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A tiarna (Irish), or tighearna (Scottish), both from the Old Irish tigerna, is a lord in the Gaelic world and languages. An Ard Tiarna is a "high lord", approximately equal in rank to a count or earl, although many of such higher rank still happen to prefer the title on its own.[1]

Tierney Is a modern version of the surname of 'Tiarna' even though spelt differently the meaning remains the same.

In later Gaelic sources, for example the Annals of the Four Masters, the term has also been frequently used to replace the title (king) in cases where the authors or current tradition no longer regarded earlier regional and local dynasts as proper kings, even when they are styled such in contemporary sources. Thus when encountered the term is not always to be trusted. In fact this was part of a wider change in the understanding of kingship in the later Middle Ages, and even a living or recently deceased might find himself downgraded in certain sources.



  • Dictionary of the Irish Language Letter T, Column 167
  • Byrne, Francis J., Irish Kings and High-Kings. Dublin: Four Courts Press. 2nd edition, 2001.
  • Nicholls, K. W., Gaelic and Gaelicized Ireland in the Middle Ages. Dublin: Lilliput Press. 2nd edition, 2003.
  • Simms, Katharine, From Kings to Warlords: The Changing Political Structure of Gaelic Ireland in the Later Middle Ages. Boydell Press. 2000.