Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Building the ultimate Library of Irish archaeology and history. Part III: Early Irish Texts etc

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War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, Book of Leinster
Continuing our theme from the Irish Annals to The Calendar of State Papers, today we take a look at what core texts are available relating to Early Ireland.

Cormac's Glossary, is an early Irish glossary containing etymologies and explanations of over 1,400 Irish words, many of which are difficult or outdated. The shortest and earliest version of the work is ascribed to Cormac mac Cuilennáin (d. 908), king-bishop of Munster. It is an encyclopedic dictionary containing simple synonymous explanations in Irish or Latin of Irish words. In some cases he attempts to give the etymology of the words and in others he concentrates on an encyclopedic entry. It is held to be the first linguistic dictionary in any of the non-classical languages of Europe. Many of its entries are still frequently cited in Irish and Celtic scholarship (via Wikipedia). Whitley Stokes’ 1868 edition was published as:

In 1833 John O’Donovan published, at least, parts of Cormac’s Glossary in the Dublin Penny Journal. Unfortunately, so far I’ve only been able to find three, but I would be grateful if anyone with knowledge of other portions could enlighten me.

Sticking with Glossaries, you can get Stokes’ 1862 edition of:

John O’Donovan was one of Ireland’s foremost Irish scholars and in his relatively short life produced editions of a large number of important manuscripts. The Annals of the Four Masters have been mentioned previously, but other works include:

Volumes that were completed by others after his death include:

I’m just concentrating on books in these posts, but more of O’Donovan’s papers can be found here

Though now long superseded, the Ancient Laws of Ireland series is a good introduction to Early Irish Law

Ancient Laws of Ireland
Volume I (1865)
Volume II () (sorry, can’t find it!)
Volume III (1873)
Volume IV (1879)
Volume V (1901)
Volume VI (1901)(a glossary to Volumes I-V)

Geoffrey Keating’s Foras feasa ar Éirinn was published by D. Comyn and P. S. Dineen in four volumes from 1902 to 1914

Volume 1 (1902)
Volume 2 (1908)
Volume 3 (1908)
Volume 4 (1914)

There is also an earlier, single volume, translation by John O'Mahony, published in 1847 available here.

The Dindshenchas was an important piece of early Irish literature. Edward J. Gwynn published the Metrical Dindshenchas in four volumes of the Royal Irish Academy’s Todd Lecture Series … though I can only find two as downloadable PDFs:

Volume 2 (1906)
Volume 4 (1924)

There are also further links to editions of the text by the CELT project through the Wiki article

The historical works of Giraldus Cambrensis was published by Thomas Wright in 1905.

Finally … slightly out of tune with the rest of the contents of this post (but I didn’t know where else to put it!) is Thomas Aiskew Larcom’s 1851 volume The History of the Survey of Ireland, commonly called The Down Survey, by Doctor William Petty, A. D. 1655-6.

For anyone wanting to know more about Sir William Petty, I would direct you to Edmond Fitzmaurice’s 1895 The Life of Sir William Petty.

OK! That’s what I’ve got … but what have I missed? What should I have included? What do you think? Let me know in the comments & I’ll add them into the text!

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