Beatha Mhairghréad ‘Life of Margaret’

  • Early Modern Irish
  • prose, verse

An Irish Life of St Margaret of Antioch.

multiple versions
Ó Dálaigh (Pilip) [canon and translator]
Ó Dálaigh (Pilip) ... canon and translator
(fl. 15th century)
A canon credited with an Irish translation of the Life of St Margaret. The colophon in Egerton MS 1781 identifies him as do muintir na Trínoídi, which has been read as referring to the Premonstratensian monastery on the Island of the Holy Trinity in Loch Cé (Co. Roscommon), or alternatively, its daughter-house in Loch Uachtair (Co. Cavan).

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The version in Egerton 1781 comes with a colophon which attributes the translation, explicitly into Irish from a Latin original, to Pilip Ó Dálaigh do muintir Trínoídi.

Ryan (2011), citing Ó Laoghaire (1967), writes that at least 90 manuscript versions of the Life are extant and that the number of witnesses explodes in the 18th century. Nilsen (1984) had come across 54 MSS. It has not yet been possible to ascertain from published sources precisely how these different versions relate to one another. Plummer (1925), who singled out only nine copies, distinguished between two recensions: A, represented by Egerton 1781, Laud Misc. 610, Erlangen MS 1800, TCD 1325 and TCD 1344 (by Stiabhna Ríghis), RIA 23 B 1 and RIA 23 A 44; and B, represented by RIA 24 P 25. Both Flower and Wiliams, however, made further distinctions (see below).

Plummer’s recension A
ff. 49e–83e
Plummer’s recension A.
ff. 2a–41b
Plummer’s recension A; described by Williams as a variant of that found in Egerton 1781.
Dublin, University College, MS Additional Irish 4
Late 19th-century copy from the Erlangen MS.
pp. 595–606
Copy by Stiabhna Ríghis.
pp. 345–355
Copy by Stiabhna Ríghis.
Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Adv. MS 72.2.8
pp. 283–291
Laud Misc. 610 version
ff. 7a–8d
Plummer’s recension A; but called by Flower “another recension in a much simpler style”; by Wiliams “another recension, in a similar style”.

Plummer’s recension B

ff. 16v–18rb.i
beg. ‘[A]raile uasalathair 7 ardcumnachtach boí for in popul ngentligi uili darbo comainm Teotocius dibaigh acht mad aoningen nama .i. Margreg’
Ó Neachtain version
A “translation by Tadhg Ó Neachtain from an unknown original” (Williams).
Other manuscripts (unsorted)
London, British Library, MS Egerton 188
Dublin, National Library of Ireland, MS G 394
pp. 85–99
Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 23 H 15
Dublin, National Library of Ireland, MS G 123
Dublin, National Library of Ireland, MS G 140
Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 23 I 35
Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 23 L 35
Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 23 C 7
A 19th-century manuscript in Boston College Library, which was examined by Kenneth E. Nilsen (1984).
  • Early Modern Irish
prose, verse (primary)



Martyrdom and persecutions of Christians in the Roman Empire
Martyrdom and persecutions of Christians in the Roman Empire
id. 61146
Margaret of Antioch
Margaret of Antioch
Widely venerated virgin saint and martyr.

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Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

Edition wanted
[ed.] [tr.] Stern, Ludwig Christian, “Ein irisches Leben der heiligen Margarete”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 1 (1897): 119–140.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
An edition of the text in the Erlangen MS, with translation into German.
[ed.] Nilsen, Kenneth E., “An Irish Life of St. Margaret”, Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium 4 (1984): 82–104.
Selection based on a 19th-century manuscript in Boston.

Secondary sources (select)

Wolf, Nicholas M., An Irish-speaking island: state, religion, community, and the linguistic landscape in Ireland, 1770–1870, University of Wisconsin Press, 2014. xi + 450 pp.
200–201 Observes thtat many of the 18th-century manuscript witnesses share a Munster provenance and that the earliest of these were produced in the area of Clare, Limerick and Tipperary.
Ryan, Salvador, “‘I, too, am a Christian’: early martyrs and their lives in the late medieval and early modern Irish manuscript tradition”, Studies in Church History 47 (2011): 193–207.
203–205, 207
Williams, J. E. Caerwyn, and Patrick K. Ford, The Irish literary tradition, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1992.
Ó Laoghaire, Diarmuid, “Beathaí naomh iasachta sa Ghaeilge”, PhD thesis, University College Dublin, 1967.
xxx Not seen but cited by Ryan (2011): 204 n. 34.
Flower, Robin, Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the [British Library, formerly the] British Museum, vol. 2, London: British Museum, 1926.
– IIIF Presentation API v2: View in Mirador – IIIF Presentation API v3: View in Mirador
Plummer, Charles, “A tentative catalogue of Irish hagiography”, in: Charles Plummer, Miscellanea hagiographica Hibernica: vitae adhuc ineditae sanctorum Mac Creiche, Naile, Cranat, 15, Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1925. 171–285.
Utrecht University Library: <link>
264 [id. 335.]
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
December 2022, last updated: June 2023