Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: G100001A

The Annals of Ulster

Author: [unknown]

Background details and bibliographic information

File Description

Electronic edition compiled by Donnchadh Ó Corráin, Mavis Cournane

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

3. Third draft, revised and corrected.

Proof corrections by Donnchadh Ó Corráin, Mavis Cournane

Extent of text: 118200 words; 2 volumes


CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College Cork
College Road, Cork, Ireland —

(2005) (2008)

Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: G100001A

Availability [RESTRICTED]

Available with prior consent of the CELT project for purposes of academic research and teaching only.


text of volume 1 copyright to the School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.


[In this digital edition we have used Mac Airt & Mac Niocaill's edition (1983) of the annals. We have omitted their edition (pp 2–36) of the Pre-Patrician or Irish World-Chronicle which is best treated as a separate text. Their edition extends from AD 431 to AD 1131.2 when both manuscripts become lacunose. For the remainder of the text (AD 1155 to the end) we have had to use Mac Carthy's very unsatisfactory edition. His codicological information is obscure, his citation of variants is patchy, and he makes many unnecessary or wrong-headed attempts at emendation. These latter are simply ignored, but emendations and corrections by Whitley Stokes (1896, 1897) are integrated into the text. It is not, however, possible to produce a satisfactory digital edition from Mac Carthy's ragged apparatus. The current edition contains only the text from AD 431 to AD 1201. The remainder of volumes 2 and 3 is in preparation.]


    Manuscript sources
  1. Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS 1282, olim H. 1. 8, siglum H, earlier A; vellum; s. xv 2/xvi in; for a description of the MS see Abbott and Gwynn, Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in Trinity College Library (Dublin 1921) 20 and B. Mac Carthy, Annals of Ulster iv (Dublin 1901) ii–iii; scribe Ruaidhri Ó Luinín (to AD 1489), additional hands to 1504, 1510 (?); ends imperfect). There are lacunae for the years 1102–8, 1115.4–1162.3, and 1374–8. The first lacuna may be supplied from MS (ii); part of the second, viz. from 1115.5 to 1131.2 and from 1155 to 1162.3, may again be supplied from MS (ii); but for 1131.3 to late 1155 both MSS are lacunose. Literature: TCL Ir Cat 20; B. Mac Carthy (ed.) Annals of Ulster, iv (Dublin, 1901) pp. ii–iii.
  2. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson B 489, siglum R, earlier B; vellum; s. xvi 1; patron Ruaidhrí Mac Craith of Termonmagrath. There are two main scribes: (i) Ruaidhrí Ó Casaide, archdeacon of Clogher (fl.1541) who wrote from the beginning to f. 32ra9 (AD 952); and (ii) Ruaidhri Ó Luinín, ollam to Maguire (fl.1528) who continued the work to f. 107vb12 (AD 1507). A third scribe, whose name is not known, began on f. 107vb (the annal for 1507) continued, alternating from time to time with a fourth. Many hands appear in later folios, among them that of Matha Ó Luinín (fl.1588) grandson of Ruaidhri Ó Luinín. MS (ii) is a fair copy of MS (i) but with supplementary entries, and it preserves some text lost by mutilation in MS (i) as detailed above. Lacunae: 1131.3–1155, 1307–15. Literature: Oxford Cat i 153–63; B. Mac Carthy (ed.) Annals of Ulster, iv (Dublin, 1901) pp. iv–vi; Francis John Byrne, 1000 years of Irish script (Oxford: Bodleian Library 1979) [sect ]19.
  3. (a) London, BL, Additional 4795, olim Clarendon xlix; paper; s. xvii; many hands. The text extends from AD 431 to 1132.1 and 1156 to 1307. (b) London, BL, Additional 4789, olim Clarendon xliii, 318a–321b; paper; s. xvii?. The text extends from AD 1486 to 1504. The siglum for these two MSS is C. This is a translation into English of the greater part of the Irish text. Where original Latin occurs, it is retained. This text has some notice of events not recorded in the Irish original. Literature: B. Mac Carthy (ed.) Annals of Ulster, iv (Dublin, 1901) pp. vi–vii.
  4. London, British Library, Additional 4784, olim Clarendon xx, ff. 21a–32b, siglum D; paper; s. ?. This is a translation into Latin of the Irish text, AD 1200–96, with some material from other sources. Literature: B. Mac Carthy (ed.) Annals of Ulster, iv (Dublin, 1901) pp. vi–vii.
  1. W. M. Hennessy & B. Mac Carthy, Annala Uladh: Annals of Ulster otherwise Annala Senait, Annals of Senat: a chronicle of Irish affairs from A.D. 431 to A.D. 1540. 4 vols. (Dublin, 1887–1901, repr. [with fresh introduction and bibliography, ed. Nollaig Ó Muraíle] Dublin, 1998). Volume i, AD 431–1056; volume ii, 1057–1378; volume iii, 1379–1588; volume iv, introduction and indexes. W. M. Hennessy edited volume 1; B. Mac Carthy edited volumes 2-3, and compiled volume 4 (the introduction and index). MS 1 (excluding the so-called Pre-Patrician Annals, f. 12r–14v) is printed with intermittent distinction of hands (by parentheses, brackets, textual footnotes) and omission of some interlinear interpolations; readings from MS 2 are sometimes cited in text or in footnotes, and text lost in MS 1 is supplied from MS 2. MSS 3 and 4 are occasionally cited in footnotes, in the translation (s.a. 1132 for example), and ? in text. Expansions of manuscript abbreviations are not indicated.
  2. Seán Mac Airt & Gearóid Mac Niocaill, (ed. & trans.) The Annals of Ulster (to A.D. 1131) (Dublin 1983). Text from MS 1 (including f. 12r–14v, the so-called Pre-Patrician Annals) with distinction of the main hand and the hands of successive interpolators and glossators; additional material from MS 2 is printed and distinguished. Expansions of manuscript abbreviations are indicated.
  1. Hennessy & Mac Carthy (1887–1901)
  2. Mac Airt & Mac Niocaill (1983)–to 1131
  1. TCL Ir Cat 20.
  2. Oxford Cat i 153–63.
  3. Henri d'Arbois de Jubainville (notice of Hennessy, vol. i) Revue Celtique 8 (1888) 402–6.
  4. Whitley Stokes, 'Notes on the Annals of Ulster', Academy 36 (1889) 207–8, 223–5, 240–1; 50 (1896) 182–3, 223–4 [criticism of, and corrigenda to, the edition of Hennessy & Mac Carthy, vols i and iii].
  5. Whitley Stokes, 'The Annals of Ulster', Revue Celtique 18 (1897) 74–86 [reviews of the edition of Hennessy & Mac Carthy, ii–iii, with numerous corrections].
  6. Tomás Ó Máille, The language of the Annals of Ulster (Manchester, 1910).
  7. Seán Ó Catháin, 'Some studies in the development from Middle to Modern Irish, based on the Annals of Ulster', Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 19 (1933) 1–47.
  8. Paul Walsh, 'The dating of Irish annals', Ir Hist Stud 2 (1941) 355–75.
  9. T. F. O'Rahilly, Early Irish history and mythology (Dublin, 1946) 235–59, 501–12.
  10. Vernam Hull, 'The Middle Irish preterite passive plural in the Annals of Ulster', Language 28 (1952) 107–8.
  11. Aubrey Gwynn, 'Cathal mac Maghnusa and the Annals of Ulster', Clogher Rec 2 (1958–9) 230–43, 370–84, repr. (with introduction [1–25], corrections and annotations [53–57] and bibliography [59–61]) in Nollaig Ó Muraíle (ed.) Aubrey Gwynn, Cathal Óg mac Maghnusa and the Annals of Ulster, (Enniskillen, 1998).
  12. Gearóid Mac Niocaill, 'Annála Uladh agus Annála Locha Cé, 1014–1220', Galvia 6 (1959) 18–25.
  13. J. Bannerman, 'Notes on the Scottish entries in the early Irish annals', Scott Gaelic Stud 11 (1968) 149–70, repr. in John Bannerman, Studies in the history of Dalriada (Edinburgh & London, 1974) 9–26.
  14. Isabel Henderson, 'North Pictland', in Edward Meldrum (ed.) The Dark Ages in the Highland (Inverness, 1970) 37–52.
  15. Kathleen Hughes, Early christian Ireland: introduction to the sources (London & Ithaca NY, 1972) 99–159.
  16. A. P. Smyth, 'The earliest Irish annals: their first contemporary entries, and the earliest centres of recording', Proc Roy Ir Acad (C) 72 (1972) 1–48.
  17. Marjorie O. Anderson, Kings and kingship in early Scotland (Edinburgh & London, 1973) 1–42.
  18. Alfred P. Smyth, 'The Húi Néill and the Leinstermen in the Annals of Ulster, 431–516 A. D.', Études Celtiques 14, (1974) 121–43.
  19. Gearóid Mac Niocaill, The medieval Irish annals (Dublin, 1975).
  20. F. J. Byrne, 1000 years of Irish script (Oxford, 1979) [sect ]19.
  21. A. D. S. MacDonald, 'Notes on monastic archaeology and the Annals of Ulster, 650–1050', in Donnchadh Ó Corráin (ed.) Irish antiquity: essays and studies presented to Professor M. J. O'Kelly (Cork, 1981) 304–19.
  22. A. D. S. MacDonald, 'Notes on terminology in the Annals of Ulster, 650–1050', Peritia 1 (1982) 329–33.
  23. David N. Dumville, 'Latin and Irish in the Annals of Ulster, AD 431–1050', in Dorothy Whitelock, Rosamond McKitterick & David N. Dumville (eds.) Ireland in early medieval Europe: studies in memory of Kathleen Hughes (Cambridge, 1982) 320–41.
  24. Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, 'Irish annals from Easter tables', Peritia 2 (1983) 74–86.
  25. David N. Dumville, 'On editing and translating medieval Irish chronicles: The Annals of Ulster', Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, 10 (1985) 67–86.
  26. Richard Sharpe, 'Saint Mauchteus, discipulus Patricii', in Alfred Bammesberger & Alfred Wollmann (eds.) Britain 400–600: language and history (Heidelberg, 1990) 85–93.
  27. Daniel P. Mc Carthy, 'The computus and the Annals of Ulster', Peritia 8 (1994) 46–79.
  28. Michael Meckler, 'The Annals of Ulster and the date of the meeting of Druim Cett', Peritia 11 (1997) 44–52.
  29. Bart Jaski, 'Additional notes to the Annals of Ulster', Ériu 48 (1997) 103–52.
  30. Daniel P. Mc Carthy, 'The chronology of the Irish annals', Proc Roy Ir Acad (C) 98 (1998) 203–55.
  31. Nollaig Ó Muraíle, 'Cathal Mac Maghnusa: his time, life and legacy', Clogher Rec 16/2 (1998) 45–64.
  32. Francis John Byrne, 'Chiasmus and hyperbaton in the Annals of Ulster', in Michael Richter & Jean-Michel Picard (eds.) Ogma: essays in Celtic studies in honour of Próinséas Ní Chatháin (Dublin, 2002) 54–64.
  33. 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'.
  34. Daniel P. Mc Carthy, 'The original compilation of the Annals of Ulster', Studia Celtica 38 (2004) 77–84.
  35. Daniel P. Mc Carthy, The Irish Annals: their genesis, evolution and history (Dublin 2008).
    The editions used in the digital edition
  1. The Annals of Ulster. Seán Mac Airt and Gearóid Mac Niocaill (ed), First edition [xv + 2 plates + 579] School of Celtic Studies (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies)Dublin (1983)
  2. The Annals of Ulster. B. Mac Carthy (ed), First edition [vol. ii [iv, including 2 pages of corrigenda and addenda] + 565 pp; vol. iii 637 pp + 4 pages of corrigenda and addenda] Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury under the direction of the Council of the Royal Irish Academy (Her Majesty's Stationery Office)Dublin (1893-1895)


Project Description

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling Declaration

The present electronic text represents pages 38-578 of the edition of Mac Airt and Mac Niocaill and pages 2-236 of vol. ii of Mac Carthy's edition. All the editorial preface, list of contents, introduction, historical notes, codicological notes, and inconsequential variants have been omitted. Editorial corrigenda (where relevant and well-founded) are integrated into the electronic edition. Unnecessary or mistaken corrections by Mac Carthy (these appear in brackets in his edition) are simply ignored in the electronic text. Missing text supplied by the editors in the body of the work is tagged sup. Editorial and scribal corrections entered in the body of the work are tagged corr and the original reading is kept in the sic attribute. In the case of some unusual forms not commented by the editors of the hard copy the manuscript reading is tagged sic, without further comment by the makers of the electronic edition. Changes of scribe, marked by the hard copy editors, are retained and marked in the hand attribute of the tag add using the scribal sigla (for which see profiledesc below). Thus, scribal glosses and annotations are tagged add with appropriate attributes. Because of the unsatisfactory nature of Mac Carthy's edition, additions by hands other than the main hand are simply marked with add or addspan and the attribute late. Strictly codicological annotations in the apparatus criticus that do not appear to affect the meaning have been ignored.

Editorial Declaration


Text has been thoroughly checked and proofread five times. It is very difficult to create an electronic edition of a text as long, as complex, and as varied as the Annals of Ulster. There will be errors and ambiguities in this text as there are in the original editions. Readers are invited to submit corrections and emendations both of this electronic edition and of the editions on which it is based. Improved manuscript readings and corrections of scribal errors and errors of transcription and interpretation that may have escaped previous editors are also sought. Any improvements will be credited to the scholars who submit them.


The electronic text represents an edited version of the hard-copy editions, with some minor conventional changes.

Lenited f and s, rendered f with overdot and s with overdot in the printed text of Mac Airt and Mac Niocaill, are rendered fh and sh. In the electronic text, Kl. represents Kl^. of the print text. The few examples of æ in the print text are not retained since they are merely graphical. In Roman numerals, especially common in AD dates, the suprascript o has not been retained. In Anno Mundi dates, .iiiim represents 4000, m being a conventional representation of the italic m of the print text, itself a conventional representation of the overstroke of the Roman numeral.

Otherwise, normal CELT conventions have been applied in regard to text divisions, word segmentation, and capitalization in proper names.


The few quotation are tagged q. Citations from other texts, including scripture, are tagged in accordance with TEI guidelines.


Soft hyphens are silently removed. When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break or line-break, the page-break or line-break is marked after the completion of the hyphenated word.


div0=the whole work; div1=the individual annal (the text for a given year); div2=the individual entry in an annal, whether these are numbered in the edition (Mac Airt & Mac Niocaill) or not (Mac Carthy). Passages of verse occurring within text paragraphs or within marginalia are treated as embedded texts and, where relevant, stanzas are enumerated in the structural mark-up. The page-breaks of the printed texts and the manuscript folio numbers are marked. From the beginning to 1102 only the folio and column numbers for MS 1 are given. From 1102 to 1131, where the lacunae in MS 1 are supplied from MS 2, the folio and column numbers of each manuscript are distinguished. From 1155 to the end, the folio and column numbers of each manuscript are recorded.


Names (persons, groups, dynasties, peoples, lineages, places) are tagged and distinguished. The tagging of surnames in the late tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries, when they were coming into existence, poses many serious historical problems, some of which cannot be resolved because of lack of evidence. Therefore, a degree of uncertainty attaches to many and they remain subject to correction. Offices and titles (king, lord, abbot, erenagh, coarb, lector, sage, oeconomus, etc.) are tagged. Numbers and dates are tagged. Terms (including astronomical and meteorological events) are tagged.

Canonical References

This text uses the DIV1 element to represent the Year.

Refs: EVENT (<DIV2>)

This text uses the DIV1 element to represent the Year.

Profile Description

Created: By mostly unknown authors in Irish monastic scriptoria and medieval Irish clerics. Date range: c. 550-c.1588, various and mostly unknown.

Use of language

Language: [LA] A large portion of the earlier part of the annals is in Latin.
Language: [GA] Most of the later annals are in Old, Middle, and Early Modern Irish with very many Latin words and formulae.
Language: [EN] Witness-list in the front matter is in English.

List of hands

H [main] Ruaidhri Ó Luinín

H1 [interpolator/glossator] unknown

H2 [interpolator/glossator] Cathal Mac Maghnusa

H3 [interpolator/glossator] unknown

H4 [interpolator/glossator] unknown

LATE [otherwise unidentified interpolator/glossator (vols 2-3)] unknown

Revision History