The Kings of Meath

The Kings of Meath[1] from A.D. 432 to 1172.

1.—Conall Crimthann, son of the Monarch Niall of the Nine Hostages, was the first Christian King of Meath.
2. Fiacha: Conall’s brother.
3. Artgal: son of Conall.
4. Main: son of Fergus Cearbhall.
5. Diarmaid: Main’s brother; and the 133rd Monarch of Ireland. In this Monarch’s reign the royal palace of Tara, was, A.D. 563, abandoned: after having been the seat of the Irish Monarchs for more than 2,000 years. Thus the Antiquity of Tara as a royal residence in Ireland can well be said to reach beyond
“The misty space of thrice a thousand years!”
6. Colman Mór (Mór: Irish, great): son of Diarmaid (or Dermod); a quo the Clan Colman.
7. Colman Beg: brother of Colman Mór. (Beg: Irish, small), contemporary with the 140th Monarch.
8. Suibhneach: son of Colman Mór.
9. Fergus: son of Colman Beg.
10. Aongus: brother of Fergus.
11. Conall Gulbin: son of Swyny.
12. Maolroid (maol: Irish, bald; roidheas, very handsome); cont. with the 146th and 147th Monarchs.
13. Diarmot: son of Armeadh.
14. Murcha: son of Diarmot.
15. Diarmot II.: son of Murcha.
16. Armeath: son of Conall Gulbin (No. 11.)
17. Aodh [Ee] or Hugh: son of Armeath.
18. Colga: son of Hugh.
19. Donal: the 163rd Monarch; son of Murcha.
20. Niall: son of Diarmot.
21. Murtagh: son of Donal, the Monarch.
22. Donoch: the 163rd Monarch; brother of Murtogh.
23. Donal II.: son of Donoch; murdered by the Danes.
24. Mildredach: son of Donal II.
25. Olioll: son of Milreadach.
26. Conquovarus (or Connor): the 165th Monarch.
27. Maelruanaidh: brother of Connor.
28. Flarth: son of Maelruauaidh.
29. Malachy the Great:[2] Monarch; brother of Flarth. Was the 167th Monarch.
30. Lorcan: Monarch; son of Cathal Mór.
31. Donoch II.: son of Eochongan (or Eochy the Anointed).
32. Flan Siona:[3] the 169th Monarch; son of Malachy the Great.
33. Conquovarus II.: brother of Flan.
34. Donall III.: son of Flan.
35.Donoch III.:[4] the 171st Monarch of Ireland; son of Flan.
36. Aongus: son of Donoch III.
37. Donoch IV.: son of Donal III.
38. Farad: son of Aongus.
39. Aodh or Hugh: son of Maelruanaidh.
40. Donal IV.: son of Donoch IV.
41. Carlus: son of Donal IV.
42. Murtagh Grigg (grigg: Irish, Greek, so called from his being a good Greek scholar).
43. Donal V.; son of Congallach.
44. Fargal II.: son of Donal V.
45. Malachias (or Malachy) II.,[5] was the 174th (and last absolute) Monarch of Ireland. Reigned 45 years.
46. Maolseachlainn: reigned 4 years.
47. Donal VI.: son of Malachy II.
48. Conquovarus III.: murdered, A.D. 1073, by his brother.
49. Murcha:[6] son of Flann; the last King of Meath, A.D. 1172.

[This Murcha it was who founded and amply endowed the Abbey of Bective, in the county Meath. The remains of that once beautiful structure are yet in a state of tolerable preservation, and testify to the piety and religious zeal of Meath’s last King.]


[1] Meath: The ancient Kingdom of Meath was formed in the second century by Tuathal Teachtmar (or Tuathal the Legitimate), the 106th Monarch of Ireland, by the combination of a portion from each of the then four Kingdoms, and their annexation to Meath: hence it became a “Cuigeadh” [coogu] or fifth province. The Irish name is “Midhe” [mee], which signifies a neck, because it was formed by a portion or neck taken from each of the four provinces. Others derive it from Midhe, who was chief Druid to Nemedius. By the Latin writers it is written “Midia” and “Media.” Keating describes its boundaries as extending from the Shannon eastward to Dublin, and from Dublin to the river Righ (now the Rye, which flows into the Liffey at Leixlip): then by a line drawn through Kildare, and the King’s County to Birr or Parsonstown, from the Rye westward to Cluan Courach, now “Cloncurry;” thence to French Mill’s ford and to the Cumar (or junction) of Clonard on the southern border of Meath; thence to Tochar Cairbre (or the bog-pass of Carbery) in the barony of Carbery and county of Kildare; thence to Geashill in the King’s County, to Druimchuillin (a palish in the barony of Eglish in the King’s County), and to the river called Abhain Chara (probably the little Brosna, flowing into the Shannon from Lough Couragh, between Frankford and Birr); thence by the Shannon northwards to Athlone, and Lough Ree (a part of the Shannon between Westmeath and Annally, or Longford, on one side, and Roscommon on the other); and, finally, thence to Drogheda; being bounded on the north by Brefney and Orgiall. Thus the ancient kingdom of Meath comprised the present counties of Meath and Westmeath, with parts of Dublin, Kildare, King’s County, the greater part of Longford, and small portions of Brefney and Orgiall on the borders of the present counties of Cavan and Louth.—Connellan.

[2] Malachy the Great: According to the arrangement of alternate succession to the monarch between the northern and southern Hy-Niall, Malachy the Great, as King of Meath, attained to the monarchy, on the death, A.D. 844, of the monarch Niall Caille, who belonged to the northern Hy-Niall. This Malachy, A.D. 846, met and defeated the Danish forces at Skryne, county Meath; and freed the nation from Turgesius, the Danish king, by drowning him in Lough Owel. The death of Turgesius was a signal for general onslaught on the Danes; who were either massacred or driven to their ships; and hence were said to be “extirpated.”

[3] Flan Siona: As monarch of Ireland this king of Meath succeeded Aldus Finliath (a quo Finlay), No. 99, page 715, Vol. I. In Flan’s reign Cormac MacCullinan was Archbishop of Cashel and King of Munster. Flan, for some cause, waged war on Cormac MacCullinan; who, in the field of battle, was killed by falling under his horse, which missed its footing on a bank, slippery with the blood of the slain. This battle was fought at a place called Bealagh Mughna, now Ballaghmoon, in the county of Kildare, a few miles from the town of Carlow.

It is to Cormac MacCullinan remotely, as well as to the circumstances of Cashel, being the seat of royalty in the South, that “Cashel of the Kings” was, in the twelfth century, raised to the dignity of an archiepiscopal see. The Rock of Cashel, and the ruins of a small but once beautiful chapel, still preserve the memory of the bishop-king. His literary fame has also its memorials: he was skilled in Ogham writing, as may be gathered from the following poem:—

“Cormac of Cashel, with his champions:

Munster is his—may he long enjoy it!

Around the king of Rath-Bicli are cultivated

The letters and the trees.”—Miss Cusack.

Flan died A.D. 914, and was succeeded in the monarchy by the northern Hy-Niall chief, Niail Glundubh, No. 100, p. 715, Vol. I.

Ogham writing (in Irish “Ogham Chraov”) was an occult manner of writing on wood or stone, used by the ancient Irish (“ogham:” Irish, secret writing, and “chraov,” a bough or branch of a tree): and was the mystic species of writing employed by the Druids:

“For mystic lines in days of yore,

A branch and fescue the Druids bore;

By which their science, thoughts, and arts,

Obscurely veil’d they could impart:

Behold the formal lines they drew,

Their Ogham Chraov exposed to view;”

—Connellan’s Irish Grammar.

The word “Ogham” is considered to have originated from Gaul, because the ancient Gauls worshipped Hercules as the god of learning and eloquence.—Toland’s History of the Druids.

[4] Donoch III.: On the death of this Monarch, A.D. 942, he was succeeded in the monarchy by Congallach, who was, in Dublin, slain in battle, by the Danes, A.D. 954. Donal of Armagh, No. 102, p. 716, Vol. I., then obtained the royal power; and, at his death, A.D. 978, the monarchy reverted to Malachy the Second, king of Meath.

[5] Malachy the Second: This Monarch, A.D. 978, fought a battle with the Danes, near Tara, in which he defeated their forces, and slew Ragnall, son of Amlaf, King of Dublin. Emboldened by his success at Tara, he resolved to attack the Danes in Dublin; he therefore laid siege to that city, and after three days compelled it to surrender; liberated two thousand prisoners, including the King of Leinster; and took abundant spoils. He also issued a proclamation, freeing every Irishman then in bondage to the Danes, and stipulating that the race of Niall should henceforth be free from the tribute to the foreigners. Malachy invaded Munster, A.D. 981; and, A.D. 989 again occupied himself fighting the Danes in Dublin, to which he had laid siege for twenty nights—reducing the garrison to such straits, that they were obliged to drink the salt water when the tide rose in the river. At that time Brian Boru was the undisputed King of Munster; he made reprisals on Malachy the Second by sending boats up the Shannon, and burning the royal Rath of Dun-na-Sciath. Malachy, in his turn, recrossed the Shannon, burned Nenagh, plundered Ormond, and defeated Brian himself in battle. He then marched again to Dublin, and once more attacked “the proud invader”—the Danes. It was on this occasion that he obtained the “collar of gold,” which Moore, in his world-famous Irish Melodies, has immortalized in the following lines:

“Let Erin remember the days of old,

Ere her faithless sons betrayed her;

When Malachy wore the collar of gold,

Which he won from the proud invader.”

In Warner’s “History of Ireland,” it is stated that Malachy the Second successively encountered and defeated in a hand-to-hand conflict two of the champions of the Danes, taking a “collar of gold” from the neck of one, and carrying off the sword of the other, as trophies of his victory.

In Mageoghagan’s translation of “Annala Cluain mic Nois” (or the Annals of Clonmacnoise), we read:

“A.D. 1022. After the death of King Moyliseaglyn, this kingdom (of Ireland) was without a king twenty years, during which time the realm was governed by two learned men, the one called Cwan O’Lochan, a well learned temporal man and chiefe poet of Ireland; the other, Corcran Cleireagh, a devout and holy man that was (chief) anchorite of all Ireland, whose most abideing was at Lismore. The land was governed like a free state and not like a monarchie by them.”

Of that translation Dr. O’Donovan observes that, while it is a work which professes to be a faithful version of the original, it has in some instances been obviously interpolated by the translator; who writes that, after the death of Malachy the Second, Cuain O’Lochain (who was chief poet to that monarch), and Corcran Cleireach were appointed governors of Ireland; “but,” says O’Donovan, “Cuan did not long enjoy this dignity, for he was slain in Teffia, A.D. 1024.”—Book of Rights.

In “Moore’s History of Ireland,” vol. ii., p. 147, it is said—in reference to the alleged provisional government of Ireland after the death of King Malachy the Second: “For this provisional government of Cuan, we can find no authority in any of our regular annals.”

Nor can the writer of these pages find any authority whatever for the assertion, in “O’Clery’s Book of Irish Pedigrees,” or elsewhere.

The death of Malachy the Second is recorded in O’Donovan’s Masters, as follows:—

“The age of Christ, 1022. Maelseachlinn Mór, pillar of the dignity and nobility of the west of the world, died in Croinis Locho Ainnin, in the seventy-third year of his age, on the 4th of the Nones of September, on Sunday precisely.”

Anciently, the month was divided into Kalends, Nones, and Ides. The Kalends fell on the first day of the month. The Nones generally fell on the fifth of the month; but in the months of May, March, July, and October, they fell on the 7th of the month. The Ides, in the latter four months, fell on the 15th; but generally they fell on the 13th of the month. In calculating, instead of looking forward from the Kalends to the Nones, and from the Nones to the Ides, one counted backwards. Any day, suppose the 5th day of the Kalends, meant the fifth day before the Kalends. Then in dealing with the Nones and Ides, a person by counting back, and adding to the number, but adding 2 when dealing with the Kalends, found the day of the month—thus, the 3rd of the Ides of December is three days before the Ides; and as the Ides fell on the 13th in December, 1 added makes them the 14th of December. Three days then subtracted from 14 make 11; so the 11th of December is the 3rd day of the Ides of December; and so the 2nd of September is the 4th of the Nones of September.—See Malone’s Church History.

[6] Murcha: Connor O’Connor, a younger brother of Roderick O’Connor, the 183rd Monarch of Ireland, was King of Meath before Murcha who was its last king. This Connor’s son Gilbert joined the English, and got married to a daughter of Sir Hugh de Lacy, who gave with his daughter to the said Gilbert, as a marriage portion, the barony of Delvin. And the said Gilbert assumed the sirname De Nogent (modernized Nugent); and was, A.D. 1175, created the first “Baron of Delvin.”