Denis Casey

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2012/2013

Research project

The Intellectual World of Conall Mag Eochagáin: 
the Medieval and Early Modern Contexts of the Annals of Clonmacnoise


My project aims to satisfy an important research requirement in Irish historiography, by producing the first-ever analysis of Conall Mag Eochagáin’s (Mageoghagan’s) Annals of Clonmacnoise (1627), a text which is both part of the medieval Irish annalistic tradition and an important early modern cultural document. The Annals of Clonmacnoise has been largely overlooked in favour of other Irish annalistic texts and products of seventeenth-century historical enquiry, namely the Annals of the Four Masters and Geoffrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Éirinn. This project aims to redress the balance by analysing the place of the Annals of Clonmacnoise within the Irish annalistic tradition, while simultaneously locating Mag Eochagáin’s efforts within two broad contemporary contextual frameworks: the research and writing of Irish history by seventeenth-century scholars and antiquarians and secondly, seventeenth-century national and international scholarly networks. This research will feed into my long-term aim of producing the first-ever critical edition of the Annals of Clonmacnoise.
The Annals of Clonmacnoise is an historical text written in early modern English, purporting to chronicle Irish history from the creation of the world to 1408 AD. Its author claims to have largely translated it from a (now lost) Irish original during the 1620s and it stands near the end of a 1,000-year Irish annalistic tradition. Mag Eochagáin drew on a variety of sources and source types (medieval and contemporary) to produce a unique early modern text, which may, nonetheless, be classified as a member of the Clonmacnoise Group of medieval Irish annals. Mag Eochagáin was the son of a royalist Gaelic-Irish Catholic lord and his text is an extremely valuable source for analysing both the Irish annalistic tradition and cultural mediation and translation between Gaelic and English cultures, during a pivotal period in the creation of enduring national and confessional divisions in Ireland. Nonetheless, the broad scope of the Annals of Clonmacnoise and lack of a scholarly edition has meant that it has hitherto escaped systematic analysis.
This project has three principal strands. Firstly, it will investigate the place of Mag Eochagáin’s work within the millennium-long tradition of writing and compiling Irish annals (the principal sources for the political history of Gaelic-speaking Ireland). Secondly, it will be used as a case study for exploring attitudes to writing Irish history by seventeenth-century scholars and antiquarians. Thirdly, Mag Eochagáin’s participation in early-seventeenth-century Irish, English and Continental intellectual and scholarly networks will be examined.



Denis Casey holds a Ph.D. in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic from the University of Cambridge (2009), where he was previously a teaching associate. He has held visiting and honorary fellowships in Ireland and Britain and was awarded the Irish Chiefs’ History Prize by the Department of History, Trinity College Dublin and the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains, in 2010.


His research fields of interest are political and cultural history of medieval and early modern Ireland, exercise of kingship in medieval Ireland, medieval Irish annals, early modern use of medieval sources and medieval Irish economic history.

Selected publications


‘A Reconsideration of the Authorship and Transmission of Cogadh Gáedhel re Gallaibh’, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C, vol.113, 2013, pp.1–23.


‘“A Compulsory and Burdensome Imposition”: Billeting Soldiers in Medieval and Early Modern Ireland’, in A. Classen and N. Margolis (eds), War and Peace: New Perspectives in European History and Literature, 700–1800, Berlin, 2011, pp.193–216.


‘Prolegomena to the Study of Medieval Irish Economic History’, in M. Watson and L. Milligan (eds), From Vestiges to the Very Day: New Voices in Celtic Studies, Aberdeen, 2010, pp.13–24.


‘“A Man of Great Power for a long Time”: Tigernán Ua Ruairc and the Book of Kells’, History Ireland, vol.18, no.4, 2010, pp.14–17.


‘Historical and Literary Representations of Brian Boru’s Burial in Armagh, 1014AD’, North Munster Antiquarian Journal, vol.50, 2010, pp.29–44.


‘An Eighth-Century Royal Conversation: Cathal mac Finnguini and Áed Allán at Tír dá Glas, 737 AD’, Quaestio Insularis: Selected Proceedings of the Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, vol.7, 2006, pp.57–71.


senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline Law
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline Philosophy