An Arrouaisian Psalter from St. Mary’s Abbey, Trim

TCD MS 84, Trim, 15th century

This psalter belonged to St. Mary’s Abbey in Trim Abbey, which is believed to have been the first of a handful of foundations which adopted the Arrouaisian Rule. It contains special services for St. Malachy (d. 1148), the great reformer, who is thought to have introduced the Rule in Trim Abbey. The Arrouaisian Rule stems from the monastery of Arrouaise in Flanders which Malachy had visited ca. 1140. The entry for St. Lambert of Maastricht on f. 5r at xv kalendae/17 Sept. possibly reflects this connection.

Among the Irish saints given prominence in the calendar is St. Ultán of Ardbraccan ‘archiepiscopie et primas Hibernie’ (f. 5r, 5 Sept.), as indicated by the bright blue capital and red lettering. As in the previous codices, alternating colours mark lesser (black/brown) and greater (red) feasts. The use of blue here indicates a feast of special importance. In the right margin you can see the number of lessons to be read for each feast (again either 3 or 9 lessons depending on the importance of the feast).

A number of sixteenth-century additions shed light on the history of the monastery and the manuscript. On f. 5r the obits of the canons of St Mary’s are recorded, such as that of Canon Thomas Nugent (d. 1521) and Canon Patrick Smart (d. 1577). The late date of the latter tells us that the manuscript must have remained in the hands of someone connected to St. Mary’s even after the abbey was surrendered in 1539 during the Dissolution of the monasteries.