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Leabhar Breac Conference

Royal Irish Academy Library in association with the Maynooth University Department of Early Irish, and the School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

The Royal Irish Academy manuscript An Leabhar Breac/The Speckled Book was written in Irish by Murchadh Riabhach Ó Cuindlis (a scribe of the Book of Lecan), at Cluain Lethan in Múscraige Tíre, in north Co. Tipperary and at other locations, between the years 1408 and 1411. In the 16th century the manuscript was held by the Mac Egans of Duniry, the most prominent of the hereditary legal families of late medieval Ireland, whence it also received the title of Leabhar Mór Dúna Doighre/The Book of the MacEgans. It is the largest Irish vellum manuscript created by one scribe and contains religious and biblical material derived from Latin, Irish literature and history, including the lives of St Patrick and St Brigid, the Litany of Our Lady, Félire Óengusso Céli Dé, the humorous saga Aisling Meic Conglinne, and some reworkings of biblical history.

Speakers at the conference explored the historical, ecclesiastical, literary and illustrative aspects of An Leabhar Breac, this most impressive example of a predominantly religious manuscript compilation in the Irish vernacular.

  • Elizabeth Boyle ‘The Sacred Geography of the Leabhar Breac’
  • Ruairí Ó hUiginn MRIA ‘The Leabhar Breac, Connacht and Ceallach’
  • Westley Folle ‘Leabhar Breac as a Fifteenth-Century Window on the céli Dé’
  • Conor McDonough ‘Rereading the Sermons in the Leabhar Breac’ (handout)
  • Nike Stam ‘Ach ach, as tind ar toirrthimm: Murchadh’s Commentary to the Félire Óengusso, and how it can cause Sleepless Nights’
  • Anna Chacko ‘Critical Strategies in Aislinge Meic Con Glinne (‘The Vision of Mac Con Glinne’) from the Leabhar Breac: a Reconsideration of Some Distinctions between the ‘B’ and ‘H’ Versions’
  • Nollaig Ó Muraíle MRIA ‘An Leabhar Breac: Scribe, History and Contents’ (handout)
  • Bernadette Cunningham and Raymond Gillespie MRIA ‘The Later History of the Leabhar Breac’
  • Chantal Kobel ‘Fort margan co mbáni bieit inna líni: Elements of Readability in the Leabhar Breac’ (handout)
  • Liam Breatnach ‘The Facsimile of the Leabhar Breac and the Case for a Diplomatic Edition’ (handout)
  • Karen Ralph ‘”The Flesh that was Crucified in a Hideous, Awful Death”: the Leabhar Breac and Crucifixion Imagery in Late Medieval Ireland’

Location: Academy House

Date: 27-28 April 2023


The Royal Irish Academy has prepared this content responsibly and carefully, but disclaims all warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information contained in any of the materials. The views expressed are the authors’ own and not those of the Royal Irish Academy.

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