Lost Books of Irish History

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter I

The subjoined list of the lost books is taken from O'Curry's MS. Materials, page 20. It may be useful to the philologist and interesting to our own people, as a proof of the devotion to learning so early manifested in Erinn:—

"In the first place must be enumerated again the Cuilmenn; the Saltair of Tara; the Cin Droma Snechta; the Book of St. Mochta; the Book of Cuana; the Book of Dubhdaleithe; and the Saltair of Cashel. Besides these we find mention of the Leabhar buidhe Slaine, or Yellow Book of Slane; the original Leabhar na h-Uidhre; the Books of Eochaidh O'Flannagain; a certain book known as the Book eaten by the poor people in the desert; the Book of Inis an Duin; the Short Book of St. Buithe's Monastery (or Monasterboice); the Books of Flann of the same Monastery; the Book of Flann of Dungeimhin (Dungiven, co. Derry); the Book of Dun da Leth Ghlas (or Downpatrick); the Book of Doiré (Derry); the Book of Sabhall Phatraic (or Saull, co. Down); the Book of the Uachongbhail (Navan, probably); the Leabhar dubh Malaga, or Black Book of St. Molaga; the Leabhar buidhe Moling, or Yellow Book of St. Moling; the Leabhar buidhe Mhic Murchadha, or Yellow Book of Mac Murrach; the Leabhar Arda Macha, or Book of Armagh (quoted by Keating); the Leabhar ruadh Mhic Aedhagain, or Red Book of Mac Aegan; the Leabhar breac Mhic Aedhagain, or Speckled Book of Mac Aegan; the Leabhar fada Leithghlinne, or Long Book of Leithghlinn, or Leithlin; the Books of O'Scoba of Cluain Mic Nois (or Clonmacnois); the Duil Droma Ceata, or Book of Drom Ceat; and the Book of Clonsost (in Leix, in the Queen's County)."

Happily, however, a valuable collection of ancient MSS. are still preserved, despite the "drowning" of the Danes, and the "burning" of the Saxon. The researches of continental scholars are adding daily to our store; and the hundreds of Celtic MSS., so long entombed in the libraries of Belgium and Italy, will, when published, throw additional light upon the brightness of the past, and, it may be, enhance the glories of the future, which we must believe are still in reserve for the island of saints and sages.[2]

The list of works given above are supposed by O'Curry to have existed anterior to the year 1100. Of the books which Keating refers to in his History, written about 1630, only one is known to be extant—the Saltair-na-Rann, written by Aengus Céile Dé.


[2] Sages.—M. Nigra, the Italian Ambassador at Paris, is at this moment engaged in publishing continental MSS.