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Annals of Connacht

RIA MS C iii 1: Cat. No. 1219 c. A.D. 1468-1562 Vellum: 30cm x 21cm [91] folios

This unique manuscript of the Annals of Connacht records episodes in the history of Gaelic Ireland from A.D. 1224 to A.D. 1544, with one later entry for A.D. 1562. It was written in Irish in the mid-sixteenth century by scribes believed to be members of the learned family of Ó Duibhgeannáin. The forenames of two of the scribes were Paitín and Seán R(iabha)ch; the identity of the third main scribe is unknown. The writing, on vellum, is in double columns without decorative capitals.

These annals are thought to derive from an older source that was the work of the learned family of Ó Maoilchonaire, hereditary historians to the O’Connors of Connacht. The Annals open with an entry on Cathal Crobderg O’Connor, who died in 1224, and there is a special emphasis throughout on the history of the O’Connors. Incidental astronomical data is also included. The manuscript was in the possession of Charles O’Conor of Belanagare, Co. Roscommon, in the 1750s, and was subsequently owned by the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Ashburnham. It was one of the 156 ‘Stowe’ manuscripts of Irish interest presented by the British Government to the Royal Irish Academy in 1883.

The penultimate binding dated from 1794. It was in calf, blind-tooled and with gilt lettering on the spine: ‘Irish Ms. No. IX Ann. Connac. Saec. XVI’. Inside the old front cover was a label ‘Stowe MS (Ashburnham Collection), Press 1, No. 9’ and inside the back cover was a book plate of a former owner ‘Charles O’Connor of Belanagare, 1753’. In 2008-9, the manuscript was disbound and earlier repairs removed by Anthony Cains. The Annals were repaired, conserved and rebound in quarter-cut Irish oak boards, covered in alum-tawed calf. They were placed in a buckram-covered millboard drop-back box, custom-made by A. Cains; the box includes a drawer in the base which holds the eighteenth-century boards. The binding was funded ex Library funds and with a very generous donation from Dr B. Cunningham, Deputy Librarian. The ancillary historical papers which had been loosely bound in were separated from the Annals, repaired, conserved, bound in a leather guardbook and placed in a slip case by Mrs Elaine Cains.

A full edition of the Annals of Connacht, with English translation, was published in 1944. Digital images of the manuscript can be viewed on Irish Script on Screen.

Select Bibliography

  • Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy (Dublin, 1943), Fasc. 26: 3274-82.
  • A.M. Freeman, (ed.), Annála Connacht / the Annals of Connacht A.D. 1224-1544 (Dublin, 1944).
  • A. Gwynn, ‘The Annals of Connacht and the Abbey of Cong’, Jn Galway Hist. & Arch. Soc., 28 (1956-7), 1-9.
  • Daniel P. Mc Carthy, The Irish annals: their genesis, evolution and history / Daniel P. McCarthy (Dublin, 2008)
  • B. Cunningham, ‘Annals and other histories of Ireland’ in B. Cunningham and S. Fitzpatrick (eds), Treasures of the Royal Irish Academy Library (Dublin, 2009), 71-8.
  • B. Cunningham and S. Fitzpatrick (eds), Aon amharc ar Éirinn: Gaelic families and their manuscripts (Dublin, 2013), 12-14.
  • B.W. O’Dwyer, ‘The annals of Connacht and Loch Cé and the monasteries of Boyle and Holy Trinity’, Proc. RIA, 72 C (1972), 83-101:100.

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