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Major Research Projects


The Irish Chancery Project seeks to reconstruct the records of the medieval Irish chancery, which were destroyed by the explosion and fire at the Four Courts in 1922. In the absence of the original rolls of chancery, the project team drew on copies, antiquarian transcripts and calendars ranging in date from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries and surviving in repositories in Ireland, England and North America. The result is the Calendar of Irish Chancery Letters, c.1244–1509 (known as CIRCLE). The publication of CIRCLE in 2012 provided both specialist researchers and the general public with ready access to an unparalleled source of information for the first time.

  • Associated TCD Staff: Peter Crooks, David Ditchburn, Sean Duffy, Katharine Simms. Associated universities: Bristol, Durham, Reading, St Andrews
  • Funding: British Academy; Leverhulme Trust; IRCHSS (2008-11)

The Battle of Clontarf (1014)

The Battle of Clontarf website was created for students and the public to provide access to historical and archaeological information and resources on one of the most emblematic battles in Irish history. The web pages include sections on social context and daily-life in Viking-Age Ireland; the political background and rivalries that led to the battle on Good Friday, 23 April 1014; and the key figures at the battle. Dynamic interactive maps enable exploration of viking raids and settlement development, Brian Boru’s military campaigns and what happened on Good Friday, 23 April 1014.

  • Project team: Professor Sean Duffy, Roman Bleier, Dr Cherie Peters, Dr Eoin O'Flynn, Dr Sparky Booker, Dr Caoimhe Whelan. High Performance Computing: Dermot Frost; Juliusz Filipowski; Paddy Doyle
  • Funding: Ireland’s EU structural Funds Programme (2012–13); Trinity Long Room Hub

Investigating the Book of Kells: Learning through Art and Science

The aim of the project is to share, exploit and analyse in a teaching environment the latest research into the Book of Kells, the word-famous and iconic manuscript preserved in Trinity College Dublin. This aim will be achieved through the design of two innovative modules on the Book of Kells, one offered to extramural students and the other to M.Phil students registered for programmes in arts-based disciplines, including History and History of Art. Both modules are interdisciplinary in approach and informed by the latest research which has been undertaken by art historians, botanists, chemists, computer scientists, geologists, physicists and historians, as well as by conservationists. The lectures will be delivered by experts from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. Each module will also be accompanied by a web-based tutorial package to support the lecture programme. Graduate students will also be expected to participate in inquiry-led seminar discussions; and extramural students will have a question and answer session after each lecture.

  • Associated TCD Staff: David Ditchburn and Roger Stalley.
  • Funding: NAIRTL (2010–11)

Medieval Liturgical MSS in the Library of Trinity College Dublin


Source of Image: TCD MS 78, f. 139v (late 15th c.):  Office of St Brigit, ‘Adest dies leticie’.

The project, under the direction of Dr Ann Buckley, involves the preparation of a descriptive catalogue of Trinity’s holdings of Irish medieval liturgical manuscripts. They include eleven service-books – antiphonaries, breviaries, and missals – ranging in date from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries. Largely of Sarum Use, along with Carmelite, Arroasian and Franciscan, they represent over half of all post-twelfth-century Irish liturgical manuscripts known to survive, and the largest collection with music notation.

            Mainly from Dublin and the greater Leinster region, the sources have a central bearing on questions such as the impact of the twelfth-century reforms of the Irish church on liturgical practice in its insular and Euopean contexts; continuites and discontinuities in the veneration of local saints; and the role and influence of hagiographers in fashioning new literary and musical texts to meet the requirements of incoming Anglo-Norman secular and ecclesiastical patrons. Valuable insights are provided by the presence of Proper offices for the celebration of feast days for Irish saints found, uniquely, with their chant melodies in some of these sources. However, their importance lies not only in their local Irish content: for example, the Kilcormac Missal (MS 82) is the only surviving Carmelite missal from all of Ireland and Britain; and a fragment bound into MS 1305 (ff. 19r–20v) contains one of the earliest surviving texts of the Sarum Missal. Thus these materials occupy a significant place in mapping late medieval insular liturgies as a whole.

Related Events

An international workshop entitled ‘Medieval Insular Liturgical Manuscripts with Music:
Local, Regional and European Perspectives’ took place on 16–17 June 2015 with the support of the Trinity Long Room Hub Research Incentive Scheme (2014–15). This was accompanied by an exhibition of a selection of these manuscripts by courtesy of the Manuscripts and Archives Research Library. The event concluded with a recital in the College Chapel of chant for Irish saints edited from these sources.

Associated Publications

  • ‘Letetur Hibernia’: Music, Liturgy and Saints of the Medieval Irish Church and its European Cultural Legacy, ed. Ann Buckley (Turnhout: Brepols, forthcoming 2016).

Adest Dies Leticie

Last updated 10 December 2015 (Email).