Annála Ríoghachta Éireann


....Volumes of the annals survive in the Royal Irish Academy, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin.

An exhibition in 2007 at the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh insitute in UCD reunited the autograph manuscripts of the Annals of the Four Masters for the first time since 1636.

RIA C iii 3. 17th century. Paper.

....This manuscript contains the autograph Annals of the Four Masters for the years AM 2242-AD 1171. The main scribe is believed to be Muiris Ó Maoil Chonaire, who was employed briefly as an assistant.

UCD -OFMA13The Four Masters themselves penned parts of the manuscript. The first part describes the early invasions of Ireland itemising the reigns of kings and giving the impression of a kingdom of great antiquity. The text corresponds closely to the other autograph manuscript UCD-OFM A 13.

The manuscript was in Galway in the 1640s, when it was used by Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh. It was cited by Roderic O'Flaherty in the 1680s. It was owned by Charles O'Conor, the duke of Buckingham and the earl of Ashburnham in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and was unavailable to John O'Donovan when he worked on his edition.

Purchased by the British government in 1883 it was placed in the Royal Irish Academy.

TCD 1301 (H.2.11). 17th century. Paper.

....This autograph manuscript contains the Annals of the Four Masters for AD 1334-1605.

The opening and closing sections are damaged and entries for AD 1172-1333 and post-1605 are missing. Much can be deduced here about the working methods of the annalists.

After the main scribe, possibly Conaire Ó Maoil Chonaire, had written the texts, the Four Masters revised it, adding clarifications and inserting additional entries. It is clear that the manuscript was not a final 'fair copy'. Roderic O'Flaherty annotated the text extensively and added material from a set of Lecan annals that do not correspond to the surviving Annals of Lecan.

Charles O'Conor also added material to the manuscript. Both scholars were continuing a process that the Four Masters themselves had begun, revising and adding material as it came to hand.

The manuscript was owned by John Fergus and was purchased by Trinity College Dublin at the auction of his books in 1776.

UCD-OFM A 13. 17th century. Paper.

....This autograph manuscript contains the opening section of the Annals of the Four Masters ending in AD 1169. It is continued by MS RIA 23 P 6-7. Much of this manuscript was written by Mícheál Ó Cléirigh.ballymote

While difficult to establish which manuscript, UCD-OFM A 13 or RIA C iii 3, is the earlier of the two, they differ on the coming of Christianity to Ireland. In UCD-OFM A 13, the original folio (f. 231) was removed and replaced by a revised text that refers to the ecclesiastical annals of Caesar Baronius (1601-8).

This revision may have been made by Mícheál Ó Cléirigh when he returned to Louvain. This manuscript remained in Franciscan hands and was used by John Colgan. As it was in St Isidore's College Rome during the nineteenth century, John O'Donovan was unable to consult it. It was brought back to Dublin in 1872 and transferred to University College Dublin in 2000.

RIA 23 P 6. 17th century. Paper/ 2 vellum leaves.

....This autograph manuscript continues on from UCD-OFM A 13. It contains the Annals of the Four Masters for AD 1170-1499.Leabhar Breac

It is the only surviving autograph copy of the Annals for AD 1172-1334. Two vellum leaves containing a dedication of the work to their patron, Fearghal Ó Gadhra, signed by Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, and a testamonium signed by four Donegal friars, headed by Mícheál's brother, Bernardine, are bound into the manuscript.

Like TCD 1301, this is not a 'fair copy' but a working document and is probably mainly in the hand of Conaire Ó Cléirigh with additions by his collaborators. George Petrie bought this manuscript and its sister manuscript RIA 23 P 7, for the Royal Irish Academy at the sale of the books of Austin Cooper in 1831.

Cooper had acquired it after the death of William Burton Conyngham of Slane Castle. It was used by John O'Donovan as the basic text of his edition.

RIA 23 P 7. 17th century. Paper.

....This autograph manuscript is the continuation of RIA 23 P 6 and contains the years AD 1500-1616. It is mainly in the hands of Conaire and Mícheál Ó Cléirigh.

UCD-OFM A 16. 17th century. Paper.

....The Genealogies of Saints and Kings is partly in the hand of Mícheál Ó Cléirigh but incorporates layers of annotations by other scribes and scholars, including John Colgan.

It was completed in the Franciscan Observant friary of Athlone in 1630. The main focus was on the saints' pedigrees which demonstrated that the saints of Ireland were of noble ancestry. The tradition of compiling genealogies formed an essential part of medieval Irish learning as the Irish were keen to trace their origins back to Adam and fit themselves into a biblical chronology.

The work is divided into various parts. Kings are classified as pre-Christian and Christian, most of whom belong to the northern dynasties of the Uí Néill. Saints are categorised according to their noble lines or to the province from which they originated. Northern and Western saints predominate.