Kingdom of Meath

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Meath about the year 900

Meath (/ˈmð/; Old Irish: Mide Old Irish pronunciation: [ˈmʲiðʲe]; spelt in Modern Irish) was a kingdom in Ireland for over 1000 years. Its name means "middle," denoting its location in the middle of the island.

At its greatest extent, it included all of County Meath (which takes its name from the kingdom), all of Westmeath, and parts of Cavan, Dublin, Kildare, Longford, Louth and Offaly.


Meath is traditionally said to have been created in the first century by Túathal Techtmar. The Uí Enechglaiss was an early dynasty of the region. An ogham stone found south of Slane suggests they controlled that area in County Meath. Along with the Uí Failge and Uí Bairrche, they belonged to the Laigin, but may also be associated with the Iverni.

During the early 6th century, they were driven away from their original homeland in Kildare and over the Wicklow Mountains by the Uí Néill, whose sept, the Clann Cholmáin, took their place. The Uí Enechglaiss were later based in and around Arklow well into the historic period. Its ruling dynasty later took the surname O'Feary.

In medieval Ireland, the Kings of Mide were of the Clann Cholmáin, a branch of the Uí Néill. Several were High Kings of Ireland.

After the kingdom's collapse in the 12th century, the dynasty of the Ua Mael Sechlainn or O Melaghlins were forced west and settled on the east bank of the River Shannon.

Bearers of the name were noted as among the Gaelic nobility as late as the 1690s, though they had lost power long before. Melaugh is the more commonly associated name in Ireland today, though it is more often rendered McLoughlin.

Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, in 1172 the kingdom was awarded to Hugh de Lacy as the Lordship of Meath by Henry II of England in his capacity as Lord of Ireland.

Province and diocese[edit]

Meath is also considered to have been one of five Provinces (Irish: cúige meaning "fifths") of Ireland, along with the four current provinces of Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. The Diocese of Meath established by the Synod of Ráth Breasail in 1111 had boundaries similar to those of the kingdom.


  • "Clann Cholmain Kings of Mide 766–1184", page 195–196 in "A New History of Ireland", Vol. IX, ed. Byrne, Martin, Moody, 1984.
  • "Walsh, Paul (2003). Irish Leaders and Learning Through the Ages. Four Courts Press. ISBN 978-1-85182-543-1.
  • "King James II's Irish Army List", D'Alton, 18??

External links[edit]