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style of illumination which characterizes that splendid volume; but the St. Isidore MS. is probably no less ancient.
The MS. which I have endeavoured thus briefly to describe, formed a portion of the extensive collection of Irish historical monuments accumulated in the Franciscan Convent of St. Anthony of Padua, at Louvain, during the period extending from 1630 to 1643. But before it became part of the Louvain Collection, it seems to have belonged to the Franciscan Convent of Donegal, that venerable sanctuary of Irish history from which came forth the Annals of the Four Masters; for a memorandum on the first page, in Colgan's handwriting, describes it as "ex libris Conventus de Dunnagall."
The object for which these Irish MSS. were accumulated in the Convent at Louvain, was to secure materials towards the execution of a project conceived by Father Hugh Ward, also a native of Donegal, and an eminent member of the Franciscan Order, who contemplated the publication not alone of the annals of his own Order, but also of a complete Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae, and other ecclesiastical antiquities.
The steps taken by the learned Franciscan to enable him to carry out this project, are described in a valuable paper contributed to a French journal, entitled Etudes religieuses, historiques et litteraires (Paris, 1869), by the eminent Bollandist, Père Victor De Buck. Speaking of the labours of Father Ward, he says :
“Pendant qu'il était gardien à Louvain, un homme déjà avancé en âge, qui ne savait pas le latin, vint frapper à la porte du couvent pour y demander l’habit des Frères lais. C'était Michel O'Clery, dont le nom sera toujours cher aux archéologues et aux historiens d'Irlande. Cet homme, né vers 1580 dans le comté de Donegall, avait été antiquaire de profession, et passait parmi ses collègues en archéologie celtique pour un des plus versés en cette science. Le P. Ward le demanda pour aide à ses supérieurs et l'obtint facilement. Bientôt il vit que ce collaborateur pouvait lui être plus utile en Irlande qu'en Belgique. Les supérieurs en jugèrent de même, et ils chargèrent la Frère antiquaire d'aller dans sa patrie chercher et transcrire les Vies des saints et autres vieux documents ecclésiastiques qu'il pourrait découvrir, comme bon nombre de ces reliques du passé étaient en Irlandais ancien, nul n'était plus apte à ce travail que le Frère Michel. Il y consacra près de quinze ans, pendant lesquels il copia plusieurs vies, trois ou quatre martyrologes et une foule d'autres pièces qu'il envoya au P. Ward.”
Father Ward having died in 1635, before the return to Louvain of Michael O'Clery, the execution of the contemplated task devolved upon Father John Colgan; and his invaluable works, Trias Thaumaturga, and Acta Sanctorum for the months of January, February, and March, published in 1645, were the first fruits of Father Ward's patriotic project.
The death of Michael O'Clery, in 1643, would seem to have interfered with the further progress of the work undertaken by Colgan; for though the latter lived until 1658, he published no continuation of the Acta Sanctorum, although he had not entirely given up the task; for amongst the MSS. now in the Franciscan Convent on Merchants’-quay are two volumes of lives prepared for printing.
The history of this Louvain Collection of MSS., from the time of Colgan's death to a recent period, has not been satisfactorily defined. The late Professor O'Curry, who took a lively interest in the subject, says that “the materials collected by Michael O'Clery, as well as any that may have been obtained through other channels, remained at Louvain after his and Father Colgan's death, and down, it is presumed, to the French Revolution (1789), at which time they appear to have been dispersed, and in such a manner that all knowledge of their existence was for a long time lost.” “But it would appear," he observes, “from what has been since learned, that this great collection became subdivided into two principal parts, one of which found its way to Brussels, and the other to Rome.”—(Lectures, p. 645.)
It would seem that, shortly before the death of O'Clery, viz., in the year 1642, some of the more patriotic men amongst the leaders of the National party entertained the project of founding a National Irish University or school, in which the pupils were to be educated through the medium of the Irish language; and for this purpose they desired that the Irish MSS. in Louvain should be returned to Ireland. The result of the conflict in which they were then engaged having proved adverse to their interests, the project was necessarily abandoned; but had the fortune of war leaned to the National side, it is probable that an attempt would have been made to establish an Irish College under the presidency of Flann MacAedhagan, who was considered the most accomplished Irish scholar of that age. This project, of which the historians who have hitherto written upon Irish affairs seem not to have been aware, is disclosed in the correspondence of that period, now in the Franciscan Convent of this city. In a remarkable letter addressed to Father Hugh De Burgo, at Brussels dated Wexford, the 20th of September, 1642, and signed in the Irish character by the celebrated Rory O'More, the writer says:
“If we may afore Flann M'Egan dyes, we will see an Irish schoole oppened, and therefore could wish heartylie that those learned and religious fathers in Lovayne did come over in hast with their monumts. and with an Irish and Lattin print. Father Brandon would snatch himself over now to this end, and to informe you of all things past and present, but that we cannot part with him, and that his provinciall commanded him to wait upon us,”
The "Father Brandon” here referred to, who seems to have been Rory O'More's secretary, as the body of the letter is in his handwriting, was a learned member of the Franciscan Order, and a good Irish scholar, as appears from a volume of excerpta from the Annals of Roscrea, compiled by him, collated with the Four Masters, now preserved in the Burgundian Library, Brussels.
To return, however, to the MS. with whose history I am more immediately concerned. After two centuries of absolute silence regarding them, the existence of the St. Isidore collection of Irish MSS. was brought under the notice of Irish scholars in the year 1842, by the late Dean Lyons of Belmullet; and two years afterwards Mr. Laurence Waldron drew attention to the collection preserved in the Burgundian Library. Dean Lyons sent home tracings of the St. Isidore MSS., which were subsequently inked over by Professor O'Curry, and are now in the R. I. Academy's Library ; but neither in these tracings, nor in the list compiled from them by O'Curry, and published in the Rev. J. Donovan's work on Ancient and Modern Rome,” is there any reference to the MS. under consideration.
In October last, however, His Excellency the Chevalier Nigra, Italian Minister in Paris, an accomplished Irish scholar, and an admirable philologist, during a vacation tour, in which he examined the Irish MSS. in the Libraries of St.Gall and St. Isidore's, devoted an hour's attention to the MS. containing the “Beati Immaculati.”
His Excellency was good enough to acquaint me, in a letter dated 28th of October last, with the results of his examination of the MS.; and his description of its nature and contents led me to suppose that it was the MS. to which Usher referred as alleged to have been written by St. Camin of Inis-Celtra, And this it is.
Usher does not say where he saw the MS., or rather the surviving fragment of it; but it was probably shown to him by O’Clery. His words, which occur in connection with a reference to Inis-Celtra, are as follows:
“Habebatur psalterium, cujus unicum tantum quaternionem mihi videre contigit, obelis et asteriscis diligentissime distinctum: collatione cum veritate Hebraica in superiore parte cujusque paginæ posita, et brevibus scholiis ad exteriorem marginem adjectis. Atque illud S. Cammini manu fuisse descriptum, communi traditione ferebatur.”--Brit. Eccles. Antiq., cap. xvii. Usher must have seen it before the year 1639, however, when his work on Ecclesiastical Antiquities was published. In the old edition of Ware's Irish Writers, published in the same year, it is stated that the MS. was then among the books of the Franciscan Convent of Donegal. “ Sanctus Caminus,” he says, “putatur scripsisse in Psalmos. Habentur enim inter libros Franciscanorum Conventus de Dungall ejus schedæ antiquissimæ in Psalmum 119, quas propria ipsius manu exaratas fert traditio.”—Lib. i. c. iii. Colgan quotes Ware's reference to the MS., but he had also seen it himself, although it does not appear to have been in his possession when writing his account of St. Camin, for his expression is, “propriis oculis conspeximus.”—(AA. SS. p. 746). The following note in Irish, in the lower margin of page 3 of the MS., in the handwriting of Michael O'Clery, is valuable as indicating the persons from whom the fragment came into his possession, and through him to the Franciscans of Donegal.
do réir žnáčchuimne cloinne meic bruKidedk, Flann ocur bernard, Kmail do cuáláttár KgK naikir ocus «g cké go coitcionn, är é Cximin naom o inis Cealink for loch Deirce Deire 1 Tuksmumrikin do recriob«n lexbár iná páibe an duillennso. 9 mačtnás firinne do beic Kee Kn Kes ealkona sin, oir isittermon Caimin átaid in ionátket ocus in Sitrexbad, ocus * rinngir rempo. Ir pidin meiri án brathair boché Michel O Cleirigh go frackBar fein mác Brukidega 'na comnáide i ttermum Cximin, et élánn iarna écc som; et Is itsein ocus Diarmait o Oubcertai do rát na duilleánna so do lexbar Cáimin danisá, án brathair rempáite; et guided gác Kon [fer da] ffeicenn 10 ani ar nanmannaib Siblinaıb.
According to the tradition of the sons of Mac Brody, viz., Flann and Bernard, as they heard with their father and with all in general, it is Saint Camin, of Inis-Celtra, on Loch-Deirgdeirc, in Thomond, that wrote the book in which this leaf was. It is not surprising that these learned men should have truth, for it is in the termon of Caimin they are abiding and residing, and their ancestors (abode) before them. I, the poor friar, Michael O'Clery, am witness that I myself saw Mac Brody residing in the termon of Caimin, and his children after his death. And it is they and Diarmait O'Duibhcertaigh that gave these leaves of Caimin's Book to me, the
On a Manuscript Written by St. Camin, of Inisceltra.
poor friar aforesaid. And let every man that sees them pray for our souls respectively.”
This note is not dated, but it was probably written before the time that Usher and Ware saw the MS., if the latter ever did see it, and, therefore, between 1636 and 1639; for the Mac Brody referred to was that Conor Mac Brody whose name is appended to testimonials prefixed to the MSS. of the Annals of the Four Masters and the Martyrology of Donegal. These testimonials are dated with November, 1636, at Kilkeedy, in the barony of Inchiquin, Co. Clare, and profess to have been given at the request of Michael O'Clery, who “came into the writer's presence to read and exhibit" his books, in obedience to his superior. It would appear from O'Clery's note that he had made another visit to Mac Brody's place, between 1636 and 1639, at which latter date the old fragment was in the Library of the Franciscan Convent of Donegal, according to Ware; but although it may be possible, with a little time, and by the aid of the materials now at our command, to indicate the proximate, if not the exact date of this visit, I have not yet had time to investigate the subject. It may be taken as proved, however, that O'Clery obtained the MS. from the sons of Conor Mac Brody, who was slain in November, 1636; and that he had deposited it in the Library of the Convent of Donegal before 1639.
It is not improbable that O'Clery paid more than one or two visits to Mac Brody's home during his fruitful tour in search of materials of Irish history; for most intimate relations seem to have existed between the families of these learned men. In 1595, for instance, the Four Masters record that Mac Con O'Clery, ollave in history to O'Donnell, died in Leiter-Maelain, Mac Brody's residence in Clare; and about 1604, a friendly discussion regarding the merits of the Northern and Southern branches of the Irish race seems to have been concerted, in a friendly way, between one of the Mac Brody's (Tadhg) and Lughaidh O'Clery, a cousin of Michael O'Clery's. It is worthy of remark, as illustrating the amenities of literature at a period which it was lately the fashion to consider rude and uncivilized, that one of the Northern advocates, Annluan Mac Egan, charges Lughaidh O'Clery with having allowed himself to be worsted by Mac Brody, out of mere friendly feelings towards Mac Brody, because Lughaidh had received his education in Clare, or rather at the hands of the Mac Brodys.
Regarding O'Clery's statement, in the note which I have read, that the Mac Brody's resided in the termon of Caimin, it is to be observed that Killkeedy and Letter-Moylan, which are both situated in the parish of Dysart, barony of Inchiquin, are some twenty miles from Inis-Celtra. But these