Michael Casey (?1752–1830/31), herb doctor, his Irish manuscripts, and John O’Donovan
Eigse: A Journal of Irish Studies
Evidence is brought together to show what manuscripts were written, owned, or otherwise used by Michael Casey, known chiefly as an herbalist in Dublin in the 1820s. It is shown that he had a background in reading medieval Irish books before he applied that study to medical texts, healing himself of a persistent malady and thereafter turning to the practice of prescribing remedies from medieval medical texts in Ireland. He was in contact with many of those interested in Irish manuscripts in the early nineteenth century, among them the much younger John O’Donovan, who refers to him in a variety of contexts. It is argued that Casey was very likely the means to O’Donovan’s first experience with medieval Irish manuscripts when he was nineteen years old. It is shown that manuscripts owned by Casey were sold by a minor dealer, John Fagan, selling books from a stall on Henry Street, and were divided between various buysers, among them Myles John O’Reilly and Owen Connellan. Those passing through O’Reilly’s hands have for the most part distinctive bindings. Casey’s famous remedy for gout came from a small vellum book that passed through O’Reilly’s hands but has not been traced. It ought to be recognizable if it has retained M. J. O’Reilly’s binding.