Eugene O'Curry: Leabhar na Huidri

Scope and Content

A facsimile transcript (including coloured initials) of the Leabhar na Huidri made by Eugene O'Curry, 152 folios. The transcript was probably made for Dr J. H. Todd, whose bookplate is inside the front cover and who has made occasional marginal notes in pencil. Notes by the transcriber are on on slips attached to fos 127 and 139. Many leaves are left blank to indicate gaps in the archetype.

Administrative / Biographical History

Eugene O'Curry (1796-1862) was born at Dunaha, near Carrigaholt, co. Clare, where his father, Eoghan O'Curry, was a farmer. Although slightly lame, he worked a little on his father's farm while devoting himself to Irish studies. The farm was ruined during the agricultural distresses of 1815, and O'Curry found work in Limerick. His father went to live with him and continued to encourage him in his literary pursuits. In 1834 he obtained employment on the topographical and historical section of the ordnance survey in Ireland. The work lasted until 1837 and brought O'Curry into contact with learned men and with Irish manuscripts in Dublin, Oxford, and London. His next work was copying, arranging, and examining Irish manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy, Trinity College, Dublin, and other institutions. He became a member of the council of the Celtic Society, which was founded in 1853, and professor of Irish history and archaeology at the new Catholic University of Ireland, where he delivered his first course of lectures in 1855-1856. His 21 lectures were published in 1860, and give a full account of the chief Irish medieval manuscripts and their content. Three further volumes of lectures, delivered between May 1857 and July 1862, 'On Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish', were published in 1873, edited by Dr W.K. Sullivan. O'Curry devoted much of his work to the translation and transcription of Irish writings and his health was eventually effected by his labours. He died in Dublin in July 1862.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Lady Moore, from the library of Sir Norman Moore, 1924.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on O'Curry in Sidney Lee, Dictionary of national biography, Vol. XIV (London, 1909), pp. 860-861.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.

Custodial History

The transcript was part of the collection of Sir Thomas Philipps (MS 23052) before its acquisition by Sir Norman Moore, Bt (d. 1923).


An edited version of Leabhar na Huidri has been produced by R. I. Best and O. Bergin, Dublin, 1929.

Additional Information

The original of the transcript is now held by the Royal Irish Academy, MS 23 E 25.

Geographical Names