Tag Archives: St Moling

The Book-Shrine of Saint Moling

This box now at the National Museum of Ireland once housed the small 8th-century Book of Mulling (TCD MS 60). It is made of copper alloy sheets partly covered with silver and, unlike the shrine of the Book of Dimma, it is only decorated on the front, with a disparate collection eight settings made at different times in the history of the object (fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Front of the Book-Shrine of St Moling, 1402 with later additions, Dublin, National Museum of Ireland. From C. Vallancey, Collectanea de rebus hibernicus (Dublin, 1786), pl. II. Out of Copyright.

Although it seems at first sight to yield little information as to when and by whom it was commissioned, a closer examination reveals an inscription in Gothic script on a plate of silver foil simultaneously hidden and magnified by the large oval rock crystal forming the centre piece of the box (fig. 2).  Continue reading The Book-Shrine of Saint Moling

The Book of Mulling

According to a colophon, this Gospel Book was written by a scribe called Mulling, hence its name. Early on, the said scribe was identified as Saint Moling (d. c. 697), Bishop of Ferns and founder of the monastery of Tech-Moling in county Carlow (St. Mullin’s). But this appealing hypothesis was soon contradicted by a close examination of the script and illumination, which pointed to the late 8th century rather than to a century earlier. It followed that, as is the case for many other medieval manuscripts, the colophon was certainly copied from an earlier exemplar.

The Book of Mulling, 2nd half of the 8th century, TCD MS 60, ff. 81v-82r © The Board of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin. 2015.

The Book of Mulling (TCD MS 60) contains the four Gospels, each originally introduced by an author portrait and an elaborate initial on the facing page (see image above). The miniature of Saint Luke is now lost, but all other three openings are extant. It ends with an intriguing  diagram which was formerly believed to be a plan of the monastery of Tech-Moling, but has been more recently re-interpreted in the light of its relationship to the prayers it accompanies.

The present modern binding of the manuscript, which is too tight, will be addressed in the conservation treatment. Non-destructive pigment analysis, using micro-Raman spectroscopy, will be carried out on this book as well as on the two other illuminated manuscripts under scrutiny: the Book of Dimma and the Garland of Howth.

Catherine Yvard, Research Fellow