A number of Irish annals, of which the earliest was the Chronicle of Ireland, were compiled up to and shortly after the end of the 17th century.
Annals were originally a means by which monks determined the yearly chronology of feast days. Over time, the obituaries of priests, abbots and bishops were added, along with that of notable political events.
Non-Irish models include Bede's Chronica maiora, Marcellinus Comes's Chronicle of Marcellinus and the Liber pontificalis.
The origins of annalistic compilation can be traced to the occasional recording of notes and events in blank spaces between the latercus, i.e. the 84-year Easter table adopted from Gaulish writer Sulpicius Severus (d. c. 423).
Manuscript copies of extant annals include the following:
Others which contain annalistic material include:
Many of these annals have been translated and published by the School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, or the Irish Texts Society. In addition, the text of many are available on the internet at the Corpus of Electronic Texts (CELT Project) hosted by the History Department of University College Cork, National University of Ireland. (See External Links below)
The famous epic political tract Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib also contains a great deal of annalistic material from the Viking Age in Ireland which is to be found in no other surviving sources. Much of this was taken from the same sources ancestral to the Annals of Inisfallen, which have come down to us both abbreviated and lacunose.
Annals known to have existed but which have been lost include:
- Annals of the Island of Saints
- Annals of Maolconary
- Book of Cuanu
- Book of Dub-da-leithe
- Book of the Monks
- Leabhar Airis Cloinne Fir Bhisigh
- Leabhar Airisen
- Leabhar Airisen Ghiolla Iosa Mhec Fhirbhisigh
- Synchronisms of Flann Mainstreach
- The Chronicle of Ireland
- Chronology of Irish History to 1976
- The Chronicle of Ireland 1992–1996
- ^ a b Ó Corráin, "annals, Irish", p. 69.
- Ó Corráin, Donnchadh (2006). "Annals, Irish". In John T. Koch. Celtic Culture. A Historical Encyclopedia. 5 volumes. Santa Barbara, Denver and Oxford: ABC Clio. pp. 69–75.
- The Medieval Irish Annals, Gearoid Mac Niocaill, Medieval Irish History Series, 3, Dublin, 1975
- The earliest Irish annals, Alfred P. Smyth, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, # 70, 1972, pp. 1–48.
- Astronomical observations in the Irish annals and their motivation, Aidan Breen and Daniel McCarthy, Peritia 1997, pp. 1–43
- "The Chronicle of Ireland: Then and Now", Roy Flechner, Early medieval Europe 21, 2013, pp. 422–54
- The chronology of the Irish annals, Daniel P. McCarthy, PRIA 98, 1998, pp. 203–55
- The status of the pre-Patrician Irish annals, Daniel P. McCarthy, Peritia 12, 1998, pp. 98–152.
- The Historicity of the Early Irish Annals:Heritage and Content, Patrick C. Griffin, 2001.
- The chronological apparatus of the Annals of Ulster A.D. 82-1019, Daniel McCarthy, in Peritia 16, 2002, pp. 256–83
- The original compilation of the Annals of Ulster, Daniel McCarthy, in Studia Celtica 2004, pp. 69–96.
- The Annals of the Four Masters:Irish history, kingship and society in the early seventeenth century, Bernadette Cunningham, Four Courts Press, Dublin, May 2010. ISBN 978-1-84682-203-2