Scots-Irish(a): 55BC-432 AD
1x LCh (General): Cormac mac Airt
1x LCh or 4Wb or 3Ax
Cormac mac Airt (227- 266 AD) was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, a High King of Ireland. He is probably the most famous of the ancient High Kings, and may have been an authentic historical figure. His queen, Eithne, bore him three sons and ten daughters. He built the chief palace at Tara, and founded seats of learning. He is said to have ruled from Tara, the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, for forty years, and under his rule Tara flourished.
He is also credited with being a great law-maker and was instrumental in formulating Ireland's Brehon Laws. He also is credited with rebuilding some of the monuments on the hill of Tara. He lost an eye in battle and had to abdicate for it was an immutable law that the High King must be completely whole in body. He incurred the hostility of the Druids by his Christian convictions and refusal to join in their worship.
Irish kings were normally 'elected' from any one of the males comprised in the "deirbhfhine", the descendants of a deceased chief to the fourth generation. Election frequently originated from higher level kings and overlords, and kings were often "selected" after battling with rival claimants. The old law tract 'The Five Paths of Judgement' states that any would-be king must be the son of a king and the grandson of a king. A man whose father ruled before him, but not his grandfather, was known as a middle-ranking king. The candidate must also be of good legal standing, be not guilty of theft, be physically unblemished, and also be a man of property.
Early 'Brehon Law' specified three grades of king:
- king of the local "tuath" or tribal kingdom.
- king of a larger territory and overlord of a group of local tuaths.
- king of a province, consisting of multiple territories.
At a later date in Irish history the term Árd-Rí became popular, indicating the king of all provinces, i.e. the High King of Ireland.
The reign of Cormac is well recorded with stories of battles against the Ulaid, and tribes in Connacht, Munster and Britain. He was also said to be a fair king and would not tolerate brutality. Cormac is also accredited by some sources with the creation of the Psalter of Tara, a text which contains the chronicles of Irish history.
From “The Annals”:
In the year 226 AD the battle of Crinna (in Co. Meath) was fought between Cormac mac Airt, king of Ireland, and the Ulstermen under Fergus, son of Imchadh. Cormac defeated the Ulster forces with the assistance of Tadg (or Teige), son of Cian and for this service the king bestowed on Tadg a large territory which extended from the Liffey (in Dublin) northwards to Drumskin in Co. Louth. Tadg's descendants were called Cianachta i.e. "the race of Cian", from his father and the territory was afterwards known by this name.
266 AD - Forty years was Cormac, son of Art, son of Conn, in the sovereignty of Ireland, when he died at Cleiteach, the bone of a salmon sticking in his throat, on account of the siabhradh genii which Maelgenn, the Druid, incited at him, after Cormac had turned against the Druids, on account of his adoration of God in preference to them.
The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, Annála Ríoghachta Éireann, or the Annals of the Four Masters as they are commonly known, were compiled in a Franciscan monastery in Donegal by Michael O'Clery, Cucogry (or Peregrine) O'Clery, Fearfasa (or Fergus) O'Mulconry and Cucogry (or Peregrine) O'Duigenan (the Four Masters). Michaels' brother Conary O'Clery, as well as Maurice O'Mulconry, also assisted in the compilation. They began their work in 1632 and completed it in 1636. The Four Masters' names in Gaelic were Mícheál [Tadhg] Ó Cléirigh (chief compiler); Cú Choigcríche Ó Cléirigh (Mícheál's cousin); Fear Feasa O'Maolchonaire; and Cuchoigríche Ó Duibhgheannáin.
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