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Loígis [ˈloiɣʲisʲ] is the name of an Irish tribe, as it is called by contemporary scholars. [1] Formerly, scholars generally called the tribe Laoighis or Laeighis in Irish, while they Anglicized the name as Leix (Latinized: Lagisia). [2] Loígis is also the name of the territory in western Leinster that the tribe settled during the third century AD, and of the minor kingdom that the Loígis chieftains ruled until 1608. County Laois derives its name from Loígis, although the present county encompasses baronies that were not traditionally part of the territory of Loígis.

Leinster province in Ireland

Leinster is one of the provinces of Ireland, situated in the east of Ireland. The Leinster province comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Meath, Leinster and Osraige. Following the 12th-century Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Meath gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled both, thereby forming the present-day province of Leinster. The ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes. In later centuries, local government legislation has seen further sub-division of the historic counties.

County Laois County in the Republic of Ireland

County Laois is a county in Ireland. It is located in the south of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster, and was formerly known as "Queen's County." The modern county takes its name from Loígis, a medieval kingdom.

Barony (Ireland) historical subdivision of a county of Ireland

In Ireland, a barony is a historical subdivision of a county, analogous to the hundreds into which the counties of England were divided. Baronies were created during the Tudor reconquest of Ireland, replacing the earlier cantreds formed after the original Norman invasion. Some early baronies were later subdivided into half baronies with the same standing as full baronies.



The name Loígis stems from the name of the tribe's first chieftain, Laigse(a)ch, Laeighsech, or Loígsech. Historical texts render that chieftain's full name variously as Lugaid Laigsech; [3] Lugaid Loígsech Cennmár; [4] [5] Lugaid Laigseach, and Laigsech Ceandmar. [6] One nineteenth-century analysis says that Laeighsech Cenn-mor and Lugaidh Laeighsech were actually two distinct individuals, the former being the father of the latter. [7] Laeighsech Cenn-mor, who was a son of the famed Conall Cernach, would according to that account be the father of the tribe's eponymous ancestor, Lugaidh Laeighsech. A twelfth or thirteenth century gloss on the tribe's name says that Loígsech comes from lóeg secha. [4] The word lóeg, literally 'calf or fawn', has the figurative meaning of 'favorite or darling', while secha means 'more than; above or beyond'. [8] [9]

Conall Cernach is a hero of the Ulaid in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. He is said to have always slept with the head of a Connachtman under his knee. His epithet is normally translated as "victorious" or "triumphant", although it is an obscure word, and some texts struggle to explain it. Alternative meanings include "angular, having corners", "swollen", or "possessing a dish or receptacle".

Before migrating to Leinster, the Loígis belonged to the northeastern Irish Dál nAraidi, a confederation of tribes that claimed descent from the eponymous ancestor Fiachu Araide (Fachtna Araide). [10] The Dál nAraidi were part of the Cruthin, a people whose name is considered to be related etymologically to that of the Picts, although current scholarship questions whether there was any cultural or linguistic relationship between the Irish Cruthin and Scottish Picts. [11]

Dál nAraidi

Dál nAraidi or Dál Araide was a Cruthin kingdom, or possibly a confederation of Cruthin tribes, in north-eastern Ireland during the Middle Ages. It was part of the over-kingdom of Ulaid, and its kings often contended with the Dál Fiatach for the over-kingship of the province. At its greatest extent, the borders of Dál nAraidi roughly match those of County Antrim, and they seem to occupy the same area as the earlier Robogdii of Ptolemy's Geography, a region shared with Dál Riata. Their capital was Ráth Mór outside Antrim, and their eponymous ancestor is claimed as being Fiachu Araide.

The Cruthin were a people of early medieval Ireland. Their heartland was in Ulster and included parts of the present-day counties of Antrim, Down and Londonderry. They are also said to have lived in parts of Leinster and Connacht. Their name is the Irish equivalent of Priteni, an ancient name for the Celtic Britons, and was sometimes used to refer to the Picts. However, there is a debate among scholars as to the relationship of the Cruthin with the Britons and Picts.

Picts Ancient and medieval tribal confederation in northern Britain

The Picts were a confederation of Celtic language-speaking peoples who lived in what is today eastern and northern Scotland during the Late British Iron Age and Early Medieval periods. Where they lived and what their culture was like can be inferred from early medieval texts and Pictish stones. Their Latin name, Picti, appears in written records from Late Antiquity to the 10th century. They lived to the north of the rivers Forth and Clyde. Early medieval sources report the existence of a distinct Pictish language, which today is believed to have been an Insular Celtic language, closely related to the Brittonic spoken by the Britons who lived to the south.

The Loígis tribe received their territory from the king of Leinster in reward for contributing troops to expel a Munster occupation of western Leinster. [12] A record of that campaign appears in Keating's early-seventeenth-century Foras Feasa ar Éirinn (The History of Ireland). [13] Another early seventeenth-century account of the campaign is contained in McGeoghegan's translation of The Annals of Clonmacnoise . [14] The campaign has provisionally been dated to the third century AD. [15] Although the Loígis were originally from Ulster in the north, Lugaidh Laeighsech led his tribe into the southern conflict at the request of his foster father, Eochaid Find Fuath nAirt ('Eochaid the Fair, Art's Abhorrence'). Initially, the king of Leinster, Cu Corb, had sought military aid from Eochaid, whose nephew, Art mac Cuinn, the High King of Ireland, had shortly before exiled Eochaid. According to one source, the High King banished his uncle for sneaking a human head into Tara to desecrate a royal feast. [16] Another account says that Art exiled Eochaid for killing Art's brothers, Connla and Crionna, leaving their only surviving brother with the name Art Óenfer ('Art, the Solitary'). [17] Regardless of why he left Meath, Eochaid brought his forster son (dalta) Lugaidh Laeighsech into the alliance with Leinster's king, who consequently granted the Loígis tribe the territory in western Leinster that the allies recaptured from Munster. For his own part in that campaign Eochaid similarly won for the Fothart tribe, which was named after him, territories in what are now Counties Kildare, Wicklow, and Carlow.

Foras Feasa ar Éirinn – literally, "Foundation of Knowledge on Ireland" but most often known in English as "The History of Ireland" – is a narrative history of Ireland by Geoffrey Keating, written in Irish and completed c. 1634.

The Annals of Clonmacnoise are an early 17th-century Early Modern English translation of a lost Irish chronicle, which covered events in Ireland from pre-history to AD 1408. The work is sometimes known as Mageoghagan’s Book, after its translator Conall the Historian.

Art mac Cuinn, also known as Art Óenfer, was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, a High King of Ireland.

As compensation for expelling the Munster men from Leinster, the Loígis tribe received not only the territory that came to bear their name, but also certain hereditary rights that the king of Leinster bestowed on the tribe's chieftains, who were from that point recognized as kings of Loígis (ríg Laíchsi/ rí Laí[gh]si) in their own right. [18] Many of the Loígis king's rights acknowledged that there were seven Loígis of Leinster (secht Loíchsi Lagen). [4] Those seven were what early seventeenth-century English records would later call the seven septs of Leix. [19] The king of Leinster covenanted, for example, to retain in his employ seven of the followers of the king of Loígis, while the latter agreed to provide seven oxen and to maintain seven score of warriors to fight for the king of Leinster. [20] English etymologists since the eighteenth century have held that the word sept , which specifically applies to the Irish clan structure, is derived from the Latin septum, meaning literally 'a hedge or fence' and figuratively 'a division'. [21] One nineteenth-century scholar of Irish history, however, suggested that sept might alternatively have derived from the Latin septem, 'seven', and argued that the number seven had particular relevance to peoples of Cruthin or Pictish origin, like the Loígis, who invariably divided their tribes into seven parts. [22] The Loígis maintained such a seven-part division until English authorities transplanted the tribe to Kerry in 1608.

A sept is an English word for a division of a family, especially of a Scottish or Irish family. The term is used in both Scotland and Ireland, where it may be translated as sliocht, meaning "progeny" or "seed", which may indicate the descendants of a person. The word may derive from the Latin saeptum, meaning "enclosure" or "fold", or via an alteration of "sect".

The Loígis had already been identified with the number seven in a poem attributed to Mael Mura of Othain (fl. ninth century), which was perhaps the earliest texts that mentioned the tribe. [23] Nevertheless, no text explicitly named the seven septs before 1607, when they were identified as the "Moores and their followers, the Kellies, Lalors, Clanmelaughlins, Clandebojes, Dorans, and Dolins". [24] That appeared in a report to the Privy Council, where Arthur Chichester (1563-1625), the Lord Deputy of Ireland, said that chronic rebellions throughout the island had been inspired primarily by the seven septs of Queen's County. Among the seven, the Moore sept claimed an uninterrupted succession to the chieftainship of Loígis since the reign of Lugaidh Laeighsech, although they only assumed the surname Moore around the eleventh century. [25] The Annals of the Four Masters record in 1018 the killing of Cernach Ua Mórdha, meaning Cernach, grandson of Mordha, from which derives the surname O'More, or Moore. [26] The pedigree of the kings of Loígis (Genelach Rig Laigsi) in the Book of Leinster says that Cernach was the son of Ceinneidigh, who was the son of Morda ["Cernaig m Ceinneidig m Morda"]. [27]

Máel Muire Othain was an Irish poet.

Arthur Chichester, 1st Baron Chichester English peer

Arthur Chichester, 1st Baron Chichester, , of Carrickfergus in Ireland, was an English administrator and soldier who served as Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1605 to 1616. He was instrumental in the founding and expansion of Belfast, now Northern Ireland's capital. Several streets are named in honour of himself and his nephew and heir Arthur Chichester, 1st Earl of Donegall, including Chichester Street and the adjoining Donegall Place, site of the Belfast City Hall.

It was not until the nineteenth century that all of the seven Loígis septs were definitively identified with a fixed group of surnames, which were the "O'Mores, O'Kellys, O'Lalors, O'Devoys or O'Deevys, Macavoys, O'Dorans, and O'Dowlings". [28] With the exception of the O'Devoys or O'Deevys and the Macavoys, Chichester's 1607 report named the other five septs. In a 1608 agreement with the English, the sept leaders relinquished their hereditary landholdings in Queen's County in exchange for new grants in County Kerry. Only six groupings of families signed that agreement, namely the "Moores, the Kellies, the Lalours, the Dorans, the Clandeboys, and the Dowlins". [29] Clandeboys and Clandebojes, was a variant form of the Macavoy/McEvoy sept name. [30] [31] The agreement does not mention any representatives of the O'Devoy/Deevy sept.

See also

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Ulaid ,or Ulaidh, was a Gaelic over-kingdom in north-eastern Ireland during the Middle Ages, made up of a confederation of dynastic groups. Alternative names include Ulidia, which is the Latin form of Ulaid, as well as in Cóiced, which in Irish means "the Fifth". The king of Ulaid was called the rí Ulad or rí in Chóicid.

Cairbre Lifechair, son of Cormac mac Airt, was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, a High King of Ireland. He came to the throne after the death of Eochaid Gonnat. During his time Bresal Belach was king of Leinster, and refused to pay the bórama or cow-tribute to the High King, but Cairbre defeated him in the Battle of Dubchomar, and from then on exacted the bórama without a battle.

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The term Kingship of Tara was a title of authority in ancient Ireland - the title is closely associated with the archaeological complex at the Hill of Tara. The position was considered to be of eminent authority in medieval Irish literature and Irish mythology, although national kingship was never a historical reality in early Ireland. The term also represented a prehistoric and mythical ideal of sacred kingship in Ireland. Holding the title King of Tara invested the incumbent with a powerful status. Many Irish High Kings were simultaneously Kings of Tara. The title emerged in the ninth and tenth centuries. In later times, actual claimants to this title used their position to promote themselves in status and fact to the High Kingship. Prior to this, various branches of the Uí Néill dynasty appear to have used it to denote overlordship of their kindred and realms.

Rónán mac Colmáin was a King of Leinster following Brandub mac Echach. There were two men named Rónán mac Colmáin active in Leinster in the early seventh century and confusion exists as to which one was king. Some later sources confuse the two Rónáns, but historian Francis John Byrne notes that the earliest sources do not.

Dúngal Eilni mac Scandail was a Dál nAraidi king of the Cruthin. He ascended to this position some time after 668. He was the son of Scandal mac Bécce, a previous king.

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