Micheal O Cleirigh (1575 - 1643):
Writer of the Annals of the Four Masters
Micheal O Cleirigh was born in Kilbarron, County Donegal. He was baptised Tadhg, and was the son of a chieftain, but he took the name Micheal when he entered Louvain as a member of the Franciscan Order. Hugh Ward, the Franciscan Guardian at Louvain, sent him to Ireland to collect manuscripts on the lives of the Irish saints. He collected material avidly and in 1630 compiled Reimh Rioghraidhe, which was a list of kings and lives and genealogies of the saints. He later prepared a definitive redaction of the Leabhar Gabhala, which dealt with the invasions of Ireland, and Annala Rioghachta Eireann, covering the history of Ireland to 1616. It is said that this book was written by O Cleirigh and three assistants between 1632 and 1636 in a cottage on the banks of the River Drowes, which flows from Lough Melvin to Donegal Bay. The work is known as the Annals of the Four Masters. In 1634 a Martyrologium of Irish saints and a glossary of Irish words was printed at Louvain. He died there.