Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson B 505 Unit: section 1, ff. 1-210Codex Insulensis (MS R2 or I)

  • Latin
  • s. xivex
  • distinct manuscript
  • Irish manuscripts
  • vellum

Collection of Irish saints’ Lives in Latin. It is generally taken to be an early copy of Rawlinson B 485 and since the latter is now mutilated in places, fills in a number of important gaps. The order of the Lives has been rearranged to follow the calendar of feast-days.

Codex Insulensis (MS R2 or I)

The hagiographic collection represented by Rawlinson B 485 and B 505 is known as the Codex Insulensis, a title which is ultimately borrowed from John Colgan. Alternatively, Richard Sharpe (1991) refers to it as the ‘Oxford collection’ of Irish saints’ Lives. Plummer (1910) employs the symbols R1 and R2; Sharpe (1991) R and I.

Irish religious literature legendaries
Provenance and related aspects
s. xivex
Late 14th century (Ó Cuív).
Origin, provenance
Provenance: Mainistir Derg
Mainistir Derg ... Abbeyderg
County Longford
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ass. with Tomás mac Póil Mac MuircheartaighMac Muircheartaigh (Tomás mac Póil)
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Ó Fearghail familyÓ Fearghail family
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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See Pádraig Ó Riain, ‘Longford priories and their manuscripts: All Saints and Abbeyderg’ in Longford, history & society... (2010).
Hands, scribes
Hands indexed:
Hand 1 (ff. 1–89) Hand in large gothic script, responsible for writing the Life of Patrick. Both this hand and the next are identified by Ó Cuív as belonging to Mattheus Ó Duibhidhir. On f. 5r, someone other than the scribe wrote his name, “in an untidy hand in Irish script, possibly late”, in the lower margin: Matheus O Duibidhir fear sgriobtha an leabhair so mar ata a ndeireadh Beatha Fursa. Mattheus Ó DuibhidhirÓ Duibhidhir (Mattheus)
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Hand 2 (ff. 90-210) Hand in small gothic script, responsible for writing the Lives of Irish saints and St David from f. 90 on. Both this hand and the previous one in larger script are identified by Ó Cuív as belonging to Mattheus Ó Duibhidhir, whose scribal signature is found on f. 178ra: Cujus meritis deleatur culpa Mathei y Duibr. Ó Cuív notes that some of the saints' pedigrees which started out as marginal additions in the exemplar were incorporated into the incipits of the Lives. Mattheus Ó DuibhidhirÓ Duibhidhir (Mattheus)
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Annotating hand A later, anonymous hand who added genealogies to the Lives of Áed (ff. 149vb, 152rb), Berach (f. 191va) and Fintan (f. 194va). Date: unknown.
Signature hand 1 Late hand adding the signature of Cormacc Óg Mac Muircheartaigh (ff. 53v, 54v, 117v), which also appears in the second manuscript unit (ff. 212r, 217v). Cormac Óg Mac MuircheartaighMac Muircheartaigh (Cormac Óg)
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Copies or excerpts
Codicological information
UnitCodicological unit. Indicates whether the entry describes a single leaf, a distinct or composite manuscript, etc.
distinct manuscript
37 cm × 25.5 cm
Foliation / Pagination
Ó Cuív writes that James Ware foliated ff. 1-89 and 90r in ink (two leaves, now ff. 85a and 85b, are numbered as 85) and from f. 90v on, went on to use pagination (f. 90v = p. 2), with foliation continued in pencil from f. 91r on. Ware made two additional mistakes: after p. 35, the pagination jumps to p. 40 and no pagination was added to what is now f. 201v.
Table of contents

Links to texts use a standardised title for the catalogue and so may or may not reflect what is in the manuscript itself, hence the square brackets. Their appearance comes in three basic varieties, which are signalled through colour coding and the use of icons, , and :

  1. - If a catalogue entry is both available and accessible, a direct link will be made. Such links are blue-ish green and marked by a bookmark icon.
  2. - When a catalogue entry does not exist yet, a desert brown link with a different icon will take you to a page on which relevant information is aggregated, such as relevant publications and other manuscript witnesses if available.
  3. - When a text has been ‘captured’, that is, a catalogue entry exists but is still awaiting publication, the same behaviour applies and a crossed eye icon is added.

The above method of differentiating between links has not been applied yet to texts or citations from texts which are included in the context of other texts, commonly verses.


While it is not a reality yet, CODECS seeks consistency in formatting references to locations of texts and other items of interest in manuscripts. Our preferences may be best explained with some examples:

  • f. 23ra.34: meaning folio 23 recto, first column, line 34
  • f. 96vb.m: meaning folio 96, verso, second column, middle of the page (s = top, m = middle, i = bottom)
    • Note that marg. = marginalia, while m = middle.
  • p. 67b.23: meaning page 67, second column, line 23
The list below has been collated from the table of contents, if available on this page,Progress in this area is being made piecemeal. Full and partial tables of contents are available for a small number of manuscripts. and incoming annotations for individual texts (again, if available).Whenever catalogue entries about texts are annotated with information about particular manuscript witnesses, these manuscripts can be queried for the texts that are linked to them.


See also the parent manuscript for further references.

Secondary sources (select)

Ó Cuív, Brian, Catalogue of Irish language manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and Oxford college libraries. Part 1: Descriptions, Dublin: School of Celtic Studies, DIAS, 2001.
Ó Riain, Pádraig [ed.], Beatha Bharra: Saint Finnbarr of Cork: The complete Life, Irish Texts Society, 57, London: Irish Texts Society, 1994.
Sharpe, Richard, Medieval Irish saints’ lives: an introduction to Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.
Plummer, Charles, Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae, partim hactenus ineditae, 2 vols, vol. 1, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910.
Internet Archive: <link>
esp. xv–xxii
Plummer, Charles, “On two collections of Latin lives of Irish saints in the Bodleian library, Rawl. B. 485 and Rawl. B. 505”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 5 (1905): 429–454.
Internet Archive: <link>
Macray, William D., Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Bodleianæ, vol. 5: partis quintæ ... viri munificentissimi Ricardi Rawlinson, J.C.D., fasc. 1: [A-B], Oxford, 1862.
 : <link>
cols 723–726
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
May 2020, last updated: November 2022