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Complaints in the margin

Brief phrases, added in the margin of Celtic manuscripts, give a glimpse of the scribes at work. Usually discontent provokes the comment, but the last one quoted here provides an upbeat note:

'Twenty days to Easter Monday and I am cold and tired.'

'I am Cormach, son of Cosnamach, and there is some devil in this ink.'

'Thin ink, bad vellum, difficult text.'

'Do not reproach me concerning the letters; the ink is bad, the parchment scanty, the day dark.'

'I have written this book for love of the Irish, because I am myself an Irishman.'

Quoted Bamber Gascoigne The Christians, Cape 1977, page 64

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