O’DONOVAN, John. Ed. by.
Annála Ríoghachta Éireann – Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters. From the earliest times to the year 1616. Edited from the manuscript in the Royal Irish Academy and Trinity College Dublin, with copious historical, topographical and genealogical notes and with special emphasis on place-names. Seven large vols. With a new introduction by Kenneth Nicholls. Dublin: De Búrca, 1998. Over 4,000 pages. Large quarto. Superb set in gilt and blind stamped green buckram, in presentation box.
This is the third and best edition as it contains the missing years [1334-1416] of the now lost Annals of Lecan from Roderic O’Flaherty’s transcript. To enhance the value of this masterpiece a colour reproduction of Baptista Boazio’s map of Ireland 1609 is included in a matching folder.
The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, Annála Ríoghachta Éireann or the Annals of the Four Masters to give them their best known title are the great masterpieces of Irish history from the earliest times to 1616 A.D. The work was compiled between 1632 and 1636 by a small team of historians headed by Br. Michael O’Clery, a Franciscan lay brother. He himself records: “there was collected by me all the best and most copious books of Annals that I could find throughout all Ireland, though it was difficult for me to collect them in one place”.
The great work remained, for the most part, unpublished and untranslated until John O’Donovan prepared his edition between 1847 and 1856. The crowning achievement of John O’Donovan’s edition is the copious historical, topographical and genealogical material in the footnotes which have been universally acclaimed by scholars. Douglas Hyde wrote that the O’Donovan edition represented: “the greatest work that any modern Irish scholar ever accomplished”.
More recently Kenneth Nicholls says: “O’Donovan’s enormous scholarship breathtaking in its extent when one considers the state of historical scholarship and the almost total lack of published source material in his day, still amazes one, as does the extent to which it has been depended on by others down to the present. His translations are still superior in reliability to those of Hennessy, MacCarthy or Freeman to name three editor-translators of other Irish Annals … his footnotes are a mine of information”.
A superb set of this monumental source for the history of Ireland.
Published by De Burca Rare Books.