The History of Ireland - Preface to volumes 2 and 3

Preface to volumes 2 and 3

AN edition of Keating's Foras Feasa with translation and notes, was undertaken for the Irish Texts Society some ten years ago, by the late lamented Mr. David Comyn; and the first volume appeared in 1902. Mr. Comyn, however, while engaged in the preparation of the second volume, was overtaken by a serious illness, which made it necessary for him to abandon the undertaking. In February, 1907, the present editor reluctantly undertook the completion of the work, as far as text and translation are concerned. Mr. Comyn's plan included a supplementary volume of notes; and in the two volumes now issued, the lines of the text are numbered continuously, and thus a system of reference is secured for the purpose of future annotation. The plan of the work and the size to which these volumes have grown made the insertion of notes other than textual ones impracticable. The reasons which induced the editor to follow a text differing considerably in style from that mainly used by Mr. Comyn are given fully elsewhere in this volume.

The volume edited by Mr. Comyn contains the Dionbhrollach or Introduction, together with a portion of Book I. of the Foras Feasa or History, that portion amounting to almost an eighth of the entire Foras Feasa. The first of the two volumes now issued gives Book I. of the Foras Feasa from the point at which Mr. Comyn's volume left off to the end. The second volume gives the whole of Book II. Thus the present volumes contain rather more than seven-eighths of the entire Foras Feasa, excluding the Introduction. There only remain the Genealogies and Synchronisms, which, with indices, etc., must find a place in the volume of notes without which the work cannot be regarded as complete.

These volumes are issued at a time when the Irish text they contain will have a far larger circle of readers than they would have had at any time during the past hundred years. The work, too, is one of great and many-sided interest. It is of interest to the historian, the antiquarian, the ethnologist, the philologist, the littérateur. In some of the byways of Irish history, it is our only source of information. It is a storehouse of excellent Irish prose, almost modern in style and language. The second book, which is contained in the second of the volumes now issued, giving the History of Ireland from the coming of St. Patrick to the Norman Invasion, is as interesting as a fairy tale.

The Foras Feasa was finished probably in 1633 or 1634; and now, after a lapse of nearly three centuries, it appears in print, in full, for the first time. The annotation of the Foras Feasa -- a work scarcely less important or less difficult than the annotation of the "Annals of the Four Masters" -- will require years of patient labour and research. Still it is no inconsiderable advantage to the student to have the entire text in a convenient form accompanied by a translation, and to have, moreover, a system of reference which will facilitate the work of research.

The editor has to acknowledge gratefully the kindness he received from authorities and assistants while using, in the preparation of this work, the libraries of Trinity College, the Royal Irish Academy, the Franciscan Convent, Merchants' Quay, and the King's Inns, as well as the National Library. He has, moreover, to thank his friendsTadhg O Donnchadha and Rlseard Ca Foghludha for help given in reading the proof-sheets.

Pádraig ua Duinnín,
Baile Átha Cliath, Bealltaine, 1908

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