Laeghaire, Monarch of Ireland from 427 to 457.

His reign was rendered memorable by the advent of St. Patrick, and by the arrangement of Irish laws and customs in the Senchus Mor.

Although his wife Agneis was a convert to Christianity, Laeghaire continued true to his old faith nevertheless giving every facility for the spread of Christianity.

The collection of the Senchus Mor, called also Nofis from the number of its compilers, is thus referred to by Keating:

“Laegari was induced to call a general convention, at which the kings, clergy, and bard-sages of Ireland were assembled together for the purpose of rectifying the said national records. When this convention had met, its members selected nine of their number for the duty, to wit: ‘three kings, three bishops, and three ollamhs.’ The three kings were, Laegari, son of Niall, King of Ireland; Dari, King of Ulster; and Corc, son of Lugaidh, King of Minister; the three bishops were, Patrick, Benen, and Cairnech; the three ollamhs, or doctors of history, were, Dubthach, Fergus, and Rosa, son of Trichim. By these nine the traditions were purified and set in order. It is the work that resulted from their labour that is now called the Senchus Mor, that is, the great tradition.”[171]

Professor O’Curry considered “the recorded account of this great revision of the body of the laws of Erin is as fully entitled to confidence as any other well-authenticated fact in ancient history.”

The work, we are told, was composed at “Teamhair [Tara] in the summer and in the autumn, on account of its cleanness and pleasantness during these seasons; and Rath-guthaird [Lisanawer, near Nobber] was the place during the winter and the spring, on account of the nearness of its firewood and water, and on account of its warmth in the time of winter’s cold.”[300a]

Laeghaire was killed by lightning in 457, and was buried upright in the ramparts of Tara, “as if in the midst of warriors standing up in battle.”

The republication of the Senchus Mor (which when complete will extend to several volumes, three being already published in 1877, and a fourth in the press far advanced), with a translation and notes, was commenced by order of Government in 1865, from MSS. in Trinity College and the British Museum, the oldest dating from the early part of the 14th century.


171. Ireland, History of, from the earliest period to the English Invasion: Rev. Geoffrey Keating: Translated from the Irish, and Noted by John O’Mahony. New York, 1857.

300a. Senchus Mor. vol. i. Dublin, 1865.