Fedelmid mac Crimthainn

Fedelmid mac Crimthainn
King of Munster
Reign 820-846
Predecessor Tnúthgal mac Donngaile
Successor Ólchobar mac Cináeda
Died 847

Fedelmid mac Crimthainn was the King of Munster between 820 and 846. He was numbered as a member of the Céli Dé, an abbot of Cork Abbey and Clonfert Abbey, and possibly a bishop. After his death, he was later considered a saint in some martyrologies.

Early Kingship

Fedelmid was of the Cenél Fíngin sept of the Eóganacht Chaisil branch of the Eóganachta,[1] and he is noted as having assumed the sovereignty of Munster in 820.[2] In 823, in co-operation with Bishop Artrí mac Conchobar of Armagh, he had the "Law of St. Patrick" established in Munster",[3] and sacked the monastery, that of Gailline of the Britons, in modern County Offaly.[4] The Dealbhna Breatha was burnt by Fedelmid in 825.[5] In 827, there is the first of a number of royal meetings between Fedelmid and Conchobar mac Donnchada, the Southern Uí Néill, King of Tara or High King of Ireland.[6]

In 830, Fedelmid was back burning monasteries this time it was probably that of Fore Abbey in modern County Westmeath,[7] while in Southern Galway, he destroyed the Uí Briúin,[8] and in the same year, the Munstermen were recorded as killing Folloman, son of Donnchad, brother of Conchobhar, the High King of Ireland.[9] In 831 and 832, he is recorded as taking an army of Leinster and Munster into East Meath, plundering as far north as Slane,[10] while also raiding the Dealbhna Beatha of southern Offaly three times, and burning Clonmacnoise.[11] In 833, he is back in Clonmacnoise burning it and the Clann Cholmáin monastery of Durrow to the door of their churches.[12] In 835, the Munstermen are recorded as having slain Fergus, son of Bodbchad, the King of Carraic-Brachaidhe, from the very north-west of country, Inishowen.[13]

High point of his rule

In 836, Fedelmid took the oratory in Kildare, against Forindam, the abbot of Armagh, and had him and the congregation of Patrick congregation imprisoned.[14] In 837, Fedelmid is recording as taking the abbacy of Cork, and also he plundered the Cenél Cairpri Cruim.[15] In 838, there was a great royal meeting in Cluain-Conaire-Tommain (north modern Kildare) between Fedelmid and Niall Caille mac Áeda, the King of the Northern Uí Néill,[16] as a result of which the Annals of Inisfallen, presumably acting on Munster tradition, that Fedelmid became full king of Ireland that day and occupied the abbot's chair of Clonfert.[17]

The year 840 was probably the high point of Fedelmid's rule, when he ravaged the east midland kingdoms of Mide and Brega and is recorded as having rested in Temhar (Tara), and the annals have a short poem on this:

"Feidhlimid is the King,

To whom it was but one day’s work
[To obtain] the pledges of Connaught without battle,
And to devastate Midhe."[18]


However, this was short lived and in 841, he was defeated in battle by Niall Caille at Magh-Ochtar in Kildare, a presumably meet with surprise, as the following verse suggest:

The crozier of the devout Feidlimid,
Was abandoned in the blackthorns,
Niall, mighty in combat, took it,
By right of victory in battle with swords.[19]


Fedelmid does not appear to have recovered from this defeat and died in 847.[19] Although the cause of his death is not noted in the Annals of Ulster, the majority of the other sources, place the cause of his death on St. Kieran, the patron saint of Clonmacnoise, as revenge for Fedelmid's plunderings of the site. The Annals of Clonmacnoise offers the following description:

After his returne to Munster ye next year, he was overtaken by a great disease of the flux of the belly, which happened in this wide. As King felym (soone after his return to Mounster) was taking his rest inn his bed, St. Wueran appeared to him with his habit and bachall.. & there gave him a push of his Bachall in his belly whereof he tooke his disease and occasiontion of Death, and notwithstanding his great irregularity and great desire of spoyle he was of sum numbered among the scribes and anchorites of Ireland.[20]

Annalistic references


  1. Byrne, p. 295.
  2. Annals of Ulster, AU 823.5. For topographical notes, John O'Donovan's topographical notes in the Annals of Ulster and the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland has been used, even though it is not cited. Only events that do not occur in the Annals of Ulster, edited by Seán Mac Airt and Gearóid Mac Nocaill, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1983, are cited from other texts.
  3. AU 823.9.
  4. AFM 824. The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland (AFM), Edited and translated by John O'Donovan, Volume 1, New York: AMS Press, 1966.
  5. AU 827.10.
  6. AU 830.4.
  7. AU 830.6.
  8. AU 830.5.
  9. AU 831.9.
  10. AFM 831.
  11. AU 833.7.
  12. AU 835.8.
  13. AU 836.3.
  14. AU 837.7.
  15. AU 838.6.
  16. Annals of Innisfallen, 838. Seán Mac Airt, The Annals of Inisfallen Dublin: 1951 available at UCC Celt Website.
  17. AU 840.4
  18. AU 840.4.
  19. 1 2 AU 847.1.
  20. Annals of Clonmacnoise, 844. Connell Mageoghagain (edited by Denis Murphy), The Annals of Clonmacnoise (AClon), Dublin: Llanerech, 1993.


External links

Fedelmid mac Crimthainn
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Tnúthgal mac Donngaile
King of Munster
c. 820 – 847
Succeeded by
Ólchobar mac Cináeda
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