Eight rare Irish manuscripts to rival The Book of Kells available to view online for free
Life & Style

Eight rare Irish manuscripts to rival The Book of Kells available to view online for free

RARELY-SEEN Medieval manuscripts to rival Ireland's famous Book of Kells are being made available to the public.

Trinity College Dublin is introducing a series of manuscripts teeming with grotesque beasts as well as heretical English translations of the bible to a global audience as part of a new lecture series and digitisation project.

The book that introduced St Patrick to the world is also among the collection.

To over 600,000 visitors a year Trinity is synonymous with the The Book of Kells, but the ninth-century manuscript is only part of the story.

The Library at Trinity College is also home to 600 medieval manuscripts ranging in date from the fifth century to the sixteenth.

Trinity College Dublin's Dr Mark Faulkner said: “Trinity’s extraordinary collection of medieval manuscripts survive mostly thanks to James Ussher, a Dublin native and scholar who rose to become primate of Ireland as archbishop of Armagh.

"Unlike other manuscript collectors who often bought everything they could lay their hands on, Ussher worked more like a stamp collector, eager to have one of every type.”

From next month the public will get to view eight rarely-seen medieval texts through a free monthly public lecture series entitled Beyond the Book of Kells, which starts October 3 in Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute.

The eight manuscripts are also being digitised in full and will be published online before each lecture. Click here for more details.

Manuscripts included in the project include a half meter tall 15th century choir book which, before the invention of the printing press, allowed members of the choir to sing from the same hymn sheet.

Others include the Book of Armagh – the medieval text about St Patrick – and the Book of Leinster which contains the largest collection of Irish myth and history from before the 12th century, including one of three surviving copies of the Táin.

What's included in Trinity's new collection...

The Book of Leinster – the largest collections of Irish myth and history from before the twelfth century, including the earliest personal letter in Irish.

The Book of Armagh – Trinity’s most important manuscript after the Book of Kells, the ninth century Book of Armagh contains a suite of works without which Ireland’s patron saint, Patrick, would be almost unknown.

A fifteenth-century Irish Antiphoner – Almost half a metre tall, this manuscript is a fine example of a late medieval choir book, one of the few to survive from Ireland. Beside music for services for saints Patrick, Canice and Bridget, it records the commemorations of numerous other all but forgotten Irish saints, including Magnan of Kilmainham.

14th century Psalter and Hours – Teeming with dragons, monkeys and grotesque beasts this lavish manuscript is a window into the religious beliefs of the late medieval English aristocracy.

A Wycliffite Psalter – This manuscript introduces the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith and text of the psalms in English.

A Hiberno-English translation of Gerald of Wales’ On the Conquest of Ireland – Gerald of Wales was perhaps the principal propagandist of the twelfth-century English invasion of Ireland.

Piers Plowman – Perhaps the greatest medieval English poem, William Langland’s Piers Plowman is a rich exploration of what it takes to live rightly in a corrupt society.

A Twelfth-Century Bede from Bury – Bede’s is an eighth-century Ecclesiastical History of the English People and an eleventh-century treatise on the resting places of English saints.