MAC AINGIL, Aodh
Scathan shacramuinte na haitridhe ar na uma don rá [air?] o dord San Froinsias..[Louvain], Iar na chur a ccló maille ré húgdardhás, 1618
FIRST EDITION. 12mo. pp. [xii], 581 [i.e. 569], [xliii]; * , A-3F . Gaelic letter. [Louvain type A] Title within typographical border, ‘Emanuel Telaph’ within typographical ornaments, small woodcut initials, woodcut tail pieces, mss prayer in Latin on verso of last fly, “Joachim compensis” in early hand below. Light age yellowing some browning in places, title a little dust soiled, light occasional waterstaining. A very good, entirely unsophisticated copy in contemporary limp vellum, darkened and a little soiled, in morocco backed folding box, HP Kraus book-label loosely inserted.
Exceptionally rare first edition of the first original work by a living author in Irish. The few works printed in Irish appearing prior to this were the Bible, liturgy, or translations. This is one of a small group of books from the first press to print and promote Irish writing in the vernacular. The press was an outgrowth of a concentration of scholars skilled in Irish and other languages at St. Anthony’s, the Franciscan college at Louvain, which acquired the press in 1611. Though their primary purpose was to train priests for the Irish and Scottish missions, they also published literary works for a wider Irish audience, later using commercial publishers (after the demise of this press). Mac Aingil [or MacCaghwell] came from an old Irish family. He was born in Co. Tyrone and early in life entered the service of Hiugh O’Neill, earl of Tyrone, as tutor to his sons. In 1604 in Spain he entered the Franciscans, and in 1606 went to the Spanish Netherlands where he helped set up the Franciscan College in Louvain, and played an active role in Irish spiritual and intellectual life. For the publication of this work the author used his Irish name Aodh Mac Aingil, although the Latin form of his name is given at the end of the book. The title means ‘A mirror of the sacrament of penance’, and the work is devotional in nature. “Although this acknowledged James I as the rightful ruler of Ireland, it also identified Ireland as a Catholic nation and demonstrates a very modern sense of national consciousness. Moreover, the work is a prominent example of how the literary language of contemporary Irish poets was used to produce a readable prose text” ODNB. “The word ‘Emanuel’ serves as an invocation or prayer. Another example on a Louvain book is the obscure phrase ‘Emanuel Telaph’ on the titlepage of Scathan shacramuinte (1618). The use of Emanuel as an invocation can be found in Irish manuscripts as far back as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. … ‘It was customary with the Irish scribes to use that word at the heads of chapters and pages, implying that in the Holy Name of Emanuel they began that work, chapter, or page’.” Clóliosta – ‘Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies’. “Domestic conditions made establishment of a Gaelic press in Ireland impossible. It fell, therefore, to the fledgeling Irish colonies in Europe to organise a print response to the Protestant offensive. The Franciscans were already familiar with the products of the Protestant press and even deigned to use them…. In 1611 the Irish Franciscans cut the Gaelic front and set up a printing press in Antwerp, which is soon moved to Louvain. It was in order to help the youth and others in Ireland against the false doctrine of other religions that the Franciscan press produced a small number of catechetical and devotional texts. Their circulation appears to have been limited to the Gaelic-speaking community then resident in Flanders though there is evidence that they also circulated in manuscript form in Ireland. Only a small number of publications came off the Irish press.. and between 1619 and 1641 the press does not appear to have been used at all. .. The meagre production was due, in part, to financial constraints, which exacerbated existing problems of composition, printing, and distribution. Low literacy rates in Irish were a factor and it seems Irish speakers who learned to read tended to become literate in English only.” Raymond Gillespie. ‘The Oxford History of the Irish Book, Volume III.’“The Franciscans, for example, were at the forefront of the drive to print devotional works in Irish for the Gaelic speaking part of the Irish catholic church. .. And not only the language involved but also the format of these particular works indicate their intended audiences .. such smaller works were more easily hidden on the person… In Ireland, where possession of such recusant works could prove dangerous, it made sense to produce clandestine works in these smaller formats”. Crawford Gribben. ‘Enforcing Reformation in Ireland and Scotland, 1550–1700.’ESTC S2226. STC 17157. Allison & Rogers, Catholic 489. Allison & Rogers Counter-Reformation II, 507. Bradshaw 8612. Shaaber M4. Bradshaw 8612. Best, 248. McGuinne, 35