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The earliest Irish literature consisted of original lyric poetry and versions of ancient prose tales.
The earliest poetry, composed in the 6th century, illustrates a vivid religious faith or describes the world of nature, and was sometimes written in the margins of illuminated manuscripts.
The latter part of the nineteenth century saw a rapid replacement of Irish by English in the greater part of the country.
At the end of the century, however, cultural nationalism displayed a new energy, marked by the Gaelic Revival (which encouraged a modern literature in Irish) and more generally by the Irish Literary Revival.
It is one of the earliest manuscripts produced by an insular church to contain a near complete copy of the New Testament.