Tuesday 21 June 2022

Priceless C12th Book of Leinster to be conserved and digitised

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has secured funding to conserve, research and digitise the Book of Leinster, a 12th-century parchment manuscript, and one of the most important manuscripts written in Irish to have survived from the early medieval period. It is of incalculable value to the history of Ireland and the Irish language.

By Áed Ua Crimthainn et al (12th century)
Laighean53a at website of Trinity College Dublin
Public Domain

The manuscript is an anthology of prose, verse, genealogy, medical knowledge, and place-name lore. It contains the Irish ‘book of genesis’, Lebor Gabála Érenn, which establishes the place of Ireland, the Irish people and their language in a biblical world setting. A very important version of the saga An Táin Bó Cúailnge and the story of Cú Chulainn is also included in the collection.

The financial support comes from the Bank of America's Art Conservation Project. Since 2010, this project has supported the conservation of more than 6,000 individual art pieces around the world and it is the second time the Library of TCD has been a recipient.

The previous award was similar in that it enabled the conseration, research and digitisation of precious early Irish manuscripts, specifically the Codex Usserianus Primus, the Garland of Howth, the Book of Dimma, and the Book of Mulling, which date from the 5th-9th centuries.

Commenting on the significance of the award, Librarian & College Archivist Helen Shenton said: "The Library of Trinity College Dublin’s collection of over 200 medieval and early modern manuscripts written in the Irish language is ranked as one of the most important collections in the world. Covering over a thousand years of Irish literature and learning, they shine a light on how Irish society operated, how our ancestors interacted with each other, what stories and myths they told about themselves and how they saw themselves on the world stage.

"Once conserved the Book of Leinster will form part of the Library’s major digitisation project – the Virtual Trinity Library – and will be made globally accessible online."