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Gaelic British Isles & Ireland

Tribes and States of Ireland


MapKings of Connacht / Connaught (Gaels of Ireland)
Incorporating the Auteini & Nagnati, and Conmaicne & Uaithne

This was a Gaelic kingdom which formed from tribal origins in the west of Ireland. Ireland was never politically united enough to translate its religious and cultural influence into political power, so its rival kingdoms waxed and waned both in terms of power and territory. Essentially Connacht consisted of all of the land to the west of the River Shannon except for Thomond (which removed itself from Connacht's control), with a traditional capital of Cruachan (now Rathcroghan in County Roscommon). It was bordered to the east by Bréifne and Mide, and to the south by Munster, whilst its long western border was formed by the rough seas of the Atlantic.

There exists a very small window through which to view the early tribes of Gaelic Ireland (those which largely pre-date the Roman presence in Britain). Ptolemy's Geographia recorded the tribes of Ireland some time in the second century AD, seemingly the first person to do so. Shortly after this, between the second and fourth centuries AD, most of Ireland shifted from tribal naming to descent naming. The shift was so complete by around AD 400 that it is almost impossible to link many of the early tribal names to the later descent names.

Within the territory that later formed Connacht dwelt the Auteini (Autini) and Nagnati (Nagnatae or Magnatae) tribes. The Auteini may have been close to Connacht's southern border, straddling it into the later territory of Thomond. By around AD 300 (shown in a modern map that is of uncertain provenance) the Uaithne (Uaithni) seemingly occupy the territory previously ascribed to the Autini. The former is an acceptable Gaelic spelling of the latter, suggesting either that this is a continuation of that tribe, but with an increasingly Gaelic form, or that its Gaelic form was altered in the original Greek recording and its transfer into Latin. Whichever way around it was, the Uaithne are commonly accepted as the descendents of the Auteini, a minor unit of Connacht. Similarly, although pretty theoretically, the Magnatae could be the later Uí Maine, while the alternative Latin spelling of their name, Nagnati, has been suggested as the basis of 'Connacht'.

Connacht's name is problematical when it comes to unravelling it. Gaelic has many words which are difficult to trace thanks to their dropped sounds. It is not only a case of looking at what's there, and then taking that that back in time to find the earlier form (such as rolling back a 'd' spelling to an earlier 't' spelling), but also seeing what may be missing from the middle of words (the aforementioned dropped sounds). For that very reason, Connacht's name is nothing but possibilities, with no certainties at all. It was long thought that the Connachta (the people of the region) were named after Conn Cétchathach, Conn 'of the Hundred Battles', a second century AD high king who was credited with their founding. 'Conn' could be derived from the Early Irish 'cond', meaning 'sense', but could also derive from 'ceann', meaning 'head' (used in this instance to refer to a chief or leader), or even 'con-', a prefix meaning 'with' or 'together'. Theoretically, Connacht could have derived from something like 'Conn's Nagnati' being squashed together, with a meaning of 'Conn [with or together] the Nagnati'. The effective meaning would be 'the tribes who are with the Nagnati, which became shortened to Connagti. In time the name came to refer to the 'descendants of Conn'. However, an emerging modern theory that was first formulated in print by David Sproule (since supported by Paul Byrne) states that the name predates him and that he must have been named for them, and not the other way around. Ol nEchmacht has been put forward as a more ancient name for the kingdom, one that certainly does predate Conn.

As for the early Latin forms of the tribal names, 'Nagnati' would seem to be the result of some sort of error, probably in transcription. It should be Magnati, from the proto-Celtic *magon, meaning 'great' (the Latin version is the more familiar 'magna'). The 'Auteini' name should probably be simplified to Autini. Strip off the Latin plural '-i', and then the Celtic plural '-an' or '-on' (used in this instance as '-in'), and what remains is 'Aut'. In proto-Celtic (the old common Celtic would be closer across the Celtic world than is modern Gaelic), the word 'auto-' means 'fright, scare'. The tribe could have been 'the frighteners', or perhaps more colloquially the vary atmospheric and fear-inducing 'the scaries'!

Connacht ruled various smaller kingdoms and clans, one of which was purported to be Conmaicne. This group were involved in several eighth century battles, with one of their branches being dealt a crushing defeat in 766 at the Battle of Sruthair (now Shrule in County Mayo, a considerable distance westwards from the traditional Connachta centre. Curiously, though, 'Conmaicne' descends from the same source as 'Connachta'. Conmaicne means Connacht. If the dominant clan of the Connachta were fighting the Conmaicne, they were fighting what may have been the descendants of the original core group of Connacht's founders.

(Information by Peter Kessler and Edward Dawson, with additional information from Ptolemy's Map of Ireland: A Modern Decoding, R Darcy & William Flynn, Irish Geography, Journal of the Geographical Society of Ireland, Vol 41 Issue 1 2008, from An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language, Alexander MacBain (1982), from Cath Bóinde, Joseph O'Neill (Translator, 1905), from Aided Meidbe: The Violent Death of Medb, Vernam Hull (1938), from Tain Bo Fraech, A H Leahy (Ed & Translator, 1906), from Origins of the Eoghnachta, David Sproule, Seanchas:Studies in Early and Medieval Irish Archaeology, History and Literature in Honour of Francis John Byrne, Paul Byrne (on the topic of Ciannachta Breg before Sil nAeda Slaine), from Holocene Climatic Change and Past Irish Societal Response, C S M Turney et al (Journal of Archaeological Science Vol 33 No 1, 2006), from A New History of Ireland, Vol 1: Prehistoric and Early Ireland, D Ó Cróinín (Ed, 2005), from the Annals of the Four Masters, author unknown, from The Chronology of the Irish Annals, Daniel P McCarthy, from Geography, Ptolemy, and from External Links: Ireland's History in Maps, and English-Old Gaelic Dictionary, and Home of the Murray Clan.)

Ireland's Mythological Period

The position of high king in Ireland was in reality as tenuous and open to claims of being legendary and non-existent in actual history as was the high kingship of pre-Roman Britain. That some of the high kings existed is beyond doubt, but their dominance of all of Ireland was highly questionable, especially given the general lack of unity displayed by the Irish kingdoms for much of their independent existence. The same is true for kings of specific Irish regions or kingdoms, especially as the kingdoms only really emerged during the period between the second and sixth centuries AD.

In general, events given in the mythological section can rarely be regarded as historical fact, most of them being based upon traditional, legendary storytelling. Clearly legendary kings with no basis in fact other than oral tradition are shown with a lilac background, while those who may well have existed (usually not until the first century AD at the earliest) are shown normally. Some events that are based upon archaeology or confirmed events from outside Ireland are shown with more certainty.

In Irish mythology, Connacht seems to have been the heartland of the Fir Bolg. The Celtic word 'fir' is usually taken to mean 'men' while 'bolg' is taken as 'Belgae', the men of the Belgae. They were therefore much later arrivals in Ireland, probably not appearing until at least the third century BC at the earliest. Following the defeat of High King Eochaid in 1477 BC, the now-leaderless Fir Bolg agreed a truce and the now-more powerful Danann assumed the high kingship while the Fir Bolg agreed to rule Connacht as their domain.

1514 BC

In this year in Ireland's mythological timeline, Sláinge mac Dela and his brothers divide the island between them. Sláinge, the youngest, takes Laigin, Rudraige Ulaid (the territory of the Dé Danann), Gann northern Munster, Genann Connacht (seemingly the Fir Bolg heartland), and Sengann southern Munster. They elect Sláinge as their high king, who rules for just a year before his death. He is succeeded by his brother, Rudraige mac Dela, who rules for two years before he too dies. He is succeeded by two other brothers, Gann mac Dela and Genann mac Dela (possibly twins?), but they both die during a spate of plague after only four years in command. (A 'Genann' is claimed as the earliest king of the Connachta, but he can only be dated approximately to the second century BC - see below.)

Coracles were used extensively in Ireland, whilst the name seems to have an Indo-European origin, being found as far afield as India

1477 BC

Relations between the Fir Bolg and Dé Danann have deteriorated to the point of war, although the two sides are absolutely evenly matched at the First Battle of Magh Tuiredh in 1477 BC. High King Eochaid takes Nuanda's sword arm in single combat, but then is killed by 'The Morrígan' (or Morrigu, Morríghan, or Mór-ríoghain - the last two being modern spellings - a disputed goddess of battle who may also be a modern character claimed as Medb, illegitimate daughter of Eochaid following a raid on a Heidhbernigh village many years before - see below). The now-leaderless Fir Bolg agree a truce and the now-more powerful Danann assume the high kingship while the Fir Bolg agree to rule Connacht as their domain.

1287 BC

In this year (by the mythological timeline) a Gael named Ith arrives from Iberia with his brothers and their families. The high kings welcome them and give them land in the south of the island (which seems to fit in with a tribal grouping in Munster that bears a very Iberian nature). But then they treacherously kill Ith and his brothers. The families are able to escape help.

The following year, an invasion is led by the sons of Ith's nephew, Mileadh, who are called the Milesians. The Dé Danann try to prevent them from landing but are driven inland. A pitched battle follows, the Battle of Tailtiu, and the three brothers are killed. The Milesians become high kings over Danann, Fir Bolg, and Heidhbernigh alike, with Eibhear Finn largely in authority over the south of the island and his brother Eremon overlord in the north. Each of the peoples of Ireland are confirmed in their domains, the Fir Bolg in Connacht, the Danann in Ulaid, and the Milesians in Mamu (High King Eochaid Mumho of 1071 BC is the original source of this name - Munster in its earliest form). The Heidhbernigh have Laigin, but they are also allowed to live in any province in which they have villages. The Danann turn over their chief town to the Milesians, who rename it Tara, and a new province is created around it called Mide (which echoes real events of around the fifth century AD).

c.790 BC

According to legend and mythology, High King Roitheachtaigh mac Roan (794-787 BC) is a king of the Gailenga. They are a minor people, usually vassals of Connacht and the Uí Neill in medieval history who originate either in Brega or Connacht.

c.250 BC

Away from legend and mythology, it is around this time that the climate changes to destabilise the lives of the Irish tribes. More rain and less sun reduces farming in Ireland to a grim subsistence level. There is a decline in human activity and a related increase in wetlands and forest, broadly between about 250 BC and AD 250. The population inevitably falls and warfare becomes endemic. This change could be a northwards extension of the more widely recorded 'Roman Warm Period' (or Roman climatic optimum), a period of unusually warm weather in Europe and the North Atlantic.

c.130s BC

During the high kingship of Lugaid Luaigne (140-135 BC), Congal Clairinech shares the regional kingship of Ulaid with Fergus mac Léti. He rules the northern half of Ulaid while Fergus rules the southern half. The men of the region object and petition the high king for a single ruler. Fergus wins the decision but Congal declares war, supported by some of Ulaid's nobles. Fergus rouses his supporters who include Fachtna Fáthach of Ulaid, son of Rudraige mac Sithrige (high king from 184 BC, and later to be high king himself), Cet mac Mágach, a renowned warrior of Connacht, and Mesgegra, king of Laigin. During the ensuing conflict, Congal beheads Lugaid in battle and claims the high kingship. Fergus is subsequently stripped of the kingship of Ulaid, being replaced by Congal's brother, Ross Ruad.

2nd century BC

The earliest of the legendary kings of the Connachta to have been recorded is Genann (or Geanann to use the modern spelling). While he himself probably has some basis as an historical figure who is remembered through a highly reliable oral tradition, he is claimed as a son of the even more legendary Dela, who had led the Fir Bolg to Ireland but had died before being able to receive the high kingship himself. Genann himself appears in the list of Fir Bolg high kings, but with a tentative date of 1511 BC. Ireland's much-mangled oral history has a lot of explaining to do when it comes to dating individuals! There is the strong possibility that not all names from Genann onwards have been remembered - the timeline could stretch back further than this and some kings may have been merged together, their names amalgamated or forgotten.

2nd century BC

Genann (Geanann)

'Son of Dela'. First of the legendary kings of Ol nEchmacht.

Conrac Cas

? - 94 BC

Eochaid Feidlech

King of Connacht. Became High King.

In 94 BC, High King of Ireland Fachtna Fáthach visits the Ulaid and while he is there, Eochaid Feidlech, king of Connacht, raises an army and marches on Tara. Fachtna challenges him to battle, with Leitir Ruad in the Corann in Connacht being chosen. During the fighting, Eochaid and his band surround Fachtna and behead him. Fachtna's ally, Eochaid Sálbuide, king of Ulaid, is also killed.

Eochaidh Allat

Tinni mac Conri

Deposed by Eochaid Feidlech, high king of Ireland.

When Conchobar mac Nessa becomes king of Ulaid, High King Eochaid Feidlech gives him four of his daughters in marriage in compensation for the death of Fachtna Fáthach, his supposed father. One of those daughters is Medb.

Queen Medb of the Connachta (sometimes shown as Maeve), while being semi-legendary, bears many similarities with Boudicca - both are fallible warrior queens with a colourful life story, although Medb's story has undoubtedly undergone embellishment

She bears Conchobar a son named Amalgad but she later leaves her husband and the high king grants her the kingship of Connacht, deposing Tinni mac Conri in the process. In time, he and Medb briefly become lovers, allowing him a share of the kingship once again.

fl 90s BC


Daughter of Eochaid Feidlech. Queen of Connacht. Killed.

Tinni mac Conri

Lover of Medb. Shared the kingship.

Conchobar mac Nessa rapes Medb following an assembly of the chieftains at Tara. War follows, between the high king and Ulaid. Tinni mac Conri challenges Conchobar to single combat and is defeated (and presumably killed). The retreat of the Connachta is covered by Eochaid Dála, a former rival of Tinni's for the kingship. He becomes Medb's next husband but must not be jealous of her many lovers. She takes up with Ailill mac Máta, chief of her bodyguard (son of Ross Ruad, king of Laigin), and Eochaid Dála makes the mistake of challenging him to single combat. Eochaid loses and Ailill marries the widowed queen.

Eochaid Dála

Of the Fir Domnann. Husband of Medb. Shared the kingship.

Ailill mac Máta

Of Laigin. Lover and husband of Medb. Shared the kingship.

Fergus mac Róich is included in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. He is tricked out of the kingship of Ulaid and betrayed by Conchobar mac Nessa. Then he becomes the ally and lover of Conchobar's enemy, Queen Medb, and joins her expedition against the Ulaid in the Táin Bó Cúailnge ('The Cattle Raid of Cooley'). He is also mentioned in another cattle raid, Táin Bó Flidhais.

Fergus mac Róich

Lover of Medb. Former king of Ulaid.

Maine Aithreamhail mac Ailill Máta

Son of Medb.

Sanbh Sithcheann mac Ceat mac Magha

Cairbre mac Maine Aithreamhail

Son of Maine Aithreamhail.

Eochaidh Fionn

Aodh mac Cu Odhar

Eochaidh mac Cairbre

Son of Cairbre mac Maine Aithreamhail.

Aonghus Fionn mac Domhnall

AD 116

High King Conn Cétchathach is, in English, Conn 'of the Hundred Battles'. This second century AD king is the main subject in the earliest surviving list of Irish high kings which appears in the Baile Chuind (The Ecstasy of Conn). This late seventh century poem depicts Conn experiencing a vision of the kings who will succeed him. The list is a mishmash of later tradition, real names, and individuals who remain unidentified. He is also claimed as the ancestor of the Uí Neill and Connachta dynasties, the latter bearing his name.

Cormac Ulfhada

Aonghus Feirt mac Aonghus Fionn

Son of Aonghus Fionn.

Connall Cruchain mac Aonghus Feirt


Fearadach mac Connal Cruchain


fl 170s


Also king of Mide. 'Only' a regional high king in Connacht?


Fedlim unsuccessfully attacks the Dumbarton Britons of Alt Clut. However, at this time in Ireland's history the tribal system has not yet been replaced by the descendant-name system, and it is highly unlikely that the kingdoms of Connacht and Mide exist in this form. This means that this event is recorded quite some time later, after the fifth century at least. This either places its authenticity in some doubt, or it means that a later chronicler has applied the names of his time to a tribal event. In which case, which tribe is involved? Perhaps the Autini or Magnatae of Connacht?

Forghus Fiansa

Art mac Conn

Shared the kingship during Forghus' later years.

Ceidghin Cruchain mac Connall Cruchain

Son of Connall Cruchain.

Aodh mac Eochaidh

c.210s - 240s

According to legend, Cormac mac Airt is high king of Ireland during the time of Finn mac Cuill in the early years of the third century). He is also one of the country's most popular high kings, being mentioned in many tales and poems and also in the Irish annals, the Annals of the Four Masters. He fights many battles, subduing the Ulaid and Connachta and continuing the ongoing struggle to bring Munster to heel.

Aodh Alainn mac Eochaidh Baicidh

Nia Mór mac Lughna


During the legendary high kingship of Cairbre Lifechair in Ireland, his sons Fiacha Sraibhtine and Eochaid Doimlen kill Óengus Gaíbúaibthech of the Déisi. Despite peaceful overtures by the high king the two sides go to war in 272 BC. Cairbre gathers a huge army from Connacht, Laigin, and Ulaid, with support from Goll mac Morna and his followers from the fianna itself, while the Déisi and Munster side with the fianna (a form of semi-independent war band).

Marloes Sands
The coast of Pembrokeshire, part of the territory of Demetae and the later Déisi kingdom of Dyfed, is a mixture of sandy beaches and daunting rocks (as at Marloes Sands, shown here), but there would have been many places for the Déisi to land and seize some territory

Cairbre is victorious at the resultant Battle of Gabhra, but dies in single combat against Oscar, grandson of his own father-in-law, Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool). Oscar dies of his own wounds shortly after. The only fianna survivors are Caílte mac Rónáin and Fionn's other son, Oisín.

Lughaidh mac Lughna Fear Tri

Aodh Caomh mac Garadh Glundubh

Coinne mac Fear Tri


Some time around the start of the fourth century, having overthrown Colla Uais, legendary High King Muiredach Tirech decides that the surviving Colla brothers should have their own territory. He sends them to conquer the Ulaid region with an army supplied from Connacht. The brothers fight seven battles in a week against the Ulaid at Achaidh Leithdeircc. Fergus Foga, king of Ulster, is killed in the seventh battle, along with Colla Menn. They burn the Ulaid capital at Emain Macha, following which it is abandoned. The Collas seize considerable territories in the region, and these lands are thought provide the basis for the kingdom of Airgíalla.

Muireadh Tireach mac Fiachra

Son of Fiachra Sraibrintne.

? - 351

Eochaid Mugmedon

Son of Muiredach. High King (AD 344).

While Eochaid's first wife, Mongfind, is an Irishwoman who bears him four sons (Brion, Ailill, Fiachrae and Fergus), his second wife is Cairenn Chasdub. The saga The Adventures of the Sons of Eochaid Mugmedon claims she is the daughter of Sachell Balb, king of the Saxons, which is highly unlikely given the timeframe. Seathrún Céitinn refers to her as the daughter of the king of the Britons, strengthening this likelihood. Whatever her own parentage, Cairenn is the mother of Niall Noígillach, one of Ireland's most famous high kings.

Eochaid Mugmedon spawns several dynasties that subsequently rule the provinces of Connacht, Mide, and Ulaid into the middle ages. These dynasties are known by the names of Eochaid's four sons, being the Uí Bruin (after Brion), Uí Fiachrae, Uí Aillil, and Uí Neill (after Niall Noígillach). Both the Uí Bruin and Uí Fiachrae dominate Connacht in the historical period. The Uí Aillil or Ailello form the third of Connacht's 'Three Connachta', but appear to be dominated by or subsumed within Uí Fiachrach (especially after 753).

It is around this time that Ireland begins to leave behind its mythical past and emerge into history. The transition is gradual, and several subsequent events could still be said to be entirely mythological, but a level of historical validity also makes itself apparent.

Historical Connacht

Post-Ptolemy (second century AD), the four or five Irish kingdoms with which we are familiar began to appear (Connacht, Laigin, Mide, Munster, and Ulaid), but each of these kingdoms were composed of multiple tribes and few of them were formally united or ruled by a single king. Instead they consisted of many tribes and clans which sometimes bonded together during times of need (outside invasion or revenge attacks) but who fought each other for much of the rest of the time. Then in the late fourth century, Niall of the Nine Hostages apparently dominated much of Ireland. His descendants, the Uí Neill, used a descent system to describe themselves, and this appears to have been adopted by most of the island. The last holdout may have been the Fir Domnann (the Dumnonii Men), possibly one of several British tribes who saw fragments of their number move to Ireland.

Coverage here of the early Irish tribes is a snapshot, figuratively taken by Ptolemy. Readers should keep in mind the fact that the locations of Ptolemy's tribes cannot always be transferred to locations of the kingdoms that succeeded them. Some tribes were apparently wiped out, while others, such as the Domnonn and Concani/Gangani moved large distances. Those tribes quickly became the clans and nascent kingdoms of historic Ireland, and the process of their transformation has largely been lost to history.

Semi-legendary high king of Ireland, Art mac Cuinn of the second century AD was an ancestor of Niall of the Nine Hostages, and is also claimed as the ancestor of both the Uí Neill and the Connachta. The latter were the most successful of several tribal dynasties in the territory that later formed the kingdom of that name. By the ninth century (and probably earlier) they dominated Connacht's nobility and territory to the extent that the name became the territory. Many (but certainly not all) dates of death used here are from the Chronology of the Irish Annals (see sources, above, for details).

fl 370s

Brion mac Eochaid Mugmedon

Son of Eochaid. Brother of Niall Noígillach. Killed by nephew.

fl 380s

Fiachrae mac Eochaid Mugmedon

Brother. Killed.


Having gained Connacht from his brother Brion, Fiachrae is the right-hand man of High King Niall Noígillach of Ireland. Fiachrae and another brother, Ailill, attack Munster, defeating Crimthann's son Eochaid. Fiachrae is wounded during the battle and dies of his wounds shortly afterwards. The Munstermen renew the fight, capture Ailill, and cut him to pieces. Connacht and Munster remain in a state of war for many years. Fiachrae's descendants are the Uí Fiachrach who govern the coicead, or fifth, of Connacht.

395 - 418

Feradach Dathí / Nath I

Son. High King.

fl 390s - 440?

Amalgaid mac Fiachrae

Brother. Uí Fiachrach king of Connacht. Ruled 34 years.


Amalgaid is the ancestor of the Uí Amalgada branch of the Uí Fiachrach sept. The later barony of Tirawley in County Mayo may gain its name from Tír Amhlaidh, which itself may (arguably) bear Amalgaid's name. Following Amalgaid's death a dispute over the succession breaks out in Tír Amhlaidh between his sons, Óengus and Éndae. St Patrick arranges for High King Lóegaire mac Néill of Ireland (died 463?) and his brother Eógan mac Néill (died 465) to mediate between the disputing parties. Endae wins St Patrick's support and becomes the ruler of Tír Amhlaidh, while his son, Conall, is baptised and given in Patrick's service in repayment. (As with other potential early mentions of St Patrick, his presence here at this time may have replaced his predecessor in oral tradition, given that circa 464 is given as an approximate date for St Patrick's return to Ireland.

St Patrick
This impression of St Patrick in Ireland is one of the less fanciful, and clearly shows the bishop in his later years, towards the end of the fifth century

c.440 - 463?

Nath Í mac Fiachrach / Dathi

Son of Feradach Dathí. Uí Fiachrach king of Connacht.

450s - 460s

Something of a semi-historical figure, Nath Í mac Fiachrach is notable in tradition for launching campaigns into Alt Clut and across the Alps. These ventures are certainly fictitious, with the journey across the Alps being as fanciful as when ascribed to Ireland's Niall Noígillach of the Nine Hostages or Arthur of Britain. Instead, this particular king may be responsible for launching some of the predatory raids by Irish Scotti pirates that previously so plagued the Roman administration of the island.

463 - 483

Ailill Molt mac Nath Í

Son. Uí Fiachrach High King. Killed in battle.

5th-6th centuries

The rise of the various dynasties of the Uí Neill in Ireland and their conquests in Ulaid and Laigin are not well recorded, with elements that may be semi-mythological. In general, the Uí Neill's immediate ancestors, embodied in Niall of the Nine Hostages and his sons, expand into Ireland's eastern midlands (Mide), and also into southern Ulaid territory) and northern Laigin (modern Leinster). The main losers in this migration are the Ulaid and the Laigin. The early Uí Neill seem to be prominent in Connacht before the migration, something about which even the mythological period seems to agree, with several late mythological/early historical kings of the Connachta being ancestors of later Uí Neill rulers.

483 - 500

Dauí Tenga Uma / Dauí Galach?

Ancestor of Brion mac Eochaid. Uí Briúin king of Connacht.


Dauí Tenga Uma is killed in battle at Segsa (the River Seghais or Boyle) by High King Muirchertach mac Ercae O'Néill of Ireland (died 534). Muirchertach is the king's father-in-law, and the conflict between the two is reputedly caused by Duinseach, the wife and daughter. It seems likely that Eógan Bél succeeds him from about AD 500.

? - 544/547

Eógan Bél

Uí Fiachrach grandson of Ailill Molt. Killed.


During his reign, Eógan Bél is involved in a feud with the Northern Uí Neill. He now suffers a defeat at Aidne at the hands of the powerful Muirchertach mac Ercae O'Néill.


As the first king of the Uí Fiachrach Aidhne to be mentioned by the annals, Goibnenn mac Conaill is the great-grandson of High King Feradach Dathí of Ireland and the Connachta (Nath Í mac Fiachrach, 395-418). Maine mac Cerbaill, ruler of Uisnech (Mide) of the Southern Uí Neill, is attempting to secure the hostages of the Uí Maine. Goibnenn meets him at the Battle of Claenloch (near Kinelea in County Galway), and defeats and kills him.

The success clearly marks a division - of the Uí Maine (those who are subject to Connacht's dominant clan) and the Cenél Maine of Tethba (those who are subject to the Southern Uí Neill). Goibnenn's descendants soon dominate Connacht's clans until the early eighth century.


The final stage of the ongoing feud sees Eógan Bél killed at the Battle of Slicech (in modern County Sligo) by princes of the Northern Uí Neill who are led by Domnall mac Muirchertaig and Forggus mac Muirchertaig, later to be joint high kings of Ireland, and Ainmere mac Sátnai, their successor as high king.

? - 549?

Ailill Inbanda

Son. Uí Fiachrach. Killed in battle.

? - c.556

Echu Tirmcharna mac Fergu

Uí Briúin.

557 - 575

Áed mac Echach Tirmcharna

Son. Uí Briúin.

? - 600

Uatu mac Áedo mac Echach

Son. Uí Briúin.

? - 622

Colmán mac Cobthaig

First Uí Fiachrach Aidhne king, descended from Nath Í. Killed.

622 - 649

Rogallach mac Uatach

Son of Uatu mac Áedo. Uí Briúin. Killed Colmán.

649 - 655

Loingsech mac Colmáin

Son. Uí Fiachrach Aidhne.

fl 620s - 663

Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin

Brother. Uí Fiachrach Aidhne. Died 663.


With a slightly variable date depending upon the source and method of calculation used, Faílbe Flann mac Áedo Duib, king of Cashel in Munster, defeats Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, celebrated king of Connacht (but possibly before he succeeds his father and brother, given the dating), at the Battle of Carn Feradaig. Guarire is put to flight and many of his leading allies and chieftains are killed, including Conall mac Máele Dúib of the Uí Maine. By the eight century the territory of the modern County Clare is held by the Déisi Tuisceart (the founders of Thomond) as a sub-unit of Munster. This battle could be the result of Munster's increasing dominance over this traditional southern arm of the Connachta.

? - 682

Cenn Fáelad mac Colgan

First Uí Briúin Seóla king, from Tuam, County Galway. Killed.

? - 683

Dúnchad Muirisci mac Tipraite

Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe.

682 - 683

Despite his apparently brief kingship, Dúnchad bears the epithet, 'Muirisci' to show that he is responsible for subduing the Muiresc region on the River Moy in north-western Ireland. He is also the founder of the Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe branch of the descendants of Fiachrae mac Eochaid Mugmedon. They provide kings of the Connachta in the eighth century but towards the end of the ninth century they become dominated by the Ó Conchobhair sept of the Uí Briúin Ai clan. On the other side of the coin, his successor, Fergal Aidne, is the last overlord of the Connachta to be produced by the Uí Fiachrach Aidhne branch.

? - 696

Fergal Aidne mac Artgaile mac Guaire

Grandson of Guaire Aidne. Uí Fiachrach Aidhne.

? - 702

Muiredach Muillethan mac Fergusso

Rogallach's gndson. Uí Briúin Ai. Founded Siol Muiredhaigh.

Muiredach Muillethan (Murray the Long-Headed) is the progenitor (or founder figure) of the Siol Muiredhaigh (with 'siol' being pronounced 'sheel'), the Murray Clan. They play a part in Connacht's history, notably in 1384 when the Sil-Murray (with the name shown in its Anglo-Norman form) chose a rival for the kingship.

? - 705

Cellach mac Rogallaig

Son of Rogallach mac Uatach. Uí Briúin.


The chances for Cenél Conaill of the Northern Uí Neill to expand their territory in the north are generally being blocked by the expansion of the rival Cenél nEógain of Ailech into County Londonderry, which the latter is trying to dominate itself. Instead, Cenél Conaill looks southwards, towards Connacht. Loingsech mac Oengus attacks the old Connachta king, Cellach mac Rogallaig, at the Battle of Corann (now in southern County Sligo). The attack results in the death of the ambitious high king, with the same fate for three of his sons, Artgal, Connachtach, and Flann Gerg.

Cruachan in County Roscommon)
The Bronze Age mound at Cruachan (now Rathcroghan in County Roscommon) served as the royal centre of the most powerful leaders of the Connachta, even during the kingdom's last days in the fifteenth century

? - 707

Indrechtach mac Dúnchado

Son of Dúnchad Muirisci. Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe.


Congal Cinn Magir pursues a revenge strike against Connacht, to avenge the defeat of 703 and to further press Northern Uí Neill attempts to expand southwards. King Indrechtach mac Dúnchado of Connacht is killed in the encounter. This victory marks a last hurrah for the dominance of the Cenél Conaill of the Northern Ui Neill. Subsequently the rival Cenél nEógain of Ailech are the main driving force in Northern Uí Neill affairs.

? - 723

Indrechtach mac Muiredaig Muillethan

Son of Muiredach Muillethan. Uí Briúin Síl Muiredaig.


The reign of Indrechtach mac Muiredaig Muillethan witnesses the consolidation of the Uí Briúin as the dominant clan in Connacht. In this year the Corco Baiscind, a tribe in the southern Thomond region, is defeated by an unnamed branch of the Connachta. However, Connachta control over all of Thomond may be fairly fleeting.

? - 728

Domnall mac Cellaig mac Rogallach

Uí Briúin Síl Cellaig (based around Loch Cime).

? - 735

Cathal mac Muiredaig Muillethan

Brother of Indrechtach mac Muiredaig. Uí Briúin Síl Cathail.

? - 742

Áed Balb mac Indrechtaig

Son of Indrechtach mac Muiredaig. Uí Briúin Síl Muiredaig.

? - 756

Forggus mac Cellaig

Son of Cellach mac Rogallaig. Uí Briúin Síl Cellaig.

743 - 746

A battle is fought between the Uí Fiachrach Aidhne and their former allies, the Uí Maine. In the same year the Uí Aillelo fight a battle in Mag Luirg (modern Moylurg, the plains of Boyle) against the Gailenga. Both battles weaken these branches in favour of the Síl Cellaig sept. Forggus has to impose his own authority in 746 in alliance with the Conmaicne, but he is defeated by Uí Briúin opponents. In the same year he slaughters the Uí Briúin Seóla branch in southern Connacht.

752 - 756

In 752 the Uí Briúin destroy the Calraige Luirg, possible vassals of the Uí Aillelo. The Uí Aillelo themselves are slaughtered in 753 by the Grecraige. However, Uí Briúin expansion to the north meets with hostility from the Cenél Coirpri branch of the Northern Uí Neill. These are probably from the small Cairbre Drom Cliabh kingdom which is located in northern County Sligo, around the southernmost reaches of the original Northern Uí Neill territory and on the northern border of Connacht. The Battle of Ard Noíscan (Ardneeskin) is fought in 754 in Uí Aillelo territory, with the Uí Briúin ranged against Cenel Coipri. The outcome is probably indecisive, but in 756 Forggus inflicts a heavy defeat on them at the Battle of Móin Mór (in modern County Longford).

? - 764

Ailill Medraige mac Indrechtaig Dúnchado

Son of Indrechtach mac Dúnchado. Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe.

? - 768

Dub-Indrecht mac Cathail

Son of Cathal mac Muiredaig. Uí Briúin Síl Cathail.

? - 766

Áed Dub mac Taichlech

Son of Taichlech. King of Conmaicne Cúile Tolad. Killed.


The Conmaicne (see the introduction for an interesting breakdown of this name's meaning) who had been defeated in alliance with the Uí Briúin are now dealt a crushing defeat by Dub-Indrecht at the Battle of Sruthair (now Shrule in County Mayo). Specifically, this involves the Conmaicne Cúile Tolad, whose king, Áed Dub mac Taichlech, is killed. The event seems to involve westwards expansion by the Uí Briúin, probably caused by their being stymied in the north in 754-756.

? - 773

Donn Cothaid mac Cathail

Great-grandson of Dúnchad Muirisci. Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe.

? - 777/9

Flaithrí mac Domnaill

Son of Domnall mac Cellaig. Uí Briúin Síl Cellaig.


The Uí Maine are defeated by the Uí Briúin at the Battle of Achad Liac (in Cluain Acha Liag, now better known as Killeroran, the site at which the chiefs of Uí Maine are selected). Following this defeat, the law of Ciarán of Clonmacnoise is again imposed on Connacht. As for Flaithrí mac Domnaill, the date of 777 is given for his death while the date of 779 is given by another of the annals for his abdication.

? - 782

Artgal mac Cathail

Son of Cathal mac Muiredaig. Uí Briúin Síl Cathail. Abdicated.


A further defeat is heaped upon the Uí Maine. Their forces are slaughtered at the Battle of Mag Dairben, with Artgal mac Cathail enforcing the dominance of the Uí Briúin.

? - 786

Tipraite mac Taidg

Grandson of Indrechtach (?-723). Uí Briúin Síl Muiredaig.

784 - 785

Over the course of two battles in two years, Tipraite mac Taidg cements the dominance of the Uí Briúin. First the Ui Fiachrach Aidhne are defeated in 784 at the Battle of Carn Conaill (near Gort), then the following year the Northern Ui Fiachrach are dealt with at the Battle of Muad (the River Moy).

786 - 792

With Tipraite mac Taidg's death in 786, the succession appears to be the subject of a civil war amongst the Connachta. The Uí Fiachrach Muaide and Uí Aillelo launch attempts to assert themselves, while the disputed successor, Cináed mac Artgail, is not called 'king' in the annals and is not mentioned as being the dominant king in the surviving king lists. The Battle of Gola in 787 is fought between the Uí Fiachrach and Uí Briúin, with the former being victorious. However, their king, Cathmug mac Duinn Cothaid (the son of King Donn Cothaid mac Cathail, died 773) is killed, as is the uncle of Cináed mac Artgail, one Dub-Díbeirg mac Cathail of the Uí Briúin.

Between 787 and 792, at least four further battles take place (including Druim Góise, Achad Ablae (in Corann barony), and Áth Rois), and various chiefs are killed and hosts are slaughtered. The Uí Briúin of Umall are defeated and lose their chief, Flathgal mac Flannabra, to the Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe, while the Uí Aillelo defeat the Luigne in two battles and slay their chief. The war comes to an end in 792 when Cináed mac Artgail himself is defeated and slain by Muirgius mac Tommaltaig at the Battle of Sruth Cluana Argai (Cloonargid).

? - 792

Cináed mac Artgail

Son of Artgal mac Cathail. Uí Briúin Síl Cathail.

792 - 796

The annals state that the reign of Muirgius mac Tommaltaig begins in 792 with his slaying of Cináed mac Artgail. However, he appears to be opposed by Colla mac Fergusso, who is also referred to by the annals as a king.

? - 796

Colla mac Fergusso

Son of Forggus mac Cellaig. Uí Briúin Síl Cellaig.


The Síl Muiredaig sept (or Síol Muireadaigh) of the Uí Briúin clan can finally claim dominance over the kingship with the undisputed rule of Muirgius mac Tommaltaig. His father, Tommaltach mac Murgail (died 774), is recorded in the annals as the king of Mag nAi. The Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe branch has already seen its last dominant king: Donn Cothaid mac Cathail (died 773). His son, Connmhach mac Duinn Cothaid (died 787), rules the Uí Fiachrach whilst being subservient to Connacht's over-king. The Síl Cellaig have also now seen their last dominant ruler and later they are displaced from their territory by the Uí Briúin Seóla.

Loch Cime
The Síl Cellaig claimed Loch Cime (Lough Hackett near Headford in modern County Galway) as their centre, but were ousted at thye end of the eighth century by the Uí Briúin Seóla

796 - 815

Muirgius mac Tommaltaig

Son of Indrechtach mac Muiredaig. Uí Briúin Síl Muiredaig.


By this stage in Ireland's history, four of the traditional later provinces have largely settled their borders. Connacht and Munster remain roughly unchanged but Ulaid (the eastern part of later Ulster) consists of little more than County Antrim and County Down. Laigin is made up of an area that is slightly larger than a combination of the modern County Carlow, County Wexford and County Wicklow. What is left of modern Ulster (ie. most of it) is held by the Northern Uí Neill kingdoms, including Ailech and Airgíalla.

Between the start of the tenth century and the early thirteenth century, the various clans and sub-kingdoms of Connacht are forcibly encompassed into a more coherent form of kingdom. This includes the following: Lúighne (north-western Connacht), which for a time may count itself as a kingdom in its own right; Uí Maine (south-eastern Connacht, along the borderlands, and often Anglicised as Hy Many), one of Connacht's larger kingdoms; Maigh Seóla (the eastern side of Lough Corrib); and Aidhne (southern border of Connacht territory), plus the minor pre-Gaelic Senchineoil.

Some of Uí Maine's various sub-kingdoms - termed lordships - are formed by lesser offshoots of the Uí Maine themselves while others are non-related subject groups, and they include Corco Mogha, Delbhna Nuadat, Máenmaige, Síol Anmchadha (an Uí Maine sub-kingdom), and Tír Sogháin (a branch of the Cruithne in eastern-central Connacht with Maigh Seóla to its west - only one ruler known, for AD 811, see below).

fl 811


Son of Maelumha. Lord of Corca Soghain (Tír Sogháin).

815 - 833

Diarmait mac Tommaltaig

Brother of Muirgius mac Tommaltaig. Uí Briúin Síl Muiredaig.

fl 818

Máel Cothaid mac Fogartaig

Grandson of Cathal (?-735). Co-chief. Uí Briúin Síl Cathail.


Diarmait mac Tommaltaig imposes his authority over the Uí Maine with a victory at the Battle of Forath, killing their chief, Cathal mac Murchada. The battle takes place in the territory of the Delba Nuadat (one of Uí Maine's subject groups, located in southern Roscommon). Máel Cothaid mac Fogartaig of the Síl Cathail sept of the Uí Briúin is listed with Diarmait as another victor of the battle, with both of them being termed chiefs of the Uí Briúin. The implication may be that Diarmait initially shares the over-kingship, but equally they may be acclaimed in their role as chiefs of the Uí Briúin rather than king or kings of the Connachta.

833 - 839

Cathal mac Muirgiussa

Son of Muirgius mac Tommaltaig. Uí Briúin Síl Muiredaig.

839 - 840

Murchad mac Áedo

Grandson of Cathal mac Muiredaig. Uí Briúin Síl Cathail.

840 - 843

Fergus mac Fothaid

Grandson of Dub-Indrecht mac Cathail. Uí Briúin Síl Cathail.

843 - 848

Finsnechta mac Tommaltaig

Brother of Diarmait mac Tommaltaig? Uí Briúin Síl Muiredaig.

848 - 872

Mugron mac Máel Cothaid

Son of Máel Cothaid. Uí Briúin Síl Cathail.

872 - 882

Conchobar mac Taidg Mór

Son of Máel Cothaid. Last Uí Briúin Síl Cathail king.

872 - 925

Conchobar mac Taidg Mór gives his name to the Ó Conchobhair sept of the Uí Briúin Ai clan. The Ó Conchobhair quickly become the dominant sept of the clan (by the mid-tenth century). He establishes his dynasty by marrying Ailbe, a daughter of High King Máel Sechnaill of Ireland, by whom he has three sons, all of whom succeed him. They extend the power of the Síl Muiredaig sept of the Uí Briúin clan southwards to dominate Uí Maine, westwards to dominate Iar Connacht, and northwards to dominate Bréifne and Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe.

882 - 888

Áed mac Conchobair

Son. Killed fighting Vikings. Uí Briúin Síl Muiredaig.

888 - 900

Tadg mac Conchobair

Brother. (Not to be confused with the later Tadg of Ailech.)


Áed mac Conchobair has already met his death fighting the Vikings in support of High King Flann Sionna mac Máele Sechnaill O'Néill of Ireland. The annals now record that the men of North Connacht - specifically the Uí Amalgada, a branch of the Uí Fiachrach - defeat Norse forces and slay their leader. That leader seems not to be one of the more senior of their number in Dublin, however.

900 - 925

Cathal mac Conchobair

Brother. Uí Briúin Síl Muiredaig.


Cathal mac Conchobair accepts the authority of High King Flann Sionna of Ireland, and therefore the authority of the Uí Neill kings of Mide. Soon after this, the Annals of the Four Masters records the death at the hands of Vikings of Ainle, lord of the minor Uaithni Cliach branch (one of two) of the former Auteini tribe. Coincidentally, perhaps, the other branch, the Uaithni Tire, is mentioned in connection with its own lord in 949.

? - 914


Son of Cathan. Lord of the Uaithni Cliach. Killed by Vikings.

925 - 956

Tadg mac Cathail

Son of Cathal mac Conchobair. Uí Briúin Síl Muiredaig.

? - 949


Son of Maelmordha. Lord of the Uaithni Tire. Died.

956 - 967

Fergal Ua Ruairc

Son of Art mac Ruarc. Ó Ruairc sept.


The Ó Conchobhair form the ruling sept of the Uí Briúin Ai clan which itself is dominant in Connacht. The rule of Connacht fluctuates between this house and its main rival, the Ó Ruairc, although the Ó Conchobhair are generally dominant both now and later.

967 - 971

Conchobar mac Tadg

Son of Tadg. Ó Conchobhair sept. Died of illness.


Cathal mac Tadg / Cathail

Brother. Ó Conchobhair. Reigned for 3 days. Killed in battle.


As joint king of Ailech, Murchad Glun leads a force of men against Cathal mac Tadg at Ceis Corran. Cathal is defeated and killed, as are a large number of his allies which include Geibheannach mac Aedh, the lord of Uí-Maine, plus the chief of Uí-Diarmada, Tadhg mac Muircheartach, the chief of Clann-Murchadha, Murchadh mac Flann, and also Seirridh ua Flaithbheartaigh. Murchad plunders Connacht quite thoroughly.

971/3 - 1010

Cathal mac Conchobar mac Taidg

Son of Conchobar. Ó Conchobhair.

1002 - 1014

During this period a much-weakened Connacht is under the domination of the powerful Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig, high king of Ireland. Regional differences may be kept at bay thanks to the focussing effect of Viking raids along the coastline and from the direction of Dublin and its associated Norse settlements.

1010 - 1030

Tadg in Eich Gil

Son of Cathal. Ó Conchobhair.


Brian Boru defeats the Dublin Norse at the Battle of Clontarf, but dies in the process. A great many other Irish nobles also die in the battle, destroying decades of hard-won Irish unity. The Uí Dúnlainge of Laigin are amongst those defeated at Clontarf, and with their usual supporters already declining - the Clann Cholmáin of Mide - their rivals in Laigin, the Uí Cheinnselaig, are able to return from relative obscurity and contest the throne there.

Battle of Clontarf
The Battle of Clontarf was a tactical disaster for the Irish, destroying hard-won unity in the face of the Viking threat that would not be repaired in time to fight off the Normans


High King Máel Sechnaill's restoration has brought a relative amount of peace during his reign, but his death marks the beginning of a period of internecine warfare as Laigin, Munster, and Connacht fight for control of Ireland, making it easier for the subsequent Norman rulers of England to invade in 1171.

1030 - 1046

Art Uallach Ua Ruairc

Son of Aedh mac Fergal Ua Ruairc. Ó Ruairc. Killed.

1046 - 1067

Áed in Gaí Bernaig

Son of Tadg. Ó Conchobhair. Temporarily deposed in 1061.


High King Donnchad mac Brian's main rivals are Diarmait mac Maíl na mBó, king of Laigin and his ally, Niall mac Eochada, king of Ulaid, plus Áed in Gaí Bernaig, king of Connacht. Diarmait now installs his son Murchad as king of Dublin, expelling Donnchad's brother-in-law and ally, Echmarcach mac Ragnaill. The opposition to Donnchad grows so that he is deposed in 1063 and goes on pilgrimage to Rome where he dies the following year.


The Muintir-Murchadha invade Loch Oirbsean, and depose Áed in Gaí Bernaig (otherwise called Aedh Ua Conchobhair). However, he is able to launch his own successful offensive at Gleann-Phadraig against the people of West Connacht, killing many of his opponents along with Ruaidhrí Ó Flaithbheartaigh, lord of West Connacht. The defeated lord is beheaded, and his head is carried to the royal site of Cruachan in central Connacht, after his son, Aedh has also been defeated.

1067 - ?

Áed mac Art Uallach / Áed Ua Ruairc

Son of Art. Ó Ruairc. Deposed by Ruidri before 1076.


Upon the death of Diarmait mac Máil na mBó in battle, his close ally Toirdelbach O'Brien succeeds him. His first act is to ravage Osraige and Laigin, during which he burns Uí Cheinnselaig and takes a good deal of booty and cows, along with hostages. The Vikings of Dublin, generally known in the annals as 'the foreigners', give him the kingship of their settlement.

In the following year, Conchobar Ua Máel Shechnaill, king of Mide, is murdered and Toirdelbach ravages the now-unprotected midlands. This is followed by a visit to Connacht from which he extracts more hostages, both from the Uí Conchobair and the Uí Ruairc. Laigin is divided between rivals, ending its short-term threat to his power, and Gofraid mac Amlaíb meic Ragnaill is installed in Dublin as his sub-king.

1075? - 1079

Ruaidrí na Saide Buide

Son of Áed (Gaí Bernaig). Ó Conchobhair. Deposed.

1079 - 1087

Áed mac Art Uallach / Áed Ua Ruairc

Restored by High King Toirdelbach O'Brien (1072). Defeated.

? - 1080

Eochaidh Ua Loingsigh

Lord of the Uaithni Tire. Died.

1087 - 1092

Ruaidrí na Saide Buide

Restored for defeating Áed. Blinded & usurped. Died 1118.

1092 - 1095

Flaithbertaigh Ua Flaithbertaigh

Foster son/usurper. King in Maigh Seóla. Died in battle (1098).

1092 - 1097

Tadg mac Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair

Son of Ruaidrí na Saide Buide. Ó Conchobhair.

1097 - 1102

Domnall Ua Ruairc

Son of Tigernán mac Ualgharg. Ó Ruairc.


The Ó Conchobhair rule unopposed, with the Ua Ruairc and Ua Flaithbertaigh being suborned and confined to their own kingdoms of Bréifne and Iar Connacht (Maigh Seóla) respectively. Connacht is now one of Ireland's five dominant kingdoms (which is the source of the coicead, or fifths, into which mythological Ireland is divided). In-roads made into the other kingdoms by the Norman rulers of England towards the end of the century quickly makes Connacht the strongest of them by simple fact that its western territories remain largely unaffected during the early stages of the invasion.

1102 - 1106

Domnal Ua Conchobair

Son of Ruaidrí na Saide Buide. Deposed by his brother.

1106 - 1156

Toirrdelbach Ua Conchobair / Turlogh

Brother. High King (1121 & 1141).

? - 1107

Cuilen Ua Cathalan

Lord of the Uaithni Cliach. Died.

1135 - 1141

There may be a break in Toirrdelbach ua Conchobair's claim of the high kingship during this period, although it is hard to tell precisely from the records that are available.

1156 - 1183

Ruaidrí mac Toirrdelbaig Ua Conchobair

Son. 'Rory O'Connor'. Last High King (1166). Died 1198.


Ruaidrí and Henry II of England come to terms when they agree the Treaty of Windsor in 1175. Ruaidrí submits to Henry as his lord and in return is promised all of Ireland as his personal domain apart from Laigin, Mide, and the Viking trading settlement of Waterford. In reality, even Henry can do little to prevent raids by Norman lords. In one raid on Connacht in 1177, Ruaidrí's own son leads the attack, and Ruaidrí is forced to have him blinded when he is captured. Saddened and tired, Ruaidrí abdicates in 1183 and Henry II hands the title 'Lord of Ireland' to his son, John, as governor of Ireland.

The arrival of the Vikings in Ireland had begun a process of linguistic transition. The process is now almost certainly hurried along by the Norman takeover of the island's eastern regions. Gaelic names become mangled by their French pronunciation (the same process is also taking place in the English language, already subtly altered by the Danes). Over time Connacht becomes Connaught, Laigin becomes Leinster, Ulaid becomes Ulster, and Mide becomes Meath. Lesser regions or groups also change, such as the Uí Failghe to Offaly, Uí Neill to O'Neill, Ua Conchobair to O'Conner, and so on. The '-ster' endings are Viking.

1177 - 1199

With the high kings of Ireland defeated, Henry II passes the title 'Lord of Ireland' to his youngest son, John. When John becomes king of England in 1199, and the lordship of Ireland is held directly by the crown in personal union. The king of England is also the king of Ireland. In the same year, Connacht suffers its first raid by the Plantagenets.

King John
Eventually gaining the throne of England as King John, from 1177 he was also John, lord of Ireland, holding both titles in personal union

1183 - 1189

Conchobar Maenmaige Ua Conchobhair

Brother. Assassinated.

1185 - 1189

Ruaidrí is briefly returned to power when he is acclaimed high king. However, Ireland is changing and Ruaidrí is being left behind, even within Connacht. He is returned again in 1189, and finds himself even more marginalised than before. He retires to his estates and dies peacefully in 1198.

1189 - 1202

Cathal Carragh Ua Conchobhair

Son. Killed at Corr Sliaib.

1189 - 1202

Cathal Crodberg Ua Conchobhair

Son of Toirrdelbach. In opposition and claiming the kingship.

1202 - 1224

Cathal Crodberg Ua Conchobhair

Formerly in opposition.

1224 - 1228

Aedh Ua Conchobair / 'Hugh'

Son of Toirrdelbach.


Upon the death of Cathal Crodberg and the accession of his brother, Connacht is claimed by Richard Mór de Burgh, First Baron of Connaught (lord lieutenant of Ireland (1227-1229). Richard is married to a daughter of Domnall Mór Ua Briain of Munster and Thomond). He has established his base at Loughrea (County Galway), his principal estate on Connacht's southern border, and later constructs a castle there (in 1236) around which a town quickly grows up. Richard bases his challenge for the kingdom on the claim that it had already been granted to his father on condition of faithful service. The claim is upheld in 1227.


From his base to the west of the Shannon, Cathal Crodberg, the former king of Connacht, had played a competent game of politics and warfare to hold back the Norman invaders. Now his son, Aedh (or Hugh) must do the same, balancing external security against the needs to keep internal dissent suppressed. The Annals of the Four Masters records the details of this internal struggle when Donn Óge Mag Oireachtaigh Oge Mageraghty, lord of Clann Taidg and royal chieftain of Síl-Murray, sends a force to assist Turlough and Hugh, the sons of Roderic O'Conor in their fight against Aedh. Mageraghty quickly changes his mind and opposes Hugh, so the Síl-Murray and many others rise against him. His general, O'Neil, meanwhile, plunders Loch Nen at the heart of the Síl-Murray lands.

Temporarily shorn of the kingship, Aedh Ua Conchobair retires to the Normans at Athlone, most of whom are on friendly terms with him. He gathers support and goes on the attack against the O'Conors. In the meantime, southern Connacht is attacked by fresh Normans from Leinster and Munster, including those of Desmond, and the sheriff of Cork (probably with the support of Richard Mór de Burgh, the current custodian of Desmond). They slaughter and burn, without any permission from Aedh himself. The situation descends into tit-for-tat raids until Aedh is restored to power and can bring control back to the kingdom.


Richard de Burgh, with support from Hubert de Burgh, the justiciar of England (and, conveniently, his uncle), is awarded Connacht. He also holds custody of County Cork and County Waterford, and the crown lands of Decies and Desmond.

1228 - 1233

Aedh mac Ruaidri Ua Conchobair

Last descendant of Ruaidrí to hold the kingship.


One of the daughters of Ruaidrí mac Toirrdelbaig ua Conchobair (died 1183), Rose Ní Conchobair, had married Hugh de Lacy, lord of Meath around 1180, and the union had borne offspring. Ruaidrí's male descendents largely die out in the thirteenth century leaving no recognised link to the last high king of Ireland. Connacht itself is also greatly weakened by civil wars from this century onwards, leaving it open to increasingly widespread Plantagenet settlement under Richard Mór de Burgh and creating even further pressure for the disintegrating kingdom.

1233 - 1265

Felim mac Cathal Crobderg Ua Conchobair

Son of Cathal Crodberg. Lost 83% of the kingdom.


Summoning the entire feudal host of the Plantagenets in Ireland, Richard Mór de Burgh is able to expel Felim mac Cathal Crobderg. Felim is forced to pay homage to Richard so that he is able to reclaim from the Crown five cantreds around Roscommon, the kingdom's heartland. Richard holds the remaining twenty-five cantreds of Connacht and takes for himself the title of 'Lord of Connacht'.

1255 - 1258

The weight of Plantagenet oppression in Ireland begins to trigger an increasing number of revolts. In 1255, Brian, king of Tir Eoghain, makes the most of weakness in the earldom of Ulster by launching a raid on colonist land across the River Bann and into Ulaid. Towns and castles are destroyed along the way. In 1256, Aodh O'Connor, the son of the king of Connacht, conquers the neighbouring kingdom of Bréifne, supported in word by Brian. In 1257, Teige Caeluisce, son of the king of Thomond, defeats the Norman lords and plunders their lands. The three meet in 1258 and Brian is proclaimed high king.


Brian and Aodh O'Connor meet the colonists at the Battle of Druim Dearg. Although initially supported by the O'Briens of Thomond, the death of Teige Caeluisce in 1259 has made them change their mind. The forces of Connacht and Ulster stand alone against the Plantagenet forces and their Irish levies, mostly from Leinster and Munster, with others from Connacht and Meath. The defeat for the Irish is heavy. Brian is killed, along with many other nobles and chieftains. Plantagenet rule is restored.

1265 - 1274

Aedh mac Felim Ó Conchobair



The Annals of the Four Masters records the fact that the Battle of Áth-an-Chip is fought between Aodh O'Connor of Connacht and the Plantagenet Normans under Walter Burke, earl of Ulster. It takes place near Carrick-on-Shannon after Burke marches his Anglo-Norman forces into the kingdom, and the outcome is a decisive Irish victory.

Battle of Crécy
The Battle of Áth-an-Chip, although fought a couple of generations before the Battle of Crécy as depicted here, would have contained very similar combatants, especially on the Anglo-Norman side

1274 - 1280

Aedh Muimhnech Ó Conchobair


1280 - 1288

Cathal Ó Conchobair

Son of Conchobair Ruadh mac Muirchertaig Ó Conchobair.

1288 - 1293

Maghnus Ó Conchobair

Brother. Forced Cathal to relinquish the kingship.


Cathal Ó Conchobair


1293 - 1309

Aedh Ó Conchobair

Son of Eoghan mac Ruaidri Ó Conchobair. Killed in battle.

1309 - 1310

Ruaidri Ó Conchobair

Son of Cathal Ó Conchobair.

1310 - 1316

Fedlim Ó Conchobair

Son of Aedh Ó Conchobair. Killed at Athenry.

1315 - 1316

In 1315, the forces of Robert the Bruce of Scotland invade Ireland, having offered assistance to King Donal O'Neil of Tír Eoghain (Tyrone) and having been accepted. The following year, this second front in the Scottish wars against England witnesses Edward de Bruce, brother of Robert, being inaugurated as high king of Ireland, increasing the pressure on the English. The Bruce family have direct maternal links to Brian Boru of early eleventh century Munster and are therefore valid candidates to rule Ireland as well.


The unrecorded Second Battle of Athenry is a defeat for Edward de Bruce at the hands of Rickard de Bermingham and William Liath de Burgh for the Anglo-Normans. The defeat is especially devastating for the men of Connacht. A list of the dead does survive, indicating a high number of participants, which includes Fedlim Ó Conchobair, king of Connacht, and Tadhg Ó Cellaigh, king of Uí Maine.

1316 - 1317

Ruaidri na bhFeadh Ó Conchobair

Son of Donnchadh mac Eoghan Ó Conchobair.

1317 - 1318

Toirdelbach Ó Conchobair

Son of Aedh Ó Conchobair.

1318 - 1324

Cathal mac Domhnall Ó Conchobair

Son of Domnall mac Tadg Ó Conchobair.


Aedh mac Tairdelbach Ó Conchobair

Son of Toirdelbach Ó Conchobair.

1324 - 1350

Toirdelbach Ó Conchobair / Turlough



The English earldom of Ulster comes to a temporary end with the assassination of former Lord Lieutenant William Donn de Burgh, the third earl and also fourth baron of Connaught (based on lands captured from the ailing kingdom of Connacht). His death has been arranged by the sister of Sir Walter Liath de Burgh following the latter's own death at William's hands in 1332. The participants in the crime are apprehended and dealt with by hanging and other forms of dispatch, according to the Annals of the Four Masters.


Aedh mac Aedh Breifneach Ó Conchobair

Son of Aedh Breifneach mac Cathal Ó Conchobair. Expelled.


Aedh mac Tairdelbach Ó Conchobair

Restored. Died 1345.


The Black Death reaches Britain and Ireland from the Continent. In less than two years approximately a third of Britain's population is killed while in Ireland the Anglo-Norman town dwellers are hit much harder than the native Gaelic population. In some British regions, entire villages are laid waste or are abandoned. The plague causes great social changes as the reduced workforce is now in a position of negotiating power.

The Black Death
The Black Death hit Ireland just as hard as it did the British Isles and Europe, although in 2015 some doubt was raised about the connection of black rats to the spread of the disease, with gerbils being blamed instead

1350 - 1368

The barons of Connaught have firmly established themselves in former Connachta lands and have twice served as lord lieutenant of Ireland. As for the Connachta themselves, diminished by plague and fractured by the Anglo-Normans, there may be a gap in this period in which no single chief can claim overlordship.

1368 - 1384

Ruaidri mac Tairdelbach Ó Conchobair

Son of Toirdelbach Ó Conchobair. Died of plague.


The Annals of the Four Masters has this to say about the events following Ruaidri's death: 'After this two lords were set up in Connacht, Turlough Oge, son of Hugh, son of Turlough, was inaugurated by O'Kelly, the Clann-Rickard, Donnell, son of Murtough O'Conor, and all the Clann-Donough; Turlough Roe, son of Hugh, son of Felim, son of Hugh, son of Owen, was likewise installed into the lordship by Mac Dermot, the race of Murtough Muimhneach, and all the other chieftains of Sil-Murray. In consequence of this, a great war afterwards broke out through all Connacht, in general, so that they were much disturbed.'

The O'Kelleys of Gallagh and Tycooly are princes of the ancient kingdom (or sub-kingdom within Connacht) of Uí Maine. The Sil-Murray (pronounced 'sheel') - a contemporary form of Siol Muiredhaigh - count Muiredach Muillethan mac Fergusso (died around 700) as their founder. The fact is that Connacht has become splintered. Few chieftains are now able to unite the three main clans, and the border has shrunk to Connacht's ancestral lands in modern County Roscommon.

1384 - 1406

Toirdhealbhach Óg Donn / Turlough Oge

Son of Hugh, son of Turlough.

1384 - ?

Turlough Roe

Son of Hugh, son of Felim, son of Hugh, son of Owen.

1406 - 1426?

It may be the case that Cathal mac Ruaidri Ó Conchobair becomes king of Connacht in name from 1406, but the date at which he officially succeeds Toirdhealbhach is unknown. One guess puts it at 1428, by which time it has to be assumed that he has gained some level of dominance over the remaining Connachta lands around their traditional centre at Cruachan (now Rathcroghan in County Roscommon) - all that they have retained in the face of the Anglo-Norman seizures.

1426? - 1439

Cathal mac Ruaidri Ó Conchobair

Son of Ruaidri mac Tairdelbach.

1439 - 1461

Aedh mac Tairdelbach Óg Ó Conchobair

Son of Toirdhealbhach Óg Donn. Obscure.

1461 - 1474/5

Fedlim Geancach Ó Conchobair

Brother. Obscure. Died.


The descendants of Richard de Burgh have held the lordship of Connaught (as opposed to the still-partially free tribal lands around Cruachan) with the earldom of Ulster until now, when the titles fall to the crown. The land of Connaught is thereafter controlled by two junior branches of the de Burghs, who ultimately become the Clanricarde and Mayo Burkes.

Uí Maine had survived for a time as a semi-independent kingdom and many of the lordships also survive with some degree of independence until the Tudor reconquest of Ireland defeats the First Desmond Rebellion. Then the old order is swept away and in 1576 the country's territory is divided into a number of shires ('shares') or counties which themselves are later sub-divided further. Direct governance is handled by the lordship of Ireland, although there are times when its authority retreats towards the east.

As part of a process of language shift that had been started by the arrival of the Vikings in Ireland, and which is probably greatly accelerated by the arrival of the Norman French, Connacht becomes Connaught, and already seems to have done so, with the Norman lords calling their barony Connaught rather than using the Gaelic form of the name. Possibly due to its late conquest and absorption in comparison to many other Irish kingdoms, Gaelic remains spoken by a larger proportion of the population (even today).

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