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The Abbé Mac Geoghegan (translated by Patrick O’Kelly), The History of Ireland, Ancient and Modern, 1848

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The History of Ireland Ancient and Modern was written by Abbé James MacGeoghegan and was originally written in French and published in three volumes between 1758 and 1763 as Histoire de l'Irlande Ancienne et Moderne. The first two volumes of the history were first published in Paris and the last in Amsterdam. Republished here in fully-searchable electronic format is Patrick O'Kelly's translation into English of MacGeoghegan's work, which was published by D & J Sadlier in New York in 1848 Abbé James MacGeoghegan (1702-63) was born at Uisneach, Westmeath. Related to the defenders of Dunboy Castle against Carew and also Connell MacGeoghegan, translator of the Annals of Clonmacnoise. Like many of his class who were born after the enactment of the Penal Laws, James MacGeoghegan was sent abroad to receive an education, in his case the Lombard - later the Irish College - in Paris, were he was subsequently ordained into the Church. For five years MacGeoghegan served as vicar of Possy and in 1734 was elected as one of the Provisors of Lombard College. It was perhaps as chaplain to the Irish troops in the service of France that had most influence on MacGeoghegan's life and subsequent notoriety and it was during this period that he wrote his History of Ireland, dedicating the work to the Irish Brigades, in which he made the now-infamous statement that between the Treaty of Limerick in 1691 and 1741 some 450,000 Irish soldiers died in the service of France. MacGeoghegan died in 1763 and is buried in Paris. First appearing in English in 1831 and published in Dublin, The History of Ireland Ancient and Modern, was translated from French by James O'Kelly, a language teacher who had resided in Paris in the early nineteenth-century. O'Kelly in his preface to the author noted that MacGeoghegan was ideally situated in Paris to have access to some of the best archival material relating to the ancient history of Ireland. However, as an emigre, MacGeoghegan was denied access to material that was available at the time in Ireland had had to rely for his accounts on the published works of Lynch and Colgan. Containing some 630 printed pages, this edition of the History of Ireland Ancient and Modern, which includes MacGeoghegan's dedication and O'Kelly's biography of the author and an index, details the history of Ireland from the pre-Christian era through to the accession of James I in 1603 and is accompanied by a number full-page plates. The influence of MacGeoghegan's History of Ireland ensured that both he and his work would not be forgotten. In 1848 John Mitchell published his History of Ireland, which he claimed to be a continuation of MacGeoghegan's History. In this way the History of Ireland Ancient and Modern has long been associated with the cause of Irish nationalism, although in truth the work of MacGeoghegan, as his translator notes, was not in any way partisan, a statement that could not be applied to John Mitchell. Eminently readable, The History of Ireland Ancient and Modern, originally published more than 250 years ago, is republished here in fully-searchable electronic format and is to be thoroughly recommended. 

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