Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy



17th cent. Paper (watermark: vase with an s-shaped handle). 6¾ × 10½; some pp. slightly larger, owing to the fact that sections of the paper following fo. 195 (245) are untrimmed. Pp. 1044, now bearing a consecutive foliation, 1-522 (which is that used in this Description), two additional leaves (catalogued below as pp. [i]-[iv]), one a former flyleaf, the other bearing watermark of MS. proper, being unnumbered. This foliation is superimposed on an earlier foliation which ran 1-137, 178-209, 230-239, 230-572, skipping nos. 138-177, 210-229, and duplicating nos. 230-239. The earlier foliation is not contemporary with the MS.; it is cut away in places with trimming of margins for binding. The volume is in excellent condition, with the exception of pp. [iii], [iv], ff. 1-7, and ff. 520 to end, which are stained and damaged. There are no chasms in the MS. proper (ff. 1-522). the handwriting is in single column; lining is by dry point. Minute scraps of paper bearing notes (including Charles O'Conor's) are pasted to ff. 278, 355 verso, 358 verso, 364 and back flyleaf, possibly by binder. Latest binder's flyleaves bear date “1807.” Leaves excised, e.g., after fo. 231 et passim, show no corresponding gaps in text. They are replaced by intercalated leaves or were excised before text was transcribed on following leaves; owing to the bound state of the MS. it is impossible to decide between these alternatives. There is neither signature nor date on the MS. proper (ff. 1-522). P. [iii] bears date 1634 (see infra). Two scribes have executed the main body of the text : - A, who transcribed ff. 1-190, 193-222, 224-285 verso, and whose hand occurs elsewhere, e.g., at ff. 432m., 436, 438 i., 446, 453v., 455m., 478; B, who transcribed the main body of text from fo. 286 to fo. 464, and possibly to end, though the hand changes so as to resemble D towards the end. B, like A, was almost wholly occupied by the transcription of a clean draft of material which must have previously existed in the form of rough notes; his hand occurs elsewhere in this MS. very rarely, e.g., on fo. 223. A is a careful, stiff hand, very upright, tall narrow lettering with a tendency to drop below the guide lines. It is readily distinguishable from B, a rounder, freer hand, sloping more to the right than A and sharing many characteristics of the Ó Cléirigh hands C and D, particularly D. Collaborating with AB are three compiler-scribes, viz., C, Brother Michél Ó Cléirigh, whose well-known hand (cf. his autograph D. i. 2) appears passim in additions which range from a few words to two complete folios of text, his longer insertions occurring on pp.[iii], [iv], ff. 188, 199i., 218i., 218i., 218v.m., 227, 231-232, 252, 254, 271-272, 275-276, 286, 311v., 319, 332, 339, 350, 353, 364, 365, 370-371, 374i., 377, 396, 403, 414, 417, [422], 454; D, Cúchoigcriche (mac Diarmada) Ó Cléirigh: ff. 191, 192, 196v., 222m., 344i., 345i., 387, 388, 389v., 403i., 406, 414v.i. and innumerable shorter additions passim (this hand is undoubtedly that of the scribe of nos. 137, 138, 617, 790 supra) ; E, a graceful hand, sharply sloping to the right, which appears occasionally , e.g., on ff. 160v.m., 218v., and shorter additions passim. [A comparison of the known signatures of Muiris Ó Maoilchonaire and Fearfeasa Ó Maoilchonaire with our MS. suggest a possible identification of A with Muiris and E with Fearfeasa. The hand B is probably that of Conaire Ó Cléirigh.]

Hands, other than those of scribes, occurring in the MS. are “Henry Burc,” whose signature occurs passim with dates 1651 (fo. 248 verso), 1654 (fo. 218 verso), 1655 (fo. 103 verso), 1656 (fo. 199), 1657 (fo. 244), 1658 (fo. 166 verso); “Cathal O Conchabhair” (fo. [i]), whose hand appears in notes passim and even in additions to text; “Dennis O Connor,” p. [i] (see infra); and “M.B,” fo. 375. Of these only Cathal Ó Conchabhair declares himself to be an owner (p. [i]). He received the MS. in 1734 from the Archbishop of Tuam, Brian Ó Gadhra (ibid.), a member of the family of Fearghal Ó Gadhra, the munificent patron of the work, to whom the present volume is dedicated by Brother Michél Ó Cleirigh, 1634 (see infra, p. [iii]). Cf. Bibl. MSS. Stowensis, p. 113, where it is stated that Denis O' Conor presented this volume to the Marquess of Buckingham.

Bd. in calf, blind-tooled; gilt-lettered on spine “Irish Ms. No. XXI. Annales IV Magistrorum Hibernici.” The no. “879” is affixed to volume. Formerly in Stowe and Ashburnham Collections. Flyleaves watermarked “1807” give approximate date of present binding; the MS. was however, previously bound by Dr. Fergus of Dublin, at his own expense on 1735, while the MS. was the property of Charlie O'Conor (see p. [i], infra).

Now pinned to front flyleaf are two fugitive leaves:

(a) 5½ × 7¼, and (b) 6 × 7¾, bearing (a) the conclusion of an English version of the “Approbationes” (fragment). Leaf (a) should be read after leaves (c) (d) infra.

Bound between front flyleaves are two further fugitive leaves, (c), (d), 5½ × 7¼, bearing fragment of the English version of the “Approbationses.” Leaf (a) supra is to be read after (d); it has recently become detached.


[Pp. [i], [ii] appear to be an early binder's flyleaf (that of the 1735 binding?). The watermark (indecipherable) is not that of the MS.]

[i], originally blank, now bears (in the hand of Charles O'Conor):-

(a) A statement that Seán Ó Fearghusa mac Macraith, a Dublin medical man, got this volume bound at his own expense in 1735 [no doubt when the MS. was on loan to him from O'Conor for the purpose of transcription of the copy T.C.D. H. 2. 9 an d10 (now no. 1300) by Hugh Molloy].

(b) A statement, dated 1734, that the MS. was then in the possession of “Cathal Ó Conchabhair,” having been presented to him by the Archbishop of Tuam, Brian Ó Gadhra. Charles O'Conor's full pedigree is added.

(c) Obit of Brian Ó Gadhra, 3rd April, 1740.

[ii], blank.

[Pp. [iii], [iv] bear as watermark a vase with an s-shaped handle.]

[iii]. Dedication of the Annals to Fearghal Ó Gadhra, 1634, in Brother Michél Ó Cléirigh's handwriting. Incomplete, breaks off at end of p. [iv], rest now wanting here.

The Testimonium is now missing from the volume. To judge by the T.C.D. Catalogue description of Hugh Molloy's copy of 1734-5 (T.C.D., no. 1300) both Dedication and Testimonium were in our MS. in 1735.

P. [iv] is followed by several blank flyleaves, watermarked “1807.”

The ANNALS OF THE FOUR MASTERS, A.M. 2242-A.D. 1171, inclusive, occupy the entire volume, ff. 1-522 of present foliation (ff. 1-572 of an earlier but not contemporary foliation). Among sources mentioned in marginal additions to the text are Leabhar Leacain, Lebor na Huidre, Lebor Dinnshenchusa, Leabhar Cluana Mic Nois. The distribution of hands has been noticed in broad outline, supra. Description . The MS. (to judge from its history) is the original O'Gara presentation copy.

Appended here is a catalogue of the principal marginalia in later hands. References are to the later foliation:-

61v. “Giniolach Mhaoilre Óig a Búrc a Dísirt Clearáin” (cancelled). Followed by his obit, 2nd October, 1647. In Henry Burke's hand.

103v. Os re meallamh a mairionn (?), 1st., followed by a prayer for Sorcha, Máire, Onora, Sisule, Una, Evilin. Gach neach leigfios mo leabhair láin, 1 q. Initialled “H.B.” 1655.

103v. A note on De Burgo family history, beg. Tomas mac Uillech Umhaill de Burgo a quo Sliocht Mhic Thomais. Note on Maolre of Sliocht Tomáis and pedigree of Maolre Óg a Búrca (see fo. 61v). In the same hand as foregoing

138. “Constructio prophecie anno Domini 1520.” On a stone bearing a prophetic inscription, found in Helvetia. Partly cut away.

164. Note on age of the World. Initialled “H.B.”

166v. Obit of Oliver Cromwell, 3rd September, 1658. Record of natural phenomena of the same year. Initialled “H.B.”

218v m. Flann Mainistrech. Padraig ab Eirinn uile, 5 qq. (see fo. 221). In Henry Burke's hand. Dated 1654.

220v. Muinnter Phadruig na patter, 12 qq. Signed “H. Burc.” O'Donovan (ed., p. 134) incorporates this and the poem Padruig ab Eirinn uile (ed. p. 130) as part of the original text of the Four masters! The originals of this section of the Annals (see ed., Introduction, pp. vii, viii) were not accessible to O'Donovan.

226v. Secundinus, Cristum illum, etc. Fragment merely. Signed “Henry Burc.”

244. Dallán Forghaill. Is leighes legha gan lés, 1 q. “Do bhás Choluim Cille.”

244 (lengthwise). Trieghaid doil[igh] gach tíre dhe, 1 q. Signed “Henry Burc.” Dated 1657.

248v. “De meritis Beatae Surnae,” etc. A Legend. Signed “Henry Burc.” Dated 1651.

277v. Record of a shower of blood (“fras folla”) at Baile Logh Reach. Co. Galway. Initialled “B.MacG.” Dated 1704.

281. Addition to text of Annals A.D. 746. Signed B. MacGill[ ].

366 (in an unidentified hand). Vos precor orate, ut sint sibi dona beata, 2 11. Inserted after an entry in the hand of Brother Michael.

374v. Ní hionon mo dháil as dáil na nglansaoithe suairc, 1st.

375. Tá tá ccrádh ccrádh go dobrónach, 1st.

375. Philip Mac Caiside. Trí briathar léa mbíogaim, 1 q. initialled “M.B.” “Ar na chommadh le Philip Mac Caiside.” The items on ff. 374V, 375 (given here) are all in the same hand.

402. A Mhurachadh, fuirruigh re cach, 2 qq. Initialled “B. Mac C.”

410v. Note on a Lunar Eclipse, signed “Henry Burc.” Dated 16th Jany., 1657.

437. Mo theagasg dhuit, a dhuine, 11 qq. Initialled “H.B.”

458. A Dhia 's a liagh 's a bhiadh m'anma, 1 st. “Ar na sgriobha re B. MacC.”

507v. A note on the days propitious (or otherwise) for undertakings.

507v. Líon do mhíosa ón Márta mháir, 1 q. Followed by a charm-prayer (“Ortha coisgthe fola”), beg. Sanguis mane in te. To be written on the forehead of the patient.

508. Story of Benén and the Druid in the burning house (from Patrick's life, but not text of vita Trip.).

520v. Cure for toothache. This and items noted on ff. 507V, 508 are not signed, but appear to be in Henry Burke's hand.

521v. Dated 1655 and initialled “H.B.” Account of an incident which happened at the execution of Seón Syly (?) at Galway. One Tadhg Ó Conalláin is mentioned in the narrative, which is partly illegible and cut away.

522v. Initials “H.B. 1655.” Some illegible lines of verse. At end is a note (in what appears to be Henry Burke's hand) on the age of the World. Signature is indecipherable.

Slip pasted to back flyleaf (flyleaf of 1735 or earlier). Ta an peann sa ar mearbhall 's ar beagan sgléis, 1st. “.i. (?) leanna do leigis na n-aicid reamhraite.” In an unidentified hand. Copyist's (?) partly erased note (“. . . to p. 17 . . . 42 orig. to p. 1006 inclusive”) stands on inferior outer corner. The verso of this leaf once bore some writing (on paper affixed).

Charles O'Conor's notes on text, passim, and scribblings in pencil in other hands (generally in English) are not noticed here.