Ailill Aine mac Loegaire, of Connaught

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Ailill Aine mac Loegaire, of Connaught

Birthplace: River Liffey, Leinster, Ireland
Death: Died in Ireland
Immediate Family:

Son of Lóegaire Lorc, High King of Ireland and Aighe*
Husband of Incognita?
Father of Maion Or Maen Lavra Lionseach and Labhradh Longseach mac Ailella, Rí na h'Éireann
Brother of Cobtagh Coel Breag

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About Ailill Aine mac Loegaire, of Connaught


Ailill Aine

ODR is a tale of considerable interest, both for its form and for its content. While Rawlinson B 502 draws a distinction between Scélshenchas and Laídshenchas, ODR is written in a mixture of prose and verse. It is, in fact, a singularly interesting specimen of prosimetrum, and in the latter part of this article I will consider this facet of ODR, and also the rhetoric of the tale, with particular reference to the replication of incidents. First, however, I want to look at the political content of ODR, not, I need hardly say, in relation to actual historical events, but rather with regard to the claims that are made in the tale. It will be useful at this point to give a brief summary of it: Cobthach Cóel, king of Brega, slays his brother Lóegaire Lorc, variously described as king of Leinster and king of Ireland, and Lóegaire’s son Ailill Áine, who became king of Leinster after his father’s death. Cobthach takes the kingship of Leinster for himself, and banishes Ailill’s son Labraid ‘out of Ireland’. Accompanied by the poet Ferchertne and the musician Craiphtine, Labraid goes to the land of Scoriath, king of the Fir Morca in West Munster. Moriath, the king’s daughter, falls in love with Labraid, who wins her by means of Craiphtine’s music, which sends her watchers to sleep. Thereafter Labraid marches with an army of Munstermen to Dind Ríg. Craiphtine’s music puts the men who are defending the fortress to sleep, and the fortress is captured, its defenders slaughtered and Dind Ríg destroyed. But Labraid and Cobthach make peace, and Labraid becomes king of Leinster and settles at Dind Ríg. There he secretly builds a house of iron. He invites Cobthach to a feast, and he comes accompanied by thirty other kings. They enter the iron house, and Labraid burns them all to death. The political content of three parts of this sequence of events will concern me in what follows. I shall look first at the initial situation and at the status at that stage of Cobthach Cóel and Lóegaire Lorc respectively. Then I shall look briefly at the political implications of Labraid’s sojourn in Munster. Finally, and especially, I want to discuss the happenings at Dind Ríg and the relative status, at the time of the fateful feast, of the host, Labraid, and of his guest and victim, Cobthach Cóel.

The "provincial kingdom" of Connacht was founded by the Nagnatae tribe. Legend says that its first king was Sreng, called a Fir-Bolg prince, who established himself at Sligo, the kingdom's first capital-city. The next king of Connacht referred to in ancient Irish annals is Sanbh [son of Ceit Mac Magach], who flourished circa AD 75. The kingdom was re-founded in about AD 200 following a period of civil wars in Ireland by Cathal "Mor" [Mac Maghnu], who built the citadel of Croghan and is also called the first King of Connacht. His descendants held sway in Connacht until its conquest by the Connachta Dynasty, which gave the kingdom its name, circa AD 425

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