Fun Facts

As well as leabhar ‘a book’, the Irish words litir ‘a letter’, peann ‘a pen’ and scríobh ‘write’ all came from Latin.

The oldest surviving text written in Ireland is a letter sent by St Patrick to the British ruler Coroticus, criticising him for kidnapping and killing some of Patrick’s converts. This letter is written in Latin.

From medieval times until the twentieth century, Irish was written using special letter-forms, sometimes called Irish Script.

Black ink for medieval manuscripts was made from oak galls, which are formed when a wasp lays eggs on an oak-tree.

In recent years, many medieval manuscripts have been digitised so that people around the world can look at them while the manuscripts themselves are kept in specially controlled conditions to preserve them for as long as possible.