East Breifne

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Kingdom of East Breifne
Breifne Uí Raghallaigh (Irish)

1256–1607 = County Cavan

Coat of arms

Fortitudine et prudentia
(English: With fortitude and prudence)
A map of 1450 Ireland shows Breifne O'Reilly
Capital Cavan
Languages Irish
Religion Christianity
Government Monarchy
 •  1256–1257 Conchobar mac Cathail
 •  1603–1607 Maolmhordha mac Aodha Connallaigh
 •  Split from Breifne 1256
 •  Shired 1579
 •  Disestablished 1607
Ireland in 1014 showing the patchwork of kingdoms. Clockwise from the north-east they are Ulidia, Oriel, Southern Ui Neill (Meath), Leinster, Munster, Connaught, Breifne, and Northern Ui Neill. The cities states of Dubh Linn (Dublin), Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick are also shown.

East Breifne (Old Irish Muintir-Maelmordha; Irish Breifne Uí Raghallaigh) was an historic kingdom of Ireland roughly corresponding to County Cavan.

In 1211 Walter de Lacy erected the castle on Turbet Island in the abortive Anglo-Norman attempt to gain control of the area.[1] This and his capture of Cloughoughter Castle in 1220 severely weakened the O'Rourkes. The subsequent activities of William Gorm de Lacy, his half-brother, who seized the central Breifne strongpoints for himself, allowed the Ó Raghallaigh's to establish themselves in east Breifne away from the control of their original O'Rourke, and de Lacy overlords. By 1233 Cathal mac Annaid Ó Raghallaigh was in a position to capture Cloughoughter for himself after William Gorm was killed.

A great battle, fought between the O'Rourkes and the Ó Raghallaigh's, in the year 1256 near Ballinamore led to the permanent division of Breifne between the O'Rourkes and O'Reillys. In 1579 East Breifne (Breifne O'Reilly) was renamed Cavan and shired into Ulster, when it took on its present boundaries. The dynasty was part of the Ó Raghallaigh of Muintir Maoilmhordha and lasted until 1607. After this, in the early 17th century, Cavan was settled by colonists from England and Scotland who laid the foundations for towns such as Belturbet, Killeshandra and Virginia.[2]

Kings (Lords) of Breifne O'Reilly (Irish Bréifne Ó Raghallaigh)[edit]

The following is a list of the kings of East Breifne, an Irish kingdom situated in modern County Leitrim and County Cavan.

  • Ragheallach ("ragh:" Irish, a race; "eallach," gregarious):From whom the O'Reillys derive their name. He was slain at the Battle of Clontarf, 1014.
  • Artan (his son)
  • Artgal (son of Artan)
  • Connachtach (son of Artgal, died 1089)
  • Cathal Mac na hOiche Ua Raghallaigh (died 1128)
  • Godfrey Ua Raghallaigh (died 1161)
  • Cathal Ua Raghallaigh (1161–1162); son
  • Fergal son of Cu Chonnacht O'Raigillig, King of Dartry and Clann Fermaige: 1239
  • Matha Ua Raghallaigh, lord of Muintir-Maelmordha: 1282
  • 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
  • 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: (from 1601)

Kings (Lords) of Bréifne Ó Raghallaigh (Old Irish)[edit]

  • Gofraid (Godfrey Ua Raghallaigh) ( died 1161)
  • Cathal mac Gofraid (Cathal Ua Raghallaigh;son of Godfrey)1161–1162
  • Cathal mac Annaid (Cathal Ua Raghallaigh) c.1220-c.3 May 1256
  • Conchobar mac Cathail (Con Ua Raghallaigh, chief of Muintir-Maelmordha) 1256–1257
  • Domnall mac Annaid 1257–1283
  • Matha mac Domnaill 1285-1285
  • Fergal mac Domnaill (Ferghal O'Raigillig) 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 na Fésóige 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 (John Roe, son of Hugh Conallagh O'Reilly) 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


  • Muintir Maelmordhaia
  • East Breifne

History in Ireland[edit]

See also[edit]


  2. ^ [1] County Cavan History
  • "O'Reillys of East Brefine: O Raghalliagh, Kings of Muintir Maoilmhordha, a.1161–1607", pages 229–230, in "A New History of Ireland", Vol. IX, ed. Byrne, Martin, Moody, 1984.