Maine of Tethba

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Máiné of Tethbae or Máiné mac Néill was a supposed son of Niall Noigiallach. His relationship to Niall Mór is fictitious, as DNA testing has proven. Test results in the Family Tree R-DF21 project suggest there is a genetic relationship with, but not descent from, The Three Collas. There are some O'Neills associated with this haplogroup though, possibly descendants of Feardorcha O'Neill (Matthew Kelly, controversy described here: and his son Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone. Writing of him in 1973, Irish historian Francis John Byrne stated his belief that:

We may suspect then that eastern Uí Máiné was so successfully absorbed into the Uí Néill ambit that their kings, by a polite fiction, were accepted into the dominant dynasty circle ... The fact that the annalistic obit of Máiné mac Néill in 440 is so much earlier than that of any of his supposed brothers also suggests that he was adopted into the dynasty some time after the synthetic historians had agreed to push back the date of Niall's reign by a generation or more. [Byrne 1973:92–93]

It is actually far more likely that Máiné Mór was the ancestor of the Uí Maine, whose kingdom once covered a region over the entire of what is now County Galway north and east of Athenry, all of south County Roscommon, and stretching over the River Shannon into the regions called Cenél Máiné, Cuircni, Calraige and Delbhna Bethra. Cenél Máiné lay in the south-west portion of the kingdom of Tethbae – on the east shore of Lough Ree – and when it was taken over by the Uí Néill, its ruler's ancestor was given a pedigree making him a son of Niall.

Ui Máiné remained a powerful independent kingdom in its own right for several further centuries.

"The descendants of Máiné Mór," says O'Clery, "had many privileges and immunities from the Kings of Connacht and their successors; viz.—they were hereditary marshals or generals of the Connacht armies; they possessed and enjoyed the third part of all the strongholds, and sea-port towns in the province; also a third part of all prizes and wrecks of the sea, and of all hidden treasures found under ground, and of all silver and gold mines and other metals, belonged to them, together with a third part of all Eric or Reprisals gained and recovered by the Kings of Connacht from other provinces for wrongs received; with many other of the like enumerated in the ancient Chronicles."

See also[edit]


  • "Irish Kings and High Kings", Francis John Byrne, Dublin, 1973.