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Annals of Inisfallen, Pre-Patrician Section

Author: Seán Mac Airt

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Funded by University College, Cork and
Professor Marianne McDonald via the CELT Project.

1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Proof corrections by Stephen Beechinor , Julianne Nyhan

Extent of text: 3870 words


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Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork,Ireland.
Text ID Number: T100004P

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Text copyright: School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Used by kind permission of the copyright owner.


    MS source for the Irish text
  1. Oxford, Bodleian L, Rawlinson B 503; vellum; 11th century (AD 1092); origin Emly. and later; 57 folios; origin Emly and other Munster houses. From the beginning to 1092.5, the MS is the work of a single hand, perhaps that of Diarmait Ó Flainn Chua, bishop and lector of Emly and abbot (r. 1092-1114), or Mael Ísu Ó hArrachtáin, abbot of 17 Emly (died 1092). The MS was continued to the early fourteenth century by some 18 scribes (only six of whom made large contributions). Mac Niocaill, however, suggests that while the earliest stratum may be associated with Emly, the annals may have been continued at Tomgraney, transcribed at Killaloe after the mid-eleventh century, and continued at Lismore from about the year 1119. The MS passed to a West-Munster monastery, most likely Inisfallen, in 1130x1159. There are lacunae 1130-59, 1214-6, 1285-95. The fact that much of the later part of these annals is in phonetic spellings lends them an additional linguistic interest. The MS came into the possession of Sir James Ware (died 1666) some time before the end of the first quarter of the seventeenth century and is described in the catalogue of his books as 'Annales coenobii Innisfallensis in agro Kerriano.' A translation of portion of these annals (1173 [= 1174] to 1281) by Dubhaltach Mac Fir Bhisigh, made for Ware, occurs in London, BL, Additional 4799. Ware has added to this translation the heading: 'Ex Annalibus coenobii Inisfathlensibus apud Kerrienses'.
  1. R. I. Best and Eóin Mac Neill (eds.) The Annals of Inisfallen reproduced in facsimile from the original manuscript (Dublin 1933).
  2. Seán Mac Airt (ed. & trans.) The Annals of Inisfallen (Dublin 1944 [1951]).
    Comment on the text, and secondary literature
  1. J. J. O'Farrelly, 'The Annals of Inisfallen', Journal of the Ivernian Society 1 (1909) 110–118.
  2. Edmund Curtis (notice of the facsimile edition), English Historical Review 53 (1934) 169–71.
  3. M. C., review of Best and Mac Neill 1933, Studies Dublin 23 (1934) 169–71.
  4. Edmund Curtis, review of Best and Mac Neill 1933, English Historical Review 50 (1935) 309–10.
  5. Paul Walsh, 'The dating of the Annals of Inisfallen', Catholic Bulletin 29 (1939) 677–82; repr. in idem, Irish leaders and learning through the ages, ed. Nollaig Ó Muraíle (Dublin 2003) 477–83.
  6. Gerard Murphy, review of Mac Airt 1951, Éigse 6 (1948–52) 350–60.
  7. John T. Collins, review of Mac Airt 1951, Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 57 (1952) 63–65.
  8. Paul Grosjean, 'Notes d'hagiographie celtique', Analecta Bollandiana 70 (1952) 312–26: 317–26.
  9. E. G. Quin, review of Mac Airt 1951, Irish Historical Studies 8 (1952–53) 168–71.
  10. Joseph Vendryes, review of Mac Airt 1951, Études Celtiques 6 (1953–54) 389–92.
  11. Vernam Hull, The preterite passive plural in the Annals of Inisfallen, Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 24 (1953–54) 126–27.
  12. Aubrey Gwynn, Were the Annals of Inisfallen written at Killaloe?, N Munster Antiq J 8 (1958) 20–33.
  13. Roger H. Leech, Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh and the Annals of Inisfallen, N Munster Antiq J 11 (1968) 13–21.
  14. Vernam Hull, The infixed and independent objective pronoun in the Annals of Inisfallen, Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 24 (1953–54) 136–38.
  15. Gearóid Mac Niocaill, The medieval Irish annals (Dublin 1975) 24–25.
  16. Francis John Byrne, 1000 years of Irish script (Oxford, 1979), section 3.
  17. Kathryn Grabowski and David Dumville, Chronicles and annals of medieval Ireland and Wales: the Clonmacnoise group of texts (Woodbridge 1984) esp. 3–107.
  18. Timothy O'Neill, The Irish hand: scribes and their manuscripts from the earliest times to the seventeenth century, with an exemplar of Irish scripts (Mountrath 1984) 20—1, 68, 73.
  19. Caoimhín Breatnach, 'Corrigenda to the Annals of Inisfallen', Celtica 18 (1986) 193–198.
  20. Caoimhín Breatnach, 1. The stem mar- for marb- in the Annals of Inisfallen; 2. The treatment of guttural spirants by Anglo-Norman hands, Ériu 40 (1989) 184–186.
  21. Caoimhín Breatnach, Varia VI: Blein for bliadhain in the Annals of Inisfallen, Ériu 41 (1990) 143–146.
  22. Diarmuid Ó Murchadha, A reconsideration of some place-names from the Annals of Inisfallen, Ainm 5 (1991–93) 21–32.
  23. Daniel McCarthy, The Status of the Pre-Patrician Irish Annals, Peritia 12 (1998) 98–152.
  24. Nollaig Ó Muraíle, The celebrated antiquary: Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh (c.1600–71): his lineage, life and learning (Maynooth 1996; rev. repr. Maynooth 2002), 255, 262 (note 51).
  25. Daniel P. Mc Carthy, on his website at offers comprehensive information on two traditions of dating used in the Irish Annals, together with two ancillary articles, 'Chronological synchronisation of the Irish annals', and 'Collation of the Irish regnal canon'.
  26. Daniel P. Mc Carthy, The Irish Annals: their genesis, evolution and history (Dublin 2008).
    The edition used in the digital edition
  1. The Annals of Inisfallen (MS. Rawlinson B. 503). Seán Mac Airt (ed), first edition [596 pp] Dublin Institute for Advanced StudiesDublin (First published 1944) (Reprinted 1968 ) (Reprinted 1975 ) (Reprinted 1988 )


Project Description

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling Declaration

The present electronic text covers the Pre-Patrician section of Mac Airt's translation, pp. 46-54. Text rendered in italics indicates the corresponding words have been translated from Latin. The Latin sections were left untranslated by Mac Airt and are not contained in this file.

Where part of the Latin text was omitted in Mac Airt's translation this was encoded using the gap tag.

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Text has been checked and proof-read three times. All corrections and supplied text are tagged.


The electronic text represents the printed text.


Soft hyphens are silently removed.


div0=the body of annals; div1=an annal (the annalistic entries for a single year; div2=an individual entry in an annal. All entries are numbered, and zero is reserved for the chronological criteria of each annal. Page-breaks are marked pb; and folio breaks are marked mls unit="folio" n="nn".

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Profile Description

Created: Translation by Seán Mac Airt Date range: 1943-1944.

Use of language

Language: [EN] The translation is in English.
Language: [LA] Some words are in Latin.
Language: [GA] Some words are in Irish.

Revision History

Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: T100004P

Annals of Inisfallen, Pre-Patrician Section: Author: Seán Mac Airt


At this time the Fir Bolg, viz. Gann and Sengann occupied [...]

At this time the Tuatha Dé [Danann], viz. Delbaeth and Bres, two sons of Elatha, and the Dagda, Mac ind Óc, Lug son of Eithliu, Dian Cécht, Goibnenn the smith, Luchtaine the wright, and Crédne the craftsman, overcame the Fir Bolg.

The sons of Míl took Ireland. Míl, son of Bile, was their father. There were four sons of Míl, viz. Ír and Éber and Éremón and Donn, and [...] was the fifth. This, moreover, is recounted in the Invasion of Ireland: it was at the end of twenty-seven years after the death of [...] , son of Iardonail, that the sons of Míl of Spain, son of Bile son of Bríge son of Ném son of Dá Thó son of Bregant son of Brath, etc. to Adam, came from Scythia. Míl son of Bile, then sets out from Scythia into exile after slaying Reflóir, son of Némi, in contending for sovereignty, with four ships on a sea-expedition, and in each ship fifteen married couples as well as an unmarried mercenary soldier. They remained three months in Taprobane Island. Another three months at sea until they reached Pharaoh, king of Egypt, [...] there. They remained seven years with Pharaoh in Egypt [...] they practised their various arts and various actions. Scotta, Pharaoh's daughter, married Míl, son of Bile, in the eighth year


Pharaoh was drowned subsequently with his host in the Red Sea. When he [Míl] and his people find out that, they set out by sea with the same number and Scotta, Pharaoh's daughter, in addition, and they landed in Taprobane Island. They remained a month in it. They voyaged after that around Scythia to the entrance of the Caspian Sea. They anchored twenty-seven days in the Caspian Sea by reason of the singing of the mermaids until Caicher the druid, delivered them. They rowed after that past the promontary of the Rhiphaean Mountain, coming from the north, until they landed in Dacia. They remained a month there. Caicher the druid, said to them: Until we reach Ireland we shall not halt. They then rowed past Gothia and past Germania to Bregantia and they landed in Spain. They found it uninhabited on their arrival. They remained there, dwelling in it, for thirty years, and it was from it 'Míl of Spain' was named; and there the two sons of Míl, viz. Éremón and Ír were born. And they are the two youngest. The two eldest, however, are Donn and Éber. They were born in the East, viz. Donn in Scythia and Éber in Egypt. A pestilence lasting one day, came upon them in Spain and twelve of their married couples, in addition to their three kings, viz. Míl Uice, and Occe, died. Forty-eight married couples and four mercenary soldiers set out after that with the sons of Míl and Scotta, Pharaoh's daughter, over sea to Ireland. A great storm arose (against them) and parted the ship in which Donn [...] was [from the others]. He and the crew of his ship were drowned at the sand-dunes in the western sea, hence the name Tech Duinn. The sons of Míl divided Ireland between them after that, as the historians relate.

The death of Éber, son of Míl, in Argedros, and his grave was made there.

In this year the eruption of Brosnach of Tír Éile over the land.

Ireland was divided into five between the sons of Cermait, viz. Mac Cécht and Mac Guill and Mac Gréine [...] the Tuatha Dé [Danann] afterwards, and these kings perished with them.


Ireland was divided between the sons of Éremón, viz. Muimne and Luigne and Laigne. Nuadu Argatlám [...] a lad at that time. Every family [...] subsequently in Ireland is of the race of Nuadu on account of his maintenance by his kinsmen and on account of his patience.

At this time the eruption of Loch dá Chaech.

Ireland was divided after that between Cermna and Sobairche, [the division being] from Inber Colptha to Luimnech.

In this year the eruption of Siúir (?) and Eochair and Féil

    1. From Abraham until David
      Was accepted into the enduring kingship
      Forty-two years
      [And] a fair nine hundred with certainty.
    2. From the creation of the elements, correct [are]
      Ninety—'tis no new reproach—
      Eight hundred, as he reckons,
      [And] two great thousand.

The eruption of Daball and Calann over the land.

There are, then, two Syrias, viz. Syria of the Assyrians and Syria of the Children of Israel.

The eruption of Loch Iairn and Loch Uair and Loch Cé and Loch Aillinne and Loch Febail and Loch Gabair and Dubloch.

The eruption of Loch Éirne over the land.

The eruption of [Nith] Némannach in Mag Muirthemne.


Ireland was divided into twenty-five parts between the sons of Úgaine Mór, son of Eochu Buadach, for it was Úgaine Mór who first held Ireland after the chieftains of the Dagda, viz. Cobthach Cael Breg in Brega and Laegaire Lorc in Liphe.

Now begins the sovereignty of the Medes after the termination of the reign of the Assyrians.

There were three kings of Ireland, who were from Munster: Eochaid Aircdech, Eterscél Mór, and Conaire Mór maccu Iair. The latter was the last king of Ireland from Munster.

War between Laigin and Leth Cuinn, in which Cobthach Cael Breg fell.

    1. From the beginning of the kingship
      To the captivity of the City
      There are seventy-three years
      And three hundred—a fair portion.
    2. From Adam to the captivity
      Of the City he reckons
      Sixty-three years
      And three hundred and three thousand.

moritur. Nabuchodonosor held the kingship for forty-three years.

Not indeed, for the captivity does Matthew reckon this time, but for the amount of the honour which was paid to Ioachim therein.

    1. Let us recount the kings of the Persians
      Without rejection and without disrespect:
      The most noble was Elam— a strong lord—
      Son of Sem, son of Noah, son of Lamech.


They were called Persians from Persius—he was the son of Job—who gave them that name.

    1. One of their fierce kings seized the world
      Without fear, without tyranny (?)
      Cyrus, son of Darius, weakened its strength (?)
      [And] brought the captives from Babylon.
Fifty thousand was the number of these captives, with five thousand vessels of gold and four hundred vessels of silver. The king gave them all permission to go to Jerusalem at the end of the seventh month. Zarobabel was the name of the man who was their leader, and Jeshua, son of Josedek, was the priest, and Esdras the prophet. Nehemiah moreover, was the other leader, who built the walls of the city after reaching the south. Cyrus was in the sovereignty for thirty years, and he fell in Scythia together with three hundred thousand. By this Cyrus, viz. Cyrus son of Darius, Babylon was built.

scribit, i.e. Holofernes was the leader of his host. Therefore Judith cut off his head.

Together went ten tribes from the Assyrians and two tribes from Babylon.

It is from that year Daniel reckons the seventieth week ad Passionem Christi [...]

Artarxerxes Darii filius annis .xl. His cognomen was Mnemon, as the poet said:

    1. Artaxerxes Mnemon, the handsome,
      Vast was his dwelling,
      A son, who faultlessly overwhelmed a plain
      Of Darius and Parysatis.
    2. For forty famous years
      Submission was made [to him] without any threat;
      Ahashuerus, without deception,
      Was his name among the Hebrews.

    3. p.51

    4. Among them was the pleasant, bright, keen one,
      The noble maiden Esther;
      For her the king preserved
      The many thousands unhurt.
    5. When Haman of the contest nearly caused
      A complete slaughter of the race of Abraham,
      The king was not slow of foot, he was vigorous,
      He prevented [it] for the sake of Esther.
    6. It is Haman who was chastised for it—
      For the generous renown of truth—
      He was (I shall tell it) made wretched,
      And thereby Mardochaeus was extolled.

    1. Persians in kingship until then
      Without rejection, without contempt:
      Twelve kings—'tis no lie for fame—
      For two hundred and thirty years.
    2. Greeks were [in the kingship] from that out,
      They carried off the cattle of the territories;
      On account of the number of their powerful ones without weakness,
      Every learned person is relating it.

It was after that, the power of the Greeks spread to the four corners of the world, as the poet said

    1. [...]
      man of contest (?)
      Alexander son of Philip;
      He brought Asia under a vexatious tribute (?)
      From Spain to India.
    2. From Ethiopia he was king
      To the bright Rhiphaean Mountains;
      For five years after the death of Darius
      Submission was made by Adam's seed.

    3. p.52

    4. He was a lad of twenty good years
      When he proposed an expedition (?);
      It was wisdom to solicit him for his bounty (?),
      His whole age was thirty-two.
    5. In pleasant Babylon in the East
      At a feasting contest by his people
      He died of poison—ceaseless conflict—
      'Twas a loss for nobility.
The kingship was divided after him into twenty-four parts, and it was carved up again and divided between four persons, viz. Ptolemy son of Lagus in Egypt, Philip the brother of the king, i.e. Alexander, in Macedon, Antigonus in Asia Minor, Niccanor Seleucus in Syria and in Babylon.

Greeks were chief sovereigns for two hundred and eighty-six years. They had twelve kings, and a queen, viz. Cleopatra, and she reigned last until Julius Caesar deposed her.

Ireland was divided into five between Conchobar, Cairpre Nia Fer, Tigernach Tétbannach, Dedad son of Sen, and Ailill son of Mága.

    1. If it be from the burning of the Temple
      To the birth of Christ in succession (?),
      There are eighty-nine years
      In addition to five hundred.
    2. A fair fifty-two years
      From the creation of the world
      [In addition to] nine hundred [and] three thousand
      To the birth of Christ in the flesh.

The first year of the beginning of the cycle, that is the year in which Christ was born, viz. the second year of the Decemnovennial [Cycle] Finit. Amen.

If Christ's age be thirty-four years, [the Passion] is on the fifteenth of the Kalends [of April], the fourteenth of the Paschal. If, however, it be thirty-three and a half, the Passion is on the eighth of the Kalends of April, and the Resurrection is on the sixth of the Kalends of April,


quod a multis, etc. This is the number from the beginning of the cycle to the Passion, 565; et xu.a luna crucifixus, etc.

Lugaid Reoderg, son of the Trí Finn of Emain, reigned 26 years. There were thirty kings from Leth Cuinn from Lugaid until Diarmait, son of Cerball.

The eruption of Linnmuine over Liathmuine, as a result of which the race of Dubthach Daeltenga, a comrade of Fergus son of Róich, became extinct, or was overthrown, save only the Corcu Óche.

Tuathal Techtmar reigned 30 years. It is to him the Bóruma Laigen was first paid.

Ireland was divided into two between Mug Nuadat, i.e. king of Munster, and Conn Cétchathach, viz. [the division running] between the two Áth Cliath. Seven kings of the Pictish peoples ruled over Ireland before Conn Cétchathach.

A battle at Fochart Muirthemne. The Picts and Fiachu Araide were defeated by Fiachu Mullachlethan son of Eógan from Munster, and by Cormac Ulfhata.

Fergus and Domnall, two sons of Mac Erca, annis duobus, etc.

Colmán Rímid and Aed Sláne reigning together for 9 years.

Aed Alláin, who imposed the Bóruma Laigen, reigned 7 years.

Conall Cael and Cellach, two sons of Mael Coba, reigned 9 years.


Fínnechta Fledach, son of Dúnchad: it was he who remitted the Bóroma Laigen to Moling of Luachair for a poem which Moling had composed for him. For during the reign of forty kings it was paid, viz. from Tuathal Techtmar to Fínnachta. That was the recompense for the two daughters of Tuathal, whom Eochu son of Eochu, king of Laigin, wantonly killed. This, moreover, was the Bóroma: thrice five thousand cows, and thrice five thousand boars, and thrice five thousand mantles. Each of these also [to be paid] yearly. It was thus the tribute used to be paid. This Fínnechta reigned ten years.