Kingdom of Breifne

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See also: East Breifne
Kingdom of Breifne
Bréifne (Irish)
Connacht
c. 700–1256 East Breifne
 
West Breifne
Breifne c.900
Capital Croghan
Languages Irish
Religion Celtic polytheism, Christianity
Government Monarchy
King Aodh Fionn mac Fergna
 -  1250 - 1256 Conchobar O'Ruairc
History
 -  Split from Connacht c. 700
 -  Dissolution 1256
Ireland in 1014 showing the patchwork of kingdoms

The Kingdom of Breifne or Bréifne (anglicized Breffny, Brefnie or Brenny) was the traditional territory for an early Irish tribal group known as the Uí Briúin Bréifne. The Bréifne territory included the modern Irish counties of Leitrim and Cavan, along with parts of County Sligo (an area roughly equivalent to the modern Roman Catholic Diocese of Kilmore).

Breifne is said to derive from an obsolete Irish word meaning 'hilly', a description which describes the topography of this part of Ireland. It was referred to as the rough third of Connacht.

Alternatively, the Metrical Dindshenchas states the name is derived from Brefne, daughter of Beoan mac Bethaig, a brave soldier-woman.[1]

At its height in the 12th century, when Tigernán Ua Ruairc was king of Bréifne, it extended from Kells in County Meath to Drumcliffe in County Sligo.

In 1296, according to the Annals of the Four Masters "Maelpeter O'Duigennan, Archdeacon of Breifny...died."

In 1256, a great battle was fought between the O'Rourkes and the O'Reillys near Ballinamore. This led to the division of Breifne between the O'Rourkes and O'Reillys. The Bréifne region was split into East Bréifne and West Bréifne.

The Ó Ruairc kings (O'Rourke) maintained lordship over West Bréifne (mainly Co. Leitrim). The Kingdom of Bréifne region was part of the kingdom of Connacht up until the time of Queen Elizabeth I. In that time it was shired into the modern counties Cavan and Leitrim, Leitrim remaining a part of the province of Connacht while Cavan became part of Ulster.

The Ó Ruaircs were effectively lords of Breifne O'Rourke through the turbulent 16th century.

History of Breifne[edit]

In ancient times the area that became to be known as Bréifne was said to be occupied by the Erdini, called in Irish 'Ernaigh', who possessed the entire country bordering Lough Erne.

At the time of the Christianization of Ireland (c. 5th–6th century) tribal groupings believed to be in or near Breifne included the Glasraighe, Masraige, Dartraige, Armhaighe, Gallraighe, the Fir Manach, and the Gailenga.

Around the 6th century a people known as the Conmaicne Rein are thought to have moved north from around the present Dunmore in County Galway and settled in Magh Rein (the area around Fenagh). From here they peopled what is now South Leitrim, which became known as Magh Rein, and its inhabitants as the Conmaicne Magh Rein. They consisted of different family groupings – Muintir Eolais, Muintir Cearbhallain (O Mulvey), and Cinel Luachain, among others.

About the 8th century, the area since known as Breifne was conquered and settled by the Uí Briúin who were a branch of the royal family of Connacht. The Uí Briúin established themselves first in modern county Leitrim and then into what is now County Cavan. It can be argued that there is no contemporary evidence to support these speculations.

By the 9th century the O'Ruaircs had established themselves as kings of Breifne.

In the 10th and 11th centuries the O'Ruairc kings of Breifne fought some battles for the title of king of Connacht, four different kings of Breifne gaining the title.

During the 12th century the reign of Tighearnán Ua Ruairc, the kingdom of Breifne was said to comprise most of the modern counties of Leitrim and Cavan, and parts of Longford, Meath, Fermanagh and Sligo.

In the 16th century Breifne O'Rourke eventually became Co. Leitrim and Breifne O'Reilly became Co. Cavan.

Old Territories that were at one stage part of Breifne[edit]

Duncarbry (Dun Chairbre) marks the border of Cairbre's territory on the Drowes, while the Barony of Carbury in North Sligo still reminds us also today.

Noted chiefs of Cenél Cairpre included O'Mulclohy (Ó Maolchloiche).

  • Cairpre Gabra – northern Co. Longford, barony of Granard. O'Ronan (Ó Ronáin) were chieftains in the barony of Granard until dispossessed by the O'Farrells in the 13th century.

According to the Annals of the Four Masters about 476 AD, the battle of Granard was fought by Eochaidh, son of Cairbre, son of Oilioll, son of Dunlaing, son of Enda Niadh against the Ui Dunlainge, Ui Briúin Cualann and Ui Fergusa of North Leinster.

  • Cenél LaegaireCo. Fermanagh. The Fir Manach, the Cinéal Eanna and the Cenél Laegaire were early indigenous tribes in the Co. Fermanagh area. The Cenél Laegairi mic Neill were noted west of Loch Erne (Book of Lecan). The Cenél Laegairi mic Neill were also noted in central Ireland (Mide, Meath).

List of the Kings of Breifne[edit]

Note: Where mentioned spelling used in the document is used here.

Early kings[edit]

  • Echu Mugmedón, father to Brión, Fiachra, and Niall (of the Nine Hostages).
  • Brión: son of Echu Mugmedón and the ancestor of the O'Briuin Kings of Connacht.
  • Aodh Fionn mac Fergna: king of Breifne
  • Maenach mac Báithin: king of Ui Briuin Breifne – c.653–
  • Dub Dothra: king of the Ui Briuin & Conmaicne & Breifne – c.743–
  • Cormacc mac Duibh Dá Críoch: king of Breifni – c.790
  • Muircheartach mac Donnghal, king of Breifne: c.800–806
  • Mael Dúin mac Échtgal, king of Breifne: died822
  • Ceallach son of Cearnach, son of Dubh Dothra, king of Breithfne
  • Tighearnán mac Seallachan, king of Breifne: c.888 – father of Ruarc
  • Ruarc mac Tighearnáin, lord of Ui Briuin Breifne: c. 893 – grandfather of Sean Fergal
  • Flann mac Tighearnáin, lord of Breifne: c.910
  • Cernachan mac Tighearnáin, king of Breifne: died 931
  • Conghalach mac Cathaláin, lord of Breifne: c.935
  • Cléircén son of Tigernán, king of Bréifne: C. 937
  • Fergal? ua Ruairc, king of Bréifne

Ó Ruairc dynasty, Kings of Bréifne[edit]

  • (Sean) Fergal Ó Ruairc king of Connacht & Breifne: c.964–67
  • Niall Ó Ruairc, heir of Breifne: 1000–1001
  • Aedh Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: died 1014–1015 – son of Fergal
  • Art an caileach Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: c.1020–1030? – son of Fergal
  • Aedh Ó Ruairc, lord of Dartraige: 1029
  • Art uallach (oirdnidhe) Ó Ruairc, king of Connacht & Breifne: c.1030–1046 – son of Aedh mac Fergal
  • Niall Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne Connacht: 1047 – son of Art uallach
  • Domnall Ó Ruairc, lord of Breifne: c.1057 – son of Niall
  • Cathal Ó Ruairc, lord of Breifne: c.1051–1059 – son of Tighernan
  • Aedh in Gilla Braite Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1066 – son of Niall son of Art Uallach
  • Aed Ó Ruairc, king of Connacht & Breifne: c.1067–1087 – son of Art Uallach
  • Donnchadh cael Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: c.1084 – son of Art an caileach
  • Ualgharg Ó Ruairc, royal heir of Connacht: 1085 – son of Niall son of Art uallach
  • Donnchadh Ó Ruairc, lord of Ui Briuin and Conmaicne: 1101 – son of Art Uí Ruairc
  • Domnall Ó Ruairc, king of Connacht & Breifne: c.1095–1102 – son of Tigernán son of Ualgharg
  • Cathal Ó Ruairc, lord of Ui Briuin Breifne and Gailenga: 1105 – son of Gilla Braite son of Tigernán
  • Domnall Ó Ruairc, lord of Ui Briúin: c.1108 – son of Donnchadh
  • Aedh an Gilla Sronmaol Ó Ruairc king of Conmaicne: c.1117–1122 – son of Domnall (or Donnchadh).
  • Tigernán mór Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: c.1124–1152, 1152–1172 – son of Donnchad macDomnail
  • Aedh Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1152–1152, 1172–1176 – son of Gilla Bruide son of Domnall
  • Amlaíb Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1176–1184 – son of Fergal son of Domnall son of Tigernán
  • Aedh Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1184–1187 – son of Máelsechlann son of Tigernán mór
  • Domnall Ó Ruairc, lord of greater part of Breifne: c.1207 – son of Ferghal mac Domnall son of Fergal
  • Ualgarg Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: c.1196–1209 – son of Cathal son of Aedh son of Donnchadh
  • Art Ó Ruairc, king of Bréifne: 1209–1210 – son of Domnall son of Fergal son of Domnall
  • Niall O'Ruairc, king of Dartry and clann Fermaige: 1228 – son of Congalach son of Fergal son of Domnall
  • Ualgarg Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: c.1210–1231 – son of Cathal son of Aedh son of Donnchadh
  • Cathal riabach O'Ruairc, king of Bréifne: 1231–1236 – son of Donnchadh son of Aedh son of Gilla Braite
  • Conchobar O'Ruairc, king of Bréifne: 1250?–1257 – son of Tigernán son of Domnall son of Cathal

Lords of Bréifne Ó Ruairc[edit]

  • Sitric O'Ruairc, king of Bréifne: elected and killed 1257–1257 – son of Ualgarg son of Cathal
  • Amlaíb O'Ruairc, king of Breifne West : 1257–1258 – son of Art son of Domnall son of Fergal
  • Domnall O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1258 to 1258 (deposed) – son of Conchobar son of Tigernán
  • Art O'Ruairc, king of Breifne East: 1258–1259 (deposed) – son of Cathal riabach son of Donnchadh
  • Domnall O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1259 to 1260 (killed) – son of Conchobar son of Tigernán
  • Art bec O'Ruairc, king of Breifne West: 1260–1260 (killed) – son of Art son of Domnall son of Fergal
  • Art O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1261–1266 (deposed)– son of Cathal riabach son of Donnchadh
  • Conchobar buide O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1266–1273 – son of Amlaíb son of Art
  • Tigernán O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1273–1274 – son of Aedh son of Ualgarg son of Cathal
  • Art O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1275–1275 – son of Cathal riabach son of Donnchadh
  • Amlaib O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1275?–1307 – son of Art son of Cathal riabach
  • Domnall carrach O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1307–1311 – son of Amlaíb son of Art
  • Ualgarg mór O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1316–1346 – son of Domnall carrach
  • Flaithbheartach O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1346–1349 (deposed) – son of Domnall carrach
  • Aodh bán O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1349–1352 – son of Ualgarg mór son of Domnall
  • Flaithbheartach O'Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1352–1352 (died) – son of Domnall carrach
  • Tadgh na gcoar O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1352–1376 – son of Ualgarg mór son of Domnall carrach
  • Gilla Crist O'Rourke, lord of Breifny: died 1378 – son of Ualgarg mór son of Domnall carrach
  • Tigernán mór O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1376–1418 – son of Ualgarg mór son of Domnall carrach
  • Aodh buidhe O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1418–1419 – son of Tigernán mór
  • Tadhg O'Rourke, king of West Breifne: 1419–1424 – son of Tigernán mór
  • Art O'Rourke, king of East Breifne: 1419–1424 – son of Tadhg na gcoar
  • Tadhg O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1424–1435 – son of Tigernán mór
  • Lochlann O'Rourke, king of East Breifne: 1435–1458 – son of Tadhg na gcoar
  • Donnchadh bacagh O'Rourke, king of West Breifne: 1435–1445 – son of Tigernán mór?
  • Donnchadh O'Rourke, king of West Breifne: 1445–1449 – son of Tigernán óg son of Tigernán mór
  • Tigernán óg O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1449–1468 – son of Tadhg son of Tigernán mór
  • Donnchadh losc O'Rourke, half-king of Breifne: 1468–1476 – son of Tigernán mór son of Ualgarg mór
  • Domnall O'Rourke, half-king of Breifne: 1468–1476?, – son of Tadhg son of Tigernán mór
  • Feidhlimidh O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1476–1500 – son of Donnchadh son of Tigernán óg
  • Eóghan O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1500–1528 – son of Tigernán óg son of Tadhg
  • Feidhlimidh O'Rourke, king? of Breifne: 1528–1536 – son of Feidhlimidh son of Donnchadh
  • Brian ballach mór O'Rourke, king of Bréifne, 1528–1559, 1560–1562 – son of Eóghan son of Tigernán óg
  • Tadhg O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1559–1560 – son of Brian ballach
  • Aodh gallda O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1562–1564 – son of Brian ballach
  • Aodh buidhe O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1564–1566 – son of Brian ballach
  • Brian na múrtha O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1566–1591 – son of Brian ballach
  • Brian óg na samhthach O'Rourke, king of Breifne: 1591–1600 – son of Brian na múrtha
  • Tadhg O'Rourke, lord of Breifne: 1600–1605 – son of Brian na múrtha

Lords of Bréifne Ó Raghallaigh (Muintir Maelmordha)[edit]

  • Godfrey Ua Raghallaigh, lord of Muintir-Maelmordha: 1161
  • Cathal Ua Raghallaigh, lord of Muintir-Maelmordha: 1161–1162 – son of Godfrey
  • Fergal son of Cu Chonnacht O'Raigillig, King of Dartry and Clann Fermaige: 1239
  • Cathal Ua Raghallaigh, lord of Muintir-Maelmordha: 1256
  • Con Ua Raghallaigh, chief of Muintir-Maelmordha: 1256–1257
  • Matha Ua Raghallaigh, lord of Muintir-Maelmordha: 1282
  • Ferghal O'Raigillig, East Breifne: 1282–1293
  • Gilla-Isa Ruaid O'Raigillig, East Breifne: ↑1327 or 1330
  • Matha son of Gilla-Isa O'Raigillig, East Breifne: 1304
  • Mael Sechlainn O'Raigillig, East Breifne: 1328
  • Richard [Risderd] O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1349– ↑1346 or 1349
  • Cu Chonnacht O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1362 or 1365 (resigned) – son of Gilla-Isa Ruaid
  • Philip O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1365–1366/69 (deposed) – son of Gilla-Isa Ruaid
  • Magnus O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1366/69–1366/69 (deposed)
  • Philip O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1366/69–1384 – son of Gilla-Isu Ruaid
  • Thomas, son of Mathgamain Ua Raighillaigh, king of Muinter-Mailmordha: 1384–1390
  • John, son of Philip O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1390–1400 – son of Philip son of Gilla-Isa-Ruaid
  • Gilla-Isa son of Anrig O'Raigillig, East Breifny: 1400–1400
  • Maelmordha, son of Cuconnaught O'Reilly, Muintir Reilly: 1403–1411 – son of Cu Chonnacht son of Gilla-Isa Ruaid
  • Richard, son of Thomas O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1411–1418
  • Owen, son of John O'Reilly, Muintir-Maelmordha: 1418–1449
  • Farrell, son of Thomas O'Reilly, Muintir-Maelmordha: 1450 (deposed) – (AM1450)
  • John, son of Owen O'Reilly, Muintir-Maelmordha: 1450–1460 – son of Owen son of John son of Philip son of Gilla-Isa-Roe
  • Cathal O'Reilly, Muintir-Maelmordha: 1467
  • Turlough, son of John O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1468–1487 – son of John son of Owen
  • John, son of Turlough O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1487–1491
  • John, son of Cathal O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1491–1510 – son of Cathal son of Owen son of John
  • Hugh, son of Cathal O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1514
  • Owen, son of Cathal O'Reilly, East Breifny:1526
  • Farrell, son of John O'Reilly, East Breifny & Conmaicne: 1526–1536 – son of John, son of Cathal
  • Maelmordha, son of John O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1537–1565 – son of John son of Cathal
  • Hugh Conallagh O'Reilly, son of Maelmordha O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1583 – son of Maelmordha son of John
  • John Roe, son of Hugh Conallagh O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1583–1596
  • Philip, son of Hugh O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1596–1596
  • Edmond, son of Maelmordha O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1596–1601 – son of Maelmordha son of John son of Cathal
  • Owen, son of Hugh Conallagh O'Reilly, East Breifny: 1601–?

O Ruairc, Kings of Breifne, c.1128–1605[edit]

This is a list of the Kings of Breifne from after 1128 to 1605.

O'Reillys of East Breifne: O Raghalliagh, Kings of Muintir Maoilmhordha, c.1161–1607[edit]

  • Gofraid ?–1161
  • Cathal mac Gofraid 1161–1162
  • Cathal mac Annaid c. 1220–c. 3 May 1256
  • Conchobar mac Cathail 1256–1257
  • Domnall mac Annaid 1257–1283
  • Matha mac Domnaill 1285–1285
  • Fergal mac Domnaill 1285–1293
  • Gilla Isu Ruad mac Domnaill 1293–1330
  • Risdeard mac Giolla Iosa Ruaidh 1330–1349
  • Cu Chonnacht mac Giolla Iosa Ruaidh 1349–1365
  • Pilib mac Giolla Iosa Ruaidh 1365–1384
  • Maghnus mac Con Connacht 1369–1369
  • Tomas mor mac Mathghamhna 1384–1392
  • Seoan mac Pilib 1392–1400
  • Giolla Iosa mac Pilib? 1400–1400
  • Maolmhordha mac Con Connacht 1403–1411
  • Risdeard mac Tomais Mhoir 1411–1418
  • Eoghan mac Seoain 1418–1449
  • Sean an Einigh mac Eoghain 1449–3 September 1460
  • Fearghal mac Tomais Mhoir 1449–1450
  • Cathal mac Eoghain 1460–1467
  • Toirdhealbhach mac Seaain an Einigh 1467–1 September 1487
  • Seaan mac Toirdhealbhaigh 1487–after 25 November 1491
  • Seaan mac Cathail 1491–1510
  • Aodh mac Cathail 1510–1514
  • Eoghan Ruadh mac Cathail 1514–1526
  • Fearghal mac Seaain 1526–1534
  • Maolmhordha mac Seaain 1534–1565
  • Aodh Connallach mac Maolmhordha 1565–1583
  • Sir Seaan Ruadh mac Aodha Connallaigh 1583–1596
  • Pilib Dubh mac Aodha Connallaigh 1596–1596
  • Eamonn mac Maolmhordha 1596–1601
  • Eoghan mac Aodha Connalaigh 1601–1603
  • Maolmhordha mac Aodha Connallaigh 1603–1607

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]