The Irish Hand: Scribes and their manuscripts from the earliest times

Timothy O'Neill

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2014, Cork University Press,                                                                                                   148 pages

This is a revised and expanded edition of what has long been regarded as the standard work on Irish Manuscripts. The new book incorporates high quality digital images of the works of Irish scribes through the centuries. The extraordinary stories of the survival of these volumes provide a commentary on the cultural history of Ireland, its language, scholars and scribes.

The Irish Hand is arranged in two parts. Part One presents survey of the manuscript tradition, followed by essays on thirty-one of the great books of Ireland. The context, contents, and history of each manuscript are given, accompanied by a full-page illustration.
Part Two surveys the work of the scribes from a practical perspective, examining script and lettering in detail. Extracts are given from fifty-two manuscripts, transliterated and translated, with a commentary on the penwork. The Irish Hand covers 1,500 years of Irish script and letter design from the sixth to the twenty-first century

Timothy O'Neill, widely acknowledged to be the finest calligrapher in Ireland, is also a scholarly authority on the manuscript tradition and the author of Merchants and Mariners in Medieval Ireland (1987). He was the Burns Scholar at Boston College in 1995 and currently serves on the council of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. His artworks include the Roscrea Missal (1981), the Ó Fiaich Gospel Book, Maynooth (1995), Celtic-style tailfins for British Airways (1997), stamps for An Post in 2009 and a facsimile of the Faddan More Psalter in 2011.