Flann mac Lonáin

Flann mac Lonáin (died 896) was an Irish poet.

Background and career

Flann mac Lonáin was a famed and at times controversial poet. He was the Chief Ollam of Ireland He seems to have been born in the east Clare/west Tipperary region. Distinguished both in his lifetime and after, his compositions were studied and used as exemplars in medieval metrical tracts.

Annalistic verse

The Annals of the Four Masters contains two verses of a lament he composed upon the death of Treasach, son of Becan, chief of Ui Bairche Maighe, [who]was slain by Aedh, son of Ilguine in 884:

Of him Flann, son of Lonan, said:

Upon the death of Ceallach mac Flannaghan, King of Brega in 890, he composed the following:


He died violently at Waterford Harbour.

The Annals of the Four Masters state that:

M891.14 Flann,mac Lonáin, Uirghil Shil Scota primh-fhileGaoidheal uile, file as deach baí i n-Erinn ina aimsir, do mharbhadhla macaibh Cuirbhuidhe, do Uibh Fothaith iat-sen, h-in-duinetaidhe h-ic Loch Dá Caochi n-Deisibh Mumhán.

M891.14 Flann, son of Lonan, the Virgil of the race of Scota, chief poet of all the Gaeidhil, the best poet that was in Ireland in his time, was secretly murdered by the sons of Corrbuidhe (who were of the Ui Fothaith), at Loch Dachaech, in Deisi Mumhan.

The Annals of Ulster state that:

while the Annals of Innisfallen notes;

while the Chronicon Scotorum more fulsomly records that;

In his posthumously-published work, The Irish Tradition (1946), Robin Flower wrote at some length of him and the legends surrounding his life.

Flann is mentioned in the oldest surviving personal letter from Ireland, which dates from the mid 12th century and was addressed to Áed Ua Crimthainn, compiler of the Book of Leinster, by Find, Bishop of Kildare, who wrote: "Let the poem book of Mac Lonáin be brought to me so that we may study the meanings of the poems that are in it, et vale in Christo.[1]


  1. O'Sullivan, William, 'Notes on the scripts and make-up of the Book of Leinster', in Celtica 7 (1966) pp. 1-31


External links

Preceded by
Máel Muire Othain
Chief Ollam of Ireland
Succeeded by
Torpaid mac Taicthech
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