Medieval Ireland


Terminology is sometimes problematic in the study of medieval religious communal life and its material remains in Ireland, especially in the period before 1100. The erstwhile assumption of scholars that all ecclesiastical sites of the early Christian period, up to and including the age of Viking incursions, were monastic has given way in recent years […]

ADOMNAN MAC RONAIN (c. 624-704) (Medieval Ireland)

Adomnan mac Ronain was the ninth abbot of Iona (679-704) and biographer of Colum Cille, Iona’s founding saint. According to the genealogies, he was the son of Ronan mac Tinne, one of the Cenel Conaill branch of the Ui Neill, and a kinsman of Colum Cille, his father being five generations descended from Colum Cille’s […]

AED UA (OR MAC) CRIMTHAINN (fl. 1150-1160) (Medieval Ireland)

He was a descendant of an old ecclesiastical family from County Laois, who were the hereditary comarbai of Colum moccu Lofgse, sixth-century founder of the monastery of Tfr da Glas (or Terryglass) in County Tipperary, and friend of Colum Cille. Aed was one of the principal compilers and scribes of the great twelfth-century literary-historical compendium, […]

AEDAN MAC GABRAIN (fl. c. 574-606) (Medieval Ireland)

The Irish king of Dal Riata in Scotland from about 574 to 606, Aedan mac Gabrain was a member of Cenel nGabrain and son of a previous king, Gabran mac Domangairt. While many aspects of his reign are disputed (partly because the two main sources, Adomnan’s "Life of St. Columba" and the Irish chronicles, often […]

AES DANA (Medieval Ireland)

Aes Dana (literally, "the people of skill, craft") is a collective term which identifies the practitioners of certain professions held in high esteem in medieval Ireland, while also distinguishing them from the farming community (aes trebtha). The aes dana comprised professions involving not only skills of artisanship, but also speech and knowledge. Examples of such […]

AGRICULTURE (Medieval Ireland)

The Old Irish law texts of the seventh-eighth centuries a.d. are the main written source of information on pre-Norman agriculture in Ireland, but valuable information is also provided by other categories of text in Irish and in Latin, particularly annals, penitentials, and saints’ lives. In the period from the Anglo-Norman invasion until the end of […]

AIDEDA (Medieval Ireland)

In medieval Irish literary terminology, the word aided refers to a tale in prose or prosimetrum that relates the violent demise of a hero, king, or poet. Like the Comperta, Echtrai, and Immrama, it belongs to a system of nineteen tale-types or general topics, which medieval Irish scholars used as a means of classifying much […]

AIFE (Medieval Ireland)

In 1170, Affe, daughter of Diarmait Mac Murchada, married Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, the Anglo-Norman baron better known as Strongbow. Their union fulfilled one half of the promise made by Mac Murchada in return for Strongbow’s help in regaining his lost kingdom of Leinster. Strongbow’s succession to that kingship upon Mac Murchada’s death in 1171 […]

AILECH (Medieval Ireland)

Ailech, or the Grianan of Ailech, was the caput, or principal royal seat of the early medieval Northern Ui Neill kings of Cenel nEogain, until they moved their headquarters to Tulach Oc in the kingdom of Airgialla at the beginning of the eleventh century. The place-name Ailech was also used as the distinguishing sobriquet of […]