Geoffrey Keating (?1570-?1644)

[var. 1580; Seathrún Céitinn; origin. Mac Etienne, Fr.], b. Burges, Co. Tipperary, to an Anglo-Norman family; ed. in a local Bardic school and later in France from 1603 - departing among 40 other students under the charge of Fr. Diarmaid MacCarthy to study at the Irish College in Bordeaux fnd. by Cardinal Françc de Sourdis; wrote "Farewell to Ireland" on his arrival and his "Lament of the Sad State of Ireland" after the Flight of the Earls; grad. DD [Divinity]; returned to Ireland, 1610; appt. curate Uachtar Achaid, Knockgrafton, nr. Cahir, and later Tubrid [or Tubridy], Co. Tipperary; became a celebrated preacher; wrote Foras Feasa ar Eirinn during 1633-36 [formerly dated ?1620-34], in Early Mod. Irish, drawing on contemporary Gaelic manuscript sources to provide a continuous historical narrative of Ireland and ascribing the lineage of the Milesians to ancient Egypt; his overall view involved acceptance of the Norman lordship of Ireland and the legitimacy of Catholic rulers;
a Latin translation was issued by John Lynch in 1660; an English translation made by Dermot O’Connor, 1723; met with much hostility in the Gaelic literary community on account of its inaccuracies; reprinted in 1809 and 1854; the original was translated by William Haliday in a 1 vol. edition of 1811; the entire text was edited and published by David Comyn and [Fr.] P. S. Dinneen, with a translation (4 vols. 1902-14); Keating also wrote “Trí Bior-ghaoithe an Bháis (The Three Shafts of Death)”; earlier works include Saltair Mhuire, a defence of the Catholic Mass and a tract on the Rosary; “Mo Bheannact leat” - a lyric written in France, and 18 other poems lamenting the departure of friends and the nobles of Ireland, including “Óm sceol ar ardmhagh Fáil ní chodlaim oíche”, an expression of disdain for the New English ‘trash’ coming into Ireland, and proposing that it were better that Ireland’s people (‘pobal’) emigrated away from Ireland; he is buried in Tubrid. RR CAB ODNB JMC DIB DIW FDA OCIL

[ top ]

  • Dermod O’Connor, trans., The General History of Ireland ... Collected by the learned Jeoffrey Keating, D.D. Faithfully translated from the original Irish language, with many curious amendments taken from the Psalters of Tara and Cashel, and other authentic Records by Dermod O’Connor [originally written in Gaelic as Foras Feasa ar Eirin [c.1640] (London/Dublin 1723; rep. Dublin 1809); see Duffy rep. edn., infra.
  • Do. [2nd edn.] With an appendix, collected from the Remarks of the learned Dr. Anthony Raymond of Trim, not in the former edition (Westminster 1726).
  • Forus Feasa ar Eirinn, mar a nochtar príomhdhala na hinnse o Pharthalon go Gabhaltus Gall, ar na chnuasach, & air na thiomsúghadh o phríomhlebhraibh Shenchusa Eirenn, agus o iliomad d'ughdaraibh baranthamhla coigcríche le Seathrún Ceitin, ollamh-diadhachta, An 1 chuid [A Complete History of Ireland, Vol. I] (Dublin 1811), 411pp.; Do. [another edn.] 2 vols (Newry 1817) [?rep. of 1723 edn.].
  • Keating's General History of Ireland, translated from the original Irish, with many curious amendments, taken from the Psalters of Tara and Cashel, &c., by Dermod O’Connor, Esq. (Dublin 1854), 556pp., with index, and Do. (Dublin: J. Duffy 1861), xxxvi, [49]-556pp. [front. Brian Boru of Munster; OCLC 28603628; available in Internet Archive in copy from Boston College, Mass., online].
  • Sir John T. Gilbert, Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland, Pt. IV [Pl LXXIII]: History of Ireland by Geoffrey Keating, TCD; Commencement of Preface transcribed by John O'Maelchonaire; text and translation [Pl. LXXIV] with Michael Kearney’s English version [1668] (London 1882).
  • P. W. Joyce, Forus Feasa ar Éirinn. Keating's History of Ireland, Bk. I, Pt. I; ed. with Gaelic text [from a MS of TCD [H. 5. 26], a literal translation incl. explanation of Gaelic idioms, complete vocabulary, &c. (Dublin 1900), 8 + 168pp.
  • John O'Mahony, ed., Foras Feasa ar Eirinn do réir an Athar Seathrun Céiting, ollamh ré diadhachta: The History of Ireland, from the earliest period to the English invasion. Translated from the original Gaelic, and copiously annotated, with topographical appendix (NY 1866), 20, 746pp.
  • David Comyn & P. S. Dinneen, eds, Foras Feasa ar Eirinn: A Complete History of Ireland, 4 pts. [vols.] (London: ITS 1902-14), and Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Irish Texts Society 1987), 230pp. [definitive edition; see extract].
  • O. J. Bergin, ed. & intro., Sgélaigheacht Chéitinn: Stories from Keating’s History of Ireland, with notes & vocabulary (Dublin 1909), 20 + 132 pp.; Do. [2nd edn., rev. & enl.] (1925), & Do. [3rd edn. DIAS 1930].
  • Pádraig de Barra [ed.,], Foras feasa ar Éirinn: Imleabhar 1 [i] An Díonbhrollach agus an Chéad Leabhar de Foras feasa ar Éirinn [le] Seathrún Céitinn. Dublin 1982. Imleabhar II [i] An Dara Leabhar de Foras feasa ar Éirinn le Seathrún Céitinn, athnua le Padraig de Barra, foreword by Breandán Ó Buachalla (BAC: Foilseacháin Náisiúnta Teo 1982-83).
Other works
  • Patrick O’Brien, ed., Eochair-sgiath an Aifrinn: An Explanatory Defence of the Mass, written in Irish, Early 17th c. (Dublin: O’Brien 1898).
  • Dánta amhráin is caointe Shéathrúin Céitinn (Conradh na Gaedhilge 1900).
  • Trí bior-ghaoithe an bháis/The Three Shafts of Death of Geoffrey Keating, ed. R. Atkinson (RIA 1890), and Do. [2nd edn.], ed. Osborn Bergin [RIA] (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1931).
  • Rev. F. W. O’Connell, ed., Selections from Keating’s Three Shafts of Death (Dublin/London: Maunsel & Co. 1910).
  • J. C. McErlean, ed., Dánta: Amhráin is Caointe Sheatrúin Céitinn [q.d.]
Reprints [sel.]

Bibliographical details
Foras feasa ar Eirinn: The History of Ireland [Irish Texts Society; 4, 8-9, 15] 3 vols. (London: Irish Texts Soc. 1902-14): Vol.1: The Introduction and the First Book of the History; Vol. 2: The Book of the History from Sect. XV to the End; Vol. 3: The Second Book of the History; Vol. 4 [ed. P. S. Dinneen], Genealogies and Synchronisms; index incls. elucidation of place names and annotations to text of Vols. I, II, III [483pp.].

See also Díonbhrollach Foras Feasa ar Eirinn; or, Vindication of the Sources of Irish History by [...] G. Keating, being the introduction to ‘Groundwork of Knowledge of Ireland’, [with] notes, vocabulary [Vol. I] (Dublin: Gill 1898), 112pp.

[ top ]

  • W. P. Burke, ‘Geoffrey Keating’, Waterford Archaeological Society Journal, 1 (1894-95).
  • RJC [pseud.], Geoffrey Keating, Priest, Poet, and Patriot: His Life, Times, and Literary Work (Dublin: CTS [n.d.]), 36pp.
  • Anne Cronin, ‘Sources of Keating’s Foras feasa ar Eirinn’, in Éigse, 4 (1943-44), pp.234-78; Do. (1945-47), pp.122-35.
  • Russell A. Alspach, Irish Poetry from the English Invasion to 1798 (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania UP 1959), espec. Chap. 6: ‘Keating, Dermod OConnor’.
  • Herbert V. Fackler, ‘Nineteenth-Century Sources for the Deirdre Legend’, in Éire-Ireland, 4, 4 (Winter 1969), pp.56-63.
  • Breandán Ó Buachalla, ‘Annala Rioghachta Eireann is Foras Feasa ar Eirinn: An Comhthéacs Comhaimseartha’, in Studia Hibernica, 22 & 23 (1982-83), pp.60-105.
  • D. Ó Corráin, ‘Seathrún Céitinn, An Cúlra Stairiúil’, in Dúchas 1983-85 (Dublin 1986), pp.56-68.
  • Diarmaid Ó Catháin, ‘Dermot O’Connor, translator of Keating’, in Eighteenth-Century Ireland 2 (1987), pp.67-68; 275, 276, 800, 882, 956.
  • Bernadette Cunningham, ‘Seventeenth Century Interpretations of the Past: The Case of Geoffrey Keating’, in Irish Historical Studies XXV, 98 (1986), pp.116-28.
  • Tadhg Ó Dúshláine, An Eoraip agus Litríocht na Gaeilge 1600-1650 (1987).
  • Breandán Ó Buachalla [essay on Keating] in Political Thought in Ireland Since the Seventeenth Century, ed. D. G. Boyce, R. Eccleshall, & V. Geoghegan (London: Routledge 1993).
  • Brendan Bradshaw, ‘Geofrey Keating: Apologist for Irish Ireland’, in Representing Ireland: Literature and the Origin of Conflict 1534-1660, ed. Andrew Hadfield & Willy Maley (Cambridge UP 1993), pp.181-84.
  • Seán Ó Tuama, ‘Gaelic Culture in Crisis: The Literary Repartee’, in Repossessions (Cork UP 1995), pp.119-33.
  • Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation (London: Jonathan Cape 1995), pp.13ff.
  • Anthony Carty, ‘The Anglo-Irish Perspective: Was Ireland Really Conquered?’, in Was Ireland Conquered? International Law and the Irish Question (London: Pluto Press 1996) [discussion of Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Eirinn].
  • Bernadette Cunningham, The World of Geoffrey Keating: History, Myth and Religion in Seventeenth-century Ireland (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2000, 2004), xv, 263pp., ill.
  • Bernadette Cunningham, ‘Representations of King, Parliament and the Irish People in Geoffrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Éirinn and John Lynch’s Cambrensis Eversus (1662)’, in Political Thought in Seventeenth-century Ireland: Kingdom or Colony?, ed. Jane H. Ohlmeyer (Cambridge UP 2000) [Chap. 5].
  • Bernadette Cunningham, ‘Geofrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Eirinn’, in History Ireland, 9, 1 (Spring 2001), pp.14-17.
  • Declan Kiberd, ‘Saving Civilization: Céitinn and Ó Bruadair’, in Irish Classics (London: Granta 2000), pp.25-54. [See also CELT Bibl., infra.]
  • Bryan Fanning & Tom Garvin, ‘Geoffrey Keating, The History of Ireland/Foras Feasa ar Eirinn (1634)’, in Books That Define Ireland (Sallins: Merrion 2014), Chap. 2.

[ top ]

Memoirs of the Marquis of Clanricarde (1722; Dublin Edn. 1774): ‘It fell out very unluckily, that to one of his sermons came a Gentlewoman, whose Maiden Name was Elinor Laffan, then married to Squire Moclar[?], an eafy good sort of Gentleman. She was very handfome, and fomewhat vain from hearing much of her own Praifes, and the Perfections of her Beauty. This the Libertines, who knew her weak fide, never miff’d of filling her Ears with, as the Mufick fhe lik’d best, and of getting into a greater Freedom and Familiarity with her, might possibly have improv’d some few Minutes to her Difadvantage; in of much that she became the common Subject of Difcourfe in those parts. To make the Accident more fatal to her, and the Preacher, his Sermon was chiefly upon Morality, and the Bleffings which commonly attend it, with the relation to either Sex. In the Detail, as he fpoke of Modefty on the one fide, he touch’d upon Lubricity and Vice on the other; and even enlarge’d upon the laft, as if of fet purpofe to work a prefent Reformation in this Gentlewoman. Whether he levell’d at her in this Difcourfe, is now hard to be rightly guefs’d at; nor is it very material, fince fhe took it of, and would not be perfuaded to the contrary [...] [&c.]’ In the ensuing paragraphs, Clanricarde narrates how a particular admirer, the Lord President of the Province [Munster], who, feeling the risk of ‘losing a Conversation that was dear to him’, ordered his men to arrest Keating: ‘This so scar’d the poor man, that immediately he chang’d both Garb and Name, kept in close Retirements for some Months, and at length quitted the whole Province. In this Misfortune, he lurk’d, sometimes in one Place, and sometimes in another, but mostly at the Abodes of the Poets with whom he had contracted a Friendship in his Youth; where meeting with good Store of old Books, and Manuscripts, to divert his Thoughts, he would now and then look over some, and copy out what he took a Fancy for. Which being Continued for about two Years, and in several Places, at last compleated this Collection, which now goes under his Name[s]. The Bards and Poets, indeed, extremely lik’d it [...] [cxxvi-cxxix]. [Note orth. f for antique s in this copy.]

James Hardiman, Irish Minstrelsy (1831), Vol. 2, contains a copy of “Doctor Keating to His Letter”, trans. by John D’Alton (here p.219), together with the original Irish version (see Notes, p.377ff.). Hardiman calls also for printing of Keating’s poems in any new edition of the History (p.378). A footnote on the current translation calls it as ‘an irreparable loss to Irish history that Doctor Keating did not continue his work after the Anglo invasion’ (p.378) and further characterises the English translation of Foras Feasa [by Dermod O’Connor, 1723] as ‘a burlesque on translation’ in which ‘innumerable passages [are] as much a version of Geoffrey of Monmouth, as of Geoffrey Keating’ (p.378.)

T. C. Croker, Researches in the South of Ireland (1828) - remarks:
Keating’s History of Ireland - and all those who promulgate its credulous version of Irish myth as history - is implicitly aimed at in T. C. Croker's remarks, at the opening of Researches in the South of Ireland (1828) [Chapter 1] ‘History and National Character’:
‘Intimately connected as are the Sister Islands of Great Britain and Ireland, it is an extraordinary fact that the latter country should be comparatively a terra incognita to the English in general, who, notwithstanding their love of travel and usual spirit of inquiry, are still contented to remain very imperfectly acquainted with the actual state of so near a portion of the British empire.
 To the facility of its access may in some measure be ascribed the [3] regal splendour of Tara, the scholastic learning of Lismore, or the achievements of Brian and of Malachi, that unfairly usurp the sympathies awakened in our childhood for magic banquets, enchanted castles and the chivalry of the Seven Champions; although the veracity of these marvellous stories, aided by a deceptive precision of date, has been maintained by many Irish historians with a sophistry at once ingenious and absurd. Whether the matter of such old chronicles be false or true, there is now little to be gleaned from those repositories of monkish labour, either of an amusing or an instructive nature. [...]’ (pp.3-4.)

E. A. D’Alton, in his History of Ireland (1911) draws on Keating’s History [Foras Feasa] for the genealogy of the ethnic inhabitants and Gaelic rulers of Ireland - as supra.

P. W. Joyce, A Short History of Ireland from the Earliest Times to 1608 (London: Longmans 1893): ‘The first history of the whole country was the Forus Feasa ar Erinn, or History of Ireland - from the most ancient times to the Anglo-Norman invasion, written by Dr. Geoffrey Keating, a learned Roman Catholic priest of Tubrid in Tipperary, who died in 1644. Keating was deeply versed in the ancient language and literature of Ireland; and his history, though uncritical and containing much that is fabulous and legendary, is very interesting and valuable for its quaint descriptions of ancient Irish life and manners, and because it contains many quotations and condensations from authorities now lost. The work was translated in 1726 by Dermod O’Connor; but he wilfully departed from his text, and his translation is utterly wrong and misleading: “Keating’s History is a work which has been greatly underrated in consequence of the very ignorant and absurd translation by Mr. Dermot O’Connor.” [J. H. Todd, St. Patrick Apostle of Ireland, p.133, note.] A complete and faithful translation by John O’Mahony was published, without the Irish text, in New York in 1866.’ (p.32.)

[ top ]

David Comyn, Díonbhrollach foras feasa ar Eirinn; or, Vindication of the Sources of Irish History, being the introduction to ‘Groundwork of Knowledge of Ireland’ (Dublin: Gill 1898), Preface to Edn. 1901: ‘Our author concludes his vindicatory introduction by affirming that if there be anything in his history inviting censure, it is there not from evil intent but from want knowledge or ability. Being a descendant of the old foreign settlers, Keating cannot be said to have inherited a prejudice in favour of the native Irish; and his testimony on their behalf, as he himself argues, ought on that account to be the more readily received. While indignantly refuting the calumnies of ignorance and malice, his honesty of purpose is yet such as impels him to relate some strange facts which his keenly sensitive regard for his country's honour must have induced him to wish could be related differently. But not less is this the case with the native annalists of Ireland. Having had the advantage of writing their own history, for their own people, in their own language, they did not attempt to make the facts bend to preconceived theories, but, to the best of their ability and according to their lights, they delivered the stories as they found them, not condescending to pander to any mistaken patriotic zeal, or to insert and omit with a purpose in view, and so colour their narrative as to place the ancestors before their own fellow-countrymen and the world in any better light than they felt was warranted by the authorities available. Though occasionally vain-glorious, and by no means free from clan predilections, they do not conceal faults or errors, or extenuate crimes: they are, in general, too candid. In this way the ancient history of Ireland often appears to the modern reader at a disadvantage, compared with the nicely adjusted narratives told by historians of remote times in other countries.’ (p.xviii; see full text in CELT.)

Constantia Maxwell, The Stranger in Ireland (1954), ftn. to Ch. I, [Keating] points out that there was no country in Europe without a ‘rabble’ and, that a whole country should not be judged by them. He refers to the valour and piety of the chiefs, the number of abbeys they had founded, and of their provision for the poor. Of the old Irish customs he says, ‘Though these are not suitable for Ireland now, they were necessary at the time they were established.’ Keating wrote before the days of scientific history, and his work is uncritical, but his point of view is worth preserving. [315].

Russell K. Alspach, Irish Poetry from the English Invasion to 1798 (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania UP 1959), Chap. 4: ‘Keating and Dermod O’Connor’; earliest mention of a translation found in Peter Walsh’s Prospect (1682); further, gives details a translation of Foras Feasa by Michael Kearney, as recounted by John Daly [O’Daly]; a plate of the translation is included in Sir John Gilbert’s Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland, viz., Pt. IV, pl. LXXXIII; Commencement of Preface, transcribed by John O’Maelchonaire; text and tran. Plate LXXIV, Michael Kearney’s English version, 1668; Irish and English; further, a translation is noted in T. K. Abbot and E. J. Gwynn, Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, as No. 1443, H. 2. 14, p.322: ‘Keating’s History of Ireland translated into English. Transcribed by Humphrey Moynihan and Thomas Moynihan. Purchased from Thomas Moynihan nr. Killarney, by Edward Llwyd [Lhuyd], A.D. 1700’; further cites David Comyn’s translation spoken of by Theophilus O’Flanagan in 1786, deemed to have been ‘fatally lost’; notices also extended reference in Harris’s edn. of The Works of Sir James Ware, mentioning a ‘Manuscript Copy of a Translation of this work [Foras Feasa], done by another Hand; but much inferior to Mr. O’Connor’s; yet it appears from it, that Mr. O’Connor had taken an unjustifiable Liberty in abrdiging his author’s work in some particulars, or this other Translator, on the contrary hath been too bold in enlarging it.’ (Harris, Ware, 1809 edn., III, 2, p.106; Alspach, p.82-83). [See also quotations from the translation by Dermod O’Connor below and also under O’Connor.] NOTE also, Charles O’Conor criticised Keating in these terms: ‘Keating’s work is a most injudicious Collection; the historical Part is degraded by the fabulous, with which it abounds. Keating was one of those laborious Readers, who, in making Extracts, do it without Selection or Discernment; and such Works [...] ought never to be published.’ (Dissertations on the History of Ireland, 2nd edn. 1766, Preface, p.x.; Alspach, p.96.)

Lord Killanin, ed., Shell Guide to Ireland (1966), notes a picture of an engraved stone at Tubrid [sic]: the inscribed plaque (1644) to Frs Eugene O’Duffy [his co-adjudicator] and Keating at the ruined mortuary chapel [...] is situated on an unclassified road 5 miles s. of Cahir. In the gazette the orth. Tubbrid [sic].

Herbert V. Fackler: ‘Nineteenth-Century Sources for the Deirdre Legend’, i n Éire-Ireland, 4, 4 (Winter 1969), pp.56-63, writes that ‘[t]he greatest pseudo-historical source, however, [for the Deirdre Legend] is undoubtedly Geoffrey Keating’s History of Ireland (1634?), a work so fine it is difficult to relegate it to the status of mere pseudo-history.’ (p.59.)

[ top ]

Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael (Amsterdam: Blom 1986): Keating, Hiberno-Norman corruption of Mac Etienne [son of Stephen?], French name with Gaelic patronymic. Foras feasa ar Eirinn, the linguistic and stylistic lodestar of modern Irish prose. Authors enumerated as false historians by Keating include Cambrensis, Spenser, Stanyhurst, Camden, Moryson, Davies, Campion’, ‘agus gach Nua-Ghall eile d’á scríobhann uirre [i.e. Ireland’] ó shoin amach’, who like a beetle on a bright day are only interested in finding dung (Vol. 1, 4 [var. 5]). [317] Leerssen’s extract from Forus feasa ar Eirinn, ‘they have displayed no inclination to treat of the virtues or good qualities of the nobles among the old foreigners and the native Irish who then dwelt in Ireland; such as to write on their valour and their piety, or the number of the abbeys they had founded [...] on the privileges they had granted to the learned professions of Ireland, and all the reverence they manifested towards churchmen and prelates.’ (Vol. 1., 4f.) Quotes Preface to Forus feasa ar Eirinn: ‘It is not for hatred nor for love of any set of people beyond another, nor at the instigation of anyone, nor with the expectation of obtaining profit from it, that I set forth to write the history of Ireland, but because I deemed it was fitting that a country so honourable as Ireland, and races so noble as those who have inhabited it, should [not] go into oblivion without mention or narration being left of them [...] being steadfast to the Catholic faith.’ (Forus feasa ar Eirinn/The History of Ireland, ed. & trans. by D. Comyn & P. S. Dinneen, London: Irish Text Society, 1902-04; here pp.317-18; see longer extract, as infra.] In Keating, the native Irish race is called Gaedhil, Sean-Ghaedhil, or Fior-Gaedhil (true Gaels), as distinct from Sean-Ghoill and Nua-Ghoill, while the Old Irish and the Old English together are called Eireannaigh, replacing a racial appellation with geographical one. (Leerssen, 1986, p.318); Bibl., Anne Cronin, ‘Sources of Keating’s Foras feasa ar Eirinn’, in Éigse, 4 (1943-4), pp.234-78; (1945-47), pp.122-35.

Norman Vance, Irish Literature: A Social History (Oxford: Basil Blackwell 1990), p.22: An English translation [of Keating’s history] was published in 1723, ostensibly by Dermot O’Connor though there are grounds for ascribing the project to the notorious Donegal deist and learned adventurer, John Toland; [also] an English version owned since before March 1689/90 by Sir Robert Southwell, Secretary of State for Ireland; another translation apparently made by Timothy Roe O’Connor for Lord Orrery about 1668; though this version seems to have disappeared it is possible that it survived unidentified in Marsh’s Library; the MS translation ‘A Defence of the True History of Ireland … by Jeffry Keating’ preserved there bears no resemblance to Dermot O’Connor’s published text. Bibl., D. Berman and A Harrison, ‘John Toland and Keating’s History of Ireland (1723)’, in Donegal Annual (1984), p.25-29; Diarmaid Ó Catháin, ‘Dermot O’Connor, translator of Keating, Eighteenth Century Ireland 2 (1984), pp.25-29; Marsh’s Library, MS Z3.1.17.

Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation (London: Jonathan Cape 1995), p.14: ‘If colonialism is a system, so also is resistance. Postcolonial writing, in a strict sense, began in Ireland when an artist like Séathrun Céitinn took pen in hand to rebut the occupier’s claims. He had been reading those texts which misrepresented him, and he resolved to answer back. He represented the Old English, those Gaelicised Normans who were especially demonised as hybrids in Spenser’s View: but his ambition was to clear the reputation of the native Irish as well. This gives his comments a certain objectivity: and he is honest enough to tell much that is not flattering. His scholarly scruple is dear in the tentative title which he appended to his text Foras Feasa ar Eirinn (A Basis for the Knowledge of Ireland) [ital. sic.], which was assembled mainly after the publication of Spenser’s View in 1633. A Tipperary man who was born in 1570 and educated at Bordeaux, Céitinn returned in 1610 to witness Gaelic Ireland dying on its feet after the crushing defeat of O’Neill at Kinsale a decade earlier and the subsequent Flight of the Earls. He might properly be seen as one of the first counter-imperial historians, in that his object was not only to reply to Spenser, Stanyhurst and the English writers, but more particularly to save the lore of ancient Ireland from passing into oblivion. Like the revivalists of three centuries later, Ceitinn feared that the national archive had been irretrievably disrupted and that his country, to all intents and purposes, was about to disappear. He mocked the ambitious young English historians who had endlessly recycled the same clichés current since the time of Cambrensis, in a tyranny of texts over human encounters: [Kiberd here quotes “Díonbrollach”, as infra]. […/] In his Díonbrollach or introduction, Céitinn (sounding at times like the Edward Said of his era) laments the fact that “truth” has now become a function of learned judgement rather than the sum of a whole people’s wisdom. “Ireland” [sic], he complains, is never to be seen in itself, but as a flawed version of England, as a country still entrapped in the conditions from which England liberated itself in 1066. / With devastating wit, Céitinn proceeds to show how, even on a purely textual level, the English writers have been amazingly selective in what they have culled from one another, and he unsparingly exposes the contradictions which mar their testimonies.’ (&c.; p.13-14); ‘A major part of Céitinn’s project was his demonstration that the Irish were not foils to the English so much as mirrors.’ (p.15.)

Seán Ó Tuama, ‘Gaelic Culture in Crisis: The Literary Repartee’, in Repossessions (Cork UP 1995), pp.119-33: ‘And it was a work, it should be noted, which sought above all else to enhance the old Irish aristocratic order, and to bewail its passing.’ (p.123.)

S. J. Connolly, ‘Cultural Identity and Tradition’, in Brian Graham, ed., In Search of Ireland: A Cultural Geography of Ireland (London: Routledge 1997): ‘The late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries saw the development of a new sense of Irish Catholic identity … strongly influenced by the militant spirit of the Counter-Reformation, this sought to divert attention from the ethnic and cultural barriers that had for centuries divided the Gaelic Irish and the English of Ireland, emphasising instead the new bond of a shared religious allegiance. The redesignation of pre-Reformation settlers as Old English, an established part of Irish society, helped to smooth over centuries of warfare and mutual hostility. The invention about this time of the pseudo-medieval formula, “more Irish than the Irish themselves”, was part of the same process. So too was the production of what was to become one of the founding texts of Irish historical writing, Geoffrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Eireann [sic]. Written in Irish by a priest of Old English descent, this created an elaborate composite of existing origin-legends in order to present the English invasion of the twelfth-century as only the latest in a series of episodes of conquest, settlement, and cultural assimilation.’ (p.46.) Bibl., cites B. Cunningham, ‘Seventeenth-century interpretations of the past: the case of Geoffrey Keating’, in Irish Historical Studies 25 (1986), pp.116-28.

Diarmaid O’ Cadhla - blogger and independent people’s candidate for the Dail Eireann in 2016, quotes Geoffrey Keating :
‘The Irish mind is the clearest mind that has ever applied itself to the consideration of nationality and of national freedom. A chance phrase of Keating’s might almost stand as a definition. He spoke of Ireland as ‘domhan beag innti féin’, a little world in herself. It was characteristic of Irish speaking men that when they thought of the Irish nation they thought less of its outer forms and pomps than of the inner thing which was its soul. They recognised that the Irish life was the thing that mattered, and that, the Irish life dead, the Irish nation was dead. But they recognised that freedom was the essential condition of a vigorous Irish life. And for freedom they raised their ranns; for freedom they stood in battle through five bloody centuries.’
—Available online; accessed 19.12.2016.

[ top ]

At the news from Fal’s high plain”: ‘Óm sceol ar ardmhagh Fáil ní chodlaim oíche / ’s do bhreoigh go brath mé dála a pobail dílis/gé rófhada atáid ’na bhfál ré broscar bíobha, / fá dheoidh gur fhás a lán den chogal tríothu. // A Fhódla phráis, is náir nach fóllas díbhse/gur córa tál ar sháirshliocht mhodhail Mhile;/ deor níor fagafh i gcláir do bhrollaigh mhínghil / nár dheolsad ál gach cránach coigriche. // Gach treod gan tásc tar sál da dtogair síneadh/go hóirlios álainn ársa Chobhthaigh Chaoil chirt,/is leo gan ghráscar lamh ar ndonna-bhruine,/’s gach fód is fearr dár n-aitibh eochar-aoibhne. // Atáid foirne ag fás san gclarsa Logha liofa/dar chóir bheith táir gé hard a rolla-scaoileadh;/síol Eoghain tláith ’s an Tálfhuil bodhar cloite / ’s na hóig ón mBantsrath scainte i gcoigríochaibh. // Na tóisigh thaisc ón Nas gan bhogadh bhrí-nirt / i ngleo gér gháifeach ágh na lonna-bhuine - / fá shróin an stait ba ghnath a gcogadh i ndíormaibh; / ní dóibh ba nár ach cách gan chomhall dlí ar bith. // Dá mba beoga ardfhlaith Áine is Droma Daoile/’s na leoghain láidre ón Maigh do bhronnadh maoine,/dar ndóigh niorbh áit don táinse in oscaill Bhríde/gan gheoin is gártha os ard dá dtoghaildíbirt. // Muna bhfóiridh Ceard na n-ardreann pobal chrích Chuirc/ar fhoirneart námhad ndána n-ullamh ndioltach/ni mór narbh fhearr gan chairde a bhfoscamdíolaim / ’s a seoladh slan i bhfán tar tonnaibh Chlíona.’ Trans., “At the news from Fal’s high plain”: ‘At the news from Fal’s high plain I cannot sleep. I am sick till doom at the plight of its faithful folk. Long have they stood as a hedge against hostile trash but a lot of cockle has grown up through them at last. / O brazen Fódla, it is shameful you do not see it were fitter to nourish Mile’s sweet high race. Not a drop is left in the plain of your smooth white breast - drained dry by the litter of every alien sow. / Any worthless crew that thought to cross the sea to the fair, gold, age-old lios of Cobhthach “the just” - theirs without struggle of hands our mighty mansions and the choicest swards of our lovely-bordered places. / There’s a new sort growing in the plain of Lugh the lithe Who are base by right, though they flourish their rolls” on high Eoghan’s seed exhausted, Tal’s blood troubled and broken, And the youth of BanBrath scattered in foreign lands. / From the worthy chiefs of Nas not a stir of strength, Though fierce that awesome army’s fire in battle - manoeuvring often under the nose of the State. (Not theirs the shame that the law is honoured by none.) / If that high prince lived, of Aine and Drom Daoile, or the great gift-generous lions of the Maigh, this horde would have no place in the bend of the Bride - smashed, driven out, with outcry and loud wails. / If the Craftsman of stars protect not Ireland’s people from violent vengeful enemies, bold and ready, better gather and winnow them now without delay and sail them out wandering safe on the waves of Clíona.’ (Translated by Thomas Kinsella, in Poems of the Dispossessed, Seán Ó Tuama, Dublin 1981.)

Foras Feasa ar Eirinn [History of Ireland], “Díonbrollach” [Preface]: ‘Whosoever proposes to trace and follow up the ancient history and origin of an country ought to determine on setting down plainly the method which reveals most clearly the truth of the state of the country, and the condition of the people who inhabit it: and forasmuch as I have undertaken to investigate the groundwork of Irish historical knowledge, I have thought at the outset of deploring some part of her affliction and of her unequal contest; especially the unfairness which continues to be practised on her inhabitants, alike the old foreigners who are in possession more than four hundred years from the Norman invasion down, as well as the native Irish who have had possession during almost three thousand years. For there is no historian of all those who have written on Ireland from that epoch that has not continuously sought to cast reproach and blame both on the old foreign settlers and on the native Irish.’ (Comyn, ed. & trans., 1902, London: ITS, p.3.). [For full text, see under Library, “Irish Classics”, infra.]

[ top ]

Forus feasa ar Eirinn - “Díonbrollach”: ‘[...] It is not for hatred nor for love of any set of people beyond another, nor at the instigation of anyone, nor with the expectation of obtaining profit from it, that I set forth to write the history of Ireland, but because I deemed it was fitting that a country so honourable as Ireland, and races so noble as those who have inhabited it, should [not] go into oblivion without mention or narration being left of them, and I think that my estimate in the account I give concerning the Irish ought thereafter to be accepted, because it is of the Gael I chiefly treat. Whoever thinks it much I say for them, it is not to be considered that I should deliver judgement through favour, giving them much praise beyond what they have deserved, being myself of the old Gall as regards my origin [... T]he race is dispraised by every new foreign historian [...] the extent of the pity I felt at the manifest injustice which is done to them by those writers [...] I know not why they should not be put in comparison with any nation in Europe in [...] valour, learning, and in being steadfast to the Catholic faith.’ (

Colloquy of the Ancients: ‘I must own [he says] there is a very good reason for me to believe that there was a very old Man in the time of St. Patrick, who lived some hundred years before; and gave him a particular Account of the History of the Island. […] The Name of this Person was Tuam the son of Carril, if we believe some Antiquaries, or, if we give credit to others, Roanus, that is, Caoilte Mac Ronain, who was above three hundred years old.’ (Dermod O’Connor, A General History, trans. of Keating’s Foras Feasa Ar Eirinn, 1723, p.107.)

[ top ]

The Fianna: ‘If it should be objected, that it is not to be supposed some particular Transactions relating to O Foinn and his Fianna Erion, or the Irish Militia, can obtain belief, because some of the Circumstances are impossible in Fact, and therefore must be absolutely False, I confess that the History Ireland, in some degree, labours under the same Misfortune, with most of the old Chronicles that were written in the Times of Idolatry and Paganism; and there is scarce a Country upon Earth, I suppose, whose primitive Records are not disguised with Fable and some incredible Relations; and even since Christianity appeared in the World, and the Clouds of Superstition and Ignorance were, in some Measure, dispell’d, many strange and romantick Accounts have been delivered with an Air of Truth […] But it is an unjustifiable Consequence to conclude from hence, that the old Records and Chronicles of all Nations are Fables and Rhapsodies; as if Antiquity were a sure and infallible Mark of Falsehood, and that the antient Writers were a Gang of Cheats and Imposters, who conspir’d together to transmit Lies and to impose upon Posterity.’ (Dermod O’Connor, trans., A General History of Ireland [Foras Feasa Ar Eirinn] 1723, p.268; all cited in Russell Alspach, Irish Poetry, 1959, p.91f.)

Youth & Eld: ‘I am old and a number of these people are young. I have seen and understood the chief books of history, and they have not seem them, and if they had seen them they would not have understood anything. It was not for hatred or love of any tribe beyond another, not at the order of anyone, not in the hope to get gain out of it, that I took in hand to write the history of Ireland, but because I thought it was not fitting that a country like Ireland for honour, and races as honourable as every race that inhabited it, should be swallowed up without any word or mention to be left about them.’ (Seathrun Ceitinn [Geoffrey Keating], Foras Feasa ar Eirinn 1 [‘Díonbhrollach’], ed. David Comyn, London 1902, p.76; cited [with Irish original] in Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation, London: Jonathan Cape 1995, p.14.)

The dung-beetles: ‘For it is the fashion of the beetle, when it lifts its head in the summertime, to go about fluttering, and not to stoop towards any delicate flower that may be in the field, or any blossom in the garden, though they be all roses or lilies, but it keeps bustling about until it meets with dung of horse or cow, and proceeds to roll therein.’ (Foras Feasa ar Eirin [1634], Comyn trans., 1902, p.5 [sect. VII]; cited in John Brannigan, ‘“A Particular Vice of that People”: Giraldus Cambrensis and the Discourse of English Colonialism’, in Irish Studies Review, 6, 2, August 1998, p.121; also in Melissa Fegan, review of William H. A. Williams, Tourism, landscape, and the Irish character: British travel writers in pre-Famine Ireland, in Journal of Tourism History, 2, 1, April 2010, pp.58-60.)

[ top ]

Charles A. Read, The Cabinet of Irish Literature (London, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast & Edinburgh: Blackie & Son [1876-78]); Keating is the first author in Read’s Cabinet (ed. T. P. O’Connor, 1880), on Keating, b. Tubbrid [sic] nr. Clogheen, co. Tipperary; ed. Salamanca at early age and for 23 years; famous at home for eloquence on his return; ‘Among others came a gentleman’s wife whom common fame reported to be too familiar with the Lord president of Munster. The preacher’s discourse was on the sin of adultery, and the eyes of the whole congregation being on the lady, she was in great confusion, and, imagining that the doctor had preached that sermon on purpose to insult her, she made loud complaint of him to the president, who was so enraged that he gave orders for apprehending him, intending to punish him with all the rigour of the law’; fled to the Galtee Mts.; his History of Ireland prepared in hiding and ultimately complete 1625; in 1603 [sic] enabled by recall of president Sir George Carew to England to return to his parish [this identification like the date of the whole account is dubious]; a church door erected at Tubbrid in 1644 said to bear inscription, ‘in Tybrid, hid from mortal eye,/A priest, a poet, and a prophet lie/All these and more than in one man could be/Concentred was in famous Jeoffry’; skilful writer in Latin and Irish. Various opinions incl. Peter Talbot, ‘an able but extravagantly mad performance’; D’Arcy Magee, ‘a semi-barbaric, semi-historic work, full of faith in legends and trust in traditions’ and acknowledges that ‘if it contains improbabilities or absurdities they are not of his creation’; O’Curry, ‘This book is written in the modified Gaedhilic of Keating’s own time’; also O’Curry, better for those who extract information from him to ‘endeavour to imitate his devoted industry and scholarship, than to attempt to elevate themselves to a higher position of literary fame by a display of critical pedantry and what they suppose to be independence of opinion in scoffing at the presumed credulity of those whose labours have laid in modern times the very groundwork of Irish history’. With regard to the pre-Flood portion of his History, Keating wrote, ‘nor have I inserted it in the beginning of this history with any desire that it should be believed, but only for the same of order, and out of respect to some records of the kingdom that make mention of it.’ MS in of the original but Mulcoury [sic for Mulconry] to be found in TCD Lib. ‘Thoughts on Inisfail’, translated by Darcy Magee; ‘A Farewell to Ireland’, addressed to his harper; ‘An elegy on the Death of Lord de Decies’; and the ‘Three Shafts of Death’, treatise in Irish prose, which Irish soldiers have long held in admiration; d. c.1650. CAB selects, ‘Thoughts on Inisfail’, trans. by Reade; ‘How the Milesians Came’ [n. Keating dates the event 1300BC]; ‘Parliament at Tara, instituted by King Ollamh Fodhla, 3082AM’, ‘The Fenians of the Olden Time’ (c.230AD); ‘How the Dailgais Returned Home after Clontarf’ (1014), all the foregoing in Dermod O’Connor’s translation; also ‘Keating to His Letter’, verse [from trans. by John D’Alton in Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy].

Dictionary of National Biography lists Keating (?1570-?1644); author of Foras Feasa ar Eirinn (‘Foundation of Knowledge on Ireland’), history to English invasion, never printed except in translation, widely circulated in MSS; his Trí Biorghaoithe an Bhais printed by [Dr.] Atkinson, 1890. See also Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, p.348.

Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: University of America 1904); Gaelic Index (Vol. 10, 4012), contains biographical note recounting that Douglas Hyde calls Keating ‘the Herodotus of Ireland’, in Literary History of Ireland. Further, ‘He brought limpid Irish to its highest perfection’; ‘I consider him the first Irish historian and trained scholar who [...] wrote for the masses not the classes ...’; b. Tubbrid, nr. Clogheeen, etc.; sent to Spain, etc [this biog. plainly copied in brief from Reade]; ALSO PS Dineen on, 10, 3959 [extract from Irish Prose by Dineen [in Irish and English l/r], ‘No author has done as much as Keating to preserve Irish amongst the people, especially the people of Leath Mhogha. Not that Keating wrote a very accurate or critical history, but he ammassed into one repository the accounts of Ireland given in the old books [...] It seems to us that had the Forus [sic] Feasa not been written, the remembrance of by-gone times, or the names of the old chieftains, or the exploits of the heroes would not have been half so fresh in the minds of the people as they were some fifty years ago [...] the poor people as well as the upper classes had it [...] Geoffrey also prefixed a splendid ‘Apology’ to his Forus Feasa [Is álainn an díon-brollach a chuireann Seathrún le n-a Fhorus Feasa’] [...] he did not leave much of Stanihurst that he did not rend to bits; heavy is the weight of his hand falling on Camden and on Spenser [...] he is like some great champion, some Cuchulainn or Achilles, his arms ready in his hands, clad in armour from head to foot, while he strikes down with zeal and fierce wrath those diminutive persons who gave false evidence against his country and who insulted his people’ [...] &c. [Dineen suggests that if he were alive today he would strike down equally Froude, Macauley, and Hume, 3963]; Keating’s Cave in Aherlow Glen, 7, 2615 [William O’Brien, ‘And still in Keating’s cave in Aherlow, and O’Flaherty’s cabin in Connemara, and Lynch’s cell in Louvain, the undying spark is kept alive, and the treasonous manuscripts of the Gael are cherished for happier days. Not happier, more unhappy days arrive’; from A Plea for the Study of Irish, in a lecture, ‘The Influence of the Irish Language’, given before Cork Nat. Soc., May 13 1902] .

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, ed. A. W. Ward & A. R. Waller, 18 vols. (1907–21), Vol. XIV [“The Victorian Age, Pt. 2”], IX: Anglo-Irish Literature; Sect. 5: ‘Geoffrey Keating’: Works by Anglo-Irish writers of the seventeenth century are largely in Latin and, therefore, are not dealt with here. A reference to the bibliography of this chapter will, however, show that a few of these have been rendered into English and should be consulted, in this or in their original form by students interested in Irish history, archaeology and hagiology, secular and religious, and in the treatment of these subjects by such distinguished contemporary writers as John Colgan, Sir James Ware—whom archbishop Ussher had educated into an interest in Irish history and antiquities - Luke Wadding and Philip O’Sullivan Beare. These, too, were the times of Geoffrey Keating, the first writer of modern Irish who can claim to possess literary style, and of the O’Clery family. Keating was a poet as well as a historian, and his lyric Geoffrey Keating to his Letter on its way to Ireland is one of the most charming of Irish patriotic poems. Keating’s History of Ireland has been recently issued by the Irish Text society, with an excellent English translation facing the original Irish, and Annals of the Four Masters may also be consulted in a satisfactory English version. [See Great Books Online: link.]

Stephen Gwynn (The Fair Hills of Ireland, Dublin: Maunsel 1906): ‘Keating’s significance is other and greater than merely as a historian. He was contemporary with the Four Masters who like him gathered and digested all that they could find in the ancient records of their country. But they, the descendants of hereditary and professed historians, maintained the professional tradition of a deliberately archaic style, which scorned popular comprehensions. Keating wrote for the people in the Irish which was spoken by educated men of his day. He is the first classic of modern Irish prose.’ (Quoted in P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland, 1994, pp.135-36.)

[ top ]

Frank O’Connor, Book of Ireland (1968), gives extracts, “The Origin of the Battle of Clontarf”, [includes the story of Gormley, dg. of Murrough, refusing to sew Brian’s button, and the game of chess between Murrough and the abbot of Glendalough, in which Maol Mordha advises the losing move, pp.74-76]; “The Return from Fingal” [the wounded men of Dal gCais led by Donough, son of Brian, stuff moss in their wounds to fight with their comrades against the greater numbers of the men of South Munster; Giolla Padraic advises the men of Ossary (S. Munster) to skirmish rather than give battle, pp.76-9]; “Mo Chua and His Three Treasures” [Colm Cille consoles him when his cock, mouse, and fly die, that possessions are misery, ‘I think by this joking of real saints that they were not much interested in worldly goods, unlike most of the people of our time’], all from History of Ireland [Foras Feasa] in O’Connor’s translations.

Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), Deirdre jumps from a chariot, strikes her head on a stone, and dies, rather than leaping in the grave after Naisi, in Keating’s version of the ‘Death of the Sons of Uisnech [Uislui]’. The essay on Gaelic Literature includes a paragraph on Keating, his aim to refute the false impressions of his country given by writers such as Stanyhurst, Moryson, William Camden, and Sir John Davies. Keating’s history will not stand up to modern critical examination for he accepted much of the legendary accounts of the past as the truth, but his work is a masterpiece of Gaelic prose [...] limpid narrative style [...] Few students of modern Irish have not delighted in Bergin’s Stories from Keating’s History of Ireland [...] such is the magic of style. [Seamus O’Neill.]

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1: selects Foras Feasa ar Eirinn, 255-59 & 323-24; News from Ireland, 282; Trí Biorhaoithe ar Bháis, 322-23. Editors remark that the cultural importance of Foras [Feasa] is that it fills the gaps in the transmission of seanchas which inevitably occurred follow-ing the demise of the bardic schools [...] [inform[ing] the political attitudes of those in opposition to the English domination of Ireland [...] almost racial polarisation in the writing of history [...] paralleled by opposition between protestant and catholic historians [236]; BIOG, 272. Notes that Foras &c, written in early 1630s; in Turbid; it appears that [Keating] offended a local lady in a sermon and was pursued by the authorities [...] went into hiding; travelled widely; [enjoyed] protection of protestants while consulting manuscripts; [given] access to library of TCD; said to have been murdered by Cromwellian soldiers in St Nicolas’s Church, Clonmel; mentions Dermot O’Connor’s trans. of Foras (1723).

CELT lists secondary sources: Risteard Ó Foghludha [“Fiachra Eilgeach”], Saoghal-ré Sheathrúin Céitinn: Sacart is dochtúir san diadhacht, staruidhe, file, ughdar, &c. [rep. from Gaelic Journal, XVIII, 1-12, 47-5708] (Dublin 1908); R. Henebry, ‘Geoffrey Keating’, in Journal of the Ivernian Society, 5 (1913) 197-202; Réamonn Ó Muireadaigh, ‘Lámhscríbhinn agus blúirí eile ó Mhainistir Bhuithe’, in Seanchas Ard Mhacha, 5 (No.270), pp.397-400 [desc. of 18th c. MS of Foras Feasa in Monasterboice, Co. Louth]; M. J. Connellan, ‘The See of Tuaim in Rath Breasail Synod’, in Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, 24 (1950/51), pp.19-26 [ad FF iii, 302-5]; Anne Cronin, ‘The sources of Keating’s Forus Feasa ar Éirinn’, in Éigse, 43/44 (1945), pp.235-79; & 45/47 (1948), pp.122-35 [1. The printed sources; 2. Manuscript sources (1) The manuscript sources of book 1, Chaps. 4-23; no more publ.]; Pádraig Ó Súilleabháin, ‘Céitinn agus Caesarius Heisterbacensis’, in Éigse, 9 (1958/61) [4], p.242; Brian Ó Cuív, ed., ‘An Eighteenth-century account of Keating and his Foras feasa ar Éirinn’, in Éigse, 9 (1958), pp.263-69; Brian Ó Cuív, ed., ‘A seventeenth-century Criticism of Keating’s Forus Feasa ar Éirinn’, in Éigse, 11 (1964/66) (pt. 265), pp.119-40 [from MS R.I.A. 23 M 40; with notes]; Brian Ó Cuív, ed., l. Labraid Loingsech [incl. edn. of relevant scholia to ACC, from MS N.L. G 50; on Keating’s use of Source Material for the LL section in Foras Feasa], in Éigse, 11 (1964/66), pp.167-87, 290; Pádraig Ó Fiannachta, ‘Stair Finnscéal agus Snnála’, in LCC, 2 (1971) [No. 1], pp.5-13; Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, ‘A possible source for Keating’s Forus feasa ar Éirinn’, in Éigse, 19 (1982-83) 61-81; Nicholas Canny, ‘The Formation of the Irish Mind: Religion, Politics and Gaelic Irish Literature 1580-1750', in Past and Present, 95 (1982), pp.91-116; Seán Ó Dúshláine, ‘More about Keating’s Use of the Simile of the Dung-Beetle’, in Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, 40 (1984), pp.282-85; Ó Dúshláine, ‘Seathrún Céitinn agus an Stíl Bharócach [baroque] a Thug Sé go h-Éirinn’, in Feasta, 37/10 (1984) 10-15; Donnchadh Ó Corráin, ‘Seathrún Céitinn (c.1580-c.1644): an cúlra stairiúil’, in Feasta 37/10 (1984) 17-21; Bernadette Cunningham, ‘Seventeenth-Century Interpretations of the Past: The Case of Geoffrey Keating’, Irish Historical Studies, 25, No. 98 (1986), pp.116-28; Breandán Ó Buachalla, ‘Annála Ríoghachta Éireann agus Foras Feasa ar Éirinn: An Comhthéacs Comhaimseartha’, in Studia Hibernica, 22-23 (1982-83), pp.59-105; Diarmaid Ó Catháin, Dermot O’Connor: translator of Keating’, in Eighteenth Century Ireland, 2 (1987) 67-87; Brendan Bradshaw, '‘Geoffrey Keating: apologist of Irish Ireland’, in Representing Ireland: Literature and the Origins of the Conflict, 1534-1660, ed. Brenda Bradshaw, Andrew Hadfield & Willy Maley (Cambridge 1993), pp.166-90; Bernadette Cunningham, ‘Representations of King, Parliament and the Irish People in Geoffrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Éirinn and John Lynch’s Cambrensis eversus (1662)’, in Political thought in seventeenth-centuy Ireland, ed. Jane Ohlmyer (Cambridge UP 2000); Bernadette Cunningham, The World of Geoffrey Keating: History, Myth and Religion in Seventeenth-century Ireland (Dublin 2000); Bernadette Cunningham & Raymond Gillespie, ‘Patrick Logan and Foras Feasa ar Éirinn’, in Éigse, 32 (2000), pp.146-52; Bernadette Cunningham, ‘Geoffrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Érinn’, in History Ireland, 9/1 (Spring 2001). [Go to CELT web pages: link.]

COPAC lists Díonbhrollach fórais feasa ar Éirinn: or, Vindication of the sources of Irish history. By [...] G. Keating, being the introduction to his “Groundwork of Knowledge on Ireland”. Edited ... with new translation, notes, vocabulary, &c. by D. Comyn. Irish & Eng. Publisher: Dublin, 1898. pp. 112.; 8o. Also as Foras feasa ar Eirinn. The History of Ireland [Irish Texts Society; 4,8-9,15] 3 vols.(London: Irish Texts Soc. 1902-14) [being] Vol.1: The introduction and the first book of the history. Vol.2: The book of the history from sect. XV to the end. Vol.3: The second book of the history. Foras feasa ar Eirinn. The history of Ireland [Irish Texts Society; 4,8-9,15] London: Irish Texts Soc. 1902-14), Vol.1: The introduction and the first book of the history. Vol.2: The book of the history from sect. XV to the end. Vol.3: The second book of the history.

Hyland Books (Cat. 220; 1996) lists J. Keating, D. O’Connor trans., The General History of Ireland (Duffy 1854), 556pp.; but cf. Hyland No. 219 (Oct. 1995), listing General History [...] &c. (1868); also ‘RJC’, Geoffrey Keating, priest, poet, and patriot, his life, times, and literary work (Dublin: CTS n.d.) [pamphlet], 36pp.

Belfast Public Library holds The History of Ireland under variant titles and editions, 1811, 1841, 1861, 1902. Library of Herbert Bell, Belfast, holds Jeoffry [sic] Keating, The General History of Ireland Vol. I (Newry 1820).

University of Ulster Library, Morris Collection, holds Foras Feasa ar Eirinn, 4 vols. (Irish Texts Soc., 1902-1914); also Bk I, Pt. I ([Dublin:] Gill 1880); The General History of Ireland, 2 vols. (Christie 1809); Eochair-Sgiath an Aifrinn ar na chnuasach agus ar na sgriobhadh le Seathrun Ceitinn (Dublin 1898) 128pp.; Sgealaigh-eacht Cheitinn, Stories from Keating’s History of Ireland (RIA 1930) 121pp.

[ top ]

Translators of Foras Feasa ar Eirinn: William Halliday, Vol. I (Dublin 1811); John O’Mahoney (New York 1857); Patrick Weston Joyce, Bk. I, Pt. I (Dublin 1900); David Comyn & Patrick S. Dineen [Irish Texts Society] (London 1902, 1908, 1914). [All cited in Russell K. Alspach, Irish Poetry from the English Invasion to 1978, Philadelphia: Pennsylvania UP 1959]. Also, a Latin Translation by John Lynch (Louvain 1660).

MS versions: MS in the Franciscan Convent Library, Dublin; written in the convent of Kildare before 1640, and probably the oldest extant transcription; MS of James O’Mulconry of Ballymecuda, Co. Clare, held in TCD Library (MS H. 5 26; Cat. No. 1397); another (MS H. 5 32, Cat. No. 1403); Haliday’s text stated to have been printed from MS by O’Mulconry dated 1657, but varying from the foregoing; MS written by O’Mulconry (1643), and formerly in possession of David Comyn; MS by Teig O'Nachtan (1704), formerly in possession of David Comyn. [Information available on CELT web pages.]

Marsh’s Library: A MS copy, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, transcribed by Christopher Geraldinus, 1651 [imperfect] is part of the Marsh’s Library Collection.

George A. Little cites Keating as his authority for saying that Sean Mhagh Ealta Eadair [The Old Plain of the Flocks of Howth] was cleared about 1500 b.c., being the first meadowland of Ireland. (Dublin Before the Vikings, 1957, p.86.)

[ top ]