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Fragments of the Kilbride collection, in Gaelic, consisting of poems illustrating the life of Colum-cille, part of a tale of Caithréim Conghail Cláiringhnigh, and a contract between Duncan MacDougall and his servitor.

Identifier: Adv.MS.72.1.31

Scope and Contents

The contents consist of three fragments from the Kilbride collection, but two of these (folios 1-5, Colum-cille poems, and folio 8, a MacDougall contract) are of very great independent value.

Folios 1-5 (Mackechnie’s ‘A’, ‘B’).

These fragments, ?15th century, contain an orderly sequence of poems illustrating the life of Colum-cille. The hand is that which inscribes the Colum-cille poem “Aingeal Dé dom dhín” on the fly leaf of British Library MS. Egerton 2899 (14th-century psalter, 15th- century calendar). From an inscription on the verso of the flyleaf, MS Egerton 2899 appears to have been the property of Colin Campbell, Laird of Glenorchy 1513-1523. It is a clear, formal hand with some unusual calligraphic and orthographic features, notably the following: tall ‘t’ crossed below the top, like the modern printed letter; ‘T’ consisting of three straight strokes, rather like ‘E’ without centre-stroke; elongated ‘Y’ (for ‘Iona’, genitive Ya); ‘k’ (in Colum-kille). The tall ‘t’ in particular seems to suggest a toying with renaissance forms. Elongated ‘y’ was used (dymond) over a century later in another poem formally inscribed for a Campbell of Glenorchy, apparently by Neil MacEwen, now Scottish Record Office RH.13/40 (see MacNicol’s ‘Remarks’, (1779 edition), pages 245-246, 269-270; and Innes, ‘Facsimilies of national manuscripts of Scotland, volume 3 (1871), number 96). It may perhaps be conjectured that the present hand is also that of a MacEwen. Another inscribes the alphabet and ‘et est autem’ at the foot of folio 1 recto. Kilbride number 20 by Major MacLachlan’s enumeration (‘20th (?)Poetry’, folio 3 recto). Folio 1 is Hugh Kerr’s number 28, folios 2-5 his number 29.

The contents (text) are as follows.

(i) ‘Inmain corp at...’ 5 quatrains. Imperfect. (Folio 1 recto, line 1.)

(ii) ‘Octor alaind Aengusa’. 4 quatrains. (Folio 1 recto, line 5.)

(iii) ‘Odhran mac Fialcholba find’. 4 quatrains. (Folio 1 recto, line 9.)

(iv) ‘Caradrad Colum-cille’. 4 quatrains. (Folio 1 recto, line 13.)

(v) Colum-cille. ‘A Choluim-cille roclos’, 5 quatrains. (Folio 1 verso, line 1.)

(vi) Colum-cille. ‘(A dh)une na creid don taegal’, 8 quatrains. (Cf. dúnadh.) (Folio 1 verso, line 6.)

(vii) Colum-cille. ‘(Ath)ghabail . arna salmaibh lith gan loct’, 4 quatrains. (Cf. dúnadh.) (Folio 1 verso, line 18.)

(viii) ‘Seacht sailm s[unn re haithrighe]’, 7 quatrains. Imperfect, but cf. Meyer ‘Mitteilungen aus irischen Handschriften’, volume 3, page 10, where quatrains 1-6 are printed from other sources. (Folio 2 (1) recto, line 1.)

(ix) ‘Urbairt na termeisg go brat’, 6 quatrains. (Folio 2 (1) recto, line 10.)

(x) ‘(Mairg) do-ni peta da colaind’, 5 quatrains. Imperfect, but cf. dúnadh; printed by Meyer in ‘Mitteilungen aus irischen Handschriften’, volume 12, page 395, from other sources. (Folio 2 (1) verso, line 1.)

(xi) ‘(A Bhae)thin, na ceil re cach’, 9 quatrains. (Folio 2 (1) verso, line 8.)

(xii) ‘Sgela Colaim comdhalaidh’, 14½ quatrains. Life of Colum-cille. Imperfect and incomplete, folio 3 being partly perished and folio 4 vestigial. A fresh ink is used from folio 4 verso, suggesting change of poem. (Folio 3 (2) recto, line 1.)

(xiii) ‘Cath...’ (thus dúnadh). On battle of Cúl Dremhne. Acephalous and imperfect; substantial portion beginning folio 5 recto, line 1, ‘Enbale rugud an breith’, 29 quatrains. (Folio 4 (3) verso.)

The manuscript is Kilbride number 30 by Hugh Kerr’s enumeration (folio 7 verso).

Folios 6-7 (Mackechnie’s ‘C’).

The text is written in bluish ink by hand 5 of Adv.MS.72.1.40, the ?Scottish scribe of a life of Colum-cille. Cf. also hand 31 of Adv.MS.72.1.2. Marginalia: at folio 6 verso the text-hand writes “mhael (?)nis niairba éduib isim rutlau” and others write “an fogn(adh) an gles” and “amen”. There is an illegible note at folio 7 verso, top.

Part of Caithréim Conghail Cláiringhnigh. Beginning (acephalous) “Is maith linn catair Muirne d’faicsin aml[aid] sud, ar se”. Ends incomplete “rolatha Ul[adh] ⁊ E[renn] ina fochair”. Cf. MacSweeney “Caithréim Conghail Cláiringhnigh: Martial career of Conghal Cláiringhneach”, pages 144-168, last line. (Folio 6 (1) recto, column a, line 1.)

Folio 8 (Mackechnie’s ‘D’).

The text is written in the hand of Eoghan Mac Pháill, cf. Adv.MS.72.1.34.

A contract, in Gaelic, between Duncan MacDougall (? i.e. chief of the MacDougalls, ?1590–1616) and his óglach or servitor. Acephalous, imperfect. Ends folio 1, line 11, ‘Iad so an fiaghnuise Eogan m[hi]c Eoin vich Eogain…’; below is added ‘Dunc...’ (Folio 8 recto.)

Blank save for pen-marks. (Folio 8 verso.)

The manuscript is Kilbride number 31 by Hugh Kerr’s enumeration (folio 8 recto).


  • Creation: ?15th century-17th century.

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8 Leaves

Language of Materials

Gaelic; Scottish Gaelic


8 folios. The foliation is modern, and corresponds to John Mackechnie’s section A-D as follows. A = folio 1; B = folios 2-5; C = folios 6-7; D = folio 8. Where Mackechnie’s foliation differs from the present one, i.e. in B-C, it is added below in brackets for reference. It was not entered on the manuscript.

Three fragments:

Folios 1-5: Folios 2-5 are the remains of a gathering, and are still bound by a thong. The conjuncts of folios 2 and 4 are excised without apparent loss of text. Folio 1 is now separate, its conjunct is excised but there are traces of ruled text on the stub. The text is written across the page.

Folios 6-7: A bifolium, the innermost one of a gathering: irregularly shaped, now tattered and torn. The text is written in double columns.

Folio 8: A roughly diamond-shaped fragment of paper. The text is in the top portion of one side only.

Custodial History

Formerly Gaelic MS.XXXI.

Hugh Kerr’s name or initials appear on every leaf except folio 4.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented, 1925, by the Faculty of Advocates to the nation on the foundation of the National Library of Scotland.


The manuscript has been previously catalogued in: John Mackechnie, ‘Catalogue of Gaelic manuscripts in selected libraries in Great Britain and Ireland’ (Boston, 1973), page 172, and Donald Mackinnon, “Descriptive catalogue of Gaelic manuscripts in the Advocates' library, Edinburgh, and elsewhere in Scotland” (Edinburgh, 1912), page 90.
“Caithréim Conghail Cláiringhnigh: Martial career of Conghal Cláiringhneach”, in ‘Irish Text Society’, volume 5 (Dublin, 1904), edited by Patrick M MacSweeney.
‘Facsimilies of national manuscripts of Scotland’, edited by Cosmo Innes, volume 3 (Southampton, 1871).
MacNicol, Donald. ‘Remarks on Dr Samuel Johnston’s journey to the Hebrides; in which are contained, observations on the antiquities, language, genius, and manners of the Highlanders of Scotland’ (London, 1779).
Meyer, Kuno:‘Mitteilungen aus irischen Handschriften’, in “Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie”, volume 12 (Germany, 1918), pages 358-397.
‘Mitteilungen aus irischen Handschriften’, in “Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie”, volume 13 (Germany, 1921), pages 3-30.

Physical Description

Vellum and paper. Folios 1-5: vellum.The folios are of roughly uniform height (except folio 4, which is vestigial) but vary considerably in length. They have been much reduced in places by the action of rodents, notably folio 3, which has lost its outer edge completely and is now only 13 centimetres long. Folio 1 is the least perished leaf, effects of damp and rubbing excepted; it is also by far the largest. Folios 6-7: vellum. There are traces of thread binding, and also threads passed through the text close to the outer edges, suggesting that it served latterly as a cover for some other manuscript. There is much text lost through damp, rubbing and the above-mentioned vicissitudes, especially at folio 7 verso. Folio 8: paper. The paper is torn off, mouse-eaten or otherwise perished on all four sides. It has been folded or crushed in places and bears stains of various kinds, including the encroachment of damp at the top, where it has become extremely fragile and tattered. The result is that the text is defective at the beginning and end of every line, and even what remains of the first 4 lines is largely illegible. There is no watermark visible.


Folios 1-5: Oblong quarto; 12.5 x 18-27 centimetres. Folios 6-7: Quarto; 22-26.5 x 20 centimetres.Folio 8: 16 x 14 centimetres, approximately.

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts Adv.MS.72.1.31
National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division
Description rules
International Standard For Archival Description General
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

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