The Reformation of ritual in Ireland

The Book of Common Prayer was first used in English in Ireland on Easter Sunday, 1551 at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. The same year, Humphrey Powell issued The Booke of Common Praier in a special Irish edition, the first book printed with moveable type in Ireland. However, no translation into Irish, the language of the vast majority of the population, was made until 1608. The translator, William Daniel (d.1628), was consecrated Archbishop of Tuam in 1609, and had previously helped make the first translation of the New Testament. Despite attempts at religious and linguistic colonisation, Ireland remained predominantly Catholic . In this copy, there are some intriguing annotations on the endpapers: a quotation in Latin from the Vulgate Bible; and then some verses in a form of Irish that is closer to modern Irish than Old or Middle Irish, written in what appears to be a seventeenth century hand: Cgart, gann blaise eig Ultagh/ blaise gann Cgert, eig moighnagh,/ Cgert, blaise eig Coghnaghtegh/ gan blaise gann Cgert eig Leighhagh. This traditional saying translates: ‘The men of Ulster have right without taste/ The men of Munster have taste without right/ The men of Connaught have right and taste/ The men of Leinster have neither taste nor right’. There are then some drawings of a fish, a dog, a hare and a deer. BC

Leabhar na nurnaightheadh gcomhchoidchiond agus mheinisdraldachda na Sacrameinteadh, maille le gnathaighthibh agus le hordaighthibh oile, do reir eagalse na Sagsan (Mbajle atha Cljath [Dublin]: Sheon Franckton, 1608).

YML: XI.G.13/2, title page with facing endpaper

Further Reading

Brian Mayne, ‘Ireland’, in C. Hefling and C. Shattuck (eds), The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer (New York, 2006), pp. 202-8.

Patricia Palmer, Language and Conquest in Early Modern Ireland (Cambridge, 2001).

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