By the 11th century, Bréifne was ruled by the Ua Ruairc (O'Rourke) dynasty. The kingdom reached the height of its power in the 12th century, under Tigernán Ua Ruairc. During the latter part of his reign, Bréifne took part in campaigns against the Norman invasion of Ireland. His assassination by the Anglo-Normans in 1172 was followed by a succession dispute, and a conflict between the Ua Ruairc and Ua Raghallaigh (O'Reilly) dynasties.
Bréifne was part of the province of Connacht until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. In that time it was shired into the modern counties Cavan and Leitrim, Leitrim remaining a part of the province of Connacht while Cavan became part of Ulster.
Breifne is said to derive from an obsolete Irish word meaning "hilly", a description which describes the topography of this part of Ireland. But this derivation is opposed by the likes of O'Connell and MacEoin. It was referred to as the rough third of Connacht. Alternatively, the Metrical Dindshenchas states the name is derived from Brefne, daughter of Beoan mac Bethaig, the grandson of Nemed, a brave soldier-woman. She was slain by Regan after whom Tomregan is supposedly named.
In ancient times the area that became to be known as Bréifne was said to be occupied by the Erdini, called in Irish 'Ernaigh', who possessed the entire country bordering Lough Erne.
At the time of the Christianization of Ireland (c. 5th–6th century) groups believed to be in or near Breifne included the Glasraighe, Masraige, Dartraige, Armhaighe, Gallraighe, the Fir Manach, and the Gailenga.
Around the 6th century a people known as the Conmaicne Rein are thought to have moved north from around the present Dunmore in County Galway and settled in Magh Rein (the area around Fenagh). From here they peopled what is now South Leitrim, which became known as Magh Rein, and its inhabitants as the Conmaicne Magh Rein. They consisted of different family groupings – Muintir Eolais, Muintir Cearbhallain (O Mulvey), and Cinel Luachain, among others.
About the 8th century, the area since known as Breifne was conquered and settled by the Uí Briúin who were a branch of the royal family of Connacht. The Uí Briúin established themselves first in modern county Leitrim and then into what is now County Cavan. It can be argued that there is no contemporary evidence to support these speculations.
By the 9th century the Ó Ruaircs had established themselves as kings of Breifne.
In the 10th and 11th centuries the Ó Ruairc kings of Breifne fought some battles for the title of king of Connacht, four different kings of Breifne gaining the title.
During the 12th century the reign of Tighearnán Ua Ruairc, the kingdom of Breifne was said to comprise most of the modern counties of Leitrim and Cavan, and parts of Longford, Meath, Fermanagh and Sligo.
Cenél Laegaire – County Fermanagh. The Fir Manach, the Cinéal Eanna and the Cenél Laegaire were early indigenous tribes in the County Fermanagh area. The Cenél Laegairi mic Neill were noted west of Loch Erne (Book of Lecan). The Cenél Laegairi mic Neill were also noted in central Ireland (Mide, Meath).
Kings of Breifne
Note: Where mentioned spelling used in the document is used here.
Echu Mugmedón, father to Brión, Fiachra, and Niall (of the Nine Hostages).
Brión: son of Echu Mugmedón and the ancestor of the Uí Briúin Kings of Connacht.
Aodh Fionn mac Fergna: king of Breifne
Maenach mac Báithin: king of Ui Briuin Breifne – c.653
Dub Dothra: king of the Ui Briuin & Conmaicne & Breifne – c.743
Cormacc mac Duibh Dá Críoch: king of Breifni – c.790
Muircheartach mac Donnghal, king of Breifne: c.800–806
Mael Dúin mac Échtgal, king of Breifne: died 822
Ceallach son of Cearnach, son of Dubh Dothra, king of Breifne
Tighearnán mac Seallachan, king of Breifne: c.888 – father of Ruarc
Ruarc mac Tighearnáin, lord of Ui Briuin Breifne: c. 893 – grandfather of Sean Fergal
Flann mac Tighearnáin, lord of Breifne: c.910
Cernachan mac Tighearnáin, king of Breifne: died 931
Conghalach mac Cathaláin, lord of Breifne: c.935
Cléircén son of Tigernán, king of Bréifne: C. 937
Fergal? ua Ruairc, king of Bréifne
Ó Ruairc dynasty, Kings of Bréifne, c. 964–1257
(Sean) Fergal Ó Ruairc king of Connacht and Breifne: c.964–67
Niall Ó Ruairc, heir of Breifne: 1000–1001
Aedh Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: died 1014–1015 – son of Fergal
Art an caileach Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: c.1020–1030? – son of Fergal
Aedh Ó Ruairc, lord of Dartraige: 1029
Art uallach (oirdnidhe) Ó Ruairc, king of Connacht and Breifne: c.1030–1046 – son of Aedh mac Fergal
Niall Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne Connacht: 1047 – son of Art uallach
Domnall Ó Ruairc, lord of Breifne: c.1057 – son of Niall
Cathal Ó Ruairc, lord of Breifne: c.1051–1059 – son of Tighernan
Aedh in Gilla Braite Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: 1066 – son of Niall, son of Art Uallach
Aed Ó Ruairc, king of Connacht & Breifne: c.1067–1087 – son of Art Uallach
Donnchadh cael Ó Ruairc, king of Breifne: c.1084 – son of Art an caileach
Ualgharg Ó Ruairc, royal heir of Connacht: 1085 – son of Niall, son of Art uallach
Donnchadh Ó Ruairc, lord of Ui Briuin and Conmaicne: 1101 – son of Art Uí Ruairc
Domnall Ó Ruairc, king of Connacht and Breifne: c.1095–1102 – son of Tigernán son of Ualgharg
Cathal Ó Ruairc, lord of Ui Briuin Breifne and Gailenga: 1105 – son of Gilla Braite, son of Tigernán
Domnall Ó Ruairc, lord of Ui Briúin: c.1108 – son of Donnchadh
Aedh an Gilla Sronmaol Ó Ruairc king of Conmaicne: c.1117–1122 – son of Domnall (or Donnchadh).
Geoffrey Philip Colmb O'Rorke, Chieftain O'Rourke, Prince from 1994 to the current.
Joseph Martin O'Reilly, Chieftain O'Reilly, Prince from 2017 to the current as Prince of East Breifne and Prince of Breifne. Lord Martin comes from the line of Breifne O’Reilly, from the specific place (in Cavan) of that Royal House. He is a senior member of the noble / royal family O’Reilly of Breifne (Breifne Ua Raighaillaigh) and is an approved member of several royal / noble courts around the world.
Royal Court of Breifne
The Royal Court of Breifne is only as good as the members that make up the Court. The nobles, especially the higher ranking nobles under the leadership of the Royal Family, support by their actions and their efforts the aims of Their Highnesses Prince Martin and Princess Ingrid. The Court support the good works all around, especially where people are in need and seek to interact with other indigenous peoples of the world and to establish diplomatic relationships where possible. The function of the Royal Court of Bréifne is to demonstrate that not only has the ancient family survived but that there is much to offer society. The ancient legal system (Brehon Law) that governed the Celtic world prior to Christianity provided a magnificent system of true democracy. While Lord Martin has no ambition for working to reinstate this ancient system, he does believe that much can be learned from days past.
Ruaidrí mac Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair was King of Connacht from 1156 to 1186, and High King of Ireland from 1166 to 1193. He was the last High King of Ireland before the Anglo-Normans invaded Ireland. (Brian Ua Néill and Edward Bruce both claimed the title with opposition in later years their claims were considered illegitimate.
The Second Battle of Athenry took place at Athenry in Ireland on 10 August 1316 during the Bruce campaign in Ireland.
Uí Fhiachrach Aidhne was a kingdom located in what is now the south of County Galway.
Toirdhealbhach Ua Conchobhair anglicised Turlough Mór O'Connor / O'Conor, was King of Connacht (1106–1156) and High King of Ireland.
Conchobar mac Tadg, King of Connacht 967–973 and eponym of the O'Conor family of Connacht.
Events from the year 1347 in Ireland.
Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, called Ruaidrí na Saide Buide was King of Connacht, perhaps twice.
The Battle of Druim Dearg, also known as the Battle of Down, took place on or about 14 May 1260 near Downpatrick, in modern-day County Down, Northern Ireland. A Gaelic alliance led by Brian Ua Néill and Aedh Ua Conchobhair were defeated by the Normans.
Áed Ua Conchobair or Áed in Gai Bernaig was the King of Connacht, and reigned from 1046 to 1067. He was the son of Tadg in Eich Gil.
The Kingdom of West Breifne or Breifne O'Rourke was a historic kingdom of Ireland that existed from 1256 to 1605, located in the area that is now County Leitrim. It took its present boundaries in 1583 when West Breifne was shired and renamed Leitrim, after the village of Leitrim, which was an O'Rourke stronghold. The kingdom came into existence after a battle between the ruling O'Rourke clan and the ascendant O'Reillys caused the breakup of the older Kingdom of Breifne and led to the formation of East Breifne and West Breifne. The kingdom was ruled by the O'Rourke clan and lasted until the early 17th century, when their lands were confiscated by England.
Brian Mág Samhradháin, the First, was chief of the McGovern Clan and Baron or Lord of Tullyhaw barony, County Cavan from c.1240-1258.
The Battle of Magh Slécht took place at Magh Slécht in Ireland in 1256. The battle was part of a wider conflict between the O'Rourke rulers of Breifne and their O'Reilly vassals, who sought independence from the kingdom. Both sides were assisted by their respective allies the O'Conor kings of Connacht and their Burke opponents. The battle marks the point at which the Kingdom of Breifne was left permanently divided, creating West Breifne (O'Rourke) and East Breifne (O'Reilly).
Domhnall Bernach Mág Samhradháin was chief of the McGovern Clan and Baron or Lord of Tullyhaw barony, County Cavan from 1495 until his death on 15 February 1496.
Niall Mag Samhradháin, was chief of the McGovern Clan and Baron or Lord of Tullyhaw barony, County Cavan from 1340 until his death in 1359.
Maghnus Ruadh Mág Samhradháin, the Second, was chief of the McGovern Clan and Baron or Lord of Tullyhaw barony, County Cavan from 1393 until his murder in 1408.
Macraith Mág Tighearnán was chief of the McKiernan Clan and Baron or Lord of Tullyhunco barony, County Cavan from c.1240 until his death in 1258.
Matha Mág Tighearnán was chief of the McKiernan Clan and Baron or Lord of Tullyhunco barony, County Cavan from 1290 until 1311.
Domhnall 'An Saithnech' Mág Tighearnán was chief of the McKiernan Clan and Baron or Lord of Tullyhunco barony, County Cavan from 1311 until 1312.
Fergal mac Tomás Mág Tighearnán was chief of the McKiernan Clan of Tullyhunco, County Cavan from 1362 until his death in 1383.
Seltanahunshin is a townland in the civil parish of Oughteragh, barony of Carrigallen, County Leitrim, Ireland.
Egan, Terry, ed. (2006). A Travel Guide to Bréifne: the Lost Kingdom of Ireland. Belfast: The Stationery Office Ltd. ISBN978-0-337-08747-9.