Irish Chronicles

The Book of Leinster or Lebor Lainech or Leabhar Laighneach.  A 12th century medieval Irish manuscript of circa 1160. Formery known as Lebor na Nuachongbala – the Book of Nuachongbail.  It comprises early Leinster histories and poetry.

The second best source of Irish myth and legend after the Book of the Dun Cow.  Its monastic site = Oughaval. Date and provenance – composite work – principal compiler and scribe = Aed Ua Crimthainn. Abbot of the monastery of Tir-Da-Glas on Shannon.


Manuscript – produced by Aed + pupils – long period of time between 1151 and 1224. Written between 1151 and 1201. Probably complete by 1160’s. The Dinsenchas = lore and history of places – some is 11th century.

Manuscript may have been commissioned by Diamait Mac Murchada – died qq71 – the king of Leinster. Stronghold or dun = Dun Masc, near Oughal = An Nuachongbail.  History – whereabouts in 13th century unknown. In 14th century it came to light at Oughval. It may have been kept in the vicarage in between.

The Book of Leinster owes its present name to John O’Donavan, died 1861.  Commonly accepted manuscript originally known as the Lebor na Nuachongbala = the Book of Noghoval. Now Oughaval in County Laois.

Manuscript = 187 leaves. As many as 45 leaves lost.  Wide-ranging compilation = medieval Irish literature, sagas, and mythology. Therefore = Tain Bo Cuailnge – 8th century version of the Cattle Raid of Cooley. Also contains – Lebor Gabala Erenn – the Book of Invasions + Deirdre story + the grim tale of Boroama.

In addition – contains – metrical Dindshenshas + De excidio Troiae Historia. Plus the Martydom of Tallaght, the Exile of the sons of Usnech, Melodies of Buchet’s House, and the Destruction of Dinn Ris.

The Book of Ballymote = Leabhar Bhaile an Mhota.  Named – parish of Ballymote, County Sligo.  Compiled circa 1390 to 1391 in Sligo town.

Therefore = late 14th century manuscript of West of Ireland.  Contains mainly historical materials produced by the scribes Aolam O Droma + Robertus Mac Sithigh + Tonnalttagh McDonah.

Manuscript purchased  1522 by Aed Og O’Donnell, prince of Tir Conaill.  In 162 – given to Trinity College, Dublin.  In 1875 – returned to Royal Irish Academy.


Contains one version of the Birth of Cormac + adventures of the Sons of Eochu Muigmedon.  Contains motif of – loathly hag transformed to a beautiful woman by the kiss of the young Niall.  Contains the key to the Ogham alphabet + Irish version of the Aenid.

Leabhar Gabhala –  a narrative recounting the invasions of Ireland.  The work – presented as historical fact = based on myth and legend. Material is a source of Irish mythology.

The Book of Fermoy = A mid-15th century manuscript housed in the Royal Irish Academy.  Includes the text of Alcrom Tige Da Medar.  Fermoy – small town in north-east County Cork, 16 miles east of Mallow.

The Book of Lecan = sometimes called the Great book of Lecan. Distinguished from earlier Yellow Book of Lecan – by the same family of scribes in the same location.  This was thus – Leabhar Mor Mhic Fhir Bhisigh Leacain.

Compiled – circa 1400.  Manuscript = 600 pages contain genealogical material.  Also – a Book of Rights.  Lecan is a ruined former castle in the west of County Sligo – 2 miles north of Inishcrone.

The Book of Ui Maine = in Irish the Leabhar Ui Maine or Book of Hy Many. The manuscript includes portions of the Lebor Gabala or Book of Invasions. Also – genealogies, poetry, and family pedigrees.

A small early 14th or 15th codex.  Long possessed by descendants pf the Ui Maine sept that in medieval times much of County Galway + some of Roscommon.

Book of Armagh = the Liber Ardmachanus.  Includes both Irish and Latin materials.  Begun around 807 AD by Feardomnach in Armagh = the seat of the primate of Ireland.

Irish passages amongst earliest possessed.  Many Latin passages deal with the life of St. Patrick. An 11th century insertion is about Brian Borama (Boru) describing him as the Emperor of the Irish. Manuscript in Trinity College, Dublin.

The Book of the Dun Cow = Lebor na hUidre.  Irish vellum manuscript of 12th century AD.  Oldest extant manuscript in Irish. Badly damaged.  Held in Royal Irish Academy.


Book of the Dun Cow.

Only 67 leaves remain. Many texts incomplete. Made from the hide of a dun cow by Saint Ciaran of Clonmacnoise. Compiled before 1106 AD.

Contains the Mythological Cycle + the Ulster Cycle + the Voyage of Maelduin.  Included is the Tain Bo Cualilnge or Cattle Raid of Cooley. = the oldest epic in ancient European  sagas.

Disappeared at Cromwellian conquest and reappeared in 1837 – in a bookshop.

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One response to “Irish Chronicles

  1. Illuminated manuscripts are so interesting visually. Looking at The Book of Kells online impressed that upon me.

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