Ireland asks England to return precious manuscript

The Irish government are hoping to persuade Oxford University in England to return an ancient manuscript to their shores.

The Annals of Inisfallen took 300 years to produce. They tell the history of Ireland from AD 433 to AD 1450. Monks at Inisfallen Abbey, Co Kerry, started writing the documents in the 1100s. The monks wrote in both Irish and Latin.

The annals have been at Oxford University since the middle of the 18th century and are kept in its Bodleian Library, which is also home to a number of copies of the Magna Carta.

Hope for a permanent return to Ireland

Since the annals left Ireland they have only been back to Kerry once for a temporary exhibition in Killarney in the 1980s. Ireland’s Arts and Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan would like them to be returned permanently.

Muckross House
Muckross House

He believes they could be displayed at Killarney House and would provide a boost to local tourism. He said: “A request will be made by the Irish Government to have them returned.

“It would be a major tourist attraction to the area and it’s fitting that they should be housed in Killarney near where they were written.”

Security may be a factor

It isn’t the first time that organisations in Ireland have attempted to have the annals returned. In 1981 and 2001 there was interest in bringing them to back to Kerry to be displayed in Muckross House. However, it wasn’t possible to guarantee security of the annals on either occasion.

Deenihan is confident that won’t be a problem this time around. He said: “We’ll have the proper security at Killarney House to protect them, which we never had before.

“Up until now there was no place the annals could have been put on display.”

Click here for  information about another ancient Irish manuscript, the Book of Kells