Maynooth University is calling on historians, academics and interested scholars to research and unearth the stories behind 16 medieval manuscripts now on display in the university’s Russell Library. The manuscripts, from the collection of St Patrick’s College Maynooth, lay largely untouched for nearly 200 years, with most of the works not identified until now.
A unique and unparalleled new book will now bring the manuscripts to the attention of medievalists worldwide. With the support and devotion of the Russell Library staff, scholars Angela and Peter Lucas (a retired senior lecturer in English at Maynooth University and emeritus professor of Old and Middle English at University College Dublin, respectively) painstakingly researched the Latin manuscripts in their book, ‘The Medieval Manuscripts at Maynooth, Explorations in the Unknown.’ The book includes the translated content and a detailed physical description of each manuscript, in addition to images. The descriptions of the manuscripts include details of the handwriting and binding, and full information on the contents of the manuscripts and their history as far as is known.
The manuscripts range in date from the 11th century to 1529 and almost all are associated with the Church. There are five which came from Liege and four from the Benedictine abbey of St Jacques, whose collections were auctioned in 1788. While they are essentially all written in Latin, some contain French, Italian and Dutch text. The collection grew over decades, mainly in the 19th century, and reflects the tastes of a succession of senior members of the college plus a few donors. Two of the manuscripts belonged to Laurence Renehan, President of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth (1845 – 1857), an enthusiastic collector of books and manuscripts.
Speaking of the unveiling of the manuscripts and the launch of ‘The Medieval Manuscripts at Maynooth, Explorations in the Unknown,’ Professor Philip Nolan, President of Maynooth University said: “This book is unparalleled in the field of medieval research and will inspire other scholars, researchers and historians around the world to unearth further insights around these fascinating medieval manuscripts.”
Monsignor Hugh G Connolly, President of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, added: “We are delighted that the manuscripts are receiving the attention they deserve and congratulate the authors and all who played a part in making this unique publication and research project possible. This magnificent publication together with the dedicated industry and skill of the Russell Library staff in curating our historical collection is a wonderful testimony to the excellent relationship between our two institutions.”
The manuscripts are on view by appointment at the Russell Library at Maynooth University.