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JOHN O’DONOVAN’S EDITION OF THE ANNALS OF THE FOUR MASTERS: AN IRISH CLASSIC?

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Chapter Summary

The Annals of the Four Masters, compiled by professional Irish historians in the 1630s, were intended to provide a comprehensive chronicle of Irish history from earliest times to the present. Written in Irish, the work remained unpublished in the early modern period, known only to antiquarian scholars. Later, in the atmosphere of civic patriotism prevalent among Irish scholars in the 1840s, the work was published in a dual language edition. At the same time, stories from the annals were popularised in cheap magazines. The scholarship and the ideology of their nineteenth-century editor, John O’Donovan, coupled with the Gaelic and Catholic credentials of the original annalists and the romantic perception of the annals as having rescued Irish history from oblivion, made these annals a foundational text for the emerging Irish Catholic nation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

10.1163/9789401206471_010
/content/books/b9789401206471s010
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