Letter from Find, bishop of Kildare, to Áed Úa Crimthainn, abbot of Terryglass

Find Úa Gormáin (bishop of Kildare)
  • Middle Irish
  • prose
  • letters (correspondence), scribal additions
The text recognised by R. I. Best as “the earliest epistolary composition ... in the Irish language” is a scribal note to the text of Cath Maige Mucrama in the 12th-century Book of Leinster, where it occupies the bottom margin of the first page containing that tale. The correspondence is between two of its scribes or compilers: it is written or dictated by Find, bishop of Kildare, and addressed to Áed Úa Crimthainn, abbot and coarb of Terryglass. The letter adheres to the formal requirements of ars dictaminis (the rhetorical art of letter-writing), including such elements as an address, salutation, petition and valediction. Find asks for the writing of the tale (scél) to be completed and also requests the ‘poem-book (dúanaire) of Mac Lonáin’, probably referring to the poet Flann mac Lónáin (d. 891x918), “so that we may study the meanings (cíalla) of the poems that are in it”. William O'Sullivan has concluded that the hand continuing the tale of Cath Maige Mucrama on the next page of the manuscript (p. 289 = f. 207r) is a different one from that of p. 288 and so that one of Áed’s scribes must have taken over as requested.
Initial words (prose)
  • Betha ⁊ slainte o Find epscop (.i. Cilli Dara) do Aed mac Crimthainn do fir leigind ardrig Leithi Moga (.i. Nuadat) ...
Speaker: Find Úa Gormáin [bishop of Kildare]Addressee: Áed Úa Crimthainn [abbot of Terryglass]Úa Crimthainn (Áed) ... abbot of Terryglass
(fl. 12th c.)
Úa Crimthainn (Áed), Áed Úa Crimthainn, mac Crimthainn (Áed)
abbot and coarb of Terryglass (Tír Dá Glas), near Lough Derg, and one of the scribes and compilers of the Book of Leinster.
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Find Úa Gormáin [bishop of Kildare]Find Úa Gormáin ... bishop of Kildare
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  • Middle Irish
mid-12th century
prose (primary)
verse (secondary)
Textual relationships



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.

[ed.] Forste-Grupp, Sheryl L., “The earliest Irish personal letter”, Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium 15 (1995, 1998): 1–11.

Secondary sources (select)

Bhreathnach, Edel, “Two contributors to the Book of Leinster: Bishop Finn of Kildare and Gilla na Náem Úa Duinn”, in: Richter, Michael, and Jean-Michel Picard (eds.), Ogma: essays in Celtic studies in honour of Próinséas Ní Chatháin, Dublin: Four Courts, 2002. 105–111.
Forste-Grupp, Sheryl L., “The earliest Irish personal letter”, Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium 15 (1995, 1998): 1–11.
O'Sullivan, William, “Notes on the scripts and make-up of the Book of Leinster”, Celtica 7 (1966): 1–31.
Best, Richard Irvine, Osborn Bergin, and M. A. O'Brien, The Book of Leinster, formerly Lebar na Núachongbála, vol. 1, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1954. 260 pp. + 4 pl.
CELT – edition (pp. 1-260): <link>
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
June 2016, last updated: February 2022