Eógan Bél

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Eógan Bél mac Cellaig (died 542[1]) was a king of Connacht from the Ui Fiachrach branch of the Connachta. He was the grandson of the high king Ailill Molt.[2] His reign began sometime after 500.[3]

During his reign, he feuded with the northern Ui Neill and the Connachta suffered a defeat at Aidne in 531 during the reign of the powerful high king Muirchertach mac Ercae of the Cenél nEógain. Also during his reign, a victory was one at the Battle of Claenloch (near Kinelea, Co. Galway) by the Ui Fiachrach Aidhne branch in the south under its king Goibnenn mac Conaill over Maine mac Cerbaill (brother of Diarmait mac Cerbaill) of the southern Ui Neill who was slain in 537. Goibnenn was defending the right to take hostages from the Ui Maine. This battle was significant in separating the Ui Maine from the Cenel Maine of Meath and in separating the Ui Neill from the Connachta.[4]

Eogan's feud with the northern Ui Neill finally led to the Battle of Slicech (Sligo) in 542 in which Eogan was slain. According to the annals, the victors were Muichertach's sons Fergus and Domnall along with Ainmuire mac Sétnai and Ninnid mac Duach of the Cenel Conaill.

The Annals of the Four Masters say this of the battle:

" The battle of the Ui Fiachrach was fought with fury of edged weapons against Bel,The kine of the enemy roared with the javelins,the battle was spread out at Crinder. The Sligeach bore to the great sea the blood of men with their flesh, They carried many trophies across Eabha, together with the head of Eoghan Bel."

A Middle Irish poem Caithréim Cellaig gives a different view of this battle. It states that Eogan won the battle but was mortally wounded and died afterwards. He was buried standing up in pagan style at Ráith Ua Fiachrach on Knocknarea with his red spear in his hand as a challenge to the northern Ui Neill. The Ui Neill later dug up his body and buried it face down at Óenach Locha Gile on Lough Gill in Cenél Caipre territory of the Ui Neill. Eogan is mentioned as a great warrior and honorable.[5]

The poem also mentions that his son Cellach was a pupil of Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise but was treacherously slain by the Ui Fiachrach Aidne. Prof. Byrne believes that though the poem introduces characters of a later date, it does reflect a tradition of feud between the northern and southern branches of the Ui Fiachrach.[6]

He was succeeded by his son Ailill Inbanda.


  1. ^ all dates per The Chronology of the Irish Annals, Daniel P. McCarthy
  2. ^ Francis J. Byrne, Irish Kings and High-Kings, Table 18
  3. ^ Keating gives him a reign of 35 years;The Book of Leinster, Section 30 gives him a reign of 37 years
  4. ^ Byrne, pg. 92
  5. ^ Byrne, pg. 244
  6. ^ Byrne, pg 244

See also[edit]


  • Annals of Tigernach
  • Annals of the Four Masters
  • G.Keating, History of Ireland
  • T.M.Charles-Edwards, Early Christian Ireland
  • Book of Leinster, Section 30
  • Francis J.Byrne, Irish Kings and High-Kings
  • The Chronology of the Irish Annals, Daniel P. McCarthy

External links[edit]