Book of Dimma. IE TCD MS 59

Book of Dimma. IE TCD MS 59

Shelf Mark/Reference Number
  • IE TCD MS 59 ; former shelfmark: A.4.23
Rights statement
  • Copyright The Board of Trinity College Dublin. Images are available for single-use academic application only. Publication, transmission or display is prohibited without formal written approval of the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.
Date Created
  • between approximately 751-799
Physical extent
  • 175mm x 142mm (folio size)
  • c145mm x 115mm (text block)
  • 148 pages
  • IE TCD MS 59, the Book of Dimma, is an 8th-century Irish pocket gospel book of 148 pages (74 folios) in Irish minuscule script from the Abbey of Roscrea, founded by St. Cronan, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. In addition to the four Gospels, it has an order for the Unction and Communion of the Sick. There are a number of illuminated initials, three Evangelist portrait pages and one page with an Evangelist's symbol. It is signed by its scribe, Dimma MacNathi, at the end of each of the Gospels. At the end is a quatrain in Irish. Pages 2-148: four gospels; Pages 2-29: Gospel of Matthew; Pages 30-52: Gospel of Mark; Pages 54-98: Gospel of Luke; Pages 104-148: Gospel of John. Later additions: Pages 99-103: Service for visitation of the sick (also called "missa de infirmis"). [9th century?]. For transcription, see F. E. Warren, 'Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church' (Oxford, 1881), pp. 167-71. Pages 29, 52 and 148: original name erased in the colophons and replaced with Dimma (late 10th or early 11th century). Colophons containing Irish. Four full-page miniatures: Page 2: Evangelist portrait of Saint Matthew; saint holding a book; beard; shoes; dots; knot. Panel frame: interlace; knotwork; geometric patterns; fret patterns. Page 30: Evangelist portrait of Saint Mark; saint holding a book; dots; shoes; throne decorated with bird heads [peacock?]; knotwork. Plain band frame. Page 54: Evangelist portrait of Saint Luke; saint holding a book; dots; shoes; knot. Plain band frame. Page 104: Evangelist symbol of Saint John; eagle of Saint John holding a book; halo; dots. Panel frame: interlace; knotwork; geometric patterns; fret patterns. Decorated initials/incipits: Page 3: Li[ber]: birds heads, knotwork, dots; Xpi: bird head, knotwork, dots, cross. Panel frame: interlace, fret patterns, knotwork. Page 31: Ini[tium]: diminuendo; plain band frame. Page 55: Q[uoniam]; diminuendo; interlace. Panel frame: interlace; knotwork; geometric patterns. Page 105: In P[rincipio]; bird head; dots. Small decorated initials in black with red and yellow infill. Page 107: Et d[ie tertio nuptia]; enlarged letters in black ink throughout with some diminuendo. Larger initials on page 48 (Mark 14:1): Erat autem Pascha and page 145 (John 20:1): Una autem Sabbati. Please see the Manuscripts & Archives Research Library’s catalogue entry for the manuscript here:
  • Rebound in 1957 by Roger Powell with wooden boards and modern vellum. Disbound, conserved and rebound in 2016 by John Gillis.
  • A bronze and silver shrine ("cumdach") was made for the codex, with blue stone cabochons [lapis lazuli?] and remains of niello inlay, made in the 12th century and significantly altered in the late 14th-early 15th century. Refurbishment probably commissioned by Tadhg Ó Cearbhall (Tadgh O’Carroll), king of Éile (reigned 1380-1407), as evidenced by an inscription running on the front of the box: ‘TATHEVS O KEARBVILL REI DE ELV MEIPSV/M DEAVRAVIT: DOMINVS DOMNALDVS O CVANAIN CO/NVERBIVS VLTIMO MEIPSVM RESTAVRAVIT;/ TOMAS CEARD DACHORIG; INMINDSA. Further alterations carried out in the 19th century.
  • R. I. Best, ‘On the Subscriptiones in the ‘Book of Dimma’, in Hermathena, XLIV (1926), 84-100.P.Ó Riain, ‘The Tallaght Martyrology Redated,’ in Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, XX (1990), pp, 21-38.F. E. Warren, Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church (Oxford, 1881), pp. 167-71.
Finding aid
  • Probably written at the monastery of Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. Shrine made in the 12th century and altered in the late 14th-early 15th century. William Meagher, Roman Catholic priest of Roscrea; by descent to Rev. Philip Meagher, Roman Catholic Vicar of Nenagh; lent to Dr Thomas Harrison of Nenagh, Co. Tipperary; unlawfully sold by him to Henry Monck Mason sometime before 1816; bought sometime before 1826 by Sir William Betham who attempted to sell it on 4 July 1830, lot 444; bought from him by Trinity College Dublin on 29 March 1836 (for either £150 or £200). Shrine further altered in the 19th century, including the addition of an inscription on the back: ‘The inclosed [sic] Copy of the Four Gospels was written by Dimma the son of Nathi who died about A. D. 620’.
  • Bank of America Merryl Lynch
Resource type
  • ink
  • vellum (parchment)
  • Irish
Digital Object Id
  • MS59_001
  • 0124438


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