Seventeenth Century translations of Poor Clare Documents

The Royal Irish Academy in Dawson Street, Dublin, houses a manuscript in Irish of the Rule, the Testament and the Benediction of St. Clare, the Declarations made upon the Rule, (also known as the Constitutions of St.Colette) and some other devotional material. The Rule is written in the hand of the famous Irish Franciscan, Br Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, the chief of the seventeenth-century Irish annalists known as the Four Masters. The rest of the material in  the document was translated and written out by another famous Irish scholar, Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh, at the later date of 1647.

  In August 1636, Ó Cléirigh was nearing the completion of his task of collecting and compiling historical documents relating to the religious and secular history of Ireland along with other scholar-collaborators. This compilation is known today as the Annals of the Four Masters. Just before he returned to the Irish Franciscan College of Louvain in Spanish Flanders he paid a visit to our mother-house in 'Bethlehem' near Athlone. While staying in the nearby Franciscan Friary, he transcribed the Rule of St. Clare which, as he noted within the body of the transcription, was translated by two priests, Aodh Ó Raghallaigh and Seamas Ó Siaghail.


With the kind permission of the Royal Irish Academy, RIA MS D i 2, the name under which the manuscript is catalogued, can be viewed on this website in the PDF below. (Larger images of the document can be viewed on the website of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies in  'Irish Scripts on Screen'.)

 In addition, the study of RIA MS D i 2 by Professor Eleanor Knott  (1886-1975), which appeared in an edition of the Ériu journal in 1948 can also be viewed below in a PDF, again with the permission of the RIA. Separate permissions must be sought from the RIA for use of these images or documents for other purposes.  

The following are some books which contain information about RIA MS D i 2: 

CONCANNON, Helena, The Poor Clares in Ireland, Dublin: M.H. Gill and Son 1929.

COOLAHAN Marie-Louise, Women, Writing and Language in Early Modern Ireland, New York: Oxford 2010. pp63-101

CUNNINGHAM, Bernadette  The Poor Clare Order in Ireland  in The Irish Franciscans 1534-1990, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2009. Edel Breathnach,  Joseph Mac Mahon OFM & JohnMcCafferty, (eds.) pp159-174

JENNINGS OFM, Brendan, Michael O Cleirigh and his Associates, Dublin : The Talbot Press, 1936.

O’BRIEN OFM., Celsus, Poor Clares, Galway 1642-1992, Galway: Connaught Tribune 1993.

O MURAÍLE, Nollaig The Celebrated Antiquary Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh (c. 1600-1671) – His Lineage, Life and Learning, Maynooth: An Sagart 2002. pp131-144

WALSH, Paul, The Travels of Míchél Ó Cléirigh in Catholic Bulletin 17 (1927) 1155. Reprinted in Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, His Associates and St Anthony’s College, Louvain, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2008. Nollaig Ó Muraíle ed.



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Part 1 of Eleanor Knott's 1948 study of RIA MS D i 2

Part 2 of Eleanor Knott's 1948 study of RIA MS D i 2

Part 3 of Eleanor Knott's study of RIA MS D i 2

1636 transcription of Poor Clare Documents in Irish

O God,
I pray that I may know You and love You
So as eternally to rejoice in You.
And if, in the present life, I cannot do so fully,
Grant that my love and knowledge may at least grow on earth
That my joy may be fully in Heaven:
A joy expected here and there fulfilled.
O Lord our Father,
You counselled or rather commanded through Your Son,
That we ask for this fullness of joy, and You promised to grant it.
I ask of You, O Lord, that which, through Your Wonder-Counsellor,
You encouraged us to ask and promised to grant:
That our joy may be full!
Let my mind meditate on this joy, my tongue speak of it,
My heart desire it, my words extol it,
My soul hunger for it, my flesh thirst for it,
My whole substance yearn for it,
Until I enter into the joy of my God
Who is Triune and One,
Blessed forever.

St. Bonaventure