O'Donavan: Tribes and Customs of the Hy-Many

Pdf O'Donavan, John. Tribes and Customs of the Hy-Many. Dublin: Irish Archaeological Society, 1843
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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.’

He went to a secluded convent in Donegal for the duration of his project, which commenced for himself and his fellow labourers on the 22nd of January, 1632, and concluded on the 10th of August, 1636. His forebodings as to the fate of the original vellum material that he worked from were prophetic. Scarcely one of the ancient books which he brought together with such pains has survived to the present day.

John O'Donovan in his work the Tribes and Customs of Hy Maine refers to the old manuscripts of Teige O'Duggan, "an eminent historian of about 90 years ago". O’Donovan has compiled all information of the families from Hy-Many (eastern County Galway and southern Roscommon) from O’Duggan’s manuscripts and source material of the local annals. Complete with translation, notes, Hy-Many map, as prepared by O'Donovan in 1843, this is the major source of information for the families of Hy-Many country.

Focusing on the O’Kelly and O’Madden clans, this work is a definitive guide to the history of western Ireland from 1000AD to 1600AD. In addition to detailing the Land Wars of the 1100’s, the Viking raids and the Norman Conquests, O’Donovan also goes into more intimate detail of the people’s
daily lives, customs and traditions.

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