Birr Historical Society

The Faddan More Psalter

In July 2006, an amazing archaeological discovery was made in a bog at Faddan More in North Tipperary in the parish of Birr and only five miles from the town.

 While cutting turf, Eddie Fogarty found the remains of an illuminated manuscript copy of the Psalms of early medieval date along with an important leather binding and the remains of a leather bag in the bucket of his machine. He contacted Padraig and Kevin Leonard, owners of the bog, and together they secured the find in a manner that was highly praised by the National Museum of Ireland experts whom they contacted immediately.

Site of find at Fadden More
Site of find at Faddan More Bog
Machine with bucket attachment
Machine with bucket attachment

Eddie's discovery made international headlines at the time. It was the first medieval manuscript ever found in a wetland environment. The first fragment of text revealed to the public caused an international furore because it was wrongly believed to prophesy the destruction of Israel.  

With the use of modern technology as well as traditional skills, the Psalter was conserved in the National Museum of Ireland where it presented many challenges, archaeological, art historical as well as interpretation. The Psalter can now be viewed in the museum in a major display together with interpretation and explanation of the techniques used to conserve this unique artefact.

Those who attended the Macregol Conference in Birr on 1-2 September 2006 only a few weeks after the discovery of the Psalter, were excited to find that Patrick Wallace, then Director of the National Museum of Ireland and Bernard Meehan, Keeper of Manuscripts at Trinity College, Dublin had agreed to attend and address the Conference.

Birr Historical Society subsequently held a Seminar on ‘The Psalter from Faddan More Bog’ on Saturday 11 October, 2008 at Dooly’s Hotel, Birr  with lectures by Dáibhi Ó’Cróinín, School of History, NUIG , Eamonn Kelly, Keeper of Irish Antiquities, National Museum of Ireland , Rolly Read, Head of Conservation, National Museum of Ireland, John Gillis, Conservator at Trinity College, Dublin & National Museum of Ireland , Bernard Meehan, Keeper of Manuscripts, Trinity College, Dublin and Raghnall O’Floinn, now Director of the , National Museum of Ireland.

The seminar provided an opportunity to discover what had been learned about the Psalter over the course of two years as the panel of experts assembled by the National Museum of Ireland presented illustrated accounts of work in progress. Further information is available on the website of the National Museum of Ireland.