Liber Cuanach (lost) ‘The book of Cuanu’

Cuanu (author of Liber Cuanach)
  • Early Irish
  • prose
  • Irish annals

An early Irish historical compilation, now lost, which is referred to thirteen times in the Annals of Ulster in various entries between the years 467 and 629 (i.e. 467, 468, 471, 475, 482, 490, 545, 553, 599, 601, 603, 611, 629). Mc Carthy suggests that this work was completed in c. 1022 and written by Cuán úa Lothcháin (d. 1024).

Cuanu [author of Liber Cuanach]
Cuanu ... author of Liber Cuanach
author of Liber Cuanach; identified by Mc Carthy with Cúán úa Lothcháin

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Apparently written by one Cuanu, as suggested more explicitly by phrases such as ut Cuana scripsit (482, 490) and ut Cuana docet (599). Mc Carthy suggests identification with Cuán úa Lothcháin (1)n. 1 Daniel P. Mc Carthy, ‘The chronological apparatus of the Annals of Ulster AD 82–1019’, Peritia 16 (2002).
  • Early Irish
prose (primary)


Irish annalsannals and chronicles, Irish histories
Irish annals
id. 35113



Daniel P. Mc Carthy, ‘The chronological apparatus of the Annals of Ulster AD 82–1019’, Peritia 16 (2002).

Secondary sources (select)

Mc Carthy, Daniel P., “The chronological apparatus of the Annals of Ulster AD 82–1019”, Peritia 16 (2002): 256–283.  
The view of Mac Airt and Mac Niocaill in their 1983 edition of AU that the annals of f 12–14 of TCD 1282 are indeed part of the Annals of Ulster has recently been vindicated. Analysis of the chronological apparatus of f 12–14 reveals that their author was responsible for the introduction of Dionysiac epacts and continuous Anno Domini into the Irish annals. He accomplished this by an extraordinary series of interpolations into the pre-Palladian section of the Iona Chronicle that he used as source, demonstrating both his computistical skill and profound indifference to historical chronology. By AD 431 his apparatus was accurately synchronised with all the Dionysiac chronological criteria, and he continued with it, re-ordering many events through the fifth and sixth centuries. In the seventh century he omitted a single kalend, which put all his subsequent apparatus in arrears by one year. Collation of AU with the other annals indicates that his compilation continued to c.1019 and was completed shortly after 1022. This compilation is identified with AU’s ‘Liber Cuanach’, and Cuan hua Lothcháin (†1024) is proposed as the author.
Byrne, Francis John, “Ut Beda boat: Cuanu’s signature?”, in: Próinséas Ní Chatháin, and Michael Richter (eds), Ireland and Europe in the early Middle Ages: texts and transmissions / Irland und Europa im früheren Mittelalter: Texte und Überlieferung, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002. 45–67.
Ó Mórdha, Eoghan, “The placenames in the Book of Cuanu”, in: Alfred P. Smyth (ed.), Seanchas. Studies in early and medieval Irish archaeology, history and literature in honour of Francis J. Byrne, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000. 189–191.
Mac Niocaill, Gearóid, The medieval Irish annals, Medieval Irish History Series, 3, Dublin: Dublin Historical Association, 1975.
Dennis Groenewegen
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November 2015, last updated: January 2024