Principal Books of Irish Annals

From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland 1906

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CHAPTER X....continued

3. Principal Books of Annals.

The following are the principal books of Irish Annals remaining. The Synchronisms of Flann, who was a layman, Ferleginn or chief professor of the school of Monasterboice; died in 1056. He compares the chronology of Ireland with that of other countries, and gives the names of the monarchs that reigned in the principal ancient kingdoms and empires of the world, with the Irish kings who reigned contemporaneously. Copies of this tract are preserved in the Books of Lecan and Ballymote.

The Annals of Tighernach [Teerna]. Tighernach O'Breen, the compiler of these annals, one of the greatest scholars of his time, was abbot of the two monasteries of Clonmacnoise and Roscommon. He was acquainted with the chief historical writers of the world known in his day, compares them, and quotes from them; and he made use of Flann's Synchronisms, and of most other ancient Irish historical writings of importance. His work is written in Irish mixed a good deal with Latin; it has lately been translated by Dr. Stokes. He states that authentic Irish history begins at the foundation of Emania, and that all preceding accounts are uncertain. Tighernach died in 1088.

The Annals of Innisfallen were compiled about the year 1215 by some scholars of the monastery of Innisfallen, in the Lower Lake of Killarney.

The Annals of Ulster were written in the little island of Senait Mac Manus, now called Belle Isle, in Upper Lough Erne. The original compiler was Cathal [Cahal] Maguire, who died of small-pox in 1498. They have lately been translated and published.

The Annals of Lough Ce [Key] were copied in 1588 for Bryan Mac Dermot, who had his residence on an island in Lough Key, in Roscommon. They have been translated and edited in two volumes.

The Annals of Connaught from 1224 to 1562.

The Chronicon Scotorum (Chronicle of the Scots or Irish), down to A.D. 1135, was compiled about 1650 by the great Irish antiquary Duald Mac Firbis. These annals have been printed with translation.

The Annals of Boyle, from the earliest time to 1253, are written in Irish mixed with Latin; and the entries throughout are very meagre.

The Annals of Clonmacnoise from the earliest period to 1408. The original Irish of these is lost; but we have an English translation by Connell Mac Geoghegan of Westmeath, which he completed in 1627.

The Annals of the Four Masters, also called the Annals of Donegal, are the most important of all. They were compiled in the Franciscan monastery of Donegal, by three of the O'Clerys, Michael, Conary, and Cucogry, and by Ferfesa O'Mulconry, who are now commonly known as the Four Masters. They began in 1632, and completed the work in 1636. "The Annals of the Four Masters" was translated with most elaborate and learned annotations by Dr. John O'Donovan; and it was published—Irish text, translation, and notes—in seven large volumes.

A book of annals called the Psalter of Cashel was compiled by Cormac Mac Cullenan, but this has been lost. He also wrote "Cormac's Glossary," an explanation of many old Irish words. This work has been translated and printed: see p. 201, above.

The Annals noticed so far are all in the Irish language, occasionally mixed with Latin: but besides these there are Annals of Ireland wholly in Latin; such as those of Clyn, Dowling, Pembridge, Multyfarnham, &c., most of which have been published.

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