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A fifteenth-century Leinster poem on bloodletting in Hiberno-English

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posted on 2024-05-03, 13:48 authored by Pierce GracePierce Grace, Carrie GriffinCarrie Griffin

WHILE OVER ONE hundred Gaelic medical manuscripts from Ireland survive from the late medieval period, very few medical texts written in Hiberno-English are extant.1 One work that has endured is Wellcome Historical Medical Library MS 406, described as a ‘[c]ollection of medical tracts in verse and prose, mostly in Middle English (Leech-Books, III)’, which contains texts on bloodletting, recipes, herbs and charms.2 There are two other sources in medieval Hiberno-English that contain some medical references: the first is the now-destroyed fourteenth-century Account Roll of the Priory of the Holy Trinity, Dublin covering the period from 1337 to 1346; while the second is a poem dated c. 1330 entitled “Elde” (Old Age), extant in British Library MS Harley 913 (the ‘Kildare Manuscript’), f. 54v and f. 62r, which graphically describes the infirmities that accompany old age.3 There are also a number of inscribed slates discovered at Smarmore, Co Louth in 1959 that preserve fifteenth-century medical recipes in English and Latin.4



Ossory, Laois and Leinster

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