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Book of Ballymote Conference

The Book of Ballymote (BB), compiled between the late-fourteenth and early-fifteenth centuries, is one of the most remarkable Irish manuscripts we have. Its size and extent, the range of material it contains and its striking illumination all mark it out as an important work of late medieval learning. Its 251 folios contain, among many other works, texts such as Lebor Gabála Érenn, Lebor na Cert, Dindshenchas Érenn, Banshenchas Érenn, Cóir Anmann, extensive genealogical tracts listing the pedigrees of some of the most prominent Irish population groups and families, lists of saints, biblical texts and adaptations of classical material.

There are many questions that can be asked about this remarkable codex and the society in which it came into being. What was the intent of the scribes and scholars who compiled it? Why were the texts found in the BB so chosen? What sources were used in its compilation? Why was it so extensively and richly decorated? How does BB relate to other medieval manuscripts, in particular, the slightly later Great Book of Lecan? What do we know of the later history of BB?

These questions and many more were explored at a conference organised by the Library in February 2015.

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