What Early Irish Genealogical Research Requires

This research isn't easy.  At least, not at first.  Here what this kind of research requires.

1.  The Irish Language


The best surviving genealogical manuscripts were written in Irish between 400 and 1000 years ago.  With notable exceptions, translations don’t exist.  So, it’s best to be at least competent in Modern Irish (especially Munster Irish, given its close relationship to 17th Century Classical Irish) and preferably also competent in Middle Irish and Early Modern Irish including Bardic Irish.


2.  Expertise

It’s best to have expertise in Irish history and pre-history; European history and pre-history; and Seanchas as that term was defined until the 17th century, i.e., Brehon Law, the native Irish historical sources, and the native Irish genealogical sources.

3.  Critical Analysis

You’ll want to be able to perform critical analysis of early Irish genealogies, historical tales, and annals taking into account the research of the following scholars:   Myles Dillon, Tomás Ó Cathasaigh, T.F. O'Rahilly, Gearóid Mac Niocaill, Kenneth Nicholls, Francis John Byrne, Máirín O'Daly, Elizabeth Gray, Alwyn Rees and Brinley Rees, Gearóid Mac Eoin, Liam Ó Buachalla, Seathrún Céitinn, and more;

4.  Effort

You’ll need to spend many hours combing through over 1,000 years of records preserved from the 7th century to the 17th century in the following manuscripts:


·        Leabhar Laighneach ('The Book of Leinster'), which has been identified as the long-lost Lebor na Nuachongbála,


·        the manuscript known as Laud 610,


·        the manuscript known as Rawlinson B.502, which has recently been identified as the long-lost 
Leabhar Glinne Dá Locha ('Book of Glendalough'),


·        Lebor Gabála Érenn ('The Book of the Takings of Ireland,' a.k.a., "The Book of Invasions"),


·        Leabhar Leacain ('The Book of Leacan'),


·        Leabhar Bhaile an Mhóta ('The Book Of Ballymote'),


·        Foras Feasa Ar Éirinn ('History Of Ireland') by Seathrún Céitinn,


·        Leabhar na nGenealach ('The Book of Genealogies') by Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh, and


·        Leabhar Genealach ('Book Of Genealogies') by Cú Choigcríche Ó Cléirigh.


5.  A Bit of Luck

It is not possible to identify the ancient Seanchas (law, history, and genealogy) of all, but it is possible for many.



Copyright © 2015 by Gerald A. John Kelly

All Rights Reserved - No reproduction without written permission of the author




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