The Book of Armagh
TCD MS 52
A valuable Irish manuscript written on 221 leaves of vellum. It had been called The Canon of Patrick, and it was believed that the manuscript was of his own production. However, it was a Bishop Charles Graves who discovered that it had in fact been made by one Ferdomnach of Armagh in the year 807. Interestingly, there is, at the bottom of folio 16 verso are the words in conspectu Briani imperatoris Scotorum, "In the presense of Brian, King of the Irish"--probably in the year 1002. There were numerous re-tracings and erasures of the manuscript over time. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
It is not only one of the very oldest monuments of the Old-lrish, since it is antedated only by the fragmentary glosses in the Irish manuscripts preserved on the Continent, but it is the earliest extant specimen of a continuous narrative in Irish prose. It represents the language of the end of the seventh, or of the beginning of the eighth, century.1
However, the documents it contains are much older than the ninth century. It contains a few saints' lives, in particular one of Saint Patrick as well as many other works related to him.
It was given a special status among books; people would even testify by it, like a Bible; it had its own special guardian appointed.
"The Book of Armagh." The Catholic Encyclopedia. URL: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01733a.htm
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Mary Jones © 2004