High King or "Ard-Rí" was ruler of Ireland. The high king's power is not absolute, particularly in the other provinces, where his power was very limited. The high king has his seat of power in Tara, a dun or fort found west of Dublin, between the River Boynne and River Liffey.

High Kings were not allowed any imperfection. Well, physically they must not have any imperfection, such as a missing hand, in the case of Danann king, Nuada. But Nuada ruled again when Dian Cecht, the great physican, replaced his hand with a silver hand. Cormac Mac Airt also lost the throne, when he lost his eye in battle.


Ireland or Erin was divided into four to five provinces. Each province was ruled by a king or provincial king.

Ulster or Ulaid (in Gaelic) was situated north of Ireland. The capital of Ulster was Emain Macha. Southwest of Ulster was Connaught or Connacht. The province Meath was situated south of Ulster, east of Connacht and north of Leinster. Leinster was located in southeast of Ireland, while Munster was situated in the southwest.


This page is a reference to the rulers of Ireland, regardless whether the ruler reigned over all of Ireland or of one of the four provinces. Whether the ruler was a king or a queen.

Please note that I have only listed the names of the Danann kings in a table. These are the kings that ruled Ireland before the arrival of the Milesians (Gaels). Some of the names can be found in the Tuatha De Danann page.

  Danann Kings (pre-Milesians)
  High King of Erin
  Rulers of Ulster
  Rulers of Connacht
  Rulers of Munster





Danann Kings (pre-Milesians)
 

For the people who are interested in the Danann kings, who ruled Ireland before the arrival of the Milesians (Gaedil or Gaels), I have listed them in the below table. The only other details I have given is the duration of their reign.

See the Book of Invasions for the tale about Tuatha Dé Danann.


Nuada Airgetlam son of Echtach 7 years *
Bres son of Elatha Mac Delbaith 7 years
Nuada Airgetlam son of Echtach 20 years
Lugh Lamfada son of Cian 40 years
Dagda (as Eochaid Ollathair) son of Elada 80 years
Delbaeth son of Ogma 10 years
Fiachna son of Delbaeth 10 years
Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht, Mac Greine 3 sons of Cermait 29 years


Please note that Nuada had first ruled the Tuatha Dé Danann for seven years before they arrived in Ireland and before he lost his right arm in the First Battle of Mag Tuired.

Also there was 27 years interval between the First Battle of Mag Tuired and the Second Battle of Mag Tuired. During this period, Bres had ruled for 7 years, before Nuada regained the throne and ruled another 20 years.

And finally, the three sons of Cermait were killed in the Battle of Tailtiu against the Milesians. See Coming of the Milesians in the Book of Invasions.

You will find most of the Danann characters, such as Danann king in the page titled Tuatha Dé Danann.

   







 
Eber and Eremon
Tigernmas
Ollam Fodla
Eochaid Feidlech     
Cimbáeth, see House of Ulaid
Eochaid Airem
Eterscel
Conaire Mór
 
Conn Cétchathach
Art Óenfher
Cormac Mac Airt
Cairbre


Eber and Eremon
 

Eber Finn ("Fair Eber") and Eremon were sons of Míl Espáine. They were also the brothers of Amairgin (Amergin) the bard and druid of the Milesians and half-brothers of Eber Donn ("Brown Eber").

After the Milesians defeated the Tuatha Dé Danann (see Book of Invasions), the two brothers wanted to rule Ireland. Eremon been the elder son of Mils of the two, Eremon had the rights to rule Ireland, but Eber wanted opposed the decisions of both the people and his brother Amergin the bard. In the end, they decided to divide Ireland in two, with Eber ruling the south and Eremon in the north.

Peace was short-lived, however, and war broke out between the two brothers. Eber Finn died in battle, and Eremon reunited the two Irelands into one. Tara or Temair became Eremon's capital. Temair (Tara) was named after Eremon's wife, Téa.

See Milesian Kingship in the Milesian genealogy.

 
Related Information
Name
Eber Finn – "Fair Eber".

Period/Cycle
Early Milesian Period.

Related Articles
Míl Espáine, Amairgin, Eber Donn.

Milesian Invasion.



Tigernmas
 

Five kings after the reign of Eremon, Tigernmas became high king of Ireland, when he killed Conmáel, son of Eber Finn. Tigernmas was the son of Fallach and a descendant of Eremon.

Tigernmas was said to have introduced smeltering of gold.

Tigernmas' reign marked one of darkest and bloodiest period. Tigernmas was famous for introducing the idol worship of Crom Cruach. Human sacrifices were performed before this idol-god; many of the victims were children. One Samhain night, Tigernmas and a third of the worshippers destroyed themselves during horrible rites.

His reign lasted for 77 years. Succession passed on to Eochu Edgathach, son of Daire Doimthech, descendant of Lugaid son of Ith.

See Milesian Kingship in the Milesian genealogy.

 
Related Information
Name
Tigernmas, Tigernmus, Tiernmas.

Period/Cycle
Early Milesian Period.

Related Articles
Eremon, Crom Cruach.

Genealogy: Milesian Kingship.



Ollam Fodla
 

Ollam Fodla was the eighteenth Milesian (high) king of Ireland. Ollam Fodla was the son of Fiachu Fincothach. Ollam was descendant of Ir, the third son of Míl and Scota. Ollam had killed Faildergolt, son of Muinemon and descendant of Eber Finn, to gain high kingship of Ireland.

Ollam was a different king to Tigernmas. Ollam Fodla was known for his wisdom and his skill in poetry.

Ollam Fodla' greatest achievement was establishing the Great Fair in Tara, held every three years at Samhain. Besides holding feast and entertainment for the public – provincial kings, chieftains, bards and druids, gathered in the assembly in Tara. They were there, where cases were heard, disputes were settled and laws were enacted. No man or woman could be arrested at this time. Centuries later, the Fenian hero, Finn Mac Cumhaill, took advantage of this festival, where he would restore Clan Baiscne place within the Fianna, without being arrested by his enemies.

Ollam died natural cause in Temair (Tara), after ruling 40 years.

Ollam was the ancestor of the royal house of Ulster, which includes Cimbaeth, Macha and Conchobar Mac Nessa.

See the Early House of Ulster in the Ulster Cycle genealogy.

 
Related Information
Name
Ollam, Ollom, Ollav.
Ollam Fodla, Ollom Fotla, Ollav Fola.

Period/Cycle
Early Milesian Period.

Related Articles
Cimbaeth, Macha, Conchobar Mac Nessa, Finn Mac Cumhaill.

Genealogy: Milesian Kingship (Milesians) and Early House of Ulster (Ulster Cycle).



Eochaid Feidlech
 

A king of Tara. Eochaid Feidlech was better known because of his children, particularly his daughters. His consort may have been Crucaha, who was the mother of Medb (Maeve). Among his other daughters are Clothra, Eithne, Ele and Mugain. His sons include Furbaide and the triplets – Bres, Lothar and Nar. But the triplets were known collectively as Tri Finn Emna (or just Finn Emna, which is the Three Finns of Emain Macha.

Each one of his daughters was married to Conchobar Mac Nessa, king of Ulster, including Medb.

Trouble erupted in his family, when Eochaid's wife left Tara, taking the Finn Emna with her to Emain Macha. Conchobar encouraged the Finn Emna to rebel against their own father. The Finn Emna gathered an army, and tried to enlist aid from their sister, Clothra, who was queen of Connacht at this time. She refused to aid them, but Clothra did sleep with each of her brother, and she became the mother of Lugaid Riab nDerg. Lugaid was born with two strange red lines; one line ran across his body, just under his shoulders, and the other across belly. The three divisions indicated that he had three biological fathers.

In the fighting, Lothar managed to strike with a sling stone and knocked his father senseless, but the war still went against the Finn Emna, because the Ulster captured them, and decapitated the three brothers. Eochaid Feidlech died from sorrow at the lost of his rebellious sons.

Clothra did not only committed incest with her three brothers. Later, she also slept with their son. Clothra conceived another son, Crimthann Nia Nair, through incestuous union with Lugaid Riab nDerg.

Clothra was later a wife of Conchobar. Her sister, Medb, murdered her while Clothra was pregnant with Conchobar's child. The child was saved, and he was named Furbaide Ferbend. Furbaide would later avenge his mother's death, by killing his aunt.

 
Related Information
Name
Eochaid Feidlech.

Period/Cycle
Ulster Cycle.

Related Articles
Medb, Conchobar Mac Nessa.



Eochaid Airem
 

Eochaid Airem was the high king who married Etain. As a Danann, Etain was the wife of Danann king, Midir, son of Dagda. As a mortal, Etain was the most beautiful woman in the world. Eochaid and Etain became parents of Etain Og (Etain the Younger).

See the Story of Etain in the Ulaid Cycle.

 
Related Information
Name
Eochaid, Eochaidh, Eochy.

Eochaid Airem.

Period/Cycle
Ulaid Cycle.

Related Articles
Etain, Midir. Story of Etain

Genealogy: From Etain To Conaire Mor.



Eterscel
 

Eterscel was the high king of Ireland. Eterscel fell in love with Mes Buachalla the foster-daughter of his cowherd. Mes Buachalla was the daughter of Cormac, the king of Ulster and Etain Og (the Younger), daughter of Etain and Eochaidh, high king of Ireland.

Nemglan, a Danann and bird-god, seduced Mes Buachalla. She became mother of Conaire Mor. When Eterscel died, his stepson (Conaire Mor) him.

See Rise of Conaire Mor (Ulaid Cycle) for full story.

 
Related Information
Name
Eterscel, Eterskel.

Period/Cycle
Ulaid Cycle.

Related Articles
Conaire Mor, Mes Buachalla, Etain Og.

Ulaid Cycle.

Genealogy: From Etain To Conaire Mor.



Conaire Mór
 

Conaire Mór (Conaire Mor) was the greatest high king during the period of reigns of King Conchobar in Ulster, and Queen Medb in Connacht. Conaire was the son of Mes Buachalla, wife of Eterscel, and Nemglan, who was a Danann bird-god.

Conaire Mor succeeded his stepfather Eterscel as high king of Ireland. He had many followers from other provinces, such as Conall Cernall and Cormac, son of Conchobar. His reign marked a period of peace and prosperity, until his foster-brothers broke his law for pillage.

Conaire Mor was burdened with many geis. His refusal to punished his foster-brothers (a geis) for their crimes, set off chain reaction where he would later all of his other geis.

Conaire Mor was killed in a battle against large band of pirates, at the hostel of Da Derga.

See the Ulaid Cycle for full story.

 
Related Information
Name
Conaire Mor; Conary Mor.

Period/Cycle
Ulaid Cycle.

Related Articles
Eterscel, Mes Buachalla.

Ulaid Cycle, geis.

Genealogy: From Etain To Conaire Mor.



Conn Cétchathach
 

Conn Cétchathach was high king of Ireland, before the birth and early childhood of Finn Mac Cumhaill. He was often called Conn Cétchathach – "Conn of the Hundred Battles".

His grandfather was Tuathal Techtmar, who was high king of Ireland. There are some uncertainties of who his parents were. Conn was either the son of Fedlimid Rechtaid or that of Óenlám Gaba; his mother was probably Medb Lethderg.

Conn was married to Eithne Tháebfhota, who the daughter of Cathair Mór, and became the father of Art and Connla, and he was the grandfather of Cormac Mac Airt. However, Conn married a Danann woman named Bé Chuma, who was banished from the sidhe. According to Echtrae Airt meic Cuinn (The Adventure of Art Son of Conn), Bé Chuma caused the land in Ireland to become blighted. The land was restored only after Art fetch Delbcháem daughter of Morgán and banished Bé Chuma from Ireland.

Conn won the kingship by ousting Cathair Mór. Either Conn or Goll Mac Morna had killed Cathair Mór. Conn won his name Cétchathach ("of Hundred Battles") from his war against the petty kingdom of Dal nAraide. Conn then married Cathair's daughter.

Eógan Mór, also known as Mug Nuadat, was the king of Munster and Conn's main rival. Munster was virtually an independent kingdom. They fought many battles, until Eogan was killed at the Battle of Mag Léna.

During his reign, Goll, the chieftain of Clan Morna, challenged Cumhaill (chieftain of Clan Baiscne), for the leadership of the Fianna. It was said that Conn and his druid adviser Tadg had used Goll in a plot against Cumhaill, who had shown too much independence. When Cumhaill was killed in battle against Clan Morna, Conn appointed Goll as captain of the Fianna (rígfhéinnid).

Conn was said to have died, when thirty Ulster warriors dressed as women, attacked and killed him. The leader of the assassins was Tiobraide Tireach.

Conaire Cóem, son of Mog Lama and Conn's kinsman by marriage, succeeded him and ruled as High King for eight years, before Conn's own son, Art Óenfher, became high king.

 
Related Information
Name
Conn Cétchathach – "Conn of the Hundred Battles".

Period/Cycle
Fenian Cycle.

Related Articles
Art, Cormac Mac Airt, Eógan Mór, Cumhaill, Goll, Finn Mac Cumhaill, Tadg.



Art Óenfher
 

High King of Ireland. Art Óenfher, or "Art the Lonely", was the son of Conn Cétchathach, the high king of Ireland in the Fenian Cycle. His mother was named Eithne Tháebfhota. He was therefore known as Art Mac Cuinn.


Art was the hero in the tale, titled Echtrae Airt meic Cuinn (The Adventure of Art Son of Conn), which can be found in a mid-15th century manuscript known as the Book of Fermoy.

The story began shortly after the death of Conn's wife, Eithne Tháebfhota; when he left Tara for Benn Étair.

The Danann woman, named Bé Chuma was banished for committing adultery with Gaidiar the son of Manannán Mac Lir and she had to live among the mortals. So she sailed to Ireland on the coracle (boat) and came to Benn Étair.

Although Bé Chuma found herself attracted to Conn's son, Art, she persuaded Conn to ban Tara for a year. When Conn and Bé Chuma returned to Tara, they were married, but the marriage brought famine. The druids told the king that there will be no milk nor grain because of Bé Chuma's wickedness. The king could not remove the blight on the light until a sacrifice from a sinless couple was performed, where the blood should be mixed with the soil in Tara.

Conn sailed on his wife's Bé Chuma for weeks until he came upon the island of Dáire. Upon the island, lived Fergus Fialbrethach and his wife Rígru Rosclethan (of the large eyes), who was the daughter of Lodan from Tir Tairngire. They had a son named Ségda Sáerlabraid, the child he was seeking to sacrifice. Though the parents refused to allow their only son to be sacrifice, Ségda went with the king anyway.

Just as the boy would have been sacrificed, Rígru rescued her son, and warned Conn to set aside his second wife. The king however refused to do so. So the famine became worse than the previous year.

Art returned from his temporary banishment, where he defeated Bé Chuma in a game of fidchell (chess). Art imposed a geis upon Bé Chuma, in which she can't eat food in Ireland until she had fetched the wand of Cú Roí. Bé Chuma found the wand at Cahirconree (on Sliab Mis), and she brought it back to Tara.

Art lost the second game of fidchell. She imposed a geis that must eat food in Ireland, until Art had fetch Delbcháem, the daughter of Morgán. After a long journey, Art befriended Créide Fírálaind (Créide the Truly Beautiful). Créide gave Art direction to find Delbcháem, and warnings about Delbcháem's mother Coinchenn (Dog-headed) and her brother Ailill Dubdétach.

First, Art slay Ailill Dubdétach and found Delbcháem waiting for him. She also warned the hero of how dangerous her mother and brother were. Coinchenn stuck the head of any suitor on the bronze fence. Art killed Coinchenn and later Delbcháem's father Morgán, and stuck their heads on the bronze fence.

Then Art returned to the Ireland with Delbcháem. Delbcháem told Art that it was his stepmother who was the causes of the blight, so he must have her removed. Bé Chuma left Ireland without resistance, so the fertility of the land was restored.


Art was the brother of Connla, the hero of Echtrae Conli (The Adventures of Connla). Though, Art didn't immediately succeed his father as the next high king (ard rí), Art did rule for twenty years after the death of Conaire Coem, son of Mog Lama. Art was the father of Cormac Mac Airt, who became the greatest high king of Ireland during the time of Fenian Cycle.

In the Battle of Mag Mucrama (Cath Maige Mucrama), Art was an ally of Eógan, king of Munster, against Lugaid Mac Con, foster-brother of Eógan. On the night before the battle, Art had seduced a smith's daughter, named Étain, who was the mother of Cormac. Lugaid Lága, the champion of Lugaid Mac Con, slain Art in battle.

 
Related Information
Name
Art, Airt.

Art Mac Cuinn.
Art Óenfher – "Art the Lonely".

Sources
Echtrae Airt meic Cuinn (The Adventure of Art Son of Conn) was found in the Book of Fermoy (15th century).

Related Articles
Conn Cétchathach, Connla, Cormac Mac Airt, Eógan, Lugaid Mac Con, Lugaid Lága, Manannán Mac Lir.



Cormac Mac Airt
 

Cormac was the son of Art and grandson of Conn Cétchathach, high king of Ireland. He succeeded his grandfather after his death. Cormac ruled during the time when Finn Mac Cumhaill was captain of the Fianna, the high king's personal bodyguards and the elite force of warriors during the time of war.

Cormac Mac Airt was considered to be a great high king, ruling Ireland with wisdom and justice, which the Tuatha Dé Danann thought very highly of him.

Cormac married Eithne (probably Eithne Tháebfhota) and was the father of two sons: Cairbre Lifechair and Cellach. Cormac was also the father of two daughters named Gráinne (Grainne) and Ailbe Grúadbrecc (Ailbe of the Freckled Cheeks).


In the tale, titled Echtrae Cormaic (The Adventure of Cormac), which was found in several manuscripts, it tells of his travel into the otherworldly Tir Tairgire (Land of Promise).

Cormac met a warrior at Tara, who has a branch with three golden apples. When the branch was shaken, beautiful, unearthly music could be heard. The warrior would only give the branch only if Cormac would give him three wishes; the high king agreed.

After a year, the warrior returned to Tara, and the first wish was Cormac's daughter, Ailbe. So the king gave his daughter to the nameless warrior. In the following month, the warrior returned with his second wish: Cairbre Lifechair, Cormac's son. Cormac readily agreed, so the warrior took Cairbre. When the warrior asked for Eithne, Cormac angrily refused to surrender his wife. So the warrior spirited Eithne out of Tara, and escaped from pursuit, using his magic. The warrior enevloped the land with strange mist, so Cormac became lost.

After various adventures, Cormac came upon a dun, where his host offered him hospitality. His host told the king that the pig he has on a spit could not be cooked until he could tell a story that was true. So Cormac recount the event of what had happened to him, and how he lost his wife, daughter and son to a nameless warrior. At the end of the story, the roasted pig was ready.

However, it seemed that Cormac has a geis, where he can't dine until there was in the company of fifty. His host caused the king to fall asleep, so when he woke, he found himself seated with fifty warriors, as well as his missing wife and children.

The nameless warrior introduced himself as Manannán Mac Lir. Manannán showed three pieces of a golden cup. It was the cup of truth: three lies will break the cup and three truths will restore the cup. So Manannán told the king that Eithne had slept with no other man since she had left Tara. His daughter Ailbe was still a virgin and his son Cairbre had not slept with any woman. So with three truths, the broken cup was magically restored.

Then Manannán gave the magic cup and branch to Cormac, but must be returned at the end of his reign. The next day the king and his family were returned to Tara. Cormac used the cup during his reign to determine the falsehood from the truth.


In the Tóraigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne (The Pursuit of Díarmait and Gráinne), though betrothed to Finn Mac Cumhaill, Gráinne was in love with the younger companion of the Fian captain, Diarmait Ó Duibhne. Her love for Diarmait, caused serious harm to the friendship of two Fian warriors. Cormac and Angus Óg (foster-father of Diarmait) made an uneasy peace between Finn and Diarmait, where Finn married another daughter of Cormac. However, it in tragedy when Finn refused to heal Diarmait, who was mortally wounded by wild boar. In some version, the tale ended with Diarmait's death, while in other versions, Gráinne ended up marrying Finn. While in one version, Finn married Ailbe Grúadbrecc (Ailbe of the Freckled Cheeks) at the intervention of Angus Og, after Finn made peace with Diarmait.

Cormac became emboiled in a war against the Dananns, when Cellach raped a niece of Angus Óg. Cellach was Cormac's nephew. During a battle, Cellach was killed and the king lost one of his eyes. This barred him from kingship. Without any choice, Cormac Mac Airt abdicated.

His son Cairbre Lifechair succeeded him as high king of Ireland. Unlike his father, Cairbre did not like the Fianna.

 
Related Information
Name
Cormac Mac Art.

Period/Cycle
Fenian Cycle.

Sources
Echtrae Cormaic (The Adventure of Cormac) can be found in the following manuscripts: the Book of Ballymonte, the Book of Fermoy, and the Yellow Book of Lecan.

Related Articles
Art, Conn Cétchathach, Gráinne, Cairbre, Finn Mac Cumhaill, Diarmait Ó Duibhne, Lugaid Lága, Angus Óg, Manannán Mac Lir.



Cairbre
 

Cairbré Lifechair was the son of Cormac Mac Airt, whom he succeeded as high king of Ireland. His mother was named Eithne (probably Eithne Tháebfhota), and he was the brother of Cellach, Ailbe and Grainne. He was known as Cairbré Lifechair or Cairbré of Liffey.

In Echtrae Cormaic (The Adventure of Cormac), he was taken away along with his mother and sister Ailbe from his father, by a nameless warrior (Manannán Mac Lir) with a branch and three golden apples.

Unlike his father, Cairbre was jealous of the power of Finn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna. Cairbre was determined to disband or destroy the Fianna. He incited other province kings to war against the Fianna. Only the province Munster sided with Finn. Goll Mac Morna, former captain of the Fianna, aided Cairbre in the war.

In the Battle of Gabhra, the Fianna was defeated and Finn's grandson Oscar was killed in single combat with Cairbre. Caribe was also killed in this meeting.

 
Related Information
Name
Cairbré, Cairbre, Cairbry.

Cairbré Lifechair.

Period/Cycle
Fenian Cycle.

Related Articles
Cormac Mac Airt, Grainne, Finn Mac Cumhaill, Goll Mac Morna, Manannán Mac Lir.







Ulster was a province in the northeast of Ireland. Ulster was known in Irish as Ulaid, and was called Cóiced Ulad during the pre-conquest period. With the province were the following counties: Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Derry, Monaghan and Tyrone.

 
Áed Ruad
Cimbáeth
Macha (see Early History of Ulster)
Ross the Red
Fachtna
Conchobar Mac Nessa      


Genealogy:
     House of the Red Branch (Ulaid)



Áed Ruad
 

Áed Ruad was the king of Ulaid (Ulster). Áed Ruad was the brother of Cimbáeth and Dithorba (some say they were his cousins. He was the father of Macha.

Áed Ruad and his brothers ruled Ulster, each of them ruling for a term of seven years in a 21-year cycle. Before he could complete his term, Áed Ruad had drowned in the waterfall, which was named after him, Assaroe.

Since he didn't complete his term, Áed Ruad's daughter should have rule in his place, to complete his term, but his brothers opposed Macha.

At his death, Macha refused to give up the throne to her uncles. Macha killed Dithorba in a war and compelled her other uncle (Cimbáeth) to marry her. It was Macha, who founded the Ulster's capital, Emain Macha, where Dithorba's five sons work as slaves to construct the royal fort. (See Emain Macha, for more information about his daughter, Macha.)

 
Related Information
Name
Aed Ruad, Áed Ruad, Áed Ruadh.

Period/Cycle
Ulaid Cycle.

Related Articles
Macha, Cimbáeth.

Genealogy: Early House of Ulster (Macha the Red Queen).



Cimbáeth
 

Cimbáeth (Cimbaeth or Kimbay) was the king of Ulaid (Ulster). Cimbáeth was the brother of Áed Ruad and Dithorba. Cimbáeth was the uncle and husband of Macha.

The three brothers agreed that each of them were to rule for a term of 7 years in a 21-year cycle. Áed Ruad was ruling at the time, when he had untimely drowned at a waterfall, before he could complete his term as king. Macha, the daughter of Áed Ruad, should have rule in her father's place and complete the term of rulership, but Cimbáeth and his brother (Dithorba) opposed to their neice ruling Ulster.

At Áed Ruad's death, her daughter Macha refused to give up the kingdom to either brother. Macha killed Dithorba in battle, and compelled her other uncle (Cimbáeth) to marry her.

Cimbáeth and Macha ruled Ulaid together, but it was Macha, who founded the royal fort, Emain Macha. See Emain Macha for more information about Macha.

According to The Roll of Kings of Ireland found in the Lebor Gabala, after a year reign as a king of Ulster, Cimbáeth became high king of Ireland where he ruled 27 with his wife. At his death, Macha who ruled together with him, both in Ulster and sharing the power of ard ri, she became a sole ruler of Ulster and Ireland for 7 years, before she was murdered Rechtad Riderg of Mumu (Munster).

 
Related Information
Name
Cimbaeth, Cimbáeth.
Kimbay (English).

Period/Cycle
Ulaid Cycle.

Related Articles
Áed Ruad, Macha.

Genealogy: Early House of Ulster (Macha the Red Queen).



Ross the Red
 

Ross the Red was an Ulster king. Ross was married to Maga, daughter of Angus Óg. By Maga, Ross was the father of Fachtna, who was his successor. Ross the Red was also married to Roich (Roy) and become mother of Fergus and Sualtam, stepfather of Cu Chulainn.

Maga was later married to Cathbad, the Ard-Druid of Ulaid. Maga had three daughters: Deichtine, Elbha (Elva) and Findchaem (Finchoom). These daughters would later become mothers of heroes who would play important roles in the Ulaid Cycle.

The name House of the Red Branch, originally referred to those who descendants or related to him. Ross the Red's grandson, Conchobar, established a military order of elite warriors as his bodyguards, called the "Red Branch" or Clan Rury, during his reign.


His son Fachtna, succeeded him at his death, married Nessa, and become father of Conchobar, the greatest king of Ulaid (Ulster).

 
Related Information
Period/Cycle
Ulaid Cycle.

Related Articles
Conchobar, Fergus, Sualtam, Cathbad.

Genealogy: House of the Red Branch.



Conchobar Mac Nessa
 

Conchobar Mac Nessa was the greatest king of Ulaid (Ulster).

Conchobar was the son of Ness, daughter of Eochaid Sálbuide. There are some confusion of who was Conchobar's father. One say that his father was Fachtna Fáthach, a giant and king of Ulster. Fachtna was either the brother or half-brother of Fergus Mac Roich.

In the Welsh legend of Culhwch and Olwen, Conchobar has been equated with Cnychwr son of Nes.

But the more popular version say that Conchobar's father was the great druid, Cathbad. According to one version, Cathbad was passing through Emain Macha, when he met the girl Ness. Ness asked the druid what this hour was lucky for, Cathbad said the hour was good for begetting a king upon the queen. Since her husband wasn't there and there were no other male about, the queen took Cathbad as her lover; so was the conception of Conchobar.

When his father (Fachtna) died, Fergus, Conchobar's uncle was supposed to have succeeded the king. Fergus who was in love with his half-brother's widow, Nessa, was persuaded by her to allow her son to rule for at least one year, so she could claim that her son was king. But Conchobar ruled Ulaid so well, that the people refused to let him step down from the throne after he ruled for a year. Fergus, who did not want throne anyway, accepted his nephew as king.

During his reign, he ruled Ulster with wisdom and justice. Ulster prospered. Conchobar established a military order of elite warriors called the Red Branch. His uncle, Fergus served as captain of the Red Branch, and with his teaching, he produced one of the finest fighting machines. Some of Fergus' finest pupils included Conall Cernach and Cu Chulainn, cousins to the king by marriage.

No special names were given to Conchobar's weapons and horses. His charioteer was named Ibor.

At different time, Conchobar had married the four different daughters of Eochaid Feidlech. Conchobar had married Medb (Maeve) first, then her sister Eithne Aittencháithrech, Mugain and Clothra. Medb left Conchobar and became his mortal enemy, fleeing to Connacht.

When his aunt Deichtine, daughter of Cathbad and Maga, disappeared, it was Conchobar who found her son Cu Chulainn in magical house (Cu Chulainn originally was named Setanta at birth). Conchobar found out through prophecy, that his cousin would become the greatest hero in Ireland. Conchobar was at the mansion of Culann, when Setanta earned the name Cu Chulainn, "Hound of Culann".

When Cu Chulainn first received his weapons and war-chariot, not of the spears and chariots were strong enough to hold the young hero, except the king's own weapons and chariot, which Conchobar freely gave to Cu Chulainn.

Conchobar was responsible for defection of Fergus and 3000 other warriors, including his own son, Cormac, when he had the sons of Uisnech put to death. Conchobar had wanted to marry Deirdre, but she had run off and eloped with Noísi (Noisi), son of Uisnech. Fergus and the other warriors took services with Ulster's traditional enemy – Connacht. Connacht was a south-west neighbouring province, ruled by Ailill and Medb (Maeve).

Medb was responsible for the cattle raid in Cuailnge. Conchobar and his Red Branch warriors suffered from the curse of Macha, when Medb's army invaded Ulster. For five days and five nights, Conchobar and his warriors laid helpless and weakened from the pains. Only Cu Chulainn was affected from the curse, and managed to delayed Medb's army from completely overrunning Conchobar's kingdom. Conchobar and his men recovered from the curse, they pursued and defeated Medb's army.

After the battle, a Connacht warrior named Cet Mac Maga used a sling-stone called "brain-ball" on him. The brain-ball was hurled from Cet's sling, and became lodge in Conchobar's head. Though, Conchobar survived from this attack, Druids and physicians could remove the brain-balls without killing the king. Conchobar was told that he should avoid great excitement, otherwise the brain-ball would rupture and kill him.

Conall Cernach had created the brain-ball, when he killed the king of Leinster. He used the Leinster king's brain, which he mixed with lime. Cet had stolen the brain-ball from the king's armoury, before using it on Conchobar.

Seven years after the attack on him, the sky darkened suddenly. When Conchobar asked his druids, what had caused this strange phenomenon. The druids performed some magic and the chief druid, Barach told the king that he found out that Jesus Christ was crucified that very day, for claiming to be the "Son of God". Conchobar was suddenly overcome with fury, and began hacking at one of the trees in his garden. Suddenly, the brain-ball exploded in his head, killing Conchobar instantly.

 
Related Information
Name
Conor.
Conchobar MacNessa.

Cnychwr son of Nes (Welsh).

Period/Cycle
Ulaid Cycle.

Related Articles
Fergus Mac Roich, Cu Chulainn, Conall Cernach, Ailill, Medb (Maeve), Cathbad, Cet Mac Maga.

Genealogy: House of the Red Branch.







Connacht was a provincial kingdom occupying west of Ireland. Connacht was known as Connachta, Connaught, Connaght, and in pre-conquest period it was called Cóiced Connacht.

 
Ailill Mac Mata
Medb (Maeve)      


Ailill Mac Mata
 

Ailill was the king of Connacht. Ailill was the son of Russ Ruad, and he had two brothers, Connra Cas and Eochaid Dála, who were also kings of Connacht.

Ailill was married Medb (Maeve), who became his queen. The real power seemed to come from his wife, as she may be the sovereignty goddess of Connacht. And not only this, all three sons of Russ Ruad only became kings only when each had married Maeve.

Medb bore him three daughters Finnabair, Cainder and Faife. Ailill also sevens sons, and they were all named Maine, because a prophecy say that his son (Maine) would kill King Conchobar of Ulster.

The quarrel between Ailill and his wife, of who had the best bull in Connacht, set off the war between Connacht and Ulster. Ailill possessed Finnbennach, the White Bull of Connacht; and Medb had none that matched her husband's prized bull. Medb decided to take Donn Cuailnge, which is the Brown Bull of Cuailnge (Cooley), by force, since she couldn't buy it or borrow it from the owner. In the end, Connacht was defeated when Cu Chulainn took part in the battle, and their allied provinces deserted them. Both bulls killed one another at the end of the tale, so neither Ailill nor Medb won their wager.

Ailill knew of his wife's numerous infidelities, particularly with Fergus Mac Roich, a former captain of the Red Branch. Fergus rebelled against Conchobar Mac Nessa (king of Ulster), over the death of sons of Uisnech. Fergus came to his court as an exile with his followers.

One day, after the death of Cu Chulainn, Ailill jealously murdered Fergus while he bathed in a lake. The hero Conall Cernach avenged Fergus by slaying Ailill.

 
Related Information
Name
Ailill Mac Mata, Ailill MacMata.

Period/Cycle
Ulaid Cycle.

Related Articles
Medb (Maeve), Fergus Mac Roich, Cu Chulainn, Conall Cernach.

Genealogy: House of Connacht.



Medb (Maeve)
 

Medb was the warrior queen of Connacht during the Ulaid Cycle. She was also called Maeve. Medb was remembered as the queen who took on the might of Ulaid (Ulster).

Medb was the daughter of Eochaid Feidlech, who was the king of Leinster, and of Cruachu. Medb always claimed that she had resided in Cruachain, which was named after her mother.

Some confuse her with another queen or goddess, whose name was Medb Lethderg, the sovereignty goddess of Tara and queen of Leinster. If she was a goddess, then she would be the sovereignty goddess of Connacht. This is particularly true, since she had married the three sons of Russ Ruad of Leinster; each brother only became king when he married Maeve. The sons of Russ Ruad were named: Tinde (son of Connra Cas) and Eochaid Dála and Ailill Mac Mata.

Some say she was possibly one of the aspects of Morrígan (Morrigan). For any one who wished to become king, they must enter a sacred marriage with the sovereignty of the land (Connacht), and she was Maeve.

Ailill and his brothers were not the only kings, she had married. Medb had 3 sisters, Clothra, Eithne and Mugain, and all four of them had married King Conchobar of Ulster. (Medb probably have another two sisters, named Derbriu and Ele.) Conchobar was probably her first husband.

When Medb left Conchobar, she killed her pregnant sister, Clothra. However Clothra's son by Conchobar, had somehow survived. Her nephew was named Furbaide Ferbend, who would avenge his mother (Clothra) and killed Medb as she bath in the spring.

By Ailill, Medb bore three daughters: Finnabair, Cainder and Faife. Medb was also mother of sevens sons, and they were all named Maine, because they have heard from a prophecy say that her son (Maine) would kill King Conchobar of Ulster.

Conchobar Mac Nessa and Ulster, were Connacht's traditional rival and chief enemy.

Medb was renown for a number of infidility she had committed, particularly her long liason with Fergus Mac Roich, Ulaid exile and former leader of the Red Branch. By Fergus, Medb was also the mother of Ciar and Conmac. She had once boasted that it took 32 men to satified her sexually.

Cu Chulainn was responsible for her defeat in the cattle raid of Cuailnge. She later sought Cu Chulainn's death. She allied herself with Lugaid Mac Cu Roi and the daughters of Calatin. They lured him to fight her army alone. The combination of breaking his geis and magic resulted in Cu Chulainn's death.

When her husband killed her lover Fergus, and Conall Cernach in turn killed Ailill, Medb retired to an island. Furbaide Ferbend, son of Conchobar and Clothra (her sister), killed her where she was to known to bathe regularly in the lake.

 
Related Information
Name
Medb, Medhbh (Irish).
Maeve, Maev (English).

Period/Cycle
Ulaid Cycle.

Related Articles
Morrígan, Ailill, Conchobar, Cu Chulainn, Lugaid Mac Cu Roi.

Genealogy: House of Connacht.


Queen Medb (Maeve)
J. Leyendecker
Illustration, 1916








Munster was a provincial kingdom south west of Ireland. Munster was known as Mumu in Old Irish texts, and called Cóiced Muman in the pre-conquest period. Munster have the following counties within the province: Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.


 
Cú Roi
Eógan Mór     
Eógan     
Lugaid Mac Con     
Fiachu Muillethan     



Cú Roi
 

King of Munster. Cú Roi (Cu Roi) was the father of Lugaid Mac Cu Roi (Lewy). In the Welsh Culhwch and Olwen, Cú Roi has been equated with Cubert son of Daere.

During the Bricriu's Feast, Cu Roi had transformed himself into a giant or demon, named Uath ("Horror"). Uath challenged the three Ulster champions to beheading game, to determine who had the entitled to have the champion's portion in a feast. Only Cú Chulainn (Cu Chulainn) accepted his champion and was named champion of Ireland.

However, Cu Roi's beautiful wife, Bláithíne (Blathnat), possible daughter of Conchobar, was in love with Cu Chulainn, secretly sent a letter to him to take her away from her husband. Cu Chulainn attacked the dun and killed Cu Roi in a battle. As Cu Chulainn set about to take her away, one of Cu Roi's loyal servant, pulled himself and Blathnat over the dun's wall that killed the pair.

Later, Lugaid avenged his father death, by mortally wounded Cu Chulainn.

 
Related Information
Name
"Hound of Roi"

Cu Roi, Cú Roi, Cu Rui.
Uath ("Horror").

Cubert son of Daere (Welsh).

Period/Cycle
Ulaid Cycle.

Related Articles
Lugaid Mac Cu Roi, Cú Chulainn.

Bricriu's Feast, Death of Cu Chulainn.

Genealogy: House of the Red Branch.



Eógan Mór
 

King of Munster. Eógan Mór was also known in other texts by the name Mug Nuadat. He was also called Eógan Fitheccach and Eógan Taídlech. Eógan Mór should not be confused with his grandson, Eógan.

Eógan Mór was the married to Béare, a Spanish princess, but he also had a mistress named Etain, the fairy queen of Inis Grecraige. He was the father of Ailill Aulomm, who succeeded him.

Eógan Mór was mostly known for his war against Conn Cétchathach, the high king of Ireland. Conn was not satisfied with division of Ireland between them, or Eógan's independence, invaded Munster and defeated Eógan Mór in battle. Conn divided Munster into two, setup two puppet kings, Conaire and Maicnia.

Eógan managed to escape with the help of Etain of Inis Grecraige. Eógan returned from Spain, hoping to regain his kingdom, raised an army in Munster. Eógan confronted in the battle of Mag Léna and was defeated again. This time, Eógan was killed.

 
Related Information
Name
Eógan Mór.
Eógan Fitheccach.
Eógan Taídlech.
Mug Nuadat.

Eógan, Eogan.

Period/Cycle
Fenian Cycle.

Related Articles
Ailill Aulomm, Eógan, Conn Cétchathach.



Eógan
 

King of Munster. Ailill Aulomm was the son of Ailill Aulomm and grandson of Eógan Mór.

His mother seemed to be the sun goddess Aine, whom his father had raped. Eógan was brought up at the same time as his foster brother, Lugaid Mac Con, who was also his main rival and enemy in later life.

Their rivalry came to a head, when they both heard music from a yew tree that hang over a waterfall. Both wanted music-maker, which belonged to Fer Í, son of Eogabal and brother of Aine. Fer Í vanished before either one could have him, but son and foster son of Ailill ended up challenging one another to a battle at Cenn Abrat.

Eógan won this battle, and he thought he killed Lugaid, instead he had killed Do Dera, his foster-brother's fool, who looked exactly like Lugaid. Lugaid escaped with 27 of his men to Scotland. Upon the king of Scotland's discovery of Lugaid's true identity, the king promised military support, to make Lugaid, king of Scotland.

Eógan received aid from Art Óenfher, his uncle and the High King of Ireland. He met a blind druid named Dil Maccu Crecga, who knew immediately that the king of Munster would not survive the second confrontation with his foster brother. Dil advised the king to sleep with his daughter, Moncha, who conceived a son, Fiachu Muillethan, who would later become king of Munster.

As foretold, Eógan and Art Óenfher were killed at the Battle of Maige Mucrama, and Lugaid Mac Con became king of Munster.

 
Related Information
Name
Eógan, Eogan.

Period/Cycle
Fenian Cycle.

Related Articles
Ailill Aulomm, Eógan Mór, Lugaid Mac Con, Art.



Lugaid Mac Con
 

King of Munster. Lugaid Mac Con was the foster son of Ailill Aulomm. His foster brother was Eógan, his rival and enemy.

Lugaid had a loyal fool, Do Dera, who looked exactly like him. The only thing to distinguish them apart is that Lugaid had very white legs.

They quarrel over the music-maker, Fer Í, son of Eogabal, which led them to confront each other on the battlefield at Cenn Abrat. Do Dera saw that his master was facing defeat and death, advised Lugaid to let him to impersonate the king, while Lugaid should escape.

Eógan thought that he killed his foster brother, but recognised Lugaid's white legs, fleeing from the battlefield. Eógan couldn't prevent him from escaping to Scotland, with only 27 of his companions.

Lugaid asked his surviving companions to not reveal his identity to the king of Scotland. The Alban king, however, suspected his true identity, tested Lugaid, by making Lugaid and his companions eat rats. Finally the Alban king pressed Lugaid to reveal his true identity and offered to help Lugaid with his army to make him king of Munster.

So Lugaid returned to Munster, confronted by the combined army of Eogan and the high king Art Óenfher, at Maige Mucrama. Art and Eógan were killed in the fighting. Eógan fell at his hand, while Lugaid Lága (Lugaid's champion) killed Art.

Lugaid became king of Munster as well as ruling in Tara, as high king, but lost the throne seven years later, because of his false judement in the case of the old woman's sheep. Forced to leave Tara, Lugaid returned to the home of his foster father. Cormac, son of Art, became the new high king of Ireland.

Lugaid thought Ailill Aulomm forgave him when Eogan's father kissed his cheek. To his horror, one side of Lugaid became disfigured because Ailill's have a poisoned tooth. Half of his face was gone after three days, so he asked one of his followers to kill him.

 
Related Information
Name
Lugaid Mac Con.

Lugaid, Lewy.

Period/Cycle
Fenian Cycle.

Related Articles
Ailill Aulomm, Eógan, Fiachu Muillethan, Lugaid Lága, Art Óenfher.



Fiachu Muillethan
 

King of Munster. Fiachu was the son of Eógan, king of Munster, and of Moncha, daughter of the blind druid, Dil Maccu Crecga of Osraige.

Dil Maccu Crecga had advised Eógan to sleep with his daughter Moncha, because the druid knew the king would die the next at the battle of Maige Mucrama, against the Alban forces of Lugaid Mac Con. A son was conceived to Eógan that night.

Nine months later, Moncha went into labour, but her father had foretold that if the son was born today, he would become the chief jester of Ireland. If the child was born the next day, he would become king of Munster and founding the new dynasty, the Eóganacht.

Moncha stubbornly sat on a rock, for the whole day and night, delaying the birth of her son. As foretold, Fiachu was born the next day, but he was named Fiachu of the flat head, Fiachu Muillethan. The delay was costly, because Moncha died after she gave birth, so Fiachu was an orphan.

Cormac, son of Art Óenfher, was also conceived on the same night that Fiachu was. Art and Eógan were both allies against Lugaid Mac Con, but they both died in battle.

When Cormac Mac Airt was driven from Tara, by Fiachu Araide, Fiachu Muillethan was Cormac's ally, and helped restore his kinsman to the throne of high king. However, they became enemy later, when Cormac invaded Munster.

 
Related Information
Name
Fiachu Muillethan.

Period/Cycle
Fenian Cycle.

Related Articles
Eógan, Lugaid Mac Con, Cormac Mac Airt.









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