The Royal Irish Academy in Dawson Street, Dublin, houses a manuscript in Irish of the Rule, the Testament and the Benediction of St. Clare, the Declarations made upon the Rule, (also known as the Constitutions of St.Colette) and some other devotional material. The Rule is written in the hand of the famous Irish Franciscan, Br Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, the chief of the seventeenth-century Irish annalists known as the Four Masters. The rest of the material in the document was translated and written out by another famous Irish scholar, Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh, at the later date of 1647.
In August 1636, Ó Cléirigh was nearing the completion of his task of collecting and compiling historical documents relating to the religious and secular history of Ireland along with other scholar-collaborators. This compilation is known today as the Annals of the Four Masters. Just before he returned to the Irish Franciscan College of Louvain in Spanish Flanders he paid a visit to our mother-house in 'Bethlehem' near Athlone. While staying in the nearby Franciscan Friary, he transcribed the Rule of St. Clare which, as he noted within the body of the transcription, was translated by two priests, Aodh Ó Raghallaigh and Seamas Ó Siaghail.
With the kind permission of the Royal Irish Academy, RIA MS D i 2, the name under which the manuscript is catalogued, can be viewed on this website in the PDF below. (Larger images of the document can be viewed on the website of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies in 'Irish Scripts on Screen'.)
In addition, the study of RIA MS D i 2 by Professor Eleanor Knott (1886-1975), which appeared in an edition of the Ériu journal in 1948 can also be viewed below in a PDF, again with the permission of the RIA. Separate permissions must be sought from the RIA for use of these images or documents for other purposes.
The following are some books which contain information about RIA MS D i 2:
CONCANNON, Helena, The Poor Clares in Ireland, Dublin: M.H. Gill and Son 1929.
COOLAHAN Marie-Louise, Women, Writing and Language in Early Modern Ireland, New York: Oxford 2010. pp63-101
CUNNINGHAM, Bernadette The Poor Clare Order in Ireland in The Irish Franciscans 1534-1990, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2009. Edel Breathnach, Joseph Mac Mahon OFM & JohnMcCafferty, (eds.) pp159-174
JENNINGS OFM, Brendan, Michael O Cleirigh and his Associates, Dublin : The Talbot Press, 1936.
O’BRIEN OFM., Celsus, Poor Clares, Galway 1642-1992, Galway: Connaught Tribune 1993.
O MURAÍLE, Nollaig The Celebrated Antiquary Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh (c. 1600-1671) – His Lineage, Life and Learning, Maynooth: An Sagart 2002. pp131-144
WALSH, Paul, The Travels of Míchél Ó Cléirigh in Catholic Bulletin 17 (1927) 1155. Reprinted in Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, His Associates and St Anthony’s College, Louvain, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2008. Nollaig Ó Muraíle ed.
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