Cork’s nice medieval e-book comes dwelling with tales of Marco Polo and the Lords of Carbery
One of Cork’s great medieval treasures, The Book of Lismore, which has had almost as many journeys and adventures as the legendary characters it tells of.
It was created in the late 15th century in Kilbrittain in West Cork for Fínghin Mac Carthaigh, Lord of Carbery (1478–1505), and captured during a siege held as spoils of war on the brick-built Lismore Castle in by a conquering English Earl of Cork Waterford was brought behind a wall and only found again in the 19th century (along with an 11th century Bishop’s Crozier).
The book was then studied, translated, preserved and preserved by the Cavendish family before being brought to the ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire in Chatsworth, England, as Ireland plunged into war and revolution at the beginning of the 20th century.
Now the current Duke of Devonshire has donated the book to Lismore, Cork’s Great Leabhar Mhic Cárthaigh Riabhaigh, University College Cork, where it will be kept for public study and exhibition.
The book is a fascinating collection of stories about the lives of Irish saints, the history of early and medieval Europe (including the conquests of Charlemagne), and even the only known Irish translations of Marco Polo’s trips to China.
Created as a status symbol and for the pleasure and enlightenment of a great Irish lord, Fínghin Mac Carthaigh, it becomes the oldest manuscript in the UCC collection.
The current Duke of Devonshire said; “Since the book Lismore was loaned to University College Cork for an exhibition in 2011, we’ve been thinking about how to bring it back permanently.
“My family and I are delighted that this was possible and hope that it will benefit many generations of students, academics and visitors to the university.”
UCC professor Pádraig Ó Macháin said he believes this book of 198 large sheets of parchment (or calf skin sheets) will be a great treasure trove for college.
“With a view to the future and anticipating the generations of students who will come to know the book as an important and visible part of their studies – be it linguistic, calligraphic, literary, historical, sociopolitical, or otherwise – the presence of the book by Lismore in Cork and its vital stake in Ireland’s Gaelic heritage is seen as a key contributor to UCC’s cultural and educational identity. ”
The book of Lismore encompasses an important part of the cultural heritage of Cork, Munster and Ireland. Like other surviving Irish manuscripts, it illustrates the complex stories and traditions of our past. ”