Annals of the Four Masters, Part II. (1335 to 1608).
This is an original copy, that is to say, it is for the most part in the handwriting of Conary O’Clery, the hands of the other two O’Clerys, however, appearing frequently throughout the volume (O’Donovan, Introductory Remarks, p. xviii).
There is a considerable quantity of inserted matter in the handwriting of Roderick O’Flaherty, author of 4 Ogygia,’ to whom the Annals were lent and explained by his tutor, Duald Mac Firbis, the last of the hereditary antiquaries of Lecan. 4 His insertions are very valuable, for two reasons, because the work from which he took them is no longer extant, and because we have his authority for the meaning of many now obsolete terms.’ We next find the volume in its present imperfect state in the possession of John Conry, of Dublin, in 1724 (see Abp. Nicholson's account of Conry’s MSS. in his Irish Historical Library). After Conry it came into the possession of Dr. John Fergus, or O’Fergus, of Dublin, who had it bound in 1739.
The first fol. is numbered 687, the last 1150, but there is some irregularity in the numbering.
The Royal Irish Academy possesses what is apparently the original autograph of the entire work, ‘being the very copy which passed from the representatives of the O’Gara family into the hands of Chas. O’Conor.’ It was presented to that body in 1831 by Dr. Geo. Petrie, who had bought it at the sale of Col. Burton Conyngham’s library.
No doubt, as O’Donovan observes, each of the Four Masters made a copy, of which he afterwards disposed, and he adds, that "it will yet be discovered that there is another copy at Louvain, which O’Clery made for the use of Colgan, who first sent him to Ireland to collect materials for his ‘Acta Sanctorum/"
The text of the Annals was first published complete by Dr. John O’Donovan, who added an English translation and a large body of learned annotations. 7 vols., 4to; Dublin, 1851. See No. 1405, for a copy of a MS. in the R. I. A.