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Archiver > DNA-R1B1C7 > 2011-12 > 1325125843

From: Bernard Morgan <>
Subject: Re: [R-M222] Ulster - Cenel Conaill
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2011 02:30:43 +0000
References: <d753.3a188daa.3c2c060e@aol.com>
In-Reply-To: <d753.3a188daa.3c2c060e@aol.com>

I don't think O'Doherty (or O'Donnell) can be assumed to be Cenel Conaill, they are a product of Cenel Eoghain (see highlighted passage in bold). Also note that Combra Columcille was ruled by members of Cenel Eoghain.

>From Máel Coba Ua Gallchobair and His Early Family by TG Ó Canann – 2004, Journal of RSAI
"The late Father Padraig O Gallachair once remarked to me about how puzzling it was that the eponymous ancestors of the six most prominent families of medieval Cenel Conaill made no figure in the Irish annals: Gallchobar, Mael Doraid, Canannan, Domnall, Dochartach, and Baigell. All would have lived in the ninth century, a particularly murky period in the history of Tir Conaill. Several important political changes took place during that time, but they are shrouded in silence. The Annals of Ulster, our principal northern chronicle, provides extensive coverage of the kings of Cenel Conaill throughout the Middle Ages, but early in the ninth century, a curious reticence about Donegal affairs develops. Between 820 and 940, for example, AU names only a single king (rex) of Tir Conaill, Eicnechan mac Dalaig (d. AU 906.2). His father, Dalach mac Muirchertaig. is also mentioned in these annals but he is accorded the lesser distinction of leader (dux) of Cenel Conaill in his obituary notice (AU 870.3). Eicnechan 's grandson, Mael Ruanaid mac Flainn, also asserted a claim to the kingship of Cenel Conaill, but he was recognised as such only in the Chronicum Scotorum (sa 962; cf. AU 964.2; AFM sa 962). The three dynasts were outsiders whose family claimed descent from the northern kindred of Cenel Lugdach. They intruded on a previously uninterrupted line of Cenel Conaill kings drawn from the southern kindred of Cenel nAeda Esa Ruaid. At the same time, it is relevant to note that clerics from Cenel Lugdach were assuming positions of parallel power within the Columban federation at lona and Deny The political ascent of Cenel Lugdach was evidently tied to a pair of judicious alliances cultivated by Dalach, Eicnechan, and Mael Ruanaid. Dr Brian Lacey points out that these ambitious leaders of Cenel Lugdach seem to have become proteges of Cenel nEogain, their more powerful neighbours to the east, especially from the eighth century onward. Furthermore, on the basis of an anachronistic poem purporting to be a eulogy for Eicnechan mac Dalaig (but actually written for his namesake and and descendant, Eicnechan 6 Domhnaill, king of Tir Conaill, 1202-08), it would appear that the previously obscure Cenel Lugdach forged multiple matrimonial alliances with the local Viking leadership.Together, these adroit embassies dramatically catapulted Dalach, Eicnechan, and Mael Ruanaid out of their remote headquarters in northern Donegal, most probably sited at the fortified crannog on Inis Locha Bethach, and into contention for the headship of Cenel Conaill. What remains a mystery is the pervasive indifference of the annalists to recording these turbulent dynastic changes in Tir Conaill. Their singular lack of interest is only partially explained by the important shift of the scriptorium in which the main chronicle of northern affairs was compiled, from the friendly Cenel Conaill monastery at Iona to a possible location at Armagh or in the territory of the Southern Ui Neill (perhaps Brega) where it was edited to some degree in the interests of Cenel nEogain. The rise of Cenel Lugdach in the ninth and tenth centuries would seem to be paralleled by a descent into internal strife within Cenel nAeda Esa Ruaid during the same period. In the preceding century, all kings of Tir Conaill had been selected from among the descendants of Flaithbertach mac Loingsig (d. 767), the last Cenel Conaill king of Tara. However, early in the ninth century, Flaithbertach's progeny split into two permanently warring factions: (1) Clann Domnaill, the lineal heirs of Domnall mac Aedo Muindeirg, 'king of the North' (d. AU 804.1), from whom the Ui Chanannain would emerge in the tenth century, and (2) Clann Murchada, the descendants of Mael Bresail mac Murchado,. 'king of Cenel Conaill'. (d. AU 819.3), from whom the Ui Mail Doraid would eventually arise in tandem with, and in opposition to, their archrivals. As Professor F.J. Byrne recently put it: 'The closely related families of Ua Canannain and Ua Mail Doraid were to be at each other's throats for the best part of three centuries."

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