- List of High Kings of Ireland
Medieval Irish historical tradition held that Ireland had been ruled by an Ard Rí or High King since ancient times, and compilations like the Lebor Gabála Érenn, followed by early modern works like the Annals of the Four Masters and Geoffrey Keating's Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, purported to trace the line of High Kings. The corpus of early Irish law does not support the existence of such an institution, and scholars now believe it is a pseudohistorical construct of the eighth century AD, a projection into the distant past of a political entity that did not become reality until Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid in the ninth century. The traditional list of High Kings of Ireland is thus a mixture of fact, legend, fiction, and propaganda. The individuals appearing prior to the fifth century AD are generally considered legendary, and the application of the title to individuals before the ninth century is considered anachronistic.
The annalists frequently describe later high kings as rígh Érenn co fressabra ("Kings of Ireland with Opposition"), which is a reference to the instability of the kingship of Tara from the death of Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill in 1022. Máel Sechnaill had been overthrown by Brian Boru in 1002, and restored in 1014 following Brian's death, but the example of Brian's coup was followed by numerous other families in the century following 1022, and the High Kingship was effectively ended by the Norman quasi-conquest of Ireland in 1171.
Kings in the Baile Chuind
The earliest surviving list appears in the Baile Chuind (The Ecstasy of Conn) a late seventh century poem in which Conn of the Hundred Battles experiences a vision of the kings who will succeed him. Many of these kings appear to correspond with the kings of later traditions, although the order is different, and some of the kings cannot be identified. The last four kings following Snechta Fína (Fínsnechta Fledach) do not correspond with any of the kings in later lists. The poem is therefore presumed to have been written during his time, and the kings who follow him are presumed to be fictional.
With few exceptions, kings belong to Dál Cuinn (the Connachta and Uí Néill). Understood as a list of Kings of Tara, it is not considered to be inclusive. A number of well known kings from the Laigin, Érainn, Ulaid, and Cruthin, are missing. The chief rivals of Dál Cuinn at the time of Conn's supposed floruit were the Dáirine, alias Corcu Loígde, two of whom are listed, but whose overkingdom in the south of Ireland collapsed in the 7th century. They would be replaced by the Eóganachta, who established the Kingship of Cashel, later to rival Tara.
Name Presumed identity Notes Not named Conn Cétchathach The list recounts Conn's vision of the kings who will follow him Art Art mac Cuinn Dál Cuinn Mac Con moccu Lugde Loígde Lugaid Mac Con Dáirine Corbmac Cormac mac Airt Dál Cuinn Corpre Cairbre Lifechair Dál Cuinn Fiechri Fiachrae Cássan Cruthin and/or Airgialla? Dáire Drechlethan probably Dáire Doimthech Dáirine, but precedes Conn Cétchathach, so misplaced Fécho Fíacha Sroiptine? Dál Cuinn Muiredach Tirech Muiredach Tírech Dál Cuinn Crimthand Crimthann mac Fidaig Eóganachta, or possibly Érainn (Dáirine?) Níell Niall Noígíallach Dál Cuinn Loígaire Lóegaire mac Néill Dál Cuinn/Uí Néill Corpri Coirpre mac Néill (d. circa 463) Dál Cuinn/Uí Néill Ailill Ailill Molt (d. 482) Connachta/Uí Fiachrach Lugid Lugaid mac Lóegairi (d. circa 507) Uí Néill Mac Ercéni Muirchertach mac Ercae (d. circa 536) Uí Néill/Cenél nEógain Óengarb Túathal Máelgarb (d. circa 544) Uí Néill Aíd probably Áed mac Ainmuirech (d. 598) Uí Néill/Cenél Conaill; seemingly misplaced chronologically Aíd Olláin probably Áed Uaridnach (d. 612) Uí Néill/Cenél nEógain; seemingly misplaced chronologically Diermait Diarmait mac Cerbaill (d. circa 565) Uí Néill? Origins obscure. Feáchno Fiachnae mac Báetáin (d. 626), or perhaps Fiachnae mac Feradaig, father of Suibne Menn Cruthin/Dál nAraidi, or Uí Néill/Cenél nEógain Suibne Suibne Menn (d. 628) Uí Néill/Cenél nEógain Domnall Domnall mac Áedo (d. circa 642) Uí Néill/Cenél Conaill Blathmac and Diarmaid grandson of the other one Blathmac mac Áedo Sláine & Diarmait mac Áedo Sláine (both d. 665) Southern Uí Néill Snechta Fína Fínsnechta Fledach (d. circa 695) Uí Néill/Síl nÁedo Sláine
The Lebor Gabála Érenn, dating to the 11th-12th century, purports to list every High King from remote antiquity to the time of Henry II's Lordship of Ireland in 1171. The High Kingship is established by the Fir Bolg, and their nine kings are succeeded by a sequence of nine kings of the Tuatha Dé Danann, most if not all of whom are considered euhemerised deities. After the Milesian (Gaelic) conquest the High Kingship is contested for centuries between the descendants of Eber Finn and Érimón, sons of Míl Espáine. The original compilation stopped at the reign of Tuathal Techtmar. The kings of the Goidelic dynasties established by Tuathal were added by other editors. Later editions of the Lebor Gabála tried to synchronise its chronology with dateable kings of Assyria, Persia, and Ptolemaic Egypt and Roman emperors.
Early modern works like the Annals of the Four Masters and Geoffrey Keating's Foras Feasa ar Éirinn continued this tradition based on later Irish annals. Keating's chronology, based on reign lengths, is longer than the synchronised chronology of the Lebor Gabála, and the Four Masters' chronology is even longer.
- LGE: synchronised dates from Lebor Gabála Érenn
- FFE: chronology based on reign-lengths given in Geoffrey Keating's Forus Feasa ar Erinn.
- AFM: chronology from the Annals of the Four Masters.
Fir Bolg High Kings
LGE FFE AFM Sláine 1514–1513 BC 1934–1933 BC Rudraige mac Dela 1513–1511 BC 1933–1931 BC Gann and Genann 1511–1507 BC 1931–1927 BC Sengann 1507–1502 BC 1927–1922 BC Fiacha Cennfinnán 1502–1497 BC 1922–1917 BC Rinnal 1497–1491 BC 1917–1911 BC Fodbgen 1491–1487 BC 1911–1907 BC Eochaid mac Eirc 1487–1477 BC 1907–1897 BC
Tuatha Dé Danann High Kings
LGE FFE AFM Bres 1477-1470 BC 1897-1890 BC Nuada 1470-1447 BC 1890-1870 BC Lugh 1447-1407 BC 1870-1830 BC Eochaid Ollathair 1407-1337 BC 1830-1750 BC Delbáeth 1337-1327 BC 1750-1740 BC Fiacha 1327-1317 BC 1740-1730 BC Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht and Mac Gréine 1317-1287 BC 1730-1700 BC
Milesian High Kings
LGE FFE AFM Eber Finn and Érimón 1287-1286 BC 1700 BC Érimón 1286-1272 BC 1700-1684 BC Muimne, Luigne and Laigne 1272-1269 BC 1684-1681 BC Ér, Orba, Ferón and Fergna 1269 BC 1681 BC Íriel Fáid 1269-1259 BC 1681-1671 BC Ethriel 1259-1239 BC 1671-1651 BC Conmáel 1239-1209 BC 1651-1621 BC Tigernmas 1209-1159 BC 1621-1544 BC Interregnum 1544-1537 BC Eochaid Étgudach 1159-1155 BC 1537-1533 BC Cermna Finn and Sobairce 1155-1115 BC 1533-1493 BC Eochaid Faebar Glas 1115-1095 BC 1493-1473 BC Fíachu Labrainne 1095-1071 BC 1473-1449 BC Eochu Mumu 1071-1050 BC 1449-1428 BC Óengus Olmucaid 1050-1032 BC 1428-1410 BC Énna Airgdech 1032-1005 BC 1410-1383 BC Rothechtaid mac Main 1005-980 BC 1383-1358 BC Sétna Airt 980-975 BC 1358-1353 BC Fíachu Fínscothach 975-955 BC 1353-1333 BC Muinemón 955-950 BC 1333-1328 BC Faildergdóit 950-943 BC 1328-1318 BC Ollom Fotla 943-913 BC 1318-1278 BC Fínnachta 913-895 BC 1278-1258 BC Slánoll 895-880 BC 1257-1241 BC Géde Ollgothach 880-863 BC 1241-1231 BC Fíachu Findoilches 863-833 BC 1231-1209 BC Berngal 7th century BC 833-831 BC 1209-1197 BC Ailill mac Slánuill 7th century BC 831-815 BC 1197-1181 BC Sírna Sáeglach 7th century BC 814-794 BC 1181-1031 BC Rothechtaid Rotha 7th century BC 794-787 BC 1031-1024 BC Elim Olfínechta 7th century BC 787-786 BC 1024-1023 BC Gíallchad 7th century BC 786-777 BC 1023-1014 BC Art Imlech 7th-6th century BC 777-755 BC 1014-1002 BC Nuadu Finn Fáil 7th-6th century BC 755-735 BC 1002-962 BC Bres Rí 7th-6th century BC 735-726 BC 962-953 BC Eochu Apthach 6th-5th century BC 726-725 BC 953-952 BC Finn mac Blatha 6th-5th century BC 725-705 BC 952-930 BC Sétna Innarraid 5th century BC 705-685 BC 930-910 BC Siomón Brecc 5th century BC 685-679 BC 910-904 BC Dui Finn 5th century BC 679-674 BC 904-894 BC Muiredach Bolgrach 5th century BC 674-670 BC 894-893 BC Énna Derg 5th century BC 670-658 BC 893-881 BC Lugaid Íardonn 5th century BC 658-649 BC 881-872 BC Sírlám 5th century BC 649-633 BC 872-856 BC Eochu Uairches 5th century BC 633-621 BC 856-844 BC Eochu Fíadmuine and Conaing Bececlach 5th century BC 621-616 BC 844-839 BC Lugaid Lámderg and Conaing Bececlach 5th century BC 616-609 BC 839-832 BC Conaing Bececlach (alone) 5th century BC 609-599 BC 832-812 BC Art mac Lugdach 5th century BC 599-593 BC 812-806 BC Fíachu Tolgrach 593-586 BC 806-796 BC Ailill Finn 5th-4th century BC 586-577 BC 796-785 BC Eochu mac Ailella 5th-4th century BC 577-570 BC 785-778 BC Airgetmar 4th century BC 570-547 BC 778-748 BC Dui Ladrach 4th century BC 547-537 BC 748-738 BC Lugaid Laigdech 4th century BC 537-530 BC 738-731 BC Áed Rúad 4th century BC 530-509 BC 731-724 BC Díthorba 4th century BC 509-488 BC 724-717 BC Cimbáeth 4th century BC 488-468 BC 717-710 BC Áed Rúad (2nd time) 710-703 BC Díthorba (2nd time) 703-696 BC Cimbáeth (2nd time) 696-689 BC Áed Rúad (3rd time) 689-682 BC Díthorba (3rd time) 682-675 BC Cimbáeth (3rd time) 675-668 BC Cimbáeth and queen Macha 668-661 BC Macha Mong Ruad (alone) 4th-3rd century BC 468-461 BC 661-654 BC Rechtaid Rígderg 4th-3rd century BC 461-441 BC 654-634 BC Úgaine Mor 3rd century BC 441-411 BC 634-594 BC Raighan 551 BC 594 BC Cineth 524 BC 551 BC Flann Da Congall 480 BC 524 BC Heremon 435 BC 480 BC Bodbchad 411 BC 435 BC Lóegaire Lorc 3rd century BC 411-409 BC 594-592 BC Cobthach Cóel Breg 3rd century BC 409-379 BC 592-542 BC Labraid Loingsech 3rd century BC 379-369 BC 542-523 BC Meilge Molbthach 3rd century BC 369-362 BC 523-506 BC Mug Corb 3rd century BC 362-355 BC 506-499 BC Óengus Ollom 3rd century BC 355-337 BC 499-481 BC Irereo 3rd century BC 337-330 BC 481-474 BC Fer Corb 3rd century BC 330-319 BC 474-463 BC Connla Cáem 3rd century BC 319-315 BC 463-443 BC Ailill Caisfiaclach 3rd-2nd century BC 315-290 BC 443-418 BC Adamair 3rd-2nd century BC 290-285 BC 418-414 BC Eochaid Ailtlethan 3rd-2nd century BC 285-274 BC 414-396 BC Fergus Fortamail 2nd century BC 274-262 BC 396-385 Óengus Tuirmech Temrach 2nd century BC 262-232 BC 385-326 BC Conall Collamrach 2nd century BC 232-226 BC 326-320 BC Nia Segamain 2nd century BC 226-219 BC 320-313 BC Énna Aignech 2nd century BC 219-191 BC 313-293 BC Crimthann Coscrach 2nd century BC 191-184 BC 293-289 BC Rudraige mac Sithrigi 2nd-1st century BC 184-154 BC 289-219 BC Finnat Már 2nd-1st century BC 154-151 BC 219-210 BC Bresal Bó-Díbad 2nd-1st century BC 151-140 BC 210-199 BC Lugaid Luaigne 2nd-1st century BC 140-135 BC 199-184 BC Congal Cláiringnech 1st century BC 135-120 BC 184-169 BC Dui Dallta Dedad 1st century BC 120-110 BC 169-159 BC Fachtna Fáthach 1st century BC 110-94 BC 159-143 BC Eochu Feidlech 1st century BC 94-82 BC 143-131 BC Eochu Airem 1st century BC 82-70 BC 131-116 BC Eterscél 1st century BC-1st century AD 70-64 BC 116-111 BC Nuadu Necht 1st century 64-63 BC 111-110 BC Conaire Mór 1st century 63-33 BC 110-40 BC interregnum (5 years) interregnum 40-33 BC Lugaid Riab nDerg 1st century 33-13 BC 33-9 BC Conchobar Abradruad 1st century 13-12 BC 9-8 BC Cairbre Cinnchait 1st century Crimthann Nia Náir 12 BC - AD 5 Crimthann Nia Náir 8 BC - AD 9 Feradach Finnfechtnach 1st century Feradach Finnfechtnach AD 5-25 Cairbre Cinnchait AD 9-14 Fíatach Finn 1st century Fiatach Finn 25-28 Feradach Finnfechtnach 14-36 Fíachu Finnolach 1st century Fiacha Finnfolaidh 28-55 Fiatach Finn 36-39 Elim mac Conrach 2nd century Cairbre Cinnchait 55-60 Fiacha Finnfolaidh 39-56 Elim mac Conrach 60-80 Elim mac Conrach 56-76
Goidelic High Kings
LGE FFE AFM Tuathal Techtmar 2nd century 80-100 76-106 Mal mac Rochride 2nd century 100-104 106-110 Fedlimid Rechtmar 2nd century 104-113 110-119 Cathair Mór 2nd century 113-116 119-122 Conn Cétchathach 2nd century 116-136 122-157 Conaire Cóem 2nd century 136-143 157-165 Art mac Cuinn 2nd century 143-173 165-195 Lugaid mac Con 173-203 195-225 Fergus Dubdétach 203-204 225-226 Cormac mac Airt 204-244 226-266 Eochaid Gonnat 244-245 266-267 Cairbre Lifechair 245-272 267-284 Fothad Cairpthech and Fothad Airgthech 272-273 284-285 Fíacha Sroiptine 273-306 285-322 Colla Uais 306-310 322-326 Muiredach Tirech 310-343 326-356 Cáelbad 343-344 356-357 Eochaid Mugmedon 344-351 357-365 Crimthann mac Fidaig 351-368 365-376 Niall Noígíallach generally thought historical 368-395 376-405 Nath Í probably did not reign at Tara 395-418 405-428 Lóegaire mac Néill historical 418-448 428-458
Semi-historical High Kings of Ireland
These kings are likely historical figures, but naming them High Kings of Ireland is probably anachronistic.
459-831 Ailill Molt 459-478 Lugaid mac Lóegairi 479-503 Muirchertach mac Ercae 504-527 Túathal Máelgarb 528-538 Diarmait mac Cerbaill 539-558 Domhnall and Fearghus 559-561 Eochaidh and Baedan 562-563 Ainmuire mac Sétnai 564-566 Báetán mac Ninnedo 567 Áed mac Ainmuirech 568-594 Áed Sláine and Colmán Rímid 595-600 Áed Uaridnach 601-607 Máel Coba mac Áedo 608-610 Suibne Menn 611-623 Domnall mac Áedo 624-639 Cellach and Conall 640-656 Diarmait and Blathmac 657-664 Sechnassach 665-669 Cenn Fáelad 670-673 Fínsnechta Fledach 674-693 Loingsech mac Óengusso 694-701 Congal Cennmagair 702-708 Fergal mac Máele Dúin 709-718 Fogartach mac Néill 719 Cináed mac Írgalaig 720-722 Flaithbertach mac Loingsig 723-729 Áed Allán 730-738 Domnall Midi 739-758 Niall Frossach 759-765 Donnchad Midi 766-792 Áed Oirdnide 793-817 Conchobar mac Donnchada 819-833 Niall Caille 833-846 (according to )
or Feidlimid mac Crimthainn (according to the Annals of Inisfallen)
Historical High Kings of Ireland
These kings can be considered genuinely historical High Kings (with or without opposition).
Kings of Ireland 832–1318 Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid 846–860. Aed Findliath 861–876. Flann Sinna 877–914. Niall Glúndub 915–917. Donnchad Donn 918–942 Congalach Cnogba 943–954 Domnall ua Néill 955–978 Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill 979–1002 Brian Bóruma 1002–1014. Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill (restored) 1014–1022. Donnchad mac Briain died 1064 (with opposition) Diarmait mac Maíl na mBó died 1072 (with opposition) Toirdelbach Ua Briain died 1086 (with opposition) Domnall Ua Lochlainn died 1121 (with opposition) Muirchertach Ua Briain died 1119 (with opposition) Toirdelbach Ua Conchobair died 1156 Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn died 1166 Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair died 1186 Brian Ua Néill 1258–1260 (in opposition to Henry III) Edubard a Briuis (Edward the Bruce)
Descended from Brian Bóruma
1315–1318 (in opposition to Edward II)
- ^ Cycles of the Kings Web Project: Baile Chuinn Cétchathaigh
- ^ R. A. Stewart Macalister (ed. & trans.), Lebor Gabála Érenn: The Book of the Taking of Ireland Part V, Irish Texts Society, 1956
- ^ Annals of the Four Masters vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 at CELT
- ^ The History of Ireland by Geoffrey Keating at CELT
- O'Brien, Michael A., ed.; Kelleher, John V. (intro. in the reprints of 1976 and 2005) (1962). Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae. 1. Dublin: DIAS. pp. 121–2, 130–3, 139–53, 172–5, 181–7, 414–23, 435–8. ISBN 0901282316. OCLC 56540733. Genealogies for the Dál Cuinn
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