Dál nAraidi

"Dalaradia" redirects here. For the neighbouring Irish kingdom sometimes called Dalriada, see Dál Riata.
The Robogdii are one of the population groups mentioned in Ptolemy's Geographia.

Dál nAraidi (sometimes Latinised as Dalaradia) was a Cruthin kingdom, or possibly a confederation of Cruthin tribes,[1] in north-eastern Ireland during the early-mid Middle Ages. It was part of the over-kingdom of Ulaid. The lands of the Dál nAraidi appear to correspond with those of the Robogdii in Ptolemy's Geography, a region shared with Dál Riata. Their eponymous ancestor is claimed as being Fiachu Araide.


Dál nAraidi was centered on the northern shores of Lough Neagh in southern County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Dál nAraidi was one of the more prominent sub-kingdoms of Ulaid, with its kings contending with the Dál Fiatach for the over-kingship of the province for some centuries.

To the north of Dál nAraidi in County Antrim lay the Dál Riata, the boundary between which was marked out by the River Bush river to Dál Riata's west, and the southern boundary running from Ravel Water to just north of Glynn on the east Antrim coast.[2][3][4]


In Tuaiscirt

In the mid-7th century the Dál nAraidi of Magh Line, ruled by the Uí Chóelbad dynasty, conquered Eilne (alias Mag Eilne) to their north-west and a branch of their dynasty seems to have settled there.[5] This branch of the Uí Chóelbad descended from Fiachra Cáech (d. 608), brother of Fiachnae Lurgan, king of Dál nAraidi and over-king of Ulaid.[6]

Dungal Eilni, great-grandson of Fiachra Cáech and king of Dál nAraidi, was possibly the first of this branch to be based in Eilne,[6] however in 681 was killed at Dún Ceithern (modern-day Giant's Sconce in parish of Dunboe, west of River Bann).[7][8] This branch of the Magh Line Dál nAraidi eventually became known as the Dál nAraidi in Tuaiscirt (Dál nAraidi of the North) and Dál nAraidi Mag nEilne.[9] The first reference to Dál nAraidi in Tuaiscirt can be found in the Annals of Ulster under the year 824.[5][6]

Between 646 and 792, the Dál nAraidi in Tuaiscirt held the overkingship of Dál nAraidi seven times, with two of that number becoming overkings of Ulaid.[6] Cathussach mac Ailello, king of Eilne and Dál nAraidi, and claimed as having ruled the over-kingdom of Ulaid for sixteen years, was killed at Ráith Beithech (Rathveagh, County Antrim) in 749.[10] Eochaid mac Bressal, who died in 832, was the last known king of the Dál nAraidi in Tuaiscirt to hold the over-kingship of the Dál nAraidi.[5] The last known king of Dál nAraidi in Tuaiscirt is recorded in 883.[6]

The church (or monastery) of Cuil Raithin on the shore of the River Bann lay in Eilne and was said to have been founded by Cairbre, who subsequently became its bishop.[11] According to the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, written in the 9th century, the Dál nAraidi had granted this church to Saint Patrick.[11]

The Airgíallan dynasty of Uí Tuirtrí that lay west of the River Bann had been active east of it from as early as 776,[6] and by the 10th century had taken control of Eilne.[12]

Dál nAraidi in Tuaiscirt is said to have corresponded to the later baronies of Dunluce Lower and North East Liberties of Coleraine,[2][6] and appears to correspond to the trícha cét of An Tuaiscert.[6] It also became an Anglo-Norman cantred called Twescard, which later would absorb the cantred of Dalrede (based on Dál Riata), with these two combined cantreds forming the basis for the rural deanery of Twescard.[6] A sub-division of in Tuaiscirt called Cuil an Tuaiscirt, meaning the "nook/corner" of Dál nAraidi in Tuaiscirt, was located in the north-west of the petty-kingdom near Coleraine. It's territory would form the basis of the later barony of North East Liberties of Coleraine.

Magh Line

The Dál nAraidi Magh Line, or the Dál nAraidi of Moylinny (modern-Irish Maigh Line, meaning "plain of Line"[13]) was the predominant dynasty of the Dál nAraidi. It was centered in southern County Antrim, with Ráith Mór its royal seat.[14] In the 10th century they are counted as one of twelve tuatha of Ulaid.[15] Line may represent the name of an original population grouping. It was also known as Mocu Aridi.[16]

Their territory at its height spanned southern County Antrim and northern County Down[17] containing the tuatha of Magh Line, Dál mBuinne, and Dál Sailni.[18][19] It was later known as Trian Congaill, meaning the "third of Congal Claen" (Caech), and became an alias for the territory of Clandeboye, named as such after the Clandeboye O'Neill's who conquered the area in the late 14th century.[17][20] By the 10th century Dál mBuinne was counted amongst the twelve tuatha of Ulaid.[15] After the Viking era, Dál Sailni and its church at Connor, the principle church of Dál nAraidi was lost to the encroaching Uí Tuirtri.[19]

The royal seat of the Dál nAraidi Magh Line was Ráith Mór (meaning "great fort", Anglicised as Rathmore), located near Lough Neagh in the civil parish of Donegore.[14][21][22] It is first recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters under the date 680 as Ratha moiré Maighe Line.[21] Neighbouring Ráith Mór was Ráith Beag (meaning "little fort", Anglicised as Rathbeg), and is attested location where Áed Dub mac Suibni, king of Dál nAraidi and Ulaid, killed High King Diarmait mac Cerbaill in 565.[14][23] By the 16th century Ráith Mór became known as Ráth Mór Mag Ullin, meaning "great fort of the MacQuillans", and was burnt to the ground by Art mac Hugh O'Neill in 1513 after which it was never restored.[22]

Cráeb Telcha, usually linked to modern-day Crew Hill near Glenavy,[24] was the inauguration site of the Dál Fiatach kings of Ulaid, however it appears to have also been the same for the Dál nAraidi prior to the 9th-century contraction of their territory.[24][25]

Magh Cobo (Uí Echach Cobo)

By the late 8th century, Dál Fiatach expansion had cut off the County Antrim and Down branches of the Cruthin from each other.[1] As a result, the County Down branch consolidated into the kingdom of the Uí Echach Cobo, based at Magh Cobo, "the plain of Cobo".[15][26] They were styled as kings of Cuib. According to the medieval genealogies they are descended from the Dál nAraidi, though this link is tenuous.[27] By the 10th century Uí Echach Cobo was counted amongst the twelve tuatha of Ulaid.[15]

Uí Echach Cobo's territory formed the basis of the medieval deanery and Norman cantred of Oveh, as well as the diocese of Dromore.[10] Their territory was later Anglicised as Iveagh. Their 14th-century expansion formed the basis for the later barony of Iveagh.

Uí Erca Céin

Also spelt as Uí Dercco Céin and Uí Dearca Chein,[15] the Uí Erca Céin where a branch of the Dál nAraidi, and according to the 10th-century Lebor na Cert, one of the twelve minor principalities under the king of Ulaid.[15][28] They appear to have been based near Semne in Latharna, with their base possibly being Carrickfergus, and a list of Uí Erca Céin kings are given as having ruled Latharna until the mid-7th century, though there are records of kings down to around 900 AD.[29] A branch of the Uí Erca Céin line of kings, the Síl Fingín, also twice held the overkingship of Dál nAraidi.[28][29] After 750, the Uí Erca Céin became associated with the church of Bangor.

At some point they disappear from Latharna and by the 14th century are found in the territory of Leath Cathail in central County Down.[28][29]

The Uí Erca Céin had five vassal tribes all of different origins: the Cenél Talain and Dál Fhocha nUchtar, both of whom appear to also have been of the Cruthin, and possibly refugees driven from their home that went to "Dercco Chen".[30] A tradition of the Cenél Talain mentions that they had an ancestor who fought alongside Fiacha Araide, the eponymous ancestor of the Dál nAraidi;[30] the Crothraidi, who according to tradition descended from Connacht, however migrated to Ulaid and after 600AD had joined the Uí Erca Céin;[30] Crothraidi Buaingine, who are said to descend from Munster;[30] and the Dál Coirb Fobair, a portion of whom where located in the south Antrim territory of Dál mBuinne, and are claimed to have descended from a Leinster prince called Cú Corb.[30]


By the start of the historic period in Ireland in the 6th century, the over-kingdom of Ulaid was largely confined to east of the River Bann in north-eastern Ireland.[7] The Cruthin however still held territory west of the Bann in County Londonderry, and their emergence may have concealed the dominance of earlier tribal groupings.[7]

In 563, according to the Annals of Ulster, an apparent internal struggle amongst the Cruthin resulted in Báetán mac Cinn making a deal with the Northern Uí Néill, promising them the territories of Ard Eólairg (Magilligan peninsula) and the Lee, both west of the River Bann.[7] As a result, the battle of Móin Daire Lothair (modern-day Moneymore) took place between them and an alliance of Cruthin kings, in which the Cruthin suffered a devastating defeat.[7] Afterwards the Northern Uí Néill settled their Airgíalla allies in the Cruthin territory of Eilne, which lay between the River Bann and the River Bush.[7] The defeated Cruthin alliance meanwhile consolidated itself within the Dál nAraidi dynasty.[7]

In 565, Áed Dub mac Suibni, king of Dál nAraidi and Ulaid, killed High King Diarmait mac Cerbaill at Raith Bec (Rathbeg, County Antrim).[14]

The Dál nAraidi king Congal Cáech took possession of the over-kingship of Ulaid in 626, and in 628 killed the High King of Ireland, Suibne Menn of the Northern Uí Néill in battle.[31] In 629, Congal led the Dál nAraidi to defeat against the same foes.[7] In an attempt to have himself installed as High King of Ireland, Congal made alliances with Dál Riata and Strathclyde, which resulted in the disastrous Battle of Moira in 637, in modern-day County Antrim, which saw Congal slain by High King Domnall mac Áedo of the Northern Uí Néill and severely weakened both Dál nAraidi and Dál Riata.[12][31]

The Annals of Ulster record that in 668, the battle of Bellum Fertsi (modern-day Belfast) took place between the Ulaid and Cruthin, both terms which then referred to the Dál Fiatach and Dál nAraide respectively.[7] Meanwhile, the Dál nAraidi where still resisting the encroaching Northern Uí Néill. In 681, the Dál nAraidi led by Dúngal Eilni of the In Tuasicirt branch, along with their allies, the Cianachta Glenn Geimin of northern County Londonderry led by Cenn Fáelad, were killed at Dún Cethirinn by Máel Dúin mac Máele Fithrich of the Cenél Meic Ercae of Cenél nEógain.[7][8][32]

Some form of combination of the Dál nAraidi, the Cianachta Glenn Geimin and the Cenél Feradaig was suspected of involvement in the death of Eochaid mac Domangairt, king of the Cenél nGabráin of Scottish Dál Riata in 697.[33]

Throughout the 7th century, the Cruthin had gradually lost their lands west of the River Bann, allowing Dál nAraidi to became the sole Cruthin dynastic grouping in County Antrim.[1] After 776, the annals no longer refer to the Dál nAraidi as being of Cruthin stock, but to be of the Ulaid population-grouping instead, being called the fir-Ulaid, the "men of Ulster".[1]

In the 8th century the kingdom of Dál Riata was overrun by the Dál nAraidi.[34] Concurrently the Dál Fiatach extended their territory cutting off the Dál nAraidi from the Uí Echach Cobo.[1] By the end of the 9th century the Dál nAraidi had taken control of Ulaid from the Dál Fiatach. This however only lasted until 972, when Eochaid mac Ardgail restored Dál Fiatach's dominance.[35]

In 1005, Brian Boru, marched north to accept submissions from the Ulaid, which including marching upon the Dál nAraidi capital Ráith Mór where he received only the submissions of their king.[36]

By the beginning of the 12th century the Dál nAraidi, ruled by the Ó Loingsigh (O'Lynch), had lost control of most of Antrim to the Uí Fhloinn (O'Lynn) and became restricted to the territory of Magh Line. The Uí Fhloinn were the ruling sept of the Airgíallan Uí Tuirtri as well as rulers of Fir Lí, and in a process of gradual infiltration by marital and military alliances as well as growing pressure from the encroaching Cenél nEógain, they moved their power east of the Bann. Once they had come to prominence in Antrim the Ua Flainn styled themselves as king of Dál nAraidi (in Tuaiscirt), Dál Riata, and Fir Lí, alongside their own Uí Tuirtri.[34]

Tribes and relations

Tribes and septs of the Dál nAraidi include amongst others:

  • Cenél Caeilbaidh[37]
  • Cenél Maelche[37]
  • Clann Aodha
  • Clanna Conaill Chernaig[37]
  • Clann Luirgine[37]
  • Corcraige Chaelraidi[37]
  • Corcraige Sogain[37]
  • Mac Aodh
  • Mag Aonghusa[38]
  • Mac Artáin[39]
  • Síl Ciarain[37]
  • Síl Fingín[29]
  • Uí Choelbad
  • Uí Coltarain
  • Uí Erca Céin[29]
  • Uí Fiachrach[40]
  • Uí Gairbhith[41]
  • Uí hAidith[42]
  • Uí hAinbheith[43]
  • Uí Labhradha[44]
  • Uí Leathlobhair[45]
  • Uí Loingsigh



Religious foundations

Forts and symbolic places

Other places

The following locations have all been cited to have been within Dál nAraidi:[2]

Geographical features

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Byrne (1971), pp. 154-155.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 Onomasticon Goedelicum - D
  3. 1 2 3 Place Names NI - Glynn
  4. 1 2 3 Place Names NI - Glenravel Water
  5. 1 2 3 "Fir-na-craibhe in Dal Araide of the North". Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 MacCotter, p. 231.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A New History of Ireland, p. 212.
  8. 1 2 Charles-Edwards (2006), p. 68.
  9. Charles-Edwards (2006), p. 165.
  10. 1 2 Byrne (1964), p. 85.
  11. 1 2 McCone, p. 308-309.
  12. 1 2 McSparron, p. 109.
  13. Place Names NI - Moylinny
  14. 1 2 3 4 Flanagan, pp. 98-99.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Dobbs (1945), p. 78.
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Onomasticon Goedelicum - M
  17. 1 2 Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland - County Antrim
  18. Berry, p. 9.
  19. 1 2 3 4 Charles-Edwards (2000), p. 63.
  20. 1 2 Place Names NI - Rathmore
  21. 1 2 Berry, p. 19.
  22. Place Names NI - Rathbeg
  23. 1 2 MacDonald, p. 84.
  24. � Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology Queen’s University Belfast - Data Structure Report: No. 056 Site Evaluation and Excavation at Crew Hill (Cráeb Telcha), near Glenavy, County Antrim 2007
  25. Byrne (1964), p. 58.
  26. Byrne (1971), p. 165.
  27. 1 2 3 Dobbs (1939), pp. 116-117.
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 MacCotter, p. 230.
  29. 1 2 3 4 5 Dobbs (1939), pp. 118-119.
  30. 1 2 Bardon, pp. 20-21.
  31. Maney (2002), p. 67.
  32. Maney (2004), p. 265.
  33. 1 2 A New History of Ireland, p. 17.
  34. Duffy (2005), p. 493.
  35. Duffy (2014), pp. 138-139.
  36. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Onomasticon Goedelicum - C
  37. Bell, p. 163.
  38. Bell, p. 137.
  39. 1 2 3 4 Onomasticon Goedelicum - S
  40. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick (1923). "Ó Gairbheith". Irish Names and Surnames. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  41. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick (1923). "Ó Haidith". Irish Names and Surnames. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  42. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick (1923). "Ó hAinbheith". Irish Names and Surnames. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  43. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick (1923). "Ó Labhradha". Irish Names and Surnames. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  44. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick (1923). "Ó Leathlobhair". Irish Names and Surnames. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  45. Place Names NI - Larne
  46. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Onomasticon Goedelicum - L
  47. Place Names NI - Island Magee
  48. 1 2 Place Names NI - Magheramorne
  49. 1 2 3 4 Onomasticon Goedelicum - T
  50. 1 2 Place Names NI - Glenavy
  51. 1 2 Place Names NI - Comber
  52. 1 2 Place Names NI - Glore
  53. Place Names NI - Kilroot
  54. 1 2 Place Names NI - Rashee
  55. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Onomasticon Goedelicum - R
  56. Place Names NI - Duneane Parish
  57. Place Names NI - Duneane Manse
  58. Irish Language Dictionary - Fiodhba
  59. Place Names NI - Coleraine Parish
  60. Charles-Edwards (2000), p. 59.
  61. Amra of St. Columba
  62. Place Names NI - Aughrim, County Down
  63. O'Donovan, p. 121.
  64. 1 2 3 4 5 Onomasticon Goedelicum - A
  65. 1 2 3 Place Names NI - Armoy
  66. 1 2 3 Onomasticon Goedelicum - O
  67. Place Names NI - Knocklayd
  68. 1 2 3 Onomasticon Goedelicum - F
  69. Place Names NI - Kilkeel
  70. Place Names NI - Bush
  71. Place Names NI - Slemish
  72. Place Names NI - Toome
  73. Place Names NI - Connor Parish
  74. Place Names NI - Connor
  75. Place Names NI - Larne River
  76. Place Names NI - Six Mile Water
  77. Onomasticon Goedelicum - G
  78. Place Names NI - Main
  79. Onomasticon Goedelicum - U
  80. Onomasticon Goedelicum - I
  81. Place Names NI - Belfast Lough
  82. The Metrical Dindshenchas


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