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    The original manuscript... is... a small quarto on paper, containing 957 pages, all of which, with the exception of a few towards the end, are in the handwriting of the compiler, the celebrated Irish hereditary antiquary, Duald Mac Firbis; and the pages not written by him are in the handwriting of the no less celebrated antiquary Michael O'Clery, chief of the annalists, popularly called the Four Masters...
    The contents of the volume may be described in general terms as historico-genealogical, being a history of the several colonies who established themselves by conquest in Ireland, with genealogies of the principal families who descend from them, carried down in many instances to the time of the compiler.
    "The place, time, author, and cause of writing this book, are: the place, the college of St. Nicholas, in Galway; time, the time of the religious war between the Catholics of Ireland and the heretics of Ireland, Scotland, and England, particularly the year 1650; the person or author, Duald the son of Giolla Iosa more Mac Firbis, historian, &c. of Lecan Mac Firbis in Tireragh on the Moy; and the cause of writing the book is to increase the glory of God, and for the information of the community in general."
    "With regard to our later writers," he adds, "who flourished within the last 600 years, here follow the names of some of them: the O'Mulconrys were the hereditary Bards of Connaught, and some branches of them were Bards of Thomond, some of Leinster, and some of Annaly, (now Longford); the Clan-Firbis were the hereditary Bards of Lower Connaught, (i.e. of the County of Sligo), of Hy Fiachrach Moy, of Tir-Amalgaid, (Tirawly), of Cera, of Hy Fiachrach Aidne, of Eachtga, and of the race of Colla Uais, that is, of the Clan Donnell... the O'Duvegans in Hy Maine... the Clan Crutins and O'Brudins in Thomond, and so on."

    George Petrie, 1837

    Detail from the Rocque-Kitchin map of Ireland, 1794.
    Above: detail from the Rocque-Kitchin map of Ireland, 1794.
    Map © Cartography Associates, from the Rumsey Collection.

    Left: detail from satellite photo (click for larger version).

    Charon (MIT Project) 1989, James Coleman ©