Gaulish (French) and British missionaries arriving in the 5th and 6th
centuries, such as St, Patrick, Palladius, St. Secundinus, St. Iserninus,
St. Finnian, St. Enda and St. Auxilius, were to have a dramatic influence
on the religious and cultural future of Ireland. They established and
gradually strengthened Christianity in Ireland, and helped to establish a
'monastic' hierarchy which played a important role in the creation of
churches and monastic schools of learning which were to later have
far-ranging impact throughout Europe in the later centuries.
The dominence of the Gaelic septs, at least in the North, was continued throughout the 5th and 6th
centuries as reflected in the so-called Ard Ri (high kingship) of Ireland. Eochu
Mugmedón, the Ard Ri in the middle 4th century and great-great-great-great-grandson of Conn of the Hundred Battles, had fostered a
continued line of Kings for Ireland. From his sons sprang the powerful
Ui Niall (Ui Neill), Ui Briuin and Ui Fiachra line of kings of Ireland,
Ulster, Midhe and Connacht. His great-grandson Oilill Molt ruled as
High King for twenty years, followed by another great-grandson, Lughaidh,
who ruled for twenty five years. The high kingship was next held for
twenty-four years by Muircheartach, a great-great-grandson of Eochu
Mugmedón. The high kingship was to remain in this family for another
The ancestors of Oilioll Olum, a 3rd century king of Caisil (Munster),
were beginning to show their dominance in southwest Ireland. His ancestors
formed a federation of dynasties known as the Eoghanachta, who were to
eclipse the Erainn peoples in Munster by the 7th century. Meanwhile the Dal
Riata, who had earlier moved out of Munster into the northeast corner of
Ireland, extended their kingdom into what is now Argyll in Scotland. At
about the same time the Southern Ui Niaill, descendants of Niall of
the Nine Hostages in Connacht, were making their moves into
northern Laigin (Leinster province) as well as into other parts of
Connacht. The A.D. battle of Druim Derge was a pivotal Ui Niaill victory
which was to push back the northern boundaries of Leinster until the arrival
of the Cambro-Normans in 1169.
The Historical Period
By the latter 5th century Ireland officially begins to enter into it's historical period. The events of the day come to be more accepted by modern historians. The early names and location of Irish tribes become clearer. The Irish kingdoms, their chiefs and their genealogies begin to emerge from the mist of 'pre-history'. St. Patrick and others succeed in spreading the new religion and Christian churches and monasteries make their appearance.
Dendrochronologists studying oak trees preserved in Irish bogs discovered what they believe to be a disastrous climate event occuring in the late 530s A.D. It was a described as a disaster of catastrophic proportions, with indications of crop failures and widespread famine around the world. It was during this timeframe when plague spread throughout Europe, that dynasties began to collapse in China, Mexico and elsewhere, and that Christianity began to take a firm hold in Ireland. Within a generation of the climate disaster most of the monasteries that gave rise to the Golden Age of Irish Christianity were already in existence. Among these included the great monasteries of Durrow founded about 543-560 by St. Columba; of Clonmacnoise founded in 545 by St. Ciaran; of Clonfert founded about 547-559 by St. Brendan; of Bangor founded between 552-559 A.D.; and of Iona founded by St. Columba in 563 A.D.
Excerpts from the Annals
458 AD -
After Laeghaire, the son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, had been thirty
years in the sovereignty of Ireland, he died by the side of Caissi, between
Eire and Alba, i.e. two hills which are in Ui Faelain; and it was the Sun
and the Wind that killed him, because he had violated them.
459 AD -
The first year of Oilioll Molt, son of Dathi, son of Fiachra, in the
sovereignty of Ireland.
464 AD -
Conall Gulban, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages (from whom are
descended the Cinel Conaill), was slain by the old tribes of Magh Slecht,
he having been found unprotected, and was buried at Fidhnach Maighe
Rein, by Saint Caillin, as the Life of the aforesaid saint relates.
465 AD -
Eoghan, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages (from whom are descended
the Cinel Eoghain), died of grief for Conall Gulban, son of Niall of the
Nine Hostages, and was buried at Uisce Chain, in Inis Eoghain
465 AD -
Crimhthann, son of Enda Censelach, King of Leinster, was killed by the
son of his own daughter, i.e. Eochaidh Guineach, one of the Ui Bairrche.
472 AD -
Toca, son of Aedh, son of Senach, chief of Crioch Cualann, in Leinster,
475 AD -
Conall Cremhthoinn, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, from whom are
sprung the Clann Colmain, and race of Aedh Slaine, died.
476 AD -
The battle of Granard by Eochaidh, son of Cairbre, son of Oilioll, son of
Dunlaing, son of Enda Niadh, against the King of Leinster, Fraech, son
of Finuchadh, son of Garchu, son of Fothadh, son of Eochaidh
Lamhdoidh, son of Mesincorb; and Fraech fell therein.
478 AD -
After Oilioll Molt, son of Dathi, son of Fiachra, had been twenty years
in the sovereignty of Ireland, he was slain in the battle of Ocha, by
Lughaidh, son of Laeghaire, Muircheartach Mac Earca, Fearghus Cerrbhel,
son of Conall Cremththainne, Fiachra, son of Laeghaire, King of Dal
Araidhe, and Cremhthann, son of Enna Cennsealach, King of Leinster.
It was on this occasion that the Lee and Cairloegh were given to
Fiachra as a territorial reward for the battle.
479 AD -
The first year of Lughaidh, son of Laeghaire, in sovereignty over Ireland.
480 AD -
The battle of Granard, in the land of Leinster, between the Leinstermen
themselves, wherein Finnchadh, Lord of Ui Cennsealaigh, was slain by
489 AD -
Aenghus, son of Nadfraech, King of Munster, fell in the battle of Cell
Osnadha fought against him by Muircheartach Mac Earca, by Illann,
son of Dunlaing, by Ailill, son of Dunlaing, and by Eochaidh Guineach.
St. Patrick, son of Calphurn, son of Potaide, archbishop, first primate, and
chief apostle of Ireland, whom Pope Celestine the First had sent to
preach the Gospel and disseminate religion and piety among the Irish,
was the person who separated them from the worship of idols and
spectres, who conquered and destroyed the idols which they had for
worshipping... died at age 122 (!!)
496 AD -
The battle of Druim Lochmaighe was gained by the Leinstermen over
the Ui Neill.
497 AD -
The battle of Inde Mor, in Crioch Ua nGabhla, was gained over the
Leinstermen and Illann, son of Dunlaing, by Muircheartach mac Earca.
498 AD -
Fearghus Mor, son of Erc, son of Eochaidh Muinreamhair, with his
brothers, went to Alba Scotland.
499 AD -
The battle of Seaghais was fought by Muircheartach mac Earca against
Duach Teangumha, King of Connaught. The cause of the battle was this,
viz.: Muircheartach was a guarantee between the King and Eochaidh
Tirmcharna, his brother, and Eochaidh was taken prisoner against the
protection of Muircheartach. Against the Connaughtmen these battles
501 AD -
The battle of Freamhain, in Meath, was gained against Fiacha, son of
Niall, by Failge Berraidhe.
503 AD -
After Lughaidh, son of Laeghaire, had been twenty five years in the
sovereignty of Ireland, he was killed at Achadh Farcha, being struck
by a flash of lightning, by the miracles of God, on account of the
insult which he had offered to Patrick. Eochaidh, son of Muireadhach
Muindearg, King of Uladh, also died in this year.
The first year of Muircheartach, son of Muireadhach, son of Eoghan, son
of Niall, as king over Ireland.
Illann, son of Dunlaing, King of Leinster, died.
507 AD -
The Cinel Fiachach assume control of Uisneach from the Ui Failge.
The battle of Druim Deargaighe was gained against Foilghe Berraidhe,
by Fiacha, son of Niall. From that time forward the land extending
from Cluain In Dibhair to Uisneach belongs to the Cinel Fiachach.
513 AD -
The battle of Dedna, in Droma Breagh, by Muircheartach mac Earca,
and by Colga, son of Loite, son of Crunn, son of Feidhlimidh, son of
Colla Dachrich, chief of Airghialla, where Ardghal, son of Conall
Creamhthainne, son of Niall, was slain.
523 AD -
Eochaidh, son of Aenghus, King of Munster, died.
525 AD -
Ailill, Bishop of Armagh, who was of the Ui Breasail, died.
526 AD -
Cairell, son of Muireadhach Muindearg, King of Ulidia, died.
Oilill, son of Dunlaing, King of Leinster, died.
527 AD -
After Muircheartach, son of Muireadhach, son of Eoghan, son of Niall of
the Nine Hostages, had been twenty four years in the sovereignty of
Ireland, he was burned in the house of Cleiteach, over the Boyne, on the
night of Samhain the first of November, after being drowned in wine.
528 AD -
The first year of Tuathal Maelgarbh, son of Cormac Caech, son of
Cairbre, son of Niall, in the sovereignty of Ireland. In this year was
the battle of Luachair Mor between the two Invers, which is called the
battle of Ailbhe, in Breagh, by Tuathal Maelgarbh, against the Cianachta
531 AD -
The battle of Claenloch, in Cinel Aedh, by Goibhneann, chief of Ui
Fiachrach Aidhne, where Maine, son of Cearbhall, was killed, in
defending the hostages of Ui Maine of Connaught.
535 AD -
The church of Doire Calgaigh was founded by Colum Cille, the place
having been granted to him by his own tribe, i.e. the race of Conall
Gulban, son of Niall. In this year Cormac, son of Ailill, King of
Leinster, died. In this year Oilill, Bishop of Armagh, died. He was
also of the Ui Breasail.
537 AD -
The battle of Sligeach by Fearghus and Domhnall, the two sons of
Muircheartach mac Earca; by Ainmire, son of Sedna; and Ainnidh, son
of Duach, against Eoghan Bel, King of Connaught. They routed the
forces before them, and Eoghan Bel was slain.
538 AD -
After Tuathal Maelgarbh, son of Cormac Caech, son of Cairbre, son of
Niall, had been eleven years in the sovereignty of Ireland, he was slain, at
Greallach Eillte, by Maelmor, son of Airgeadan, who was the tutor of
Diarmaid mac Cearbhaill; and Maelmor fell in revenge of it thereof
539 AD -
The first year of Diarmaid, son of Fearghus Ceirrbheoil, in the
sovereignty of Ireland.
543 AD -
There was an extraordinary universal plague through the world, which
swept away the noblest third part of the human race.
544 AD -
The battle of Cuil Conaire, in Ceara, was fought by Fearghus and
Domhnall, two sons of Muircheartach mac Earca, against Ailill Inbhanda,
King of Connaught, and Aedh Fortamhail; and Ailill and Aedh were slain.
546 AD -
The battle of Cuilne, in which many of the Corcoiche were slain through
the prayers of St. Ida, of Cluain Creadhail. In this year also died
Cairbre, son of Cormac, King of Leinster.
The King of Ulidia, Eochaidh, son of Connla, son of Caelbhadh, son of
Crunn Badhrai, died. The chief of Teathbha, Crimhthann, son of Brian, died.
St. Dubhthach, Abbot of Ard Macha Armagh, died. He was of the race
of Colla Uais.
The death of Eochaidh, son of Connlo, King of Ulidia, from whom are
the Ui Eathach Uladh.---Tighernach.