Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in Trinity College Dublin


The Seanchus Mór.

Folios 1-89; cols 1-350.

A volume made up of several distinct books or tracts of different sizes. The Seanchus Mór, said to contain the body of Irish Laws as modified after the introduction of Christianity. See TCD MS 1316. See Petrie, Trans. R.I. A., vol. xviii. Memoir on Tara. He gives the prefatory matter, pp. 76-78. The penmanship is fine and many of the capitals are ornamented with red, green, and silver. In some of the initial letters grotesque figures of animals are introduced. There is a copious gloss. From a note at the bottom of p.1 we learn that the volume belonged to Duald Mac Firbis in 1666: Dubaltach mac Giolla Iosa Mhóir mhic an Dubhaltaigh mhic Sémuis Mhic Fhirbisigh Leacáin idtir Fhiachrach fear an leabhair si. Anno Xri 1666.

Scribes & marginalia
It is likely that no part of this MS was written earlier than the 16th century. Notes by different scribes abound, except towards the end of the volume, and are often difficult to read or interpret. Cols. 1-350 seems to be the work of two scribes: Seán Mac Aedagáin, who calls himself Seán rúad (marginal note, 161) or Seán Mac Domnaill (marginal note, 120); the other, also a Mac Aedagáin, signs as "an Cosnamach" at the foot of cols. 9 and 227, at the top of 285, etc: in a marginal note at 325 he calls himself "an Constantinus". Abbott (col. 311) identifies the two men, but see 272z : in Cosnamach qui scribsit do Shean, and 312: Sin duit a Seaain ruaid. Several other persons are mentioned, no doubt fellow scribes. Two notes are addressed to Seán dond (159z, 161 marginal note), Connla (marginal note, 300), Saerbrethach (marginal note 305-6).

TCD MS 1336 is almost entirely in Irish (see T.K. Abbott and E.J. Gwynn, 'Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College Dublin', (Dublin and London, 1921), 125-139, 355-358; R.O. Dougan, 'A Descriptive Guide to Twenty Irish Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College Dublin', second edition, (Dublin, 1958), no. 19) but does include in Latin the following, described in M.L. Colker, 'Trinity College Dublin Library: Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and Renaissance Latin Manuscripts', (Dublin, 1991):

5:198 (col. 681). Added in a 16th-century secretary hand on a leaf originally blank. Prayer (cf. Albinia de la Mare, 'Catalogue of the Collection of Medieval Manuscripts Bequeathed to the Bodleian Library Oxford by James P.R. Lyell', (Oxford, 1971), 373 nos. 93-95): Deus propicius esto michi peccatori et custos mei omnibus diebus uite mee, deus Abraham deus Ysaac et deus Iacob miserere mei ? intercedente gloriosa virgine Maria cum omni societate celesti sancte Michael sancte Gabriel sancte Raphael omnes sancti angeli et archangeli dei succurrite michi - salua me omnibus diebus uite mee. Amen. Per.

Phyiscal Description Quarto.
The general size of the manuscript averages 9" x 6", except columns 681-710, which are 9.5" x 7". The numbers usually refer to columns, but on occasion to pages. The total number of folios is 242.5, besides the smaller slips mentioned in this catalogue. The last page is numbered 874.

Custodial History
Part of the manuscript collection belonging to the Welsh antiquary Edward Lhuyd (1660-1709). The collection of 44 manuscripts came to Trinity College Library in October 1786 from the Library of Sir John Sebright. Several of the primary Irish legal texts are part of Lhuyd's collection.

Access Conditions
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Public Note
For TCD MS 1336 see M. McNamara, 'The Psalms in the Early Irish Church', (Sheffield, 2000), 359; 'Medioevo latino' 23 (2002) no. 3787.

Cols. 80, 81, foot: Digluim .i. delb induine do digluim .i. do tuired amail ata. Suairc delb do bui for eua .i. folt buide, bia duba, baill gela, etc. See Irische Texte, iii. 30.

Col. 127, a gloss written in Corc(o) Baiscinn.

Col. 161, A notice at the bottom of col. 161 informs us that this part of the volume was transcribed by John Mac Egan, of Ormond; and from other memoranda at the bottom of cols. 193, 194.,

Col. 223, At the top it appears that it was transcribed in Leinster, and belonged to Edmond O'Doran, who was hereditary Brehon of that province. In the mem. on 193, 194 the scribe excuses his bad writing by the badness of the ink and the coldness of the weather, which was Christmas time: Fuain don chaidirne sin aniu in ratharund andiaidh nollog mor 7 anichtar Laigen do tindscra 7 a Tuaim ard do forbad 7 is olc in litie 7 ní mé is cinntach acht olcus in duibh 7 fuaire na aimsire.

Col. 287, Their is a similar complaint, ach olcus in duibh 7 in meamruim. (There are marginal notes on col. 195z, a note written at Cellraide Ruagh; and on col. 224, A Leaphar Emainn í Deóráin an ran sin). This tract ends col. 225.

Col. 254, the relative duties of the chieftain and his subjects.

Reproduced for the Brehon Law Commission: see TCD MS 1424. O'Donovan (O'D) in Ancient Laws of Ireland (A.L.I.), A. Thom: Dublin (1865-1901), vol. i. Col. 160 (full page), in top margin: Incipit do gnimuibh giall annso. O'D. 199.

Col. 255-303. A Law tract (called the Sechta, or Heptads) in the same hand, written in capital letters, with a copious interlinear gloss. Ends imperfect. See TCD MS 1424, O'D. 330. A.L.I., vol. V. There are also the following marginal notes: col. 265 ending: a cluain na g[c]aisell damh.

Col. 277-8. A n-Achu Madh mo locc & Simon ar ndul don Teampall mór (Templemore, co. Tipperary) 7 Donnchadh liath 7 Brian Albanach ag imirt orduighthi ("playing at orders", O'Don.) misi an Cosnamaigh.

Col. 296. A marginal note by Cosnamach: a níbh Cairidhin (Ikerrin, co Tipperary).

Col. 304. The Bretha Comhaithchesa, or Judgments of Cotenancy. See TCD MS 1337, p.14, and Ancient Laws of Ireland, vol. iv. TCD MS 1424, O'D. 400.

Col. 305-6, marginal note: A laoigis damh a farradh Saoeirbreathaigh 7 is mór conblicht í Mhorrdha 7 mic Gilla fPathraicc re cheile (Leix, in Queen's Co.).

Col. 311. Of taking possession of land. There are sundry whimsical remarks of the scribe (John Cosnavy) in the margin. It appears that he moved from place to place while copying the MS., some staves being written at [Achamaw], some at Castle Fleming, etc. No. 1424, O'D. 409. A.L.I., vol. iv.

Col. 312 and 315, at foot, two marginal notes written at Castle Fleming (in Queen's Co., near Rathdowney).

Col. 339, the scribe writes that Mac William "is after burning Corcamoe (east Galway).

Col. 341. A tract relating to prescriptions, lapses, etc: Fuasluicte cach rurud. TCD MS 1424, O'D. 444.

Col. 349. On the classification of tribes in a territory; impf. For a complete copy, see TCD MS 1316, p. 13. TCD MS 1424, O'D. 454.