Eithne Ollamda ingen Dúnlaing

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Eithne Ollamda ingen Dúnlaing (Ollamhdha)

Birthplace: Tara,,Meath,Ireland
Death: Died in Y,,,
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Dúnlaing king of Leinster
Wife of Cormac Ulfheda, 115th High King of Ireland
Mother of Cairpre Lithfeachair, 117th High King of Ireland; Dáire mac Cormac; Cellach mac Cormac; Gráinne ingen Cormac; Aillbe ingen Cormac and 1 other

Managed by: Jason Scott Wills
Last Updated:

About Eithne Ollamda ingen Dúnlaing

O'Hart's "Irish Pedigrees" calls her Eithne Ollamhdha, dau. of Dunlong, King of Leinster, son of Enna Niadh. She was fostered by Buiciodh Brughach, in Leinster.



Esnada Tige Bucket [Greene, D., "Fingäl Ronäin and other stories." Med. and Mod. Ir. Ser. xvi (1955); cf. Text Bibliography under Esnada Tige Bucket.]

Summary: According to this tale Cathair Mor, the common ancestor claimed by most of the Laigin, is king of Leinster. He has seven sons and one daughter, Eithne, who is in fosterage with Buchet. The excessive demands of the sons of Cathair Mor cause Buchet to become impoverished and he leaves the territory of Cathair Mor and takes up residence in Kells. Cormac mac Airt asks Buchet for Eithne's hand in marriage, he refuses Cormac. Cormac abducts Eithne but she escapes from him. She is, however, pregnant with his son Cairpre Lifechair. Cormac then accepts Eithne as his wife and Cairpre as his son at the behest of the Laigin. Eithne is reluctant to accept Cormac, however, until he restores to Buchet his lost wealth in the form of her bride price.

Banshenchas.14 Eithne Thaebjhada iwgen Chathair Moir, bean Cormac hui Cuind. 'Eithne Thoebfoda daughter of Cathair M6r wife of Cormac grandson of Conn.1 Eitne Taeb-fhoda ingen Catair Moir, mathair Coirpre Lifeachair.1


Thoebfoda daughter of Cathair Mor, mother of Cairpre Lifechair.' Coir Anmann.1

Coirpre Lifechmr .i. am mhet rochar Liphe, no il-Liphe a mathair .i. Eithne ingen Chathair Moir. 'Cairpre Lifechair, (so called) because he loved the Liffey so greatly. Or in Liffey was his mother, even Eithne daughter of Cathair the Great.

Duanaire Finn.11 Grainne sulghorm shaorghasta I lennan Diarmada deidghil I inghin d'Eithne thaobfliotta I 'sdo Cormac mac Airt Einfhir. 'Blue-eyed noble active Grainne / sweet heart of white-tooth Diarmad / daughter of Eithne side-slim / and of Cormac son of Art the lonely.'

Eithne — The Sources 88-89


According to the saga "The Melody of the House of Buchet", Cormac married Eithne Táebfada, daughter of Cathaír Mór and foster-daughter of Buchet, a wealthy cattle-lord from Leinster whose hospitality was so exploited that he was reduced to poverty. However, in other traditions Eithne is the wife of Cormac's grandfather Conn Cétchathach. Keating says the foster-daughter of Buchet that Cormac married was another Eithne, Eithne Ollamda, daughter of Dúnlaing, king of Leinster. Also according to Keating, Cormac took a second wife, Ciarnait, daughter of the king of the Cruthin, but Eithne, out of jealousy of her beauty, forced her to grind nine measures of grain every day. Cormac freed her from this labour by having a watermill built.

Cormac is credited with three sons, Dáire, Cellach and Cairbre Lifechair, and ten daughters. Two of his daughters, Gráinne and Aillbe, married the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill. In the well-known story "The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne", Gráinne was betrothed to Fionn, but instead ran off with a young warrior of the fianna, Diarmuid Ua Duibhne. Diarmuid and Fionn were eventually reconciled, but Fionn later contrived Diarmuid's death during a boar hunt, but was shamed by his son Oisín into making amends to Gráinne. Fionn and Gráinne were married, and Gráinne persuaded her sons not to make war against Fionn.


One interesting assumption found is:

Ban Shenchus 326 - "Ethni Ollamda child of Cathair was consort of Cormac son of Art.... He is in truth Ethne's progeny, or the womb of Feidel the Leinster handmaid (an ungrudging testimony) mothered Cairpre. Her reputation is grievous and questionable. Or it was Ciarnait's womb overflowing with sorrow. Her belly was

uneasy with power."

Ban Shenchus 177 - "Ethni Thaeb-fhada ingen Chathair Moir, bean Cormaic hui Cuind." "Ethni Ollamna ingen Dunlaing m. Enda Niad, bean aili do Chormac hua Chuind, mathair Chairpri Lifeochair."

Ban Shenchus 214 - "Eitne Taeb-fhoda ingen Catair Moir, mathair Coirpri Lifeacair."