Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 282 Corpus Irish missal

  • Latin
  • s. xi2/xii1
  • Irish manuscripts
  • vellum

A missal commonly thought to have been produced in Ireland in the 11th or 12th century. Scholars have attempted to arrive at a more precise date and provenance, with varying conclusions. Much of the discussion has tended to focus on its artistic affinities with other illuminated manuscripts and the relationship of its textual contents to the reform movement of the 12th century, or lack of evidence for this, pointing to an earlier date of the manuscript if not of its texts.

Corpus Irish missal
Provenance and related aspects
s. xi2/xii1
Origin, provenance
Origin: Ireland
No short description available

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Provenance: Munster
Munster/Cúige Mumhan
No short description available

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Ard Macha
Ard Macha ... Armagh
County Armagh
No short description available

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The names on ff. 2v and 157r are taken to refer to owners of the psalter but no secure identification can be made for any of them. However, the family name of Tomás Ó Sínacháin recalls Muireadhach Ua Sinachain (d. 1052), maor Pádraig ‘steward of Patrick’ (i.e. Armagh) in Munster, leading Gwynn to suggest that “the book would seem to be most probably of Munster origin, though a connection with the church of Armagh is also probable”.
Provenance: Connacht
Connacht/Cúige Chonnacht
No short description available

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Túaim Dá Gúalann
Túaim Dá Gúalann ... Tuam
County Galway
No short description available

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For art-historical reasons, Henry and Marsh-Micheli looked to 12th-century Connacht as the probable locus of production. They are joined by John A. Claffey, who posits that “the Corpus missal was originally compiled for use at St Mary's Cathedral, Tuam”. For instance, he associates the inclusion of Brendan and Fursa in the litany of saints with the expansionist aspirations of the Tuam diocese in Mag Seola.
Later provenance: Warren records a tradition current in the College according to which the psalter was discovered in a bog. Although Warren did find ‘very minute earthy particles’ in some of the later leaves, Aubrey Gwynn (1964) notes that the generally acceptable condition of the manuscript makes it highly unlikely for the manuscript to have been deposited in a bog for an extended period of time.
Hands, scribes
Codicological information
17 cm × 12 cm
Generally in good condition. Damp stains are visible in the first 20 and final 60 leaves.
Palaeographical information
Category: Gaelic National minuscule
Table of contents

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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


Primary sources This section typically includes references to diplomatic editions, facsimiles and photographic reproductions, notably digital image archives, of at least a major portion of the manuscript. For editions of individual texts, see their separate entries.

[dig. img.] Digital Bodleian, Online: Oxford, Bodleian Library, ?–present. URL: <>.
[ed.] Warren, F. E., The manuscript Irish missal belonging to the president and fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, London: Pickering and Co., 1879.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link>, <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>

Secondary sources (select)

Thomson, R. M., , Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2011.  
The College of Corpus Christi, Oxford, was a 'Renaissance' institution both as to its foundation date (1517) and the intention of its founder, Richard Fox, bishop of Winchester. Both Fox himself and his choice as the College's first President, John Claymond, were friends of Erasmus, who approved of the foundation and especially of its library. Fox intended his foundation to be a conduit of Italian humanism to Oxford and to the English clergy. In its extraordinary variety, this collection is a challenge to the cataloguer. Some manuscripts relate to the programme of the College's founder and first President, but most of the manuscripts reflect the particular interests of collectors from the late sixteenth century onwards. John Dee's books for example, mostly small, unpretentious and often fragmentary or made up of fragments, constitute a gold-mine for the historian of medieval chemistry and alchemy. These are supplemented by an important group of astronomical, arithmetical and medical texts. There is a substantial clutch of twelfth- and thirteenth-century manuscripts from Lanthony Priory. Noteworthy, too, is the large number of manuscripts in several vernaculars: Old and Middle English and French, Old Irish, Catalan, and even a few words of fifteenth-century Czech. The bindings of the Corpus manuscripts have been wholly neglected. Many books retain important medieval bindings, some as early as the twelfth century, and a substantial number of beautiful blind-stamped bindings of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A special place in the collection is occupied by the approximately 1, 200 manuscript fragments, taken from bindings of books in the library in the late nineteenth century.
Henry, Françoise, and G. L. Marsh-Micheli, “A century of Irish illumination (1070–1170)”, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 62 C (1961–1962): 101–166.
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
August 2020, last updated: August 2023