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Tredennick, John, Esq., Camlin, Bal. | Webber, Charles T., Esq., Q. C. lyshannon.

Webber, Daniel Webb, Esq., Q. C. Turnbull, William B., D. D., Advo- Weir, John, Esq., Gardiner's-place.

cate, Secretary S. A. S., Edin- Weir, R. T., Esq., Dromore. burgh.

Weir, William, Esq., Lakeview.

White, R., Esq., Arigna. Vesey, Rev. Dr., Merrion-square, S. Whiteside, James, Esq., Q.C., MountVesey, Samuel, Esq., Derrobard joy-square. House, Co. Tyrone.

Winter, John Pratt, Esq., D. L.,

Agher. Walker, R. C., Esq., Barrister. Wood, William C., Esq., Woodville, Walsh, John Hussey, Esq., Kilduff Sligo.

House, King's County. Walsh, Rev. J., Esq., Rollestown. Walsh, the late John, Esq., Barrister. Young, G. W., Esq., Coroner, KnockWarburton, George, Esq., Southfield bawn, Tynan. House, Fromes.

Young, Rev. Walter, Lisbellan, EnWard, Rev. Ralph, Kilwaughter, niskillen.

Larne.

While many of the above Subscribers have also honoured some of Mr. D’Alton's other Works with their encouragement, those, before whom in this List a star * is prefixed, yet more confidingly communicated their names at once for any Work he might ever publish.

JOHN D'ALTON.

12th April, 1845.

BRIEF ESSAY

ON

THE NATIVE ANNALS,

AND OTRER SOURCES FOR ILLUSTRATING THE

HISTORY AND TOPOGRAPHY OF IRELAND.

According to bardic accounts, one of the early pagan kings of this country ordained, that a triennial assembly of its subordinate rulers and chiefs, in the nature of a Parliament, should be held at Tara (in the present County of Meath), the seat of sovereignty and legislation, where, amongst other matters, considered of the highest national interest, a committee was specially appointed, and from time to time renewed, whose sole business it was, to refresh the existing traditions of early colonizations, collect the narratives of passing events, and perpetuate the knowledge of all, by frequently renewed intercourse and communication. Chroni. cles and genealogies thus collected and verified, were, thereupon, woven in the legends of the “ Seanachie,” or yet more enduringly and popularly transmitted in the song and the music of the bard. When the light of the Gospel broke in upon the country, these memorials of revered adoption were not suffered to remain in the shade, and, while the continuance of such legislative conventions, as above mentioned, was provided for, a similar committee was constructed, at

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the instance of St. Patrick, as alleged in the Annals of the Four Masters, but with the additional, and, by reason of the great religious revolution that had taken place, the necessary duty of purifying and re-modelling what was so largely alloyed with Pagan rites and manners. This council of censorship consisted of three of the petty kings, three of the most respected “ Seanachies” or chroniclers, St. Patrick, the most influential of the commission, and two other bishops of his ordination. The Annals of Ulster, whose authority is hereafter examined, suggest (ad ann. 438), that from this body originated the Psalter of Tara; the Four Masters, however, attribute it to Cormac, King of Ireland in the third century. Be this as it may, the provinces, imitating this literary auspice, deputed persons of their election to aid the great national design, and accordingly were the Books of Leinster and Munster, the Annals of Ulster and Connaught, continued through centuries of time. With not less creditable zeal, the monks adopted in their churches the example of the State, and each of the religious fraternities appointed their historian and scribe, fragments of whose works yet exist, in which the retrospective notices are avowedly derived, from such more ancient compilations as are above alluded to.

In the time of Cormac Mac Cuilenan, King and Bishop of Cashel, at the close of the tenth century, was drawn up by himself, in the native language, that collection of Irish notices, hence commonly called the “Psalter of Cashel,” a copy of part of which Dr. Nicholson mentions, as extant in an old parchment manuscript of the Bodleian Collection at Oxford; and Sir James Ware says that he had in his custody some genealogical fragments taken out of the said history, in a volume copied, as it appeared to him from the antiquity of the character, about three centuries before he published his “ Writers." The original, or some copy of this Psalter, appears to have been extant in Limerick in 1712; at least a volume purporting to have been there transcribed from it in that year, has been, and, it is believed, still is in the Diocesan Library of Cashel.—The Book of Conquests was the next chronicle of note; an imperfect copy of which is in the Collection at Stowe: a parchment quarto of 84 pages, doubly columned. Dr. O'Conor, in his Catalogue of that Collection, gives an interesting account of its contents; and the high antiquity of the work is evidenced by its being quoted in Tigernach's Chronicle, as well as in the “Din-Seanchus,another production generally referred to the eleventh century; nor is it improbable that it, with that of Tigernach, were the authorities from which Giraldus derived those traditions of the early colonization of Ireland, which he has but abridged in his “ Topographia Hiberniæ.”—Those Annals of Tigernach succeed to notice. He was, as before-mentioned, Abbot of Clonmacnois, and is projected to especial reverence, not only as the most ancient annalist in any northern language, but as also so distinguished by the diligence of his researches and the ingenuousness of his narrative. He commences his work at the year 305 before the Christian era, and concludes at A. D. 1088, when himself died. The antiquity of his notices is best proved by the internal evidence of their own simplicity; they are a naked, honest, unadorned statement of facts, communicated with veracious dryness, and only varied by notices of the changes of the weather, the appearances of the heavens, the visitation of epidemical complaints, and the courses of the crops.

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The first sentence with which, in honest candour, he commences, “ Omnia monumenta Scotorum antea Cimbaoth sunt incerta,” has been misconstrued into an admission, that the Irish, then called Scoti, had no ancient monuments of literature; but, while this Cimbaoth lived about the time of Alexander the Great, Tigernach's proposition should be construed rather as

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