (?) Tomás Cam Mac Fir Bhisigh, son of Gilla Ísa (hand 1). See art. cit., with photographs showing his hand from YBL, Lec., NLI MS. G 4, RIA MS. D i 1 and Adv.MS.72.1.8, ff.23v.b, 25r.b (plates 3–7). Some careful decoration; note particularly a cross marking a double death at f.26r, against which he writes the names of the deceased.

4. Text, ff.28r-37v. A large, bold hand with distinctively back-tilted descenders on “r”. He begins sections with impressive zoomorphic initials. Capitals coloured in silver which has oxidised and soaked through the vellum; some red also. Reproduced from f.29r (upper half), SS 21, plate 1.

5. Text, f.29r.a29–42; notes, ff.7r, 14a.r, 16v, 18v, 23r, 24v(?), 25r, 29r, 35v; textual emendation, 30r.b27 (?). More than one style. Fearghus (7r, 25r) Ó Fearghail (18v) ó Albuin (29r.a42). He refers twice to Mac Cailín, his chief and patron (25r, 29r.a29). Despite its distinctive small-looped “g”, his hand seems to be shared by Rudhraidhe, his father or grandfather (Adv.MS.72.1.1, hand 10; Adv.MS.72.1.5, hand 5) and by Conaire mac Muiris Uí Mhaol-Chonaire (Adv.MS.72.1.15, hand 6).

6. Note, f.2r.

7. Notes, ff.2r, 3r.

8. Notes, ff.3r, 8r, 18r.

9. Note, f. 7r.

10. Notes, f.8v. A good formal hand.

11. Notes, ff.8v, 9r. Remarkably small hand, only 1 mm. high.

12. Note, f.10r.

13. Note, f.15r.

14. Notes, ff.16r, 23v.

15. Notes, ff.30r, 35v.

16. Notes, ff.32r, 33r. Dolbh? (An Ó Duibhgeannáin name.)

The manuscript was probably brought to Scotland around 1600 by Fearghus Ó Fearghail. His is the only hand which appears in both sections, and it is likely that he was responsible for bringing them together. Not inscribed by Major MacLachlan, but it appears by a process of elimination to be represented, very inaccurately, by no.13 in Mackintosh’s catalogue: “Folio. Relates to the History of Scotland & Ireland at an early period, but so much soiled that it cannot be easily read to ascertain its contents – vellum” (Adv.MS.73.2.12, f.76). Kilbride no.4 by Hugh Kerr’s enumeration; his name or initials appear on ff.1, 2, 8 and 12. He in fact marked f.8 as no.27, it having come adrift from the manuscript; it was recognised and replaced by Mackinnon in 1892 (F.R.192, f.33).

There are four gatherings. The first, ff.1–12, originally contained seven bifolia. Of these, only three (ff.2/11, 3/9, 4/5) remain complete and intact. Ff.1/12 are separate, except for a torn-off corner of f.1 still attached to f.12. The conjuncts of ff.6, 7 and 10 are excised, without loss of text; as one of the serrated stubs bears writing it has been marked 3a. F.8 is a slip of thin parchment added by hand 3 on running out of the space required to finish his portion of the text. Ff.2–7, 9–11 are still bound together by a thong.

The remaining gatherings are attached to each other by their thong bindings and contain no separate leaves. The second, ff.13–22, has four complete bifolia (ff.13/22, 14/20, 15/18, 16/17). The conjuncts of ff.19 and 21 are excised, without loss of text; as that of f.19 bears writing it has been marked 14a. The third, ff.23–7, consists of a single leaf (f.23) and two bifolia. The fourth, ff.28–37, is a complete gathering of five bifolia. Judging by a lacuna in the text, 2 ff. appear to be missing between the second and third gatherings.

The overall condition of the manuscript is not so poor as its dog-eared, torn, crushed and ill-bound appearance at first suggests. Many pages are relatively unstained, and almost the only textual losses are those caused by rubbing on outer leaves. (Ff.1r and 28v are almost totally illegible, ff.1v, 28rand 37v partially so. The outer bottom corners of ff.2–7 and 9–12 have suffered from rodents, with a little loss of text. The condition of f.28 is due to the fact that until recently (1979) it was folded back to form the last leaf of the manuscript. Mackechnie’s foliation for ff.28–37, which was in any case never entered on the manuscript itself, has had to be changed accordingly, but is given below in brackets for reference. Mackinnon’s is also different, as he did not include the present f.8. For his own edition of Togail na Tebe Calder used a pagination, entering it in pencil on the manuscript. It was followed by Ó Concheanainn, art. cit. It has now been removed to avoid confusion with the present foliation, but is given below in brackets for reference up to the extent of his edition, f.27v(54). For unknown reasons, ff.1 and 23r are numbered in ink 53–4 and 21 respectively.


Many of these are cited, with translations, in Calder, op. cit., pp.xv-xvii; cf. also Plummer, “On the Colophons and Marginalia of Irish Scribes”, Proc. Brit. Acad. 12, p.30. No. of hand given in brackets following entries.


1r(1) “amen dico vobis” (?).

2r(3) “f….fl….a re fear…..” (6). “Bennacht uaimse caim a cenn” (7).

3r(5) Alphabet; “7, et, est, amen” (8). “Is bal . dober Dia for mac nghar . isbhal dober snidim bal . for ma c isgar nad ingar” (7).

3a.r “an” (?).

6v(12) Illegible (5?).

7r(13) “Misi Fer. Misi Fergus do scr” (5, U.V.). Misi fein gidh be me, 3 lines (9).

8r(15) “Ihc” (8).

8v(16) In the middle of the blank at the foot of this page is “Ní heasbaid an bánsa a ndeiread na duilleoigi acht a easbaid arna comlanachad” (3): “This blank at the end of the page is no omission, for its omission has been supplied” (i.e. by hand 1, f.9r). Hand 11 adds “Ni deiread dom thonus fein mur frith in meagh eorna sin anois”. In the remaining spaces are the following. "Ni hairccet fint fochmen forruph forut ruphai sul taisecc aduth di air antar agaid can airccit acht cu nguaire gluntar” (10: cf. Archiv für Celtische Lexikographie 2, p.340). A fhir oir sin, a fir oir, 3 qq. (10). “Comortus uaimsi risin litir sin thuas ar chaile. Ailim Dia comurle maith dam a ceannt ar 7 a n-alltar. Sin a Diarmuid gles mo bu.... areime ar (?)mac ……” (11).

9r(17) “A mhic Muire, a Finnguala bec, is garb do grabthog” (11).

10r(19) “fechain gles ann so” (12).

14a.r “A Dhé 7 a Muire, is mór an buile phleite sin do bhí ar Líogurus a caoinedh a thsentacharáin mhíththapaidh ag tabhairt ar Ghrégaibh bheith ag milledh a n-oir 7 a n-innmusa” (5).

15r(29) Uch mo nuar on uch mo nuar, 1 q.; illegible note (13).

16r(31) “Is mor in magadh do Gregaibh ar millset da maithes 7 da maoinaibh ar son leiniph big” (14).

16v(32) “Is maith an beim ceast sin do bhuail Ailcidamus ar Chapaneobhus mór mac Tairsis gan bhuidheachus do fen” (5).

18r(35) “Ihc” (8).

18v(36) “Ihc Maria, a Mhuri foir orum. Misi Fergus Ó Ferghuil” (5).

22r(43) “Isa” (?).

23r(45) “Is mitabaidh an foraire sin do rinnedar na Tíabhannaidh arna Greagaibh 7 gan mosgladh dhóibh pfein as chcolladh no gur mar….” (5).

23v(46) “sin”; “misi mé fein” (14).

24v(48) “Comortus ann so re fer na leitrecha so híos” (5?).

25r(49) “Misi Fergus 7 ata me córa fliuch do thscoth a fec….. mo triath bunuidh .i. Mac Cailin……fein……a dannta 7 an b… b……” (5, U.V.).

27v(54) “fechain glesa (?).

29(28)r “Fechain glesa pinn occos duibh” (5). “I nomine patris 7 flii 7 spiritus sancti amen” (written twice, probably in at least one case by hand 5. The same occurs in a similar hand in BL MS. Add. 19,995, ff.4v, 5r).

30(29)r Two largely illegible notes (15).

32(31)r “Misi do l” (16).

33(32)r “Misi” (16).

34(33)v “…fer….an domain…” (4?).

35(34)v “Comortus ann so risin bfear do sgribh an leabharsa 7 ni holc sgriopthar e” (5). Illegible note (15).


1r(1)a1 TOGAIL TEBE. Beg. Araili ri uasal oruindneach onorach rogab forlamus (7) ferandas arin ardchathraig n-alaind n-aibind, arin Teib. Lacuna due to loss of leaves between ff.22–3. Deaths marked by crosses. Ends “Conad ní da ngnimaib 7 da scelaib 7 da n-imteachtaib conuigi sin. Sella. Sella. Sella. Finit.” Ed. Mackinnon to 20v(40)a35, Celt. Rev. 7–10 (1911–16); ed. Calder, Togail na Tebe: the Thebaid of Statius, Cambridge, 1922.

28(37)r.a1 CAITHRÉIM CHELLACHÁIN CHAISIL. Beg. Raigh oirrdhirc airdmeanmnach rogabasdair flaithius 7 forlamhus for da coicead Muman. 28r partly illegible, 28v almost totally so. Breaks off incomplete 29r.a28 “budh libh fein bhur leasa 7 bar laithreacha. Biaidh Luim” = Bugge, Caithreim Cellachain Caisil (Christiania, 1905), p.5, 1. 4. Cf. Ériu 25, p.1.

29(28)r.a29 Hand 5 (black ink). “Suirghech me re Mac Cailin. can re rí deigtshíl Duibhne”.

29(28)r.a30 Hand 5 (brown ink). On the attributes of the provincial kings, their kingship and their people. Beg. Ri Caisil .i. a icht amuil chraibtech, a mhuinnter amuil bheocha, a righi amhuil chuiluibh. Ed. (from Lec.) Ó Raithbheartaigh, Genealogical Tracts 1, p.189. Ends “Finid. Misi Ferghus o Albuin”.

29(28)r.b1 TOGAIL TROÍ, 2nd recension. Prologue beg. Baei tra forbairt ar claind Adhaimh gu dilind = Adv.MS.72.1.15, p.1a1. Ends in dry point “Fini amen”; hand ?5 adds ?”amhona”. Prologue repeated 29(28)v.a1. First section beg. 29(28)v.a23 Roghabh ri uasal oirdinti righe in domhain .i. Sadurn mac Palloir = Adv.MS.72.1.15, p.1a29. Ends “Brollach tindsgeadail so anuas, loingeas Iason so sis 7 argain na Traeeadh”. Next section beg. 30(29)r.a10 Dogeinir dano righ amhra oireaghdha don ceineol rigda sin = Adv.MS.72.1.15, p.2a38 = BB 412a28. Ends “conad i sin aidhig Iason 7 Eachta 7 Media 7 sgel in croicind orda conuigi sin. Imdeacta Earcail ann seo sis”. Next section beg. Ba cuimhneach tra la Hearcoil = Adv.MS.72.1.15, p.7b37. Ends “Finit amen. Finit.” Next section beg. 35(34)v.a16 Sosar cloinde Laimidhoin .i. Priaimh = Adv.MS.72.1.15, p.14b1. Ends incomplete 37(36)v.b z (due to missing folios) “na bid do meanma fortsu etir, ar se” = Adv.MS.72.1.15, p.19a x = BB 425a6. See Adv.MS.72.1.15, p.1a1.

© Ronald Black, 2011