Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobair

Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobair (or Cathal O'Connor / O'Conor) (1153–1224), the youngest son of the Irish High King Tairrdelbach mac Ruaidri Ua Conchobair, was a King of Connacht.[1]


He was King of Connacht from 1189 to 1199, and was re-inaugurated on the stone at Clonalis[2] c.1201, reigning until 1224. He first succeeded his elder half brother Ruaidri's son Conchobar Máenmaige as ruler of Connacht. Conchobar Máenmaige's son Cathal Carrach then ruled from 1199 to 1202, with Cathal Crobhdearg back in power from then. From his base west of the river Shannon he was forced to deal with the Norman invaders. He was a competent leader despite problems, avoiding major conflicts and winning minor skirmishes. Ua Conchobair attempted to make the best of the new situation with Ireland divided between Norman and Gaelic rulers. His long reign was perhaps a sign of relative success. He had succeeded his elder brother Rory O'Connor the previous King of Connacht. He is the subject, as Cáhal Mór of the Wine Red Hand, of the poem A Vision of Connaught in the Thirteenth Century by the 19th-century Irish nationalist James Clarence Mangan.

He founded Ballintubber Abbey in 1216, and was succeeded by his son, Aedh mac Cathal Crobdearg Ua Conchobair. His wife, Mor Ní Briain, was a daughter of King Domnall Mór Ua Briain of Thomond, died in 1218.

In 1224 Cathal wrote to Henry III as Lord of Ireland, asking that his son and heir Od (Aedh) be granted all of Connacht, in particular those parts, Breifne, owned by William Gorm de Lacy.[3]


An account of Cathal Crobhdearg's inauguration has been preserved, written down by Donogh Bacach Ó Maolconaire, the son of O'Connor's very inaugurator Tanaide Ó Maolconaire, who was also his historian and recorded all tributes due to O'Connor.[4] Among those present was his door-keeper, O'Feenaghty, his physician Mac Tully, and Mac Aodhagáin, his brehon.[5]

Annalistic references

From the Annals of the Four Masters:

Family Tree

  Tairrdelbach, King of Connacht & Ard Rí na hÉireann, 1088–1156
   |                                              |
   |                                              |
  Ruaidrí, last Ard Rí na hÉireann, c.1115–1198.  Cathal Crobhdearg, 1153–1224
                                                 =Mor Muman Ní Briain, d. 1218
    |                                                                         |
    |                                                                         |
    Áed, Kg. Conn. 1224–28.                                               Fedlimid, Kg. Conn 1230–31; 1233–65. died 1265.
    |                                                                         |
    |________________________________ __________|___________
    |            |                  |                               |                    |
    |            |                  |                               |                    |
    Cathal Dall Ruaidrí       Toirrdelbach, Kg. 1249–50.          Áed, kg. 1265–74.  Áed Muimnech, Kg. 1274–80.
    |            |                  |
    |            |                  |
    Áed,         Éoghan, Kg. 1274 Tadg Ruad, Kg. 1274-8.
  Kg. 1274.      |
    |                               |
    |                               |
    Donnchad                       Áed, Kg. 1293–1309.
    |                               |
    |                               |__________________________________________________
    Ruaidrí na Fed                  |                                |                |
   Kg. 1316;d. 1321.                |                                |                |
                                    Fedlimid, Kg.1310–15;16.  Cathal na bhFeadh Toirredlbach, Kg 1317–18;24–42;43–45.
                                    |                             died 1361.          |
                                    |                                                 |
                             Ó Conchubhair Ruadh                                Ó Conchubhair Donn


  1. Jaski, B.: Early Irish kingship and succession. Dublin, 2000.
  3. Text of 1224 letter; appendix 2 in "A History of Ireland" by Eleanor Hull (1931)
  4. Inauguration of Cathal Crobhdearg O'Conor, King of Connaught
  5. Kilkenny Archaeological Society (1855). "The Life and Times of Cathal, The Red-Handed O'Conor, King of Connaught". Transactions of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, Volume 2. II: 347. Retrieved 1 February 2011. O'Feenaghty his chief door-keeper, O'Maelconaire historian and recorder of all the tributes due to O'Conor, Mac Tully is his physician, and Mac Egan his brehon.
Preceded by
Cathal Carragh Ua Conchobhair
King of Connacht
Succeeded by
Aedh mac Cathal Crobdearg Ua Conchobair
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