Provenance

Published in Issue 2 (March/April 2014), Volume 22

The four Evangelists, as depicted on folio 32v of the Book of Armagh. (Trinity College, Dublin)

The four Evangelists, as depicted on folio 32v of the Book of Armagh. (Trinity College, Dublin)

As well as Ferdomnach, there were at least two, and perhaps as many as four, other scribes, writing separate sections, which were brought together at an early date in a red-stained goatskin binding decorated with stamps and blind lines. These binding boards form a remarkable survival, kept separately from the manuscript for many years in a fifteenth-century satchel, which is also extant. In 937 the manuscript was placed in a shrine—unfortunately long lost—by Donnchadh, son of Flan, king of Ireland. By the twelfth century it was in the care of a hereditary keeper. Around 1680 it passed from the last of this line, Florence MacMoyre, into the possession of the Brownlow family of Lurgan. In 1831 it was sold at public auction in Dublin for £390. In 1846 Revd Francis Brownlow deposited it in the Royal Irish Academy, and at the Dublin Exhibition of 1853 it was bought for £300 by the antiquary William Reeves, bishop of Down, who sold it on to Lord John George Beresford, bishop of Armagh, for the same amount, on the understanding that ownership should pass to Trinity College on Reeves’s death, which eventually occurred in 1892.

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