Lough Key boat trip marks start of annals update project


A symbolic boat trip on Lough Key in Co Roscommon this weekend marked the start of an ambitious project to update the records written by monks five centuries ago.

Curator and scribe Colum Stapleton included references to the pandemic in the opening pages of an updated version of Lough Key’s annals, which were first written by monks on Holy Trinity Island in Lake of the beginning of the 15th century to 1590.

Stapleton, curator of the Brú Moytura Cultural Center, near Lough Arrow, was part of a group that took eight pages of newly written annals on Saturday aboard the wooden ship to the island.

The holy water was collected by the group at the abbey before returning to the Doone shore.

Renato Melo, calligrapher; Colum Stapleton, Scribe, and Jessica Reid, stationery / ink designer, at Holy Trinity Island Abbey, Lough Key (Ce) Photo: Brian Farrell

“There was a moment when we became very quiet as the boat approached the island and saw the beautiful roofless abbey through the trees; unbelievable to think it’s still there intact since 1590, ”Stapleton said.

The New Lough Key (Cé) Annal is “a continuation of a line of records stretching back over 1,200 years since Eusebius first put quill on parchment in Constantinople in AD 303” , he said.

Colum Stapleton, Renato Melo and Jessica Reid harvest berries for ink at Holy Trinity Island, Lough Key (Ce).Colum Stapleton, Renato Melo and Jessica Reid harvest berries for ink at Holy Trinity Island, Lough Key (Ce). Photo: Brian Farrell

As he explains, the annals are an annual record of world events carefully written and kept by monks and scholars, starting with Eusebius in Constantinople.

Now a national enterprise is being launched to close the 432-year gap between the last Annale of 1590 and the start of 2022, he says.

The first line of the New Annals reads: “In the 9th year of the 9th Viking / Satirist President O’hUiginn / Chaintigh. “

There are pandemic references, including from March 2020, of which

“20.16 On March 13, Nepal closed Mount Everest, which allowed it to climb one meter higher.

0.17 Three days later, the reverse happened: the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke 2,987.10.

20.18 Saint-Patrick. The Schengen countries closed their vast borders.

No faction fights, no tanks, no tractors, no tab muppets banishing Ophite cults, no rain on your parades all over Ireland.

201.9 March 23 A third of the world is turning in on itself. Like the canaries testing the atmospheres, people begin to sing among themselves: “Want to Break Free” particularly popular.

20.20 News anchors blamed a bat for the influential outbreak.

The bat-man virus came from the middle of the Middle Empire, they concluded. “

Harpist Sinead Ni Ghearailt, calligrapher Renato Melo and calligrapher and stationery / ink maker Jessica Reid have joined Stapleton, as have illustrator Cormac Cullinan.

Auriel Robinson, board member of Sligo Leader and owner of Seatrails Sligo, was also present. Sligo Leader funded a 90 page feasibility study on the project.

The formal reception of the records was performed by Dr Brian Lacey at the Scriptorium in Bru Moytura, a short distance from the northeast corner of Lough Arrow.

“Writing our ancient records transformed Ireland from a prehistoric culture into one based on written evidence,” said Dr Lacey.

“They constitute the longest continuous recording in our history and a distinctly Irish aspect of our modern culture. “

“Our rekindled annals imagine extending the future of our culture, inspired by a period of ‘plague’ and a sense of disintegration,” Stapleton said.

He said the project was looking for the “best news articles” that were worth including in the update.

“Send us your current thoughts on Twitter at [email protected] for what you felt you needed most journaling for going forward in 2021, ”Stapleton said.

Stapleton said that a secondary goal of the project was to write down the missing 432 years of recorded history since the last time the annals were worked on.

Handmade parchment paper with natural ink and calligraphy is used for updating in a “scriptorium” in Brú Moytura, he said.

He said an annals crowdfunding campaign will be launched in early 2022.

Renato Melo, calligrapher;  Colum Stapleton, scribe;  with the front page of Annal 2020 at Doone Shore Lough Key (Ce).Renato Melo, calligrapher; Colum Stapleton, scribe; with the front page of Annal 2020 at Doone Shore Lough Key (Ce). Photo: Brian Farrell

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