Muireadhach Albanach Ó Dálaigh

Muireadhach Albanach Ó Dálaigh ("Scottish Muireadhach") was a Gaelic poet and crusader and member of the Ó Dálaigh bardic family.

Early career

The Annals of the Four Masters of Ireland, s.a. 1213, tells us that he was the ollamh (high poet) of Domhnall Ó Domhnaill (died 1241). Muireadhach lived in Lissadell in Cairbre Drom Cliabh, now County Sligo and fled from Ireland after killing King Domhnall's tax-collector Fionn Ó Brolacháin, whom Muireadhach considered had been insolent, with an axe.[1]

In a poem, Ó Dálaigh dismisses his murder as his victim was a mere commoner and therefore of no account, a telling indication of the rigid stratification of traditional Irish society:

Trifling is our difference with the man,
A shepherd was affronting me;
And I killed that clown;
O God! Is this a cause for enmity?[1]

  1. ^ Mangan, p. 7.

Career in Scotland

Nevertheless, it was in Scotland that Muireadhach made his name. He served as the court bard to the Mormaer of Lennox. The specific mormaer who patronized him is often thought to have been Ailín II (died 1217), but as the mormaer is called "Mac Muireadhach", son of Muireadhach, it was almost certainly in fact his predecessor and father, Ailín I (died c. 1200).[2] Muireadhach Albanach is important for the cultural history of Scotland because he is the alleged founder of the family of hereditary Scottish bards known to history as the Mac Mhuireadhaich or "MacVurich" family.[3]

The Fifth Crusade

Muireadhach, like his fellow Gaelic poet Gillebrìghde Albanach, went on the Fifth Crusade and travelled to Acre and Damietta (as well as other places, like Rome). In 1228 he was apparently allowed to re-enter Ireland.[4]


  1. The Annals of the Four Masters, s.a. 1213.8-9, text and translation; see also McLeod, op. cit., pp. 85-6.
  2. McLeod, op. cit., p. 86; , Thomas Owen (ed.) ClancyThe Triumph Tree: Scotland's Earliest Poetry, 5501350, (Edinburgh, 1998), p. 258.
  3. MacQuarrie, Scotland and the Crusades, (Edinburgh, 1997), p. 37.
  4. MacQuarrie, op. cit., p. 39.


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