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Library Service Donegal Town 550

Annals of the Four Masters

The 1856 John O’Donovan seven volume edition of The Annals of the Four Masters will be displayed in Donegal Town Library for the duration of the Donegal 550 celebrations. 

The Annals of the Four Masters is an iconic history of Ireland. It is the most extensive compilation of the ancient annals of Ireland. This work influenced the writing of national history from the 17th century onwards. Its importance increased when the annals were edited and published in seven volumes between 1848 and 1851 by the great scholar John O’Donovan.
Originally called the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, this chronicle of Irish history from prehistory to 1616 AD was compiled by the Irish Franciscans. The entries which are sparse and meager during the earlier period grow less so as the "Annals" progress. In the early 17th century, there was a period of massive upheaval in Ireland which included the Flight of the Earls in 1607. The Irish Franciscans began to reassemble the documentary evidence of Ireland’s history. Michael O'Clery, a native of Donegal, was a trained antiquary and poet, descended from a long line of scholars. He was sent from Louvain to Ireland in 1626 to collect manuscripts relating to the lives of the Irish saints. While in Ireland, however, he had the idea of collecting all the ancient vellum books of local annals throughout the country and writing a new kind of all-encompassing ‘Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland.’

The Annals will be available to view from the end of March during library opening hours. Current opening times are Thursday from 9.30am -12.30pm and 1.30pm-5.30pm.

 Click here to view the library opening times