seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


Leave a comment

Death of Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobair, the King of Connacht

Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobair, the King of Connacht and youngest son of the Irish High King Tairrdelbach mac Ruaidri Ua Conchobair, dies on May 27, 1224. This finally opens the way for the Norman occupation of Connacht.

Ua Conchobair is born in 1153 and serves as King of Connacht from 1189 to 1199, and is re-inaugurated on the stone at Clonalis about 1201, reigning until 1224. He first succeeds his elder half brother Ruaidri‘s son Conchobar Máenmaige Ua Conchobair as ruler of Connacht. Conchobar Máenmaige’s son Cathal Carrach Ua Conchobair then rules from 1199 to 1202, with Cathal Crobhdearg back in power from then.

From his base west of the River Shannon he is forced to deal with the Norman invaders. He is a competent leader despite problems, avoiding major conflicts and winning minor skirmishes. Ua Conchobair attempts to make the best of the new situation with Ireland divided between Norman and Gaelic rulers. His long reign is perhaps a sign of relative success. He is the subject, as Cáhal Mór of the Wine Red Hand, of the poem A Vision of Connaught in the Thirteenth Century by the 19th-century Irish nationalist James Clarence Mangan.

Ua Conchobair founds Ballintubber Abbey in 1216, and is succeeded by his son, Aedh Ua Conchobair. His wife, Mor Ní Briain, is a daughter of King Domnall Mór Ua Briain of Thomond, dies in 1218.

In 1224 Ua Conchobair writes to Henry III as Lord of Ireland, asking that his son and heir Od (Aedh) be granted all of Connacht, in particular those parts, Kingdom of Breifne, owned by William Gorm de Lacy.

An account of Ua Conchobair’s inauguration has been preserved, written down by Donogh Bacach Ó Maolconaire, the son of O’Connor’s very inaugurator Tanaide Ó Maolconaire, who is also his historian.

(Pictured: Ruins of the 12th century Cistercian Knockmoy Abbey which contains the burial site of King Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobair)


Leave a comment

The Second Battle of Athenry

athenry-castleThe Second Battle of Athenry takes place on August 10, 1316. The English Colonists defeat the Irish in a very bloody battle. This is one of the most decisive battles of the Bruce campaign in Ireland (1315-1318).

The numbers involved are unknown, and can only be estimated. The royal army is believed to have been as much as a few thousand, while that of Athenry is probably several hundred less. While it is doubtful that there are any more than seven thousand, the list of participants on the Irish side alone indicates that an overall figure of at least three to four thousand are involved. The English claim that they take some 1,100 heads from the Irish on that day.

Unlike the First Battle of Athenry in 1249, no account is given of the battle itself in any surviving account. Even the site of the battle itself is uncertain.

Fedlim Ó Conchobair, the King of Connacht, leads a coalition of the Gaels to stop the return of William Liath de Burgh, the Anglo-Irish Lord of Connacht. He has come back from Scotland to try and regain his lost lands in the western province. He gathers together a large and well equipped army from the colonists of Connacht and Meath. Rickard de Bermingham leads the English of Meath. Ó Conchobair also puts together a formidable army drawn from north Munster, south Connacht, and the kingdoms of Breifne and Meath.

Although details of the battle are very sketchy at best, the Irish certainly  meet with catastrophe. Fedlim Ó Conchobair and Tadhg Ó Cellaigh, King of Uí Maine, are among those who are killed along with numerous other kings and chieftains of the Gaels.

(Pictured: Athenry Castle)