The purpose of this short communication is to call attention to an attempt to establish a definitive calendar of Pope Innocent III’s letters to Ireland, and also to indicate very briefly the value of those letters. The two chief ways in which papal letters have been transmitted are through originals or through copies. Copies of letters have survived in a variety of ways: in monastic or episcopal cartularies, in the rolls of royal chancery, in collections of canon law, but for this period mainly in the official papal registers.
The dispersal of monastic archives during the Reformation period, together with the deliberate destruction of papal letters after 1536, partly explains why comparatively few original papal letters of medieval popes to the British Isles have survived. For Ireland, only five original letters of Innocent III are at present known to exist. Two of these are confirmations of property: one to the monastery of St Andrew of Stokes of its possessions in Ireland; and the other to the convent of Graney. The three remaining letters are connected with the peace settlement between Pope Innocent III and King John.