Liz wrote:

>I did a quick search on Google and found a really nice site by Dr.
>Dianne Tillotson, where she shows several scripts and gives exercises 
>and quizzes for learners.

I've just had a look at this at it looks like a very useful thing to
have to hand. Thanks for the reference.

>>8. Ma ar n-eólus uaidh féin
>(Messe: I don't recognize the initial 'M',  but the rest of this part
>looks reasonable.)

Yep, that's the standard capital M. It's like our M only the left hand
down-stroke has its hand on its hip.

>Neil: fios na n-ôg s(e?)na n-aos
>In place of 's (e?)' I see what looks like two or three letters
>stuck together;  

It does indeed. There is:

(1) a long symbol that descends below the line and ascends above the
line where it curves to the right. In addition, it has a short stroke in
its middle which moves from left to right.

(2) a symbol which looks like an 'n' but the right hand minim (= short
vertical stroke) descends below the line, curving leftwards and then
makes a fish-hook to the right. 

The second symbol, (2), is a standard ligature for 'na'. It is an 'n'
with the right hand minim extended into a subscript 'a'.

The first symbol, (1), is more difficult. It could be an elongated 's',
with the normally horizontal ~ at the top being extended up and to the
right. For an idea of what I mean, have a look at the final 's' on the
final word of the third line from the bottom at:

(The word is 'u-itatis.', the suspension stroke stands here for 'er',
thus 'ueritatis.')

However, there is also the possibility that what we have is in fact an
'f', elongated in the same way.

On the other hand, I thought that maybe it could be a standard 's' with
an e stroke placed on top of it. There are two main types of 'e'. One
looks pretty much like our 'e', the other was an elongated 'e' that
looks more like a capital 'C'. There is an example given in Gary Ingle's
table which you referenced at:

Sometimes this too had a short horizontal stroke in the middle. My
recollection was that the top half of an elongated 'e' could be added as
a superscript to form a ligature. But now I look I can't find any
examples to hand. So maybe I was dreaming. There are superscript 'e's in
ligatures, but they all include a distinct central bar. See the 'de'
ligature in Gary Ingle's table.

Next we come to 'n-aos'.

>then I see a word that starts with 'n' 


>and probably ends with a tail-flourished 's' 

There is no tail-flourish. What you are seeing is a 'c' written' above
the 'g' on the next line. (That is the standard abbreviation for
'gac[h]', just as 'mc', in McLeod, is an abbreviation for 'mac'.)

>with another group of stuck-together letters
>that I don't recognize in between the two consonants. 
>That must be the diphthong 'ao'.

It's an 'ao' ligature (not necessarily a dipthong). Cf. the 'ae'
ligature given by Gary Ingle.