The Book of Lismore (also known as the Book of McCarthy Reagh) was donated to University College Cork in 2020. It is a substantial medieval Gaelic vellum manuscript, written in Irish at Kilbrittain Castle, Co. Cork, at the end of the 15th century for Fínghean Mac Carthaigh and his wife Caitilín Fitzgerald.
The Book of Lismore is one of the most significant heritage items to survive from late medieval Cork and late medieval Ireland. Its unique anthology of stories and tradition, dedicated to McCarthy nobility of Carbery, offers a rare insight into the literary tastes and intellectual environment of West Cork at the end of the 15th century. In its script and makeup it creates additional connections to the history of books in Ireland before the advent of print.
As a focus for teaching and research at UCC, and as a newly-added pillar to the University’s connection with the heritage of its hinterland, there is much in the Book of Lismore that speaks to us of the time in which it was written, of the people who created it and for whom it was created, and of the tradition to which it belongs.
Following the donation of the Book of Lismore to UCC by the Duke of Devonshire in 2020, this course assembles a team of experts unrivalled in the curation and the study of the Gaelic manuscripts of Ireland, to deliver insights on the Book, one of the most singular manuscripts of Irish tradition.
Through exploring the Book, its contents and many contexts, these lectures will lift the veil on an aspect of the hidden Ireland, and on the learned traditions of Cork and of autonomous Ireland in the late medieval period.
This course offers a unique opportunity to explore what for many may be an unfamiliar past through the gateway provided by a marvellous artefact and a priceless treasure of UCC.