Studia Hibernica

Destruction of Irish manuscripts and the National Board of Education

Studia Hibernica (2017), 43, (1), 95–116.

Abstract

BL MS Add. 40767 is a nineteenth-century copy of Richard Plunket’s ‘Rugadh Pádraig’, thrown out with other manuscripts by its owner’s descendants in 1899 and rescued by a visitor from Liverpool, who showed four fragments to Kuno Meyer. Meyer wrote to Douglas Hyde, and Hyde wrote to the newspapers, using the episode to castigate the board of intermediate education, which he blamed for the ignorance of Irish language and literature that lay behind such destruction. He was much engaged in an argument over Irish in schools, but here he brings the preservation of modern vernacular manuscripts into the discussion. He shows himself well aware of the important collections in the Royal Irish Academy, but he is at the same time critical of the Academy, whether in line with external prejudice or in the hope of inducing greater effort. Saving manuscripts was not high on the agenda of the Gaelic League, and, though Hyde was himself a collector, he offered no remedy for the loss of manuscripts other than a revival of the use of Irish.

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Details

Author details

Sharpe, Richard