Tag Archives: Tipperary

The Devil’s Caves…

The Book of Dimma (now TCD MS 59) and its shrine were purchased by Mr. Henry Monck Mason from a Dr. Thomas Harrison of Nenagh (Tipperary) in the early 19th century. They first came to public attention in 1816 when Monck Mason, librarian at the King’s Inns in Dublin, brought them to be exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries in London (then at Somerset House; fig. 1).

In 1824 William Darton (Junior) wrote a guide to London: A Description of London: Containing a Sketch of Its History and Present State, and of All the Most Celebrated Public Buildings, &c.
Fig. 1 W. Darton Jr, A Description of London: Containing a Sketch of Its History and Present State, and of All the Most Celebrated Public Buildings, &c. (London, 1824). Source.

On May 24th 1819, when Monck Mason presented the manuscript and its shrine at the Royal Irish Academy, he explained that, according to Dr Harrison, Continue reading The Devil’s Caves…

The Book of Dimma

The Book of Dimma (TCD MS 59) is a small volume that contains the four Gospels as well as a few later additions, and was probably made in the late 8th century at Roscrea, a monastery founded in the 7th century .

Just as the Book of Mulling was not  written by Mulling (see previous post), the Book of Dimma was not written by Dimma.

The Book of Dimma, late 8th century (TCD, MS 59, p. 104) © The Library of Trinity College Dublin.
The Book of Dimma, late 8th century, TCD MS 59, p. 104 © The Board of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin. 2015.

The name Dimma appears on several pages at the end of three Gospels (pp. 29, 52 and 148), but in each case it was written  over an erasure. The reason for the alteration would have been to enhance the holy nature of the book by connecting it to an episode from the life of Saint Crónán (d. 619), the founder of the Roscrea monastery. According to the legend, Crónán asked a scribe called Dimma to produce a copy of the Gospels for him, demanding it to be ready by the next day. Dimma succeeded in this impossible task, as the sun miraculously did not set for the next forty days.

Whoever wrote the name of Dimma over that of the original scribe wished to transform this manuscript into the famous Gospels; the alteration was probably made at Roscrea in the late 10th or 11th century. Luckily, one colophon was left intact, on p. 103, revealing the original name of Dianchride, a name that occurs in the genealogy of the Uí Chorcrain, who had a branch based in the northern part of Tipperary.

Catherine Yvard