Gofraid mac Fergusa

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Gofraid mac Fergusa (Godred MacFergus) was said to be a ruler in Hebrides and perhaps the Isle of Man in the 9th century. His existence, at least in the form presented in the Irish annals, is questionable.

He is named by the Annals of the Four Masters in its entry for 835, correctly c. 839, where it is reported that "Gofraid mac Fergusa, chief of Airgíalla, went to Alba, to strengthen the Dál Riata, at the request of Cináed mac Ailpín." The date of his death is uncertain. The Annals of the Four Masters report his death in around 853 when he is called "Gofraid mac Fergusa, toisech Innsi Gall", Gofraid mac Fergusa, lord of the foreigners' isles, that is of the Hebrides. The term "Insi Gall" is an anachronism. Alternatively, his death may be reported in the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland, around 874, although this may well refer to a different Gofraid or Guthfrith.

It is believed, however, that these references to Gofraid are a late medieval addition. Gofraid was claimed as an ancestor in the eighth generation of Somerled, progenitor of the Clann Somhairle and thus Clan Donald, and it seems that these entries were added to glorify Clan Donald. A genealogy of Somerled names Gofraid's grandfather as one Erc. That is to say, Gofraid is being presented as a son of the shadowy founder of the kingdom of Dál Riata Fergus Mór mac Eirc, whose floruit, if he in fact existed, would be placed in the early sixth century, some two hundred years before the presumed date of Gofraid's birth.


  • Anderson, Alan Orr, Early Sources of Scottish History A.D 500–1286, volume 1. Reprinted with corrections. Paul Watkins, Stamford, 1990. ISBN 1-871615-03-8
  • Crawford, Barbara, Scandinavian Scotland. Leicester University Press, Leicester, 1987. ISBN 0-7185-1282-0
  • McDonald, R. Andrew, The Kingdom of the Isles: Scotland's Western Seaboard, c.1100–c.1306. East Linton: Tuckwell, 1997. ISBN 1-898410-85-2
  • Ó Corráin, Donnchadh, "Vikings in Ireland and Scotland in the ninth century" in Peritia 12 (1998), pp. 296–339. Etext (pdf) at CELT
  • Smyth, Alfred P., Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80–1000. London: E.J. Arnold, 1984. ISBN 0-7486-0100-7
  • Woolf, Alex, From Pictland to Alba, 789–1070. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7486-1234-5
  • Woolf, Alex, "The origins and ancestry of Somerled: Gofraid mac Fergusa and The Annals of the Four Masters" in Mediaeval Scandinavia 15 (2005), 199-213. Etext (pdf)

External links[edit]

  • CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts at University College Cork The Corpus of Electronic Texts includes the Annals of Ulster and the Four Masters, the Chronicon Scotorum and the Fragmentary Annals as well as Genealogies, and various Saints' Lives. Most are translated into English, or translations are in progress