Digitisation of Irish manuscripts

Irish Manuscripts of the Franciscan Irish College in Leuven

12 Irish manuscripts for which KBR had minimal metadata have been digitised in cooperation with the Leuven Center for Irish Studies and are now available through Irish Script on Screen.

Online Access to the Irish manuscripts of the Irish College in Leuven is a co-operative project between the Leuven Centre for Irish Studies (KU Leuven), KBR, the Embassy of Ireland to the Kingdom of Belgium and Irish Script on Screen (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies).

KBR’s Irish manuscripts

The 12 manuscripts were transcribed in the 17th century at St Anthony’s College of the Irish Franciscans in Leuven, which was of crucial importance for the collection and preservation of Irish history and culture, when they were being suppressed under English hegemony. Hundreds of Irish seminarians came to Leuven to study for the priesthood, when it was forbidden in Ireland. The manuscripts, some of them in Mícheál Ó Cléirigh‘s own hand, comprise literary, historical and hagiographic content.

When the French Revolution arrived in Leuven the collections were dispersed, 12 of them to the Royal Library (now KBR) and others eventually finding their way to University College Dublin. In this way we can think of them as being digitally re-united.


Allocation of tasks

  • The digitisation was organised by the Leuven Centre for Irish Studies, and funded by the Irish Embassy in Belgium.
  • The photography was carried out by the digitisation laboratory of KU Leuven Libraries
  • Long term preservation of images and metadata and online publication are carried out by KBR
  • Academic analysis and descriptions are provided by ISOS.


Consulting the manuscripts

You can view the complete manuscripts in our digital library Belgica.

Manuscript images are also available from the ISOS database in two formats:

  • Small jpg (c. 150-500 KB). These images are intended for the general user. They may be viewed by clicking on the relevant thumbnail.
  • Large jpg (c. 1.5-5MB). These images are intended for the more specialist user (scholars, students, etc.). You need an account for this.
Consult the Irish manuscripts