Great Book of Lecan

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Leabhar Mór Leacain
Royal Irish Academy (302 leaves)
Trinity College Library
Flann for Erinn.png
Opening lines of Máel Mura Othna's poem Flann for Érinn (Flann over Ireland), from the Great Book of Lecan (RIA MS 23 P 2), 296v
Also known asGreat Book of Lecan
TypeCompilation of Irish legends
Datebetween 1397 and 1418
Place of origin Clonmacnoise
Language(s) Middle Irish
Scribe(s) Giolla Íosa Mór Mac Fhirbhisigh, Ádhamh Ó Cuirnín
Material Vellum
Size32cm x 22cm
Format Folio
ConditionPages covered in greasy material
Script Irish minuscule
Contentsgenealogy, history, hagiography
Island of Ireland relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Location of Lecan (Leacán) in Ireland

The (Great) Book of Lecan (Irish: Leabhar (Mór) Leacáin) (RIA, MS 23 P 2) is a medieval Irish manuscript written between 1397 and 1418 in Castle Forbes, Lecan (Lackan, Leckan; Irish Leacán), in the territory of Tír Fhíacrach, near modern Enniscrone, County Sligo. It is in the possession of the Royal Irish Academy. [1]


Leabhar Mór Leacáin is written in Middle Irish and was created by Ádhamh Ó Cuirnín for Giolla Íosa Mór Mac Fhirbhisigh. The material within was transcribed from the Book of Leinster, latter copies of the Book of Invasions, the dinsenchas, the banshenchas and the Book of Rights. [1]

At one stage it was owned by James Ussher. James II of England then deposited it at the Irish College, Paris. In 1787, the Chevalier O'Reilly returned it to Ireland, where it was at one stage in the possession of Charles Vallancey. He passed it on to the Royal Irish Academy. [2]

There were originally 30 folios; the first nine were apparently lost in 1724. These contained a large section devoted to the pedigrees and history of the Norse and Norse-Gaelic families of Ireland, which are nowhere else preserved. [3]

The pages are covered in a greasy substance which makes them transparent and reduces their legibility. [1]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Jones' Celtic Encyclopedia
  2. Mary Frances Cusack, ‘’An Illustrated History of Ireland’’ Project Gutenberg eBook
  3. Alexander Bugge (ed. & tr.), of Duald Mac Firbis, On the Fomorians and the Norsemen . Christiania: J. Chr. Gundersens Bogtrykkeri. 1905. See Bugge's introduction.