Medieval Gaelic sources

Katharine Simms

Catalogue Price: €6.95
ISBN: 978-1-84682-138-7
Catalogue Price: €35.00
ISBN: 978-1-84682-137-0

April 2009. 132pp; ills.

‘The Maynooth Research Guides series has been substantially enriched with the addition of this compact and very useful entry, written by the distinguished medieval Irish historian Katharine Simms of Trinity College Dublin. While primarily of value to both the professional and amateur scholar interested in the historical period that “Gaelic Ireland” typically connotes, Medieval Gaelic Sources also can serve as an introduction to or a refresher course on the textual materials available for more general research into the society, culture, and literature of Ireland from early-medieval to the early-modern period … Simms does not assume a knowledge of medieval or modern Irish on the part of her readers, whom she supplies with many helpful tips on how to approach and interpret this abundance of diverse materials … For each kind of source Simms covers, she gives the reader a clear sense of its form and function, the advantages and dangers in approaching the particular source in the source for historical information, the history and “state of the art” of Irish scholarship on the source type, and the ways in which different kinds of sources can be used to corroborate or complicate the record of events and conditions scholars construct … Simm’s book provides those wishing to explore “Gaelic Ireland” with a handy guide to the outstanding portals into this space and era', Joseph Falaky Nagy, Speculum (April 2011).

'… aimed at those who are studying Gaelic Ireland, the book provides practical guidelines on how to use the ancient sources to “glean usable historical information” … Simms describes the purposes for which the various texts were created, the mechanisms of their survival, and their availability in print and on the internet. The book contains suggested further reading and manuscript sources. Simms has been successful in painting the broad brushstrokes of an image that will lead to a better understanding of the use of medieval Irish sources. A useful, well-written handbook, and a must for those who have not been formally educated in an appreciation of these written resources!' Tom Condit, Archaeology Ireland (Autumn 2009).

'An excellent and accessible introduction to sources that may unlock many exciting and unexpected research possibilities … Simms explores the Gaelic language sources for the study of medieval and early Irish history which were created by the bardic schools. This book is a practical guide for those who wish to access the information contained in the annals, genealogies, poems and prose, sagas, legal and medical works … For genealogists or social historians looking at the medieval or Tudor periods of Irish history this practical guide is simply an essential tool', Michael Merrigan, Ireland’s Genealogical Gazette (November 2009).

‘This book is for “intending researchers” in the field of medieval Gaelic history. It provides a guide to the main Irish language sources from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. Each chapter is devoted to a different genre of evidence, covering annals, genealogies, poems, prose tracts and sagas, legal and medical materials, colophons and marginalia … This book is therefore highly accessible and suitable for those with no prior knowledge of Irish history … The book is also suitable for non-academic readers who have a strong interest in medieval Ireland (for example, well-considered advice is given to those wishing to trace Irish genealogies). This book may also prove useful for professional historians whose research is focused outside Ireland but who would like to learn more about the abundant and relatively neglected Irish language sources from the central and later Middle Ages. Katharine Simms is the ideal author for this book. She is a major authority on this period of Irish history … This book highlights the volume of recent work done in medieval Irish history, and the range of texts and manuscript images which can be accessed online through the CELT database, ISOS and other websites … Because of the growing accessibility of texts for Irish history, this slim volume is very timely. Simms has created a useful guidebook which explains the distinct character of the Irish evidence and provides essential information for those setting out to explore these rich and fertile sources for the first time', Clare Downham, Early Medieval Europe (2011).