fol. A2r, Irish Bible
An Biobla Naomhtha. London: Robert Everingham, 1690.
Duodecimo.  pages, 5¾ x 3¼ inches. Roman, with italic chapter headings, double column. Bound in brown speckled calfskin. § DM 5535; Wing (2nd ed.) B2712. § CD-ROM: 6.9, title page; 6.9, bookplate.
The issues that confront the first printer of a vernacular Bible are often formidable. Concerns over the legality of such an enterprise aside, the printer must resolve format issues, especially the problems of setting a new and unfamiliar text into print directly from the manuscript source, without an earlier printed model. Sometimes, the very alphabet in question has not appeared in print before, requiring the design and casting of an entirely new set of type. Many times such printers must have wondered whether there would be a sufficient audience willing to invest in the new unproven product.
The New Testament was first translated into Irish Gaelic in the third quarter of the sixteenth century. It was first put into print by John Franke in 1602 at Dublin. The second edition of the New Testament was translated by a certain "Reilly" and printed in Irish characters by Robert Everingham in 1681 at London. Everinghams Old Testament appeared four years later, translated from the Hebrew by Bishop William Bedel (15711642) of Kilmore in Ireland. Everingham also produced 3000 copies of the present volume in 1690, the first complete Irish Bible printed in one volume.
For the Bible on exhibit the Old Testament was based on Bedels 1685 Irish version, and the New Testament on the 1602 Irish translation from Greek by Archbishop William ODonnell of Tuam ( 1628). It was transliterated from Irish characters into the roman alphabet by Robert Kirke ( 1692), the Scottish minister of Aberfoyle.
This Bible was printed at the expense of Robert Boyle (162791), the eminent philosopher and scientistand author of "Boyles Law" of chemistry. Boyle, who had insisted on omitting the Apocrypha, otherwise left editorial matters to the scholars he supported. His generosity and interest in promoting Bible translation also motivated him to finance the printing of the Scriptures in Welsh, Turkish, Malayan and the Native American language of "Massachusetts [12.1]." The Irish Bible was intended for the Gaelic speaking Highlanders in Scotland, but does not seem to have enjoyed much success, perhaps because the roman alphabet was unfamiliar to many Irish readers.
The engraved bookplate in the present copy shows two wildmen holding a shield with three crowns beneath a burning hill and is inscribed "The Hon.ble Allexander Grantt, younger of that ilk." This was an early eighteenth-century member of the Grant family of Scotland which produced the Grant-Ogilvie line of the Earls of Seafield.
Literature: Dictionary of National Biography (1960), 2:102728; Greenslade 1969, 17273.