List of kings of Ulster

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The Kings of Ulster were of the Ulaid, and up till about AD 450, ruled as over-kings of the ancient cóiced (portion, fifth) of Ulster. Ptolemy's map (compiled about AD 150 from many earlier sources) shows them as the Voluntii and adjacent Darini. They were joined in the kingship by the later attested Cruithne (who claimed to be the original Ulaid). In their prime they seem to have been direct rulers of what are now County Monaghan, County Armagh, County Down, County Antrim and much of County Louth. The centre of the province was held by the Airgíalla, who were vassals of the Ulaid, and later the Uí Néill. Ptolemy's map lists two tribes further west, the Vennikinii in County Donegal and the Erpitianni along lower and upper Lough Erne; both were probably subject to Ulaid rule.

Map of Ulster

However, in circa AD 325 the Ulaid capital of Emain Macha was attacked and destroyed by the three Collas, who came from Connacht. From that point onwards the Ulaid were slowly reduced to being mere kings of their homelands east of the upper and lower Bann, which was Ulaid proper. Yet as late as 1080, King of Ulaid Aed Meranach Ua hEochada attempted to revive the fifth complete with Ulaid over-kingship. Because of such perseverance, the title Ulaid/King of Ulster was never held by any of Niall's descendants but they assumed it from 1364 (see Kings of Tir Eogain). With the Norman invasion of Ireland, the Earldom of Ulster was created in 1205.

After the 5th century western Ulster was dominated by the Kings of Ailech of the Northern Uí Néill, the Cenél nEógain and Cenél Conaill. Following the fall of Ulaid (eastern Ulster) in the early 13th century, the Gaelic Kings of Ulster came exclusively from the Cenél nEógain, the Kings of Tír Eógain (Tyrone). These were the O'Neill dynasty and the MacLochlainns, the latter surrendering their claim to the title in the mid 13th century. From then on all Gaelic Kings of Ulster have belonged to the O'Neill dynasty.

Legendary kings[edit]

Historic kings[edit]

The Uladh / Donleavy dynasty was overthrown in 1177 by John de Courcy, whose lands were eventually assigned to the Earls of Ulster until their end in 1333. From 1364 to 1542 the title of King of Ulster was used by the Kings of Tir Eogain.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ the MacDonslevy were a branch of the Haughey/Hoey dynasty

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]