Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Book of Leinster

Between 1151 and 1224 CE a manuscript was compiled, probably in what is now Terryglass in County Tipperary, by the abbot of a Terryglass monastery and his followers. The abbot, Áed Ua Crimthainn, actually signed one of the pages, stating that he "wrote this book and collected it from many books." Originally called Lebar na Núachongbhála, the "Book of Oughaval," it is now referred to as the Book of Leinster. Oughaval, now called "Oak Vale," was a 6th century monastery founded by a student of St. Columba. The Book of Leinster was there for many years.

Its second name is because it is believed that it was commissioned by a king of Leinster, Diarmait Mac Murchada (d. 1171), and then passed from him to a few others, getting "lost" until it surfaced at Oughaval in the 14th century. An Irish language scholar in the 19th century gave it its present name because of the associations of its contents with Leinster.

It contains 187 13" by 9" leaves. Internal evidence suggests that 45 leaves are missing. It is one of our most important sources of genealogy, mythology, and Irish literature. It contains the most complete version of of Táin Bó Cuailnge, "The Cattle Raid of Cooley."

The manuscript contains many different types of document. The illustration above is from one part called Dindshenchas, "place-name lore," and begins with the words Temuir, unde nominatur, "Tara, whence is it named." Speaking of Latin: Latin was moving into Ireland because of ecclesiastical involvement, and replacing Irish as a scholarly language. That may be the reason why the Book includes Lebor Gabála Érenn, literally the "Book of Invasions" (considered the Irish "Book of Genesis" and a history of the world),  in which we are told that Irish was created after the confusion of languages caused by the incident of the Tower of Babel. Because it was created later, it avoids the "shortcomings and confusion" of other languages and is therefore special.

The Lebor Gabála Érenn tells of six times that Ireland was invaded, which is a great topic for tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.