Annual Letters were the means by which Jesuits across the globe stayed in contact with Rome and with each other. Twenty-five of the Annual Letters from Ireland survive for the seventeenth century. They are all published here for the first time — in two volumes — along with translations from Latin and Portuguese into English. Not only do they give insight into this dynamic and influential mission, they also provide unique information on the social, political, cultural, religious, sexual and linguistic realities of the time.
This edition is based on manuscripts held in the Irish Jesuit Archives and in the Roman Archives of the Society of Jesus. On average there were twenty Jesuits on the Irish mission who ran houses in towns and cities across the island as well as embarking on frequent preaching expeditions. Despite their small numbers these were confident and detailed observers of conditions in Ireland during one of its most violent and turbulent centuries. Here are first-hand accounts of plague in Clonmel, famine in Connacht, massacre in Drogheda, exorcisms and miracles across the whole island.
“These twenty five letters average more than 10,000 words in length (in Latin, about 12,000 in modern English) so they are substantial and significant documents and they are now handsomely presented to us by the Irish Manuscripts Commission, an organisation that puts its British counterparts to shame. Handsomely and spaciously laid out, splendidly bound, very well-priced and outstandingly well proof-read, these volumes have been a pleasure to handle.” JOHN MORRILL, British Catholic History, 35 (2) (Oct. 2020), pp 228–231.