p.vThe following Annals are printed from a MS. formerly belonging to Archbishop Ussher, and now in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin (E. 3, 20). From the year 1162 to the year 1370 inclusive, they agree in substance with the Annales Hiberniae published by Camden in the Britannia (Lond. fol. 1607), which are generally ascribed to Christopher Pembridge, who lived in the fourteenth century; but the occasional discrepancy in their contents, and the constant difference in their language, suggest the probability, that they were both compiled from some common original.
Of James Grace, the supposed author of these Annals, Sir James Ware has not given any account in his Writers of Ireland, nor has Archbishop Nicolson in his Irish Historical Library made mention of him, although Dr. Hanmer, who compiled his Chronicle in 1571, has occasionally quoted Grace from the year 1205 to the year 1252. The best evidence which can now be given for attributing these Annals to Grace is derived from the title prefixed to them, which, although in a hand more modern than the MS. itself, appears to have had the sanction of Archbishop Ussher, in whose autograph the name of "James Grace" is written over the title.
Of Grace himself we know only that he was a native of Kilkenny, and it is probable that he compiled these Annals between the years
p.vi1537 and 1539. (See note q, p. 162). In the Memoirs of the Grace Family, he is said to have belonged to the Priory of St. John, in Kilkenny, and to have been Prior elect when he fell a victim to the plague. Note, p. 4. From a rude pen and ink sketch of a coat of arms on the last page of the MS. it may be presumed that he belonged to the family of Grace of Gracefield, in the County Kilkenny, a branch of the ancient family of the Graces, Barons of Courtstown, the descendants of Raymond le Gros, who came to this country in the reign of Henry the Second.
These Annals, which are now first printed, were selected for publication, for the purpose of carrying into effect one of the chief objects of the Irish Archaeological Society, by placing before its members authentic copies of the records of Irish history, and by thus enabling future inquirers into the history and antiquities of Ireland to consult with perfect freedom some sources of information which have hitherto been accessible only under the restraints necessarily imposed on the readers of MSS. in public libraries.
The text corresponds in every respect with the MS. except that the contractions have generally been supplied by words at length. Every sheet as it went through the press was carefully collated with the original by Dr. Aquilla Smith; whatever emendations have been admitted into the text are included between brackets, but these are few in number, as it was deemed useless to encumber the pages with alterations, most of which are sufficiently obvious, more especially as the reading preferred by the Editor can always be discovered from the accompanying literal translation; the deficiencies of the text are indicated in the translation by being printed in Italics.
The more important errors are explained in the notes, in preparing which the Editor has not had the advantage of consulting any unpublished authorities, but it is hoped that the references to the documents printed by Rymer, and in the Calendar of the Chancery Rolls of
p.viiof Ireland, as confirming, explaining, or contradicting the statements of the annalist, and occasionally as supplying some of his omissions, will not be considered altogether useless.
The MS., which is on paper, consists of thirty-eight small folio pages, all, except one, written in the same hand. The regular Annals terminate at 1370, from which date the entries consist chiefly of the Obits of the Lacys and Burkes from 13 26 to 1515, and although in the same hand, and written with ink of the same colour with the Annals, and carried on on the same page, they are entered in a very confused manner; these are followed by the Obits of the Butlers in chronological order, which are succeeded by the Obits of the Geraldines, in a different hand, and paler ink. The last leaf of the MS., which has been misplaced in the binding, gives some account of the Lord Leonard Gray, Lord Deputy in 1535, and has been restored to its proper chronological place in the printed text.
The reader is requested to correct note q, p 29, in which the compiler of these Annals is accused of having been mistaken in asserting that Hubert de Burgh was Justiciary of Ireland in 1230. In this case the mistake was made by the Editor, as it appears from Rot. Pat. 16 Hen. III. in Tur. Lond.; and also from the Book of Howth, as quoted by Hanmer, that Hubert de Burgh was Lord Justice of Ireland in 1230.
From many friends the Editor has received much assistance, but as this assistance cannot be specified in every instance, their names are omitted, lest they should be thought responsible for the mistakes of the Editor; he cannot, however, forbear acknowledging, that for the most important notices of Irish topography he is indebted to the kindness of Mr. John O'Donovan.