From the Irish Roots Cafe Broadcast Network
Irish Roots Cafe Video Shorts. #5. Advance Shownotes.
The Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters.
Filmed live at the Irish Roots Festival workshops this year.
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Video Run Time: 02:53
Of note to Irish historians and genealogists.
A Rare Irish History
Originally written in the Irish language, this book is also
a year by year timeline of Irish history. The events are organized
by year, sometimes noting the ‘great wind’ that caused much
destruction, or the slaugher of O’Reilly by O’Rourke one year, and
O’Rourke slaughtering O’Reilly the next.
How it came about
The patron of the ‘Four Masters’ or ‘Four Friars’ declared that all
known history of Ireland be compiled in one work, so they went forward
from Donegal to collect all the fragments of the old books that existed.
This was in the early 17th century, and perhaps the last opportunity to
do so before the final collapse of the Irish culture. Some of that history
now survives only in in these annals. This is well recorded in the
introduction to this work.
Footnotes in the modern style.
The first major translation of the Annals of Ireland was made by
Owen Connellan. The footnotes to this first major English translation
are in a more modern fashion than the original text. The traditional
locations for families in Ireland is given, which is of great interest to
those interested in Irish Family History. (The other great history
written in the 17th century was “Keatings History of Ireland”, which is
written in more of a modern narrative style throughout.)
Published in the 21st Century
When the English translation of the Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters
was first published in 1846, they were hailed as a part of the great ‘Celtic
Awakening’ or revival of the day. This was in part due to the fact that
few histories recorded by the Irish themselves, on such a scale had survived.
The importance of the Annals went far beyond the words that appeared
on the page. They represented the fact that the Irish actually had their
own history that could be looked back upon – though so much was lost.
Connellans translation was a rare work indeed, with not only the
Annals of the Four Masters translated into English, but with a four
color frontis piece at the beginning of the work, In addition, he included
the first great folding map of the location of Irish families, in the rear
of the work. I chose to reproduce all these features as they originally
appeared. I also added an index of Irish names on the map, which has
made it much easier for new researchers to find their family as it was given.
Many more names of course, appear in the books themselves.
Here is the preface I wrote as editor to the Annals in 2003:
Owen Connellan (1800-1869).
This noted Irish antiquarian was born in County
Sligo and became an outstanding translator of
works in the Irish language. He was chair of Irish
at the University of Belfast by 1845, after having
produced the ‘Practical Grammar of the Irish
Language’ in 1844.
He also served as RIA amanuensis for some 20
years, and was Irish historiographer under the
reign of George IV and William IV. In 1846 his
Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters became the
first ever complete translation into English for the
years 1171 – 1616.
Owen Connellan’s translation of the annals into English was an
historic event. Never before had this history appeared complete,
in English. The dates covered represent the most accurate of the
years recorded by the Four Masters, from the 12th to the 17th century.
Connellan’s translation in 1846 predates the excellent work by John
O’Donovan. (These men were contemporaries. O’Donovan came out
with his translation several years after the initial appearance, and
public acceptance of, the annals by Connellan.)
Time brings us an improved knowledge of the Gaelic language, and of
the prejudices of the day. There is, however, no substitute for the original
translation of such a work. All that came after owe some debt to the
It is hoped that scholars and researchers will be able to avail themselves
of this edition, which has been too long out of print, almost forgotten.
The map and text displayed here has been directly reproduced from the
original, and understandably bears some marks of wear. This map, by
Philip MacDermott, was the first to locate so many families in Ireland (far
more than the crude map of Ortelius ). MacDermott also assisted with the
annotations to the text, which are an important part of this history.
You have here a faithful printing of the original from the IGF library. No
new errors have been introduced by a modern typing. The translations of
the day have been left exactly as they first appeared in 1846.
We are indebted to those who have supported our rare book program
over the years.
Michael C. O’Laughlin
Kansas City, Missouri
April 15, 2003
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Upcoming Free Videos in this series include:
6. Irish Families great & small
7. The Irish Families Project
8. The Plantation of settlers in Ireland
9. Irish Coats of Arms and Tartans
10. Timeline of old Irish Books
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12. Kansas City Irish History
13. St. Louis Irish History
14. Thanks from the Cafe
15. Missouri Irish Song and History
– End of Season One –
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About the Cafe
The Irish Roots Cafe is the leading publisher of Irish Books, Podcasts
and Videos for Historians and Family Researchers. See all of our
offerings at www.Irishroots.com.
A leader in online genealogy – we created the first weekly podcast on
Irish Genealogy in 2006, and are the sole publisher of rare Irish works.
Among our free audio and video broadcast series are:
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The Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters
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