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Aed Findliath macNéill Caille O'Néill, King of Ireland and Ailech[1]

Male - 879

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  • Name Aed Findliath macNéill Caille O'Néill 
    Suffix King of Ireland and Ailech 
    Gender Male 
    Acceded 862 
    High King of Ireland 
    Died 20 Nov 879  Druim Inasclainn, County Westmeath Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • «b»

      mac Neíll«/b» (died 879), called «b»Áed Findliath«/b» (Áed the Fair Warrior) to distinguish him from his paternal grandfather «u»Áed Oirdnide «/u», was «u»king of Ailech «/u» and «u»High King of Ireland «/u». A member of the northern «u»Uí Néill «/u» kindred of the «u»Cenél nEógain «/u», Áed was the son of «u»Niall Caille «/u».

      «/b»Main articles: «u»Early Medieval Ireland 800\endash 1166 «/u» and «u»Viking Age «/u»
      From the death of «u»Áed Allán «/u» in 743 until the overthrow of «u»Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill «/u» by «u»Brian Boru «/u» in 1002, the succession to the High Kingship of Ireland century alternated between northern and southern branches of the Uí Néill with the north represented by members of the Cenél nÉogain, Áed's paternal kindred, and the south by the «u»Clann Cholmáin «/u», his mother's kin.«u»[1]«/u» «u»Francis John Byrne «/u» describes this as "a fragile convention, marked by watchful jealousy rather than friendly accord."«u»[2]«/u»
      During the reign of «u»Máel Sechnaill mac Maíl Ruanaid «/u», who succeeded Áed's father as High King, the balance of power between north and south which had ensured the alternating succession appeared to be tipping in favour of the southern Clann Cholmáin kindred. The weakness of the «u»Kings of Munster «/u» following the death of the powerful «u»Feidlimid mac Crimthainn «/u» in 847 led to repeated attacks on Munster by Máel Sechnaill in the 850s and a submission by the kings of Munster in 858. In 859, «u»Osraige «/u» was made subject to the Uí Néill, and this led to open warfare between Máel Sechnaill and Áed.«u»[3]«/u»
      «b»Origins and family
      «/b»Áed was the son of «u»Niall Caille «/u» and Gormlaith. His mother is called "Gormlaith of the dazzling white complexion" by the «u»«i»Banshenchas «/u»«/i». His maternal grandfather was «u»Donnchad Midi «/u», his paternal grandfather «u»Áed Oirdnide «/u». His father, his mother's brother, «u»Conchobar mac Donnchada «/u», and both of his grandfathers had been counted as High Kings of Ireland.
      The names of three of Áed's wives are recorded, although the order of his marriages is perhaps uncertain. His first wife may have been Gormlaith Rapach, "the harsh", daughter of Muiredach mac Echdach, «u»king of Ulster «/u». The «i»Banshenchas«/i» say that Domnall mac Áeda was her son, and «u»Eithne «/u», who married «u»Flann Sinna «/u», may have been her daughter. Áed's second wife, Land, sister of «u»Cerball mac Dúnlainge «/u», «u»king of Osraige «/u», was the widow of his predecessor as High King, «u»Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid «/u», a grandson of «u»Donnchad Midi «/u». His third known wife was Máel Muire, probably the daughter of «u»Cináed mac Ailpín «/u», the «u»king of the Picts «/u» in «u»Britain «/u». She was the mother of «u»Niall Glúndub «/u». On Áed's death she married his successor «u»Flann Sinna «/u». Other children of Áed included Domnall Dabaill (ancestor of «u»Domnall Ua Lochlainn «/u»); a son named Máel Dub, reputed a saint; and Máel Dúin, who ruled «u»Ailech «/u» as Áed's deputy until his early death in 867.«u»[4]«/u»
      «b»Early years
      «/b»Following the death of Neill Caille in 845, Áed's uncle «u»Máel Dúin mac Áeda «/u» assumed the kingship of Ailech. When Áed succeeded him is not recorded, but it might have been in 855. Áed is mentioned for the first time in the annals this year, as the «u»Annals of Ulster «/u» records that he
      «i»made a foray against the Ulaid, and he left behind dead Coinnecán son of Colmán and Flaithbertach son of Niall, and a large number besides«u»«/i»[5]«/u»
      Presumably Flaithbertach was his own brother, and this foray was made to secure Áed's position as king of Ailech.
      Áed came into power at a critical period in the history of Ireland. Raids by «u»Norse «/u» «u»vikings «/u» had taken place for half a century, and the Norse settlements now seemed to have become permanent establishments more than just bases for raids. They also now had an effective leadership under «u»Amlaíb Conung «/u» and «u»Ímar «/u». At this time, both the contemporary annalists as well as modern historians refer to them not just as Vikings, foreigners or pagans, but also Norse-Irish or «u»Norse-Gaels «/u».
      Áed Findliath has been described as one of the Irish High-kings who most effectively fought the Norse expansion in Ireland. He did indeed win some crucial battles against the Norse-gaels, the first recorded victory is in 856, at the battle of «i»Glenn Foichle«u»«/i»[6]«/u», six years prior to him becoming High-King. The reigning High-King at the time, Mael Sechnaill, seemed more concerned with the internal Irish power struggle, particularly in «u»Munster «/u», than with engaging the Norse. There is however one reference in 856 to him fighting against "pagans" (Vikings) with the support of the Norse-Gaels«u»[7]«/u». This could probably be interpreted as an alliance between the Norse settlers and the established Irish society against marauders.
      In 858 Máel Sechnaill finally managed to establish control over Munster, and in 859 he also made a peace settlement with «u»Cerball mac Dúnlainge «/u» king of «u»Osraige «/u» (forced upon him by Cerball, who had allied himself with Amlaíb and Ímar and ravaged «u»Míde «/u»). Máel Sechnaill now turned his attention to the north, where the growing power of Áed Findliath had become a threath against him as head of Uí Néill. In 860 he brought an army consisting of forces from all of the southern part of Ireland to «u»Armagh «/u». While they were camped there, Áed Findliath attacked. The outcome of the battle seem to have been some sort of draw.«u»[8]«/u»
      By now it was Áed Findliath who sought an alliance with the Norse Dublin. In 861 as well as 862 he plundered Míde in cooperation with Norse forces, in 862 he also had the support of «u»Flann mac Conaing «/u», king of «u»Brega «/u».«u»[9]«/u»
      «b»King of Tara
      «/b»Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid died «u»20 November «/u» 862, and he was on that occasion described in the Annals of Ulster as «i»ri h-Erenn uile«/i», king of all Ireland. That was a title that would never be used about Áed Findliath, even though he assumed the kingship of Tara following Máel Sechnaill's death, and has also been counted in the lists of High Kings of Ireland. His kingship was disputed throughout his 17 year long reign, and he did not even have support from the southern clans of Uí Néill. The annals show that the «u»Taillten Fair «/u» on was not held in six of those 17 years, which is a strong indication of strife and unrest.
      The Norse Dublin had, by the beginning of Áed's reign, become an important, if not very trustworthy, ally in the struggle for power in Míde. Máel Sechnaill's successor as head of «u»Clann Cholmain «/u» and king of Míde, «u»Lorcán mac Cathail «/u», allied himself with Amlaib, Ímar and Auisle against Flann of Brega. Flann was a former ally of Dublin, and still Áed's most important ally in the central part of Ireland. Lorcán and his Norse allies plundered Brega in 863, and in 864 Conchobar mac Donnchada, king of Lagore (southern Brega) and presumably an ally of Flann against Lorcán, was captured and drowned near «u»Clonard «/u» on Amlaibhs order. Áed led an host to Míde, captured Lorcán and blinded him.
      Áed now had some notable victories against the Norse, but the main reason for his success was probably neither that he was a military genius or a particularly gifted politician. He defeated the Vikings at «u»Lough Foyle «/u» in 866 and uprooted their settlements.«u»[4]«/u» In 866 Amlaíb and Auslie left Ireland with the larger part of the Norse forces, and in cooperation with the Norse-gaels from present day «u»Scotland «/u» they attacked the «u»picts[10]«/u». Áed seized this opportunity, plundering and burning all the Norse bases («u»longphorts «/u») in the northern part of Ireland «u»[11]«/u».
      In 868 Áed again was confronted by a coalition of his Irish rivals and the Norse-Gaels. According to the Annals of Ulster he defeated "the Uí Neíll of Brega, and the Laigin, and a large force of the foreigners" in a battle at a place called «i»Cell Ua nDaigri«/i». Flann of Brega was killed in this battle. This battle has later been presented as a decisive victory over the Norse. Amlaibh and Ímar was, however, very active in Ireland during the following years and did not in any way seem to be seriously weakened, neither in ambition nor in strength. It is probably more accurately to regard this battle as a victory over the southern Uí Neíll and Leinster. In 870 Áed followed up his victory from 868 by invading Leinster with the support of his new ally Cerball of Osraige. He again invaded Leinster in 874.«u»[12]«/u»
      Áed Findliath died on «u»20 November «/u» 879, at «i»Druim Inasclainn«/i» in the territory of Conaille. On that occasion he was described as "king of Tara" («i»rex Temorie«/i»), even if he in a poem referred by the annalist also is called "over-king of the Irish" («i»airdri Gaidhel«/i») «u»[13]«/u» He was buried at «u»Armagh «/u».
      «u»1.^«/u»«/b» Byrne, p. 265, appendix 1, list 1 & appendix 2, tables 2, 3 & 5. The single exception to this system was the reign of «u»Congalach Cnogba «/u».
      «u»«b»2. ^«/u»«/b» Byrne, p. 265.
      «u»«b»3. ^«/u»«/b» Byrne, pp. 263\endash 266; Charles-Edwards.
      4. ^ «u»«b»«i»«sup»a«/u»«/b»«/i»«/sup» «u»«b»«i»«sup»b«/u»«/b»«/i»«/sup» Lalor, Brian (ed) (2003). «i»The Encyclopaedia of Ireland«/i». Dublin, Ireland: Gill & Macmillan. p. 9. «u»ISBN «/u» «u»0-7171-3000-2 «/u».
      «u»«b»5. ^«/u»«/b» Annals of Ulster 855.3
      «u»«b»6. ^«/u»«/b» AU 856.5 «i»Gall-Gaeidhelu«/i» here translated Norse-gael. «i»Gall«/i» literally denotes stranger or foreigner, but is used in the annalistic records of this period only in the meaning of Norse foreigners. Viking raiders are generally referred to as «i»pagans«/i» or «i»heathens«/i»
      «u»«b»7. ^«/u»«/b» AU 856.2 Against «i»Gennti«/i» supported by «i»Gall-Ghoidhelaib«/i»
      «u»«b»8. ^«/u»«/b» AU 858.4, 859.2-3 og 860.1
      «u»«b»9. ^«/u»«/b» AU 861.1 862.2 Neither Amlaíb or Ímar are mentioned on these occasions, but the annalistic entry of 862 reads "the Norse kings": «i»riga Gall«/i»
      «u»«b»10 ^«/u»«/b» AU 866.1 «i»Gallaib Erenn & Alban«/i»
      «u»«b»11 ^«/u»«/b» AU 866.4 the Norse bases are referred as «u»«i»Longportu Gall «/u»«/i»
      «u»«b»12 ^«/u»«/b» AU 868.4, 870.2, 874.3
      «u»«b»13 ^«/u»«/b» AU 879.1
      «tab»«/b»"«u»The Annals of Ulster, volume 1 <>«/u»". CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts. «u»<>«/u». Retrieved 2007-02-10.
      «tab»"«u»Fragmentary Annals of Ireland <>«/u»". CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts. «u»<>«/u». Retrieved 2007-02-10.
      «u»«tab»Byrne, Francis John «/u», «i»Irish Kings and High-Kings.«/i» Batsford, London, 1973. «u»ISBN 0-7134-5882-8 «/u»
      «tab»Hudson, Benjamin T. (2004). "«u»Áed mac Néill (d. 879) <>«/u»". «i»Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,«/i». Oxford University Press. «u»<>«/u». Retrieved 2007-02-15.
      «tab»Ó Corrain, Donnchad. "«u»The Vikings in Scotland and Ireland in the Ninth Century <>«/u»". «i»Peritia, vol 12«/i». CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts. «u»<>«/u». Retrieved 2007-02-10.
      «tab»Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí, «i»Early Medieval Ireland: 400\endash 1200.«/i» Longman, London, 1995. «u»ISBN 0-582-01565-0 «/u»
    Person ID I9949  Glenn Cook Family
    Last Modified 21 Nov 2009 

    Father Niall Caille macAedo Oirdnide O'Néill, King of Ireland,   d. 846 
    Mother Gormflaith,   d. 861 
    Family ID F4341  Group Sheet

    Family Máel Muire ingen Cináeda Daughter of Scotland,   d. Yes, date unknown 
     1. Domnall macAedo Findliath O'Néill, King of Ailech,   d. 915
     2. Niall Glúndub macAedo Findliath O'Néill, King of Ireland and Ailech,   d. 15 Sep 919
    Last Modified 30 Nov 2006 
    Family ID F4343  Group Sheet

  • 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).