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Diarmait macCerbaill O'Néill, King of Ireland

Diarmait macCerbaill O'Néill, King of Ireland

Male - 565

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  • Name Diarmait macCerbaill O'Néill  [1
    Suffix King of Ireland 
    Gender Male 
    Acceded 544 
    Died 565 
    • Acceded: 544

      Diarmait mac Cerbaill«/b» (died c. 565) was «u»King of Tara «/u» or «u»High King of Ireland «/u». According to traditions, he was the last High King to follow the «u»pagan «/u» rituals of inauguration, the «i»ban-feis«/i» or marriage to goddess of the land.
      While many later stories were attached to Diarmait, he was a historical ruler and his descendants were of great significance in Medieval Ireland.
      «b»Grandsons of Neill, tribe of Conn
      «/b»According to later writings, Diarmait was the son of Fergus Cerrbél, son of «u»Conall Cremthainne «/u», son of «u»Niall of the Nine Hostages «/u». As a great-grandson of Niall, he and his descendants were counted among the Uí Néill. The Uí Néill as such, the name means "grandsons of Niall", can only have existed in the time of Niall's grandsons, but its common usage may be later yet as an earlier term «i»moccu Chuinn«/i» is attested as late as the time of Saint «u»Columba «/u» (died «i»c«/i». 597), a great-grandson of Niall's son «u»Conall Gulban «/u». This, incorporating the «u»Primitive Irish language «/u» gentilic or «u»demonym «/u» «i»moccu«/i»\emdash the masculine term, the feminine is «i»dercu«/i»\emdash indicates membership of the tribe of Conn, presumed to be named for «u»Conn of the Hundred Battles «/u», a legendary figure, or perhaps an euhemerised divinity, claimed as the ancestor of the «u»Connachta «/u».«u»[3]«/u» «i»Moccu«/i» was later often misread or misunderstood by later writers, for whom gentilic names were alien and «u»parentelic «/u» ones familiar, as a compound of «i»mac«/i» and «i»ua«/i»\emdash son of the grandson of someone\emdash an error likely to have resulted in many later genealogical confusions as members of the same tribe were turned into «u»cognatic «/u» blood relatives.
      As for the reality, «u»Byrne «/u» says: "Diarmait's immediate origins are obscure and may arouse some suspicion.«u»[4]«/u»" He notes that Adomnán calls Diarmait «i»filius Cerbulis«/i», son of Cerball, and not son of Fergus as the genealogies would have it. The same applies to other hagiographical materials, which again have Diarmait as the son of an otherwise unknown Cerball. Also likely to raise suspicion that Diarmait's genealogy is a later fiction, is the fact that unlike the majority of the Uí Néill, who traced their descent from, and were named for, sons of Niall, Diarmait's descendants were named for his sons.«u»[4]«/u»
      «/b»The «u»Annals of Tigernach «/u» record that Diarmait celebrated the Feast of Tara, his inauguration as King, in 558 or 560. The previous King of Tara, according to the earliest lists, was Óengarb, an «u»epithet «/u» meaning "extremely rough", presumed to refer to Diarmait's kinsman «u»Tuathal Maelgarb «/u». What followed the inauguration was "a surprisingly unpropitious reign for so famous a king.«u»[5]«/u»"
      Diarmait was defeated at the battle of Cúl Dreimne (near Ben Bulben in modern «u»County Sligo «/u») in 560 or 561. This was the "Battle of the Books", supposedly the result of Diarmait's judgement in a dispute between «u»Columba «/u» and «u»Finnian of Moville «/u». Columba, it is said, had secretly copied a book beloning to Finnian, and the matter of ownership of the copy had come to be settled by Diarmait, who adjudged in Finnian's favour, reportedly saying "[t]o every cow its calf and to every book its copy." Columba sought support from his kinsmen among the «u»Cenél Conaill «/u» and the «u»Cenél nEógain «/u» of the northern Uí Néill who went to war with Diarmait. This is a late tradition, and annalistic accounts claim that the battle was fought over Diarmait's killing of Diarmait of Curnán, son of «u»Áed mac Echach «/u» (d.575), the «u»King of Connacht «/u»who was under Columba's protection.«u»[6]«/u»
      Following this defeat, Diarmait lost the battle of Cúil Uinsen to Áed mac Brénainn, king of Tethbae in «u»Leinster «/u». Diarmait played no part in the great Uí Néill victory of Móin Daire Lothair in 563. He was killed in 565, at Ráith Bec in Mag Line (Moylinny, near «u»Larne «/u») in «u»Ulster «/u» by «u»Áed Dub mac Suibni «/u», king of the «u»cruithne «/u».«u»[7]«/u»
      According to the later Irish historians, Diarmait was followed as King of Tara by Domnall Ilchegalch and Forguss, sons of Muirchertach mac Ercae, of the Cenél nEógain. More contemporary sources suggest that the Kingship of Tara all but disappeared in the years following Diarmait's death, and that it was not until the time of «u»Domnall mac Áedo «/u», or perhaps of «u»Fiachnae mac Báetáin «/u», that there was a High King of Ireland again.«u»[8]«/u»
      «b»Saints and Druids
      «u»«/b»Adomnán of Iona «/u», writing less than 150 years after Diarmait's death, describes him as "ordained by God's will as king of all Ireland." Given that the annals say that Diarmait celebrated the Feast of Tara, the pagan inauguration ceremony, Adomnán's words represent his view of kingship rather than the reality of Diarmait's life.«u»[9]«/u» Most traditions portray Diarmait as in conflict with saints and holy men, notably «u»Columba «/u». A later poet has Diarmait say "Woe to him that contends with the clergy of the churches".«u»[10]«/u»
      «b»«i»Aided Diarmata«/i»
      «/b»Supernatural features in Diarmait's reign are not limited to prose and verse works or to lives of saints. Even the «u»Irish annals «/u» include a reference to «u»druid «/u»fences being created at the battle of Cúl Dreimne. The main subject for later writers and poets was not Diarmait's life, but his death.
      Diarmait was told by «u»Bec mac Dé «/u» that Áed Dub, Diarmait's foster-son, would be his killer. Accordingly, Diarmait banished Áed Dub.«u»[11]«/u» «u»Saint Ruadán «/u» gave the prophecy that Diarmait would be killed by the roof-beam of his hall at Tara. Diarmait had the beam cast into the sea. Diarmait then asked his druids to find the manner of his death, and they foretold that he would die of slaughter, drowning and burning, and that the signs of his death would be a shirt grown from a single seed of flax and a mantle of wool from a single sheep, ale brewed from one seed of corn, and bacon from a sow which had never farrowed. On a circuit of Ireland, Diarmait comes to the hall of Banbán at Ráith Bec, and there the fate of which he was warned comes to pass. The roof beam of Tara has been recovered from the sea by Banbán and set in his hall, the shirt and mantle and ale and bacon are duly produced for Diarmait. Diarmait goes to leave Banbán's hall, but Áed Dub, waiting at the door, strikes him down and sets fire to the hall. Diarmait crawls into an ale vat to escape the flames and is duly killed by the falling roof beam. Thus, all the prophecies are fulfilled.«u»[12]«/u»
      Like tales are told of Muirchertach mac Ercae and Adomnán records that Columba prophesied a similar death, by wounding, falling and drowning, for Áed Dub.«u»[13]«/u»
      «tab»«u»«/b»Síl nÁedo Sláine «/u» from Áed Sláine
      «u»«tab»Clann Cholmáin «/u» from «u»Colmán Már «/u»
      «u»«tab»Caílle Follamain «/u»from «u»Colmán Bec «/u»
      «u»1. ^«/u»«/b» Stokes, «i»Book of Lismore«/i», p. 276.
      «u»«b»2. ^«/u»«/b» After Byrne, pp. 172\endash 173.
      «u»«b»3. ^«/u»«/b» Charles-Edwards, pp. 96, 441, 465, 509; Byrne?
      4. ^ «u»«b»«i»«sup»a«/u»«/b»«/i»«/sup» «u»«b»«i»«sup»b«/u»«/b»«/i»«/sup» Byrne, «i»Irish Kings«/i», p. 90.
      «u»«b»5. ^«/u»«/b» Byrne, p. 94.
      «u»«b»6.^«/u»«/b» Byrne, p. 95. A recent work on the battle is Brian Lacey, "The battle of Cúl Dreimne \endash a reassessment" in the «i»Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland«/i», volume 133 (2003).
      «u»«b»7. ^«/u»«/b» Byrne, p. 95.
      «u»«b»8. ^«/u»«/b» Byrne, pp. 104\endash 105 & 276\endash 277.
      «u»«b»9. ^«/u»«/b» Adomnán, I, 36 and editor's note 157; Byrne, p. 97.
      «u»«b»10 ^«/u»«/b» Byrne, pp. 95\endash 96. The poem is in the «u»Book of Leinster «/u» and is available «u»here <>«/u» at CELT. No translation is presently available.
      «u»«b»11 ^«/u»«/b» Adomnán, I, 36, places Áed's exile after the killing of Diarmait.
      «u»«b»12 ^«/u»«/b» Byrne, pp. 97\endash 99.
      «u»«b»13 ^«/u»«/b» Byrne, pp. 99\endash 100; Adomnán, I, 36; Ó Cróinín, pp. 64\endash 65.
      «tab»«/b»Best, Richard I. (1910), «u»The Settling of the Manor of Tara <>«/u», , «i»Ériu«/i» «b»4«/b»: 121\endash 172, «u»<>«/u», retrieved 2007-03-02
      «u»«tab»Bhreathnach, Edel «/u» (2005), "«i»Níell cáich úa Néill nasctar géill«/i»: The Political Context of «i»Baile Chuinn Chétchathaig«/i»", in Bhreathnach, Edel, «i»The Kingship and Landscape of Tara«/i», Dublin: Four Courts Press, pp. 49\endash 68, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»1-85182-954-7 «/u»
      «u»«tab»Byrne, Francis John «/u» (2001), «i»Irish Kings and High-Kings«/i» (2nd ed.), Dublin: Four Courts Press, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»1-85182-196-1«/u»
      «tab»Charles-Edwards, T. M. (2000), «i»Early Christian Ireland«/i», Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»0-521-36395-0 «/u»
      «tab»Charles-Edwards, T. M. (2004), "«u»Diarmait mac Cerbaill (d. 565) <>«/u»", «i»Oxford Dictionary of National Biography«/i», Oxford: Oxford University Press, «u»<>«/u», retrieved 2008-03-06
      «tab»Charles-Edwards, T. M. (2004), "«u»Forggus mac Muirchertaig (d. c. 566) <>«/u»", «i»Oxford Dictionary of National Biography«/i», Oxford: Oxford University Press, «u»<>«/u», retrieved 2008-03-06
      «tab»De Paor, Liam (1997), «i»Ireland and Early Europe: Essays and Occasional Writings on Art and Culture«/i», Dublin: Four Courts Press, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»1-85182-298-4 «/u»
      «u»«tab»Hughes, Kathleen «/u» (2005), "The church in Irish society, 400\endash 800", in Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí, «i»Prehistoric and Early Ireland«/i», A New History of Ireland, «b»I«/b», Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 301\endash 330, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»0-19-922665-8 «/u»
      «tab»Lacey, Brian (2006), «i»Cenél Conaill and the Donegal Kingdoms AD 500\endash 800«/i», Dublin: Four Courts Press, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»1-85182-978-4 «/u»
      «tab»MacKillop, James (1998), «i»The Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology«/i», Oxford: Oxford University Press, «u»ISBN 0-19-860967-1 «/u»
      «tab»Mac Niocaill, Gearóid (1972), «i»Ireland before the Vikings«/i», The Gill History of Ireland, «b»1«/b», Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»0-7171-0558-X «/u»
      «tab»Mac Shamhráin, Ailbhe; Byrne, Paul (2005), "Prosopography 1: Kings named in «i»Baile Chuinn Chétchathaig«/i» and the Airgíalla Charter Poem", in Bhreathnach, Edel, «i»The Kingship and Landscape of Tara«/i», Dublin: Four Courts Press, pp. 159\endash 224, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»1-85182-954-7 «/u»
      «tab»Mac Shamhráin, Ailbhe (2000), "«i»Nebulae discutiuntur«/i»? The emergence of Clann Cholmáin, sixth\endash eighth centuries", in Smyth, Alfred P., «i»Seanchas. Studies in Early and Medieval Irish Archaeology, History and Literature in Honour of Francis J. Byrne«/i», Dublin: Four Courts Press, pp. 83\endash 97, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»1-85182-489-8 «/u»
      «u»«tab»Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí «/u» (1995), «i»Early Medieval Ireland: 400\endash 1200«/i», London: Longman, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»0-582-01565-0 «/u»
      «tab»Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí (2005), "Ireland 400\endash 800", in Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí, «i»Prehistoric and Early Ireland«/i», A New History of Ireland, «b»I«/b», Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 182\endash 234, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»0-19-922665-8 «/u»
      «tab»Sharpe, Richard (1995), «i»Adomnán of Iona: Life of St Columba«/i», Harmondsworth: Penguin, «u»ISBN «/u» «u»0-14-044462-9 «/u»
      «u»«tab»Stokes, Whitley «/u» (1890), «u»Lives of saints, from the Book of Lismore <>«/u», Oxford: Clarendon Press, «u»<>«/u»
      «tab»Wiley, Dan M. (2004), "«u»Aided Díarmata meic Cerbaill (Book of Uí Maine) <>«/u»", «i»The Cycles of the Kings«/i», «u»<>«/u», retrieved 2007-03-02
      «tab»Wiley, Dan M. (2004), "«u»Aided Díarmata meic Cerbaill (Book of Lismore) <>«/u»", «i»The Cycles of the Kings«/i», «u»<>«/u», retrieved 2007-03-02
      «tab»Wiley, Dan M. (2004), "«u»Comlond Díarmata meic Cerbaill fri Rúadán <>«/u»", «i»The Cycles of the Kings«/i», «u»<>«/u», retrieved 2007-03-02
      «tab»Wiley, Dan M. (2004), "«u»Orgguin Trí Mac Díarmata mic Cerbaill <>«/u»", «i»The Cycles of the Kings«/i», «u»<>«/u», retrieved 2007-03-02
    Person ID I4963  Glenn Cook Family
    Last Modified 19 Jun 2013 

    Father Fergus Cerrbél Macconnaill O'Néill,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Family ID F1504  Group Sheet

     1. Colmán Macdiarmait O'Néill,   d. 558
     2. Colmán Bec Macdiarmait O'Néill,   d. Yes, date unknown
     3. Aed Sláine Macdiarmato O'Néill, King of Irelan,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 19 Jun 2013 
    Family ID F1503  Group Sheet

  • Photos
    Diarmait mac Cerbaill
    Diarmait mac Cerbaill
    Scene from the east face of the Cross of the Scriptures, Clonmacnoise. The figures probably represent Saint Ciarán and Diarmait mac Cerbaill founding Clonmacnoise: "Then Ciarán planted the first stake, and Diarmait son of Cerball was along with him. Said Ciarán to Diarmait when setting the stake, 'Let, O warrior, thy hand be over my hand, and thou shalt be in sovranty over the men of Ireland.'"
    Ireland in the 6th century
    Ireland in the 6th century

  • Sources 
    1. [S36] Directory of Royal Genealogical Data, Brian Tompsett, Dept of Computer Science, University of Hull, England([email protected]), (This work is Copyright b 1994-2002 Brian C Tompsett).