Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland

© Ronald Black, 2015

Adv. MS 72.2.9


Mackinnon 173-4. Mackechnie 226. G. O’Rahilly, Stowe version of Táin Bó Cuailnge, pp.xlix-liii.

17th cent. Paper. 55 ff. 18 x 14 cms. “Pot” watermark. Written by Fear Feasa Ó Duibhgeannáin, whose subscription, “Trocuire co bfagbha an tí do scriobh sin .i. Fer Fesa O Duibgennain / amen”, appears, with the name smudged, at f.10r. The hand is the same as that of RIA 24.N.3, written by Fear Feasa Ó Duibhgeannáin in Co. Leitrim in 1666, and substantially the same as that of TCD 1394 (H.5.22), written by the same scribe in Co. Wexford in 1646. Scribal marginalia are as follows: 11v “Fuicearlán, mac fice faice, ficoice fé faice faoi” (cf. RIA 629, 3; Adv.MS.72.1.40, p. 11); 22v “och uch ach, a Olivia is aoibhinn duit”; 24r “oc ac och A Olivi is aoibhinn duit”; 24v “oils7 / och ach oc a Olivia” (“Olivia” smudged); 29r “och och A Olivia as aoibhinn duit” (“A Olivia” smudged); 33r “Misi Mag— Fulurán do scriobh so.” (smudged). At f.14v.z the scribe writes “Sémus mac Endraigh scripsit” (slightly smudged), referring presumably to his exemplar. There is nothing to connect this Sémus with the writer of the words “Jacobus Cahan scripsit”, which appear in a late 17th-early 18th cent. Roman hand under the ornamental “FINIS” at f.13v. Ó Duibhgeannáin may have written these also; on the other hand minor embellishments in the scribal ink and style, following these words and appearing in addition at f.19r, seem to form the letters “J.C”. Cahan may thus have been responsible for smudging the marginalia as detailed above as part of a feeble attempt to claim authorship of the MS. for himself.

The MS. passed to the Kintyre scribe Eoghan Mac Gilleoin, who copied the 3 tales from it into TCD 1362 (H.4.21) in 1691-2, and TBC and “Cath Rois na Riogh” into NLS MS.14873 immediately after. He wrote his name at f.14r, “o namhuid” at f.26v, and “comarle duit” and “iaromh iaromh” at f.55. A further hand jotted down the poem on MacDonald of Largie in Kintyre at f.54v, and additions of sums of money at ff.1r and 55. “John” and a 3-digit number (?) are scrawled on f.42r. The MS. probably passed to the roving harper William MacMurchy (cf. Adv.MS.72.2.12), and thence into the collection of Mrs Margaret Fraser of Culbokie, dau. of John MacDonald of Ardnabie. (For another example of a northern manuscript deriving from MacMurchy cf. Adv.MS.73.1.14, no.2). A slip of paper in NLS (Adv.MS.73.2.27, no.51) bears the note in Donald Mackintosh’s hand: “One of the MS.S. which belonged to the late Mrs Fraser of Kilbocky was put into my hands by Mr Grant of Corimony advocate some years ago very little can be made of it in its present mangled state”. Mackintosh’s printed account of the MS., dated 1806, is: “James Grant, Esq. of Corymony, left a paper MS. with Mr. Mackintosh some years ago, in the old character. It belonged to his mother, an excellent Gaelic scholar, and is the history of the wars of Cuchullin, in prose and verse. It is much worn at the ends and edges, and quite loose”. (Gaelic Ossian, III, p. 573). Mackintosh may have gradually confused the learned Mrs. Fraser with Mrs. Grant, who was an Ogilvie—in his MS. version of the latter account (Ingl. A.iv.2, p.13), he had stated that Corriemony’s mother “could read the old character”, without asserting that the MS. had belonged to her. At all events the MS. passed to the HSS on Mackintosh’s death in 1808. In the following year it is described by John Campbell, Mackintosh’s successor as Keeper of the Society’s MSS., as “A parcel of loose leaves written in the Hibernio Celtic character; wrapped in an old newspaper belonging to Mr Grant of Corimony”. (Adv.MS.73.2.14, no.88). In 1814 it was sent for inspection to Ewen MacLachlan (cf. “ñ nach” in his hand at f.47r), and it is listed in his receipt as “Corriemony’s MS – 55 leaves” (Ingl. A.iv.19). This is the reference which places beyond doubt the identification of the present MS. as Corriemony’s.

Condition: badly perished at edges with resultant loss of text. Mac Gilleoin’s copies show that this loss took place after 1691-2. Traces of scribal foliation may be distinguished at ff.38 (“35”), 39 (“[37]”), 42 (“67”), 43-8 (“100-10[5]”), 51 (“10[8]”). These allow us to deduce that the MS. originally began with TBC, which ran to 111 ff. and was followed, as in Mac Gilleoin’s copies, by “Cath Rois na Ríogh”. Now laminated with silk, in layers, unbound. Original 8-leaf gatherings maintained as far as extant. Artificial gatherings have been created from original ff. [61], [67] and 100-10[5] (now ff.41-48) and original ff. [146]-[150], [35], [37] and [44] (now ff.33-40) by grafting of certain leaves. Conjunct of f.50 is missing; it followed the Largie poem, which may thus have been longer. In brief: of the original MS., which probably contained 21 gatherings, there remain 4 complete gatherings and a total of 23 leaves from 7 other gatherings, all now formed into a MS. of 7 gatherings wanting one leaf. Modern pencilled foliation.



1r CATH ROS NA RIOGH FOR BOINN, short recension. Beg. Baoí Conchubar mac Fachtna Fhathach airdri[gh] Uladh i merten meanman 7 mhórchumhadh frie re chen.

14r OIDHEADH CHON CULAINN. Beg. Feacd n-oen dia ttangatar [Ulaidh] co hEamhain Macha. Ends (incomplete) tug a lamh for a croide & do gab aga = ed. Van Hamel, Compert Con Culainn and other stories, p.111.25.

38r TÁIN BÓ CUAILNGE, Stowe version. Fragmentary.
F.38 = MS.14873, ff.2v22-3r23 = ed. O’Rahilly ll. 1507-1547.
F.39 = MS.14873, ff.3v24-4r24 = O’Rahilly 1586-1629.
F.40 = MS.14873, ff.7r15-7v11 = O’Rahilly 1876-1915.
F.41 = MS.14873, ff.14v18-15r12 = O’Rahilly 2598-2634.
F.41v.z, “och och a mhacoemh mna”.
F.42 = MS.14873, ff.17v1-18r1 = O'Rahilly 2896-2950.
Ff.43-54 = MS.14873, ff.42r1-52r = O’Rahilly 4551-end.

54v It doeth surpass my mus and pen, 4 stt. (incomplete). “A ffew Lines upon The Death of the most accomplist Gentleman Archibald McDonald Laird of Leargie” († c.1689).

55 Calculations and other scribbles.

© Ronald Black, 2015