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Ireland in 1014 showing the patchwork of kingdoms.
Clockwise from the north-east they are Ulidia, Oriel, Southern Ui Neill (Meath), Leinster, Munster, Connaught, Breifne, and Northern Ui Neill.
The cities states of Duibhlinn (Dublin), Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick are also shown.


Airgíalla (also Airgialla, Uriel, Orial, Orgialla, Orgiall, Oryallia, Ergallia , Modern Irish Oirialla, English: Oriel) was the name of an Irish federation and Irishmarker kingdom which first formed around the 7th century.The historical region spanned the provinces of Leinster and Ulster equating with modern day Louthmarker, and Monaghanmarker.

In early manuscripts the Bishop of Clogher was styled Bishop of Oirialla.

The Airgíalla were a group of mainly unrelated dynasties, located in what is now central and southern Ulster, who formed a military federation, seemingly in the late 7th century.The term Airgíalla was believed to be derived from the Irish orgialla meaning "hostage of gold", but recent research suggests that it is derived from *Airgíallne, meaning "additional clientship." The term was also used to describe the Kingdom of Airgíalla.

Legendary Origins

In the beginning of the 4th century three warlike princes, called the Three Collas, sons of Eochy Doimhlein, son of Cairbre Lifeachar, legendary High King of Ireland, of the race of Eremon, made a conquest of a great part of Ulster, which they wrested from the old possessors, princes of the race of Ir, called the Clanna Rory, or Rudericians.

The Three Collas in the great Battle of Achadh Leithdheirg in Fearmuighe (also Fearnmhagh), in Dalaradia, on the borders of Down and Antrim, 331, defeated the forces of Fergus Foga, king of Ulster, who was slain; and the victors burned to the ground Emain Machamarker or Emania, (near the present city of Armagh,) the famous palace of the Ultonian kings, which had stood for six centuries, and had been long celebrated by the Irish bards. The place where this battle was fought is called also Carn Achy-Leth-Derg, and is now known as the parish of Aghaderg, in the barony of Iveagh, county of Down, where there still remains a huge Cairn of loose stones near Loughbrickland. The sovereignty of Ulster thus passed from the race of Ir to the race of Heremon.

The names of the three chiefs were Colla Uais, or Colla the noble, Colla Meann, or Colla the famous, and Colla da Chroich, or Colla of the two territories. Colla Uais became monarch of Ireland 327, and died in 332. The territory conquered by the three Collas comprised the present counties of Louthmarker, Monaghanmarker, and Armagh.

The name of Airgialla was thought to derive from the circumstance of the Collas having stipulated with the king of Ireland, for themselves and their posterity, that if any chiefs of the clan Colla should be at any time demanded as hostages, and if shackled, their fetters should be of gold: thus, from the Irish, ór, gold, and giall, a hostage, came the name orgialla.

The name 'Airgialla' may be cognate with the Scottish Argyllmarker, archaically Argyle (Earra-Ghàidheal in modern Gaelic), the name for a region of western Scotland corresponding with the ancient Dál Riata kindgom. The early thirteenth century author of De Situ Albanie explains that "the name Arregathel means margin of the Scots or Irish, because all Scots and Irish are generally called Gattheli [=Gaels], from their ancient warleader known as Gaithelglas." However, it is often understood to derive from Earra-Ghàidheal, "East Gaels".

History

In the 4th century (300-400), aggressive war was initiated by the Three Collas, princely sons of Eochy Doimhlein, himself son of Cairbre Lifeachar, High King of Ireland, of the race of Eremon. The territory conquered by the three Collas comprised the present countries of Louthmarker, Monaghanmarker, and Armagh. Colla Uais became monarch of Ireland 327, and died in 332.

They conquered a large part of Ulster from the princes of the race of Ir (aka Clanna Rory; also Rudericians).The original legend was composed in the second quarter of the 8th century (725-750) to seal an alliance with the Uí Néill.

In 331, at the Battle of Achadh Leithdheirg, the Three Collas defeated and killed Fergus Foga, king of Ulster.

The victors burned Eamhain Mhachamarker (English Navan Fort), near Armagh City, capital of the Ulaid which had stood for six centuries, and had been long celebrated by the Irish bards. The sovereignty of Ulster thus passed from the race of Ir to the race of Heremon.

Recent Theories

The earliest reference to the Airgíalla occurs in the Annals of Tigernach under the year 677, where the death of Dunchad mac Ultan, "Ri Oigriall", is noted. However, it is suspected of being a retrospective interpolation. On the other hand, the entry in the Annals of Ulster under the year 697 which lists Mael Fothataig mac Mael Dub as "Rex na nAirgialla" may indeed be genuine. Both Mael Fothatag and his son, Eochu Lemnae (died 704) is listed as one of the guarantors of the "Cáin Adomnáin" in 697. Thus it is believed that the Airgíalla were probably in existence as an entity by then, or certainly by the opening years of the 8th century.

The Nine Kingdoms of Airgíalla

The over-kingdom of Airgíalla was itself composed of nine sub-kingdoms, named after their ruling dynasties. They were
  • Uí Thuirtri
  • Uí Meic Cairthinn
  • Uí Fhiachrach Arda Sratha
  • Uí Moccu Uais
  • Uí Chremthainn
  • Uí Méith
  • Ind Airthir
  • Mugdorna
  • Uí Cruinn
The most powerful among them was the Ui Moccu Uais; one of the lesser Airgíalla was its offshoot, the Ui Meic Cairthinn.

However in general it can be shown that the origin legend was composed in the second quarter of the 8th century to seal their alliance with the Uí Néill (see Cenél Conaill and Cenél nEógain).

It has since being shown that the Airgíalla were not a kindred but a federation, whose members were of diverse origins, resulting in the kingship of the kingdom passing from one unrelated dynasty to another.

Territory shown on late maps include Dartreymarker or Dartraighe, which identified an early Irish tribe, thought to mean "calf people". Their territory stretched west along Abhainn na hÉirne or River Ernemarker through the region which became known as Breifne.

Etymology

The Old Irish Airgialla may derive from orgialla (Irish: ór, gold; giall, hostage, ie hostage of gold) based on the following legend.

The Collas stipulated to the king of Ireland that if any chiefs of the clan Colla were at any time demanded as hostages, their shackles should be of gold.

Recent research suggests Airgíallne (additional clientship).

The following have also been applied to this dynasty
  • Airgialla
  • Uriel
  • Orial
  • Orgialla
  • Orgiall
  • Oryallia
  • Ergallia


The similarly named Argyllmarker, Scotland, has a different etymology.

See also



Sources




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