Ireland's History in Maps (300 AD)
Ireland's History in Maps

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Reference:   Old Irish Kingdoms and Clans -- Old Irish Surnames

Legendary Royal Sites in Pre-History

In the fourth century the major provinces in Ireland were said to include Uladh in the north, with Eamhain Macha as its royal site; Cruachain in the west, with its capitol at Cruachu; Breagh (or Brega) in the east, with its royal site at Teamhair (Tara); Laigin in the southeast with its royal site at Dun Ailinne; and Caisil in the southwest, centered on the royal site of Caiseal (Cashel). Another area, known as Mide or Midhe, in the center of Ireland is also referred to in Irish folklore. The "province" of Mide (or Meath) is later connected with the later rise of the Southern Ui Niaill (Neill), and eventually includes Breagh within its borders.

One of the significant events in the folklore of Ireland to occur around the 4th century was the ousting, and return, of the Three Collas, grandsons of King Cairbre Liffeachair. One of these, Colla Uais, was king of Ireland for four years before being deposed by Muireadhach Tireach. Upon the return of the Three Collas, they carved a large new territory called Airgialla from the northern territory of the Uladh.

Another legendary event to have occured during this century was the migration of the Deisi Brega (or Deisi Mide) into what is now Waterford County, and possibly as well into County Clare (In Deis Tuascirt). The kings of Deisi tribe(s) had apparently committed crimes against the kings of Tara who were normally considered over-kings of the other territorial kings.

Other Commentary

Perhaps it bears repeating, the events of the 3rd and 4th centuries are a part of Ireland's pre-history. They are largely viewed as part of Irish tradition rather than historical fact. However, the events mentioned here do help set the tone for the Irish 'historical period', a period which has its early beginnings in the 5th and 6th centuries. The origin stories of the many Irish kingdoms take shape during this pre-historic period. An example reflected in the Annals for this timeframe includes the formation of the Arghiallan territories (three Collas), in the midland region of Ulster, at the expense of the Ulaid. Prior to this time the Ulaid are given as the dominant power across northern Ireland, with their center at Emain Macha. Not as well publicized in the Annals was a subsequent take-over of western Ulaid territory by the Northern Connachta, i.e. by three sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages, i.e. Eógan, Conall, and Énda.

Many of the names found in the Annals for this period (below) may also be found connected in a complex set of early Irish genealogies, which for this 'pre-Christian' period are viewed with a skeptical eye. At this period it is common to read of the 'sovereignty of Ireland', a tradition that permeates much of Irish pre-history and which is often equated to the kingship of Tara. Whether there were effective Kings of Ireland at this early period, ruling at Tara, is another matter of debate.

Ogham Script

Ogham is said to be the first known form of Irish (Celtic) writing, basically a series of lines and notches which are scored on a straight line and are most often found on large standing stones. The markings make up an alphabet which is described in the Book of Ballymote. Inscriptions generally take the form of an individual's name and the name of a place, and were possibly used as boundary and/or burial markers. The earliest ogham stones are thought to have originated about the 4th-5th century. About 500 Ogham inscriptions have been found in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, with a majority found in southern Ireland from Kerry to Waterford.

Excerpts from the Annals

262 AD - The battle of Crionna Fregabhail was fought by Cormac against the Ulstermen, where fell Aenghus Finn, son of Fearghus Duibhdeadach i.e. the Black Toothed, King of Ulster, with the slaughter of the Ulstermen about him.

265 AD - Ceallach, son of Cormac, and Cormac's lawgiver, were mortally wounded, and the eye of Cormac himself was destroyed with one thrust of a lance by Aenghus Gaibhuaibhtheach, son of Fiacha Suighdhe, son of Feidhlimidh the Lawgiver. Cormac afterwards fought and gained seven battles over the Déisi, in revenge of that deed, and he expelled them from their territory, so that they are now in Munster.

266 AD - Forty years was Cormac, son of Art, son of Conn, in the sovereignty of Ireland, when he died at Cleiteach, the bone of a salmon sticking in his throat, on account of the siabhradh genii which Maelgenn, the Druid, incited at him, after Cormac had turned against the Druids, on account of his adoration of God in preference to them.

267 AD - Eochaidh Gonnat in the sovereignty of Ireland, when he fell by Lughaidh Meann, son of Aenghus, one of the Ulstermen.

268 Ad - The first year of Cairbre Liffeachair, son of Cormac, son of Art, in the sovereignty of Ireland.

276 AD - Aenghus Gaibuaibhtheach was killed this year by the sons of Cairbre Liffechair, namely, Fiacha Sraibhtine and Eochaidh Doimhlen.

283 AD - Finn, grandson of Baisgne, fell by Aichleach, son of Duibhdreann, and the sons of Uirgreann of the Luaighni Teamhrach, at Ath Brea, upon the Boinn Boyne.

284 AD - After Cairbre Liffeachair had been seventeen years in the sovereignty of Ireland, he fell in the battle of Gabhra Aichle, by the hand of Semeon, son of Cearb, one of the Fotharta; Fearcorb, the son of Cormac Cas, having brought the Fiana with him, against the king, to defend Leath Mhogha against him.

285 AD - Fothadh was one year over Ireland, when Fothadh Cairptheach was slain by Fothadh Airgtheach. Fothadh Airgtheach was afterwards slain in the battle of Ollarba, in Magh Line, by Caeilte.

286 AD - The first year of the reign of Fiacha Sraibhtine over Ireland.

322 AD - Fiacha Sraibhtine, after having been thirty seven years as king over Ireland, was slain by the Collas, in the battle of Dubhchomar, in Crioch Rois, in Breagh.

323 AD - The first year of Colla Uais, son of Eochaidh Doimhlen, as king over Ireland.

326 AD - The fourth year of Colla Uais, in the sovereignty of Ireland, when Muireadhach Tireach expelled him and his brothers into Alba Scotland with three hundred along with them.

327 AD - The first year of Muireadhach Tireach in the sovereignty of Ireland. At the end of this year the three Collas came to Ireland; and there lived not of their forces but thrice nine persons only. They then went to Muireadhach, having been instructed by a druid. And they scolded at him, and expressed evil words, that he might kill them, and that it might be on him the curse of the finghal should alight. As he did not oppose them, they tarried with him, and were faithful to him.

331 AD - The battle of Achadh Leithdheirg, in Fearnmhagh, was fought by the three Collas against the Ulstermen, in which fell Fearghus Fogha, son of Fraechar Foirtriun, the last king of Ulster, who resided at Eamhain. They afterwards burned Eamhain, and the Ulstermen did not dwell therein since. They also took from the Ulstermen that part of the province extending from the Righe and Loch nEathach westwards. Colla Meann fell in this battle.

356 AD - After Muireadhach Tireach had been thirty years in the sovereignty of Ireland, he was slain by Caelbhadh, son of Crunn, King of Uladh, at Portrigh, over Dabhall.

Further Reference:
Province History - Ancient Irish Genealogy and Geography

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