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Dublin: 15 °C Sunday 27 May, 2018

These medieval Irish manuscripts are to be made public for the first time

TCD received the funding for the special preservation work from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

NO FEE TRINITY MANU MX1 Susie Bioletti, Keeper Preservation & Conservation, Trinity College Dublin and Peter Keegan, Country Executive for Ireland, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Source: MARK MAXWELL

FOUR MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPTS will be made public for the first time thanks to a grant from Bank of America Merrill Lynch to Trinity College Dublin’s library.

Once they are conserved, the early Irish manuscripts will be made available in TCD Library’s digital collections.

Most excitingly, they will be exhibited in public for the first time alongside the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and the Book of Armagh at the library.

TCD Library will receive funding to conserve, research and digitise the manuscripts through Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s 2014 global Art Conservation Project.

Since 2010, it has provided grants to museums in 27 countries supporting 71 conservation projects.


The grant will pay for the treatment, technical examination, digitisation and art historical study of four of the library’s most important early medieval Irish manuscripts:

  • The Codex Usserianius Primus – the earliest known surviving Irish manuscript, dating back to the fifth century. It is recorded as an incomplete copy of the four Gospels on parchment.
  • The Garland of Howth – an eighth century parchment manuscript associated with St Nessan’s monastery on Ireland’s Eye, which contains a copy of the four gospels. Features portraits of the evangelists and elaborated initials, with orange, white, yellow and blue pigments.
  • The Book of Dimma – late eighth century manuscript on parchment, possibly produced at Roscrea, Co. Tipperary. Contains a copy of the four Gospels along with later tenth or eleventh century additions. Includes illuminated initials and portraits of the evangelists executed in red, yellow, blue and black pigments.
  • The Book of Mulling - an eighth century pocket-gospel, with ninth century additions that is associated with the monastery of St Mullins in Co Carlow. Contains a copy of the four Gospels, and features portraits of the evangelists Matthew, Mark and John, together with illuminated initials.

Susie Bioletti, head of Conservation at TCD Library, said this is the “single most generous grant ever bestowed on the Library for the conservation of early Irish manuscripts”, for which they are extremely grateful.

She said there can now be scholarship and public engagement with these “national treasures”.

Read: Houses to be knocked – because they’re not medieval>

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