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Saturday, 3 May 2014

3 May 1274: The death of the King of Connacht, Aedh O Conchobair, on this day.

Aed son of Fedlimid son of Cathal Crobderg O Conchobair, king of Connacht for nine years, died on the third day of May this year, a Thursday and the feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross;

a king who wasted and desolated Connacht in fighting the Galls and Gaels who opposed him;

a king who inflicted great defeats on the Galls and pulled down their palaces and castles;

a king who took the hostages of the Ui Briuin and the Cenel Conaill;

the destroyer and healer of Ireland was he;

the king most dreaded and triumphant of all the kings of Ireland in his day, as the poet says: ‘For nine years did this Aed Engach defend the Family of Tara—no feeble forrayer was he—against Gall and Gael.’

While King Aedh was a formidable opponent for both his internal and external enemies, both Irish and English, his son who succeeded him was not able to hold his kingdom together:

Eogan son of Ruaidri son of Aed mac Cathail Chrobdeirg was instated in his stead by the men of Connacht. However, this kingship which was bestowed upon him was a short one, for he had been but three months in the lordship of Connacht when his own close kindred, led by Ruaidri son of Toirrdelbach son of Aed O Conchobair, killed him in the church of the friars at Roscommon, as the poet says: ‘Ruaidri's son reigned for three months—short was the thread for the nursling of Bregia—the men of untilled Ailech wrought Eogan's sudden death.

Annála Connacht

Aedh mac Felim Ua Conchobair was King of Connacht from 1265 to his death in 1274. He is credited with turning the tide on Norman expansion into Connacht. Aedh succeeded his father Felim as King of Connacht after his fathers death in 1265. In 1259, Aedh travelled to Derry marry Gjertud, the daughter of Dubgall Mac Somurli, of Clan NcDougall in Scotland.

As a dowry she brought with her 160 heavily armoured soldiers to serve in her husbands army. This event marks what is generally considered to be the birth of the Age of the Gallowglass  -  ‘Foreign Soldiers’ in Irish military history.