Gabrán mac Domangairt

Gabrán mac Domangairt (Old Welsh: Gawran map Dinwarch[1]) or Gabrán the Traitor (Gwran Wradouc[1]) was king of Dál Riata, Ulaid, in the mid-6th century. He is the eponymous ancestor of the Cenél nGabráin. Gabrán was the son of Domangart Réti.

The historical evidence for Gabrán is limited to the notice of his death in the Irish and Welsh annals.[2] It is possible that Gabrán's death should be linked to a migration or flight from Bridei mac Maelchon, but this may be no more than coincidence.[3]

Cenél nGabráin

Gabrán's chief importance is as the presumed ancestor of the Cenél nGabráin,[4] a kingroup which dominated the kingship of Dál Riata until the late 7th century and continued to provide kings thereafter. Kings of Alba and of Scotland traced their descent through Gabrán to his grandfather Fergus Mór, who was seen as the ultimate founder of the royal house as late as the 16th and 17th centuries, long after the Gaelic origins of the kingdom.

Unlike the Cenél Loairn, the Senchus Fer n-Alban does not list any kindreds within the Cenél nGabráin. However, probable descendants of Gabrán, such as Dúnchad mac Conaing and his many kinsmen, would appear to have disputed the succession with the descendants of Eochaid Buide grandson of Gabrán, so that this absence of explicit segments in the kindred may be misleading.[5] A genealogy of David I of Scotland in the Book of Ballymote notes the following divisions:

The domain of the Cenél nGabráin appears to have been centred in Kintyre and Knapdale and may have included Arran, Jura and Gigha. The title king of Kintyre is used of a number of presumed kings of the Cenél nGabráin. Two probable royal sites are known, Dunadd, which lies at the northern edge of their presumed lands, and Aberte (or Dún Aberte), which is very likely the later Dunaverty on the headland beside Southend, Kintyre.

Kilmartin may have been an important early Christian site by reason of its proximity to Dunadd and its dedication to Saint Martin of Tours, as may Kilmichael Glassary. However, there appears to be no religious site of the importance of Lismore in the lands of the rival Cenél Loairn.

See also


  1. 1 2 Annales Cambriae B Text
  2. The Welsh chronicles place his death 528 entries (= years) after the birth of Christ, but Phillimore's reconstruction of the A text dates it to AD 559 instead.
  3. See under Bridei mac Maelchon.
  4. See Sharpe's discussion of Ioan mac Domnaill mac Gabráin, note 258 to Adomnán's Life; the presumption that the Cenél nGabráin takes its name from Gabrán mac Domangairt is no more than that.
  5. Sharpe, "The thriving of Dalriada", argues for the unimportance of such segments.


  • Adomnán of Iona, Life of Saint Columba, tr. & ed. Richard Sharpe. Penguin, London, 1995. ISBN 0-14-044462-9
  • Bannerman, John, Studies in the History of Dalriada. Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, 1974. ISBN 0-7011-2040-1
  • Lane, Alan & Campbell, Ewan, Dunadd: An early Dalriadic capital, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2000. ISBN 1-84217-024-4
  • Sharpe, Richard, "The thriving of Dalriada" in Simon Taylor (ed.), Kings, clerics and chronicles in Scotland 500–1297. Fourt Courts, Dublin, 2000. ISBN 1-85182-516-9
Preceded by
Comgall mac Domangairt
King of Dál Riata
Succeeded by
Conall mac Comgaill
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