Monday, November 15, 2010

Aileach the Ancient Fort

AILEACH THE ANCIENT RING FORT


Long before the coming of the Milisian soldiers at about 1400 BC and perhaps even before the 1000 year reign of the Dananans of Bamba, Fodla and Erie, the 3 De Dananan Queens of Ireland, a people there settled who cleared 4 plains and built 4 ring forts on each section of the island country.
This discribed in the mythology as ordered done by one of the ancient kings.
These round stone forts were constructed overlooking the sea one hills which could hold at the ready troops and livelyhoods as well as a palace built of wood for the ruler in chief.


Aileach represents one such fort viewing the north sea the loch of Suillia and Loch Foyle toward Derry.

There was probably one at Kerry near those shores, Sliabe Lochra Perhaps, which was able to sweep the south Atlantic 5 fingers .

Another at Laigen and one surveying the Irish and channel sea, perhaps at Ben Edair.

But the British tore apart a ring fort just south of Dublin during their occupation and this perhaps was surveying the channel sea ,now St Georges, as well as a ship entry along the south Atlantic which ajoins Wales closely as does the north of Ulster, Scotland.

None of these forts reamin today but Aileach [ai= his, le=soldier, ach= agreement, his soldiers agreement]
except fora seemingly inland ring fort wall at Casiel built in the same style and perhaps one at Carlow seen on a hilltop from the busras, surveying the land itself.

The Aileach fort is built on a 2 mile high hill quite visable from road N 13 and the Irish Gaelic church below.

The hill itself is devoid of farms, life, cattle, sheep, trees or other indictions of mans former inhabitants and little is known about it except a Monument plaque before its once gated entrance which advises any stark tourist it was rebuilt with stones more modern after it was disassembled in 1103 by Muircheartach O Brien who came with his army and defeated the then weak holders and ordered his men to each carry away a stone from the structure to Kin Cara as the O Neill previously had come down to Mumna and distroyed the OBrien inaguaration tree, totally uprooting it.

These trees were considered sacred in old Ireland and they are vested with a spirit of their own when you see one.

By this 1103 distruction the O Neill had moved their headquarters from Inis Owen and Aileach fort for Dungannon in Tyrone where they occupied the entire county as well as their original lands of Inis Eogain.
Tir Eogain , the cinel had been defeated by the O Donnells of Donegal.

The earliest recording of this Aileach ring fort rests with the mythological construction around a tullach grave of a local prince who had been killed by a husband who was jeleous of his attentions to the wife.

This prince was buried after a search for a slab to bury him on just his size and one was finally found on the strand just below a hill where the tumulus was constucted and the prince's body laid within it.
A cap stone being placed over the corrbelled underground structure. Later the king ,his father, ordered the ring fort built around it.

It is again marked out in history as the home of the Dagda the Dananan champion where he lived with his army brethern close at hand.

Dagda then lived at the Brug na Boine and gave this over, or it was confiscated by his son Aengus, the god of love.

New Grange itself may have been a ring fort once but it is carbon dated at 2500 BC +2000 AD which makes it much older than the Dananan civililized order and it has long been thought of as a creamatorium and burial site surrounded by grass roofed tumulii to underground burial plots belonging to prominent families.

After Dagda is defeated and The Battles of Tailtean and Nuada of the Silver Hand and Loch Arrow have fallen into the forgetfulness of time the fort falls to the control of the new occupiers, the army of Mili and Eriemon and his decendants all on the Milisian kings list ,where it recieves little attention.

It had been there for a long time till it is visited by St Patrick in 435 AD or so when he makes a conversion of the O Neill, the king of Aileach, and hence leaves there his own personal flagstone within the fort, which was gated ,guarded and much used at that time.

The O Neill however lived in a wooden palace outside the ring fort
this being used for gathering of the clanns ,elections and chief militry training session and other events.

However that flagstone may very well be the monument in gaelic at the entrance to this modern constucted gaelic church at the south foot of the hill all decorated in gaelic and occupied by father Michael and his cat.
Just 1/2 mile nothwest of the Grianne Hotel, a first class reasonable shelter on the bus line of Northwest lines making a daily run around Inis Owen from Letterkenny and it is not far from a tour of the nearby O Doucherty Castle and St Columbas Cathederal.

A little settlement caled Burt occupies an area down the road on the N 13 all of which sports a petrol station and a few small stores.
I didnt see if any one lives there the bus does not ordinarly stop at Burt.

This fort was occupied and extant in the day of Niall Caille mac Aeda Oirdnide O Neill .
Niall Caille was killed at the Battle of Leth in Chaim in 844.

He was king from 832 to his death by drowning while on this expedition when he attempted to rescue one of his soldiers who had fallen into the swollen river and the bank gave way under his horse drowning both king and soldier.

He died there in Armagh and is buried there about 1/2 mile southeast of Armagh city at the Hill of the Monks where it is reputed all 6 counties in the north of Ireland can be seen .

The site is hardly found today covered in weed and fallen down signs and desolate areas suitable for young walkers to find this place on a nice summer day.

Niall had a son Aeda Finnliath or Leath who begain his career as king of Aileach fighting the viking Norse who were making periodic raids from the north sea entrances.

Aeda had 2 sons of note, Donnell or Domnaill by his Irish wife a daughter of the king of Ulaid [the territory east of the Bann river and the loch Neagh now called Antrim and Down].

A second son called Niall glundub by his second wife, a Scot girl called Moreen the daugher of the Scots king Kenneth M Alpine.
She is the mother of Niall of the Black Knee and the line of the O Neills.

His elder brother Donnell also called Daniel was the tigerna of Aileach and its solders after the peaceful death of his father Aeda Finnleath in 879 Ad.
Daniel mac Finnleath was called Domnaill M Hugh and his brother Niall m Hugh.

This Domnaill, son of Aed [Hugh] mac Hugh was ruler of Aileach in 906 and his younger brother was king of Cuise, or 1/5 of Ireland.

This brother Niall, taking issue with Daniel mac Hugh over rulership of Aileach and Inis Eogain.

However the clann Eogain of Inis owen interfered and made peace between the two.

Domnaill mac Hugh taking up the cross of religion and becoming a pilgrim.
He was old and died in religion in 911 AD.

Daniel mac Finnleath also had a duaghter[ Ingen] Maran who married Jefry Uomora and a son called Feargal who was king of Ochla.
This king was a brother of the Ua Thmaran, the ingen who had a son called Sic Fraid, a Norse name.

Both his brother and his grandson, Fergal, is titled tigerna of North and Domnaill mic Hugh is also listed as ruler of Aileach from 906 when his grandfather was displaced by Niall.

Apparently an agreement was made by the Cinel Eogain to keep the peace betwen the decendants of Domnaill and Niall.

Mic Donnaill the grandson of Aed Finnleath went on to sire Muireadach steward of St Patrick and Abbot of Ard Macha [Abbots are and were inherited by the same families].

He was also Abbot of Mainstreach Buite in Louth, an inherited position and his brother Donnchada [battle cheif] from whom the Dongailles took their surname.

Niall glundub mac Hugh fathered Connaing and Muirceartach of the Leather cloaks who defeated the Norse at Claun na gCruimthe in 924 AD.

All of these men were O Neill rulers of Focla the north and they controled all of Ulster.

Aileach is listed as being ruled by Feargal and his son MaoilDuin as early as 718 AD.

Niall Frossach of the 3 showers of Wheat, honey and Silver, was the father of Aed Oirdnide which means Aed the Ordained.
The first king of Ireland to be ordained and blessed by the Catholic church prtelates.
He was known as the Dignified and was king for 27 years from 794-821 AD.

Niall Frossach O Neill, his father abdicated the kingship and took up a monastici life.
He died at Iona in 786 AD.

Niall Caille mac Oirdnide O Neill or of the Clann Neill was king for 14 years and was drowned in the river Callan.
Allegedly in Munster but other records indicate he was on a campaign in Ulster near Armagh and a river Callan peacefully flows round that village town.

This drowning followed the Cath [battle] do Leith Chaim attempting to rescue one of his soldiers from the flooding river when the bank gave way under his horse and both soldier and king were lost to the flood.

King Oirdnide was killed at Atha Ferta by Maoil ONeill in Louth during his viking raid there.
He is buried in Louth.
He had married Gormfliath ,ingen do Donnchaid Midi[Meath] who bore him the daughter Eithne and Aed Finnleath King of Aileach.

As relayed earlier, Niall was given a heros burial at the Hill of the Monks in Armagh where he could view the Province of Ulster, now the 6 counties of the North.

In Niall Caille's time 66 viking ships appeared at loch Swilly and his son Aod Finnliath was well occupied fighting the Norse in the north, Focla, his territory, and also at Dublin bay where the Norse establised a colony at Ath Cliath.

His son Niall Glundub was elected Ard Ri after he deposed his brother as Lord of Aileach in 906 and took command of that Army .
He became Ard Ri in 915 and fought the viking at the Battle of Island Bridge at Cnucha where he was wounded. He died at Dublin on October 17, 919, Killed by the Norse Chief Sitric.

He left two sons Muircheartach of the Leather Cloaks and Connaing.

His son was grandson of Feargal Mac Donnail Lord of the north.

Muircheartac Mac Niall the O Neill continued to rule Erinn as Ard Ri and the O Neill retained that high office for 2 1/2 centuries , continuing from Muirchearetach through 1150 when an O Connor became king, Ruidri O Concobar who was displaced in 1169 by Henry II and the Norman conquest.
The last Ard Ri of old Erinn to rule as High King.

In 931 the battle of Loch Ectach was fought between Connaing Mic Niall vs Godfrey and his son Amlaeib of the Norse.
1200 were killed.

But in 937 the Norse Gallaib captured Fort Aileach and its chief Muircheartach was taken prisoner by the Norse.

Muir=sea
cear= can be anthing from a hen to a tradesman
tac is a supporter.
So Muir cear tac would probably mean a sea trade supporter.

However he was king of all Ireland and was not held by the Norse who than occupied the fort hill territory of Aileach.
But in 938 Muircheartch killed Niall O Neill mac Fergal mac Domnaill, the rigdamna


By 939 Muircheartach of the leather cloaks, son of Niall Glundub mac Aed FinnLeath still holding lordship of Aileach or Oileach and the Focla [North] made a circuit of Erinn with the Cinel Eogain [Inis owen] whence he took Sitric the Dane of Dublin hostage; Lorcan the provincial ruler of Laigen [Leinster];
Ceallachan of Munster; Concobar [Conor] mic Tadg, king of Connacht and kept all of them hostages at Aileach for 9 months.

This would indicate his militray might and ability to hold both the fort with the Danes and all of Ireland under his control.

He than sent them to Donnchada the son of Domniall mic Hugh Ard Ri of Erinn.
The first indication of a shared rule between the 2 O Neill branches.
decended from Niall Caille mac Aed Oirdnide.

As Aed had accepted the ordination of the Bishops it is proabable that his successors did the same and hence the high kings of Ireland were accepted and ordained and blessed by the than powerful Catholic Church which at that time hdd over 200 full time monastery in Ireland.

Most of the Order of St Patrick and most of them holding secular and religious schools teaching latin ,theology, rudimenatary science, and the old bardic mythology and history of Ireland, as well as the reformed Brehon laws updated by St Patricks own Commission.

Ireland at this time was not persecuted by outside forces nor deprived of livelihood nor did it have an isolates state from the rest of Europe having sent out its own prelates and mininsters as far as the Ukraine.

Many of its notworthy bishops were trained in the monastic schools of Erinn and then sent to Rome where they were ordained and finally many of the Irish Aristocracy took the cross as pilgrims and made pilgramages to Rome.

This including some of its noted warriors and champions and those eligible by birth to hold the ard ri or provincial kingships.

The Irish Aristocracy was never deprived of position or education or inclusion in leadership posts, church or secular, till the coming of the Plantation with the English and Scots when they were totally austazised from any position of note ,forbiden to work, sent to Connacht or Hell or put to emmigration over starvation and deprivation.

Those who were able to leave the island were accepted by European Society and did well in Europes Armys and social /economic structures.

Those who stayed bacame less than peasants in the Irish society but were still secretly honored by their own people and tuaths as roydamnas, chiefs, and rulers.
There homes only being left with small gatherings of tribute at their humble cottages and formation of societies to uphold the old Gaelic Order as best they could.

Many of these exnobles kept the old records intact and were able to secure them in continental cathderal librarys.

Some simply decended to their trusted seconds when they died, falling into the hands of peasants who could neither read nor write and had only the old folk tales to rely on for their past history.
These told by seanaches coming about on cold winter nights and always welcome at the cottage fireside with hot tody after a good meal, what neighbors could be gathered and soft bed for a night or two.

The manuscripts or books and librarys in the possession of the several monasterys were treated with great disrespect by the viking raiders and many of the librarys completly tossed into the various lakes and rivers.
The ink erassing from them thereto and the sheepskin parchaments being drowned and dismembered.
Perhaps some of the fragments now found in the Oxford Bodelian and other collections.

In 939 as if the good fairys decried the great loss of knowledge all the rivers and lakes of Ireland froze solid and that year was exceptionally cold.

Many of these peasant preserved sacred books and geneologys were sold to the Assendancy bighouse during and just after the famine for a few pence to buy bread and these became the curiosity of those Lords towards decifering the old Irish whom they knew so little about.

The clachan theory ,the togetherness of the clann still holding firm as it does this day amongst the native population.

Much of this work was placed in the hands of the Royal Irish Academy or Trinity College Library where it remains untranslated and unstudied. Why?

AILEACH PAGE 2

In that year Mael Runaid tanist to Muircheartach was killed by Clann Conaill and the records are confused for 20 years .
He is listed as dying in 941 as well.

He was succeeded by his son Maoilseachniall Mor in 979 AD who was king when Brian Boruma displaced him in 1002.

Maoil was known as Malachy 2 and was able to reclaim Ard Ri kingship after Brain was killed by Broeder at the great battle of Atha Cliath which distroyed the Norse holding over Ireland.

During the 20 year period when Muircheartch O Neill held all Ireland his son Flann Sinna became king and his two grandsons were Domnaill and MUireachdach.

Muireardach ,inheritor patron of the sea, became bishop of Kildare founded by St Brigit after the time of st Patrick.
He died in 985 Ad.

His cousin or brother Donnchada [battle chief] had a grandson called Domniall whose grandson was Mael Sechlainn Mor also called Moyleseach.
Ard Ri for 24 years from 979 till 1003 when he willing gave he throne of Teamair to the Munster chief Brian Boruma and resumed the post of king of Ireland after Brian was killed in 1014 by the Norse.
Where he reigned peacefully till he died in 1022 AD.

In 952 Domnaill Mic Muircheartach was chief of the Aileach and with the clann Eogain he plundered Brega on the east coast just south of the river Boyne and the Norse rulers of the fort were his allys and consented to this expedition on the other end of the island.

By 955 Domnaill mic* Muircheartach was crowned Ard Ri of Erinn, which the O Neills continued in this dominant roll over the entire island.

By 960 Conor O Neill had become chief of Aileach and its hill of soldiers, children ,sheep, cattle and the Norse/Irish contingent later called the Hiber/Norse, these the children of the union between Irish and Scot natives with the not bad looking redish haired Norwegian soldiers.

Conors son Flaithbertach, which means prince the bar supporter, and perhaps prince of a young heifer cow was roydaman but
Flaithbertach was killed on a prey of Ulaid and a period of unrest followed after Daniel mac Congalach killed his brother Muircheaertach 2 and in 963 took his army into Connacht. But by 965 he was killed by Leath Glinne.

Mainstreach Buithe in Bregia [Louth or Lug] was plundered by Domnaill Ard Ri of Erinn who was the father of Muircheartach 3 O Neill, Lord of Aileach.

AFTER IN 968 the Buite monsastery was occupied by the Norse and the monsastery and its records burned[a tragic loss to Ireland as the old monastary was established by St Patrick].
300 were killed in this raid lead by Daniel the Ard Ri.

By 971 the Battle of Ceis Corran was foughtg near Sligeach and Dun Clothige, Magera near Derry.

By 975 the Dal Cais had come into prominance and Brian Cinneidig fought the Cath Bealach wiith Maoil Muard of Des Mumna [south Munster].

By 977 the battle of Teamair was fough at Tara.

By 987 Saxon, Welsh and Irish were at each others throats in Erinn.

Hurricane winds beset the island and the cows were dying of moylegarb.

Muldory was tigerna of Cinel Conaill and in 990 O Dungailaigh, tigerna of Muscraige in Tipperary was killed.
The ua Dungailaige are o Donnelly

By 991 Aed mic Domnaill, king of Eogain was given Tyrone barony by Muirecan.
From Strabain to loch Neagh - and the fort of the hill was abandoned for the luch tige[food house] on the plain of Tir Owen where the o Neills established themselves at Dungannon.

In 993 Aed mac Dubgaill mac Donnchada o Neill was heir to Oileach and Ard Macha was distroyed by lightning.

In 1000 AD Feargaill m Conaing was tigerna of Aileach and the Bridge at Athlone ws built over the Shannon river.

Ath Liag being the castle home of the o Connor Donn of Connacht.

In 1031 Tadg Ua Ceallaig [Kelly] was killed by the men of Tethba, the Donngaille and Inis Owen was plundered by Flaithbertac o Neill [Flaherty an Trostain] ,
lord of Aileach.

In 1034 Gilla Padraig ua Flannagain was lord of Tethba.

In 1038 a war was held between France and England and the following year
Bishop MaicNia, comarba of Mainstreach Buite died.

A comarba was an inherited position threfore as Abbot /Bishop the man was related to the St Patrick Stewardship family as well as being consecrated a bishop of the Chuch by Rome.

In 1043 Cinel Conell of Donegal defeated Cinel Eogain and in 1044 Nial mic Maoilseachlain was lord of Aileach .
He the son of Lochlainn.

A slaughter of Tethba and Conmaicne was made by the men of Meath.

In 1045 a great snow fell over Ireland beautifying and covering its sins by a white blanket.

In 1050 maic Louchlainn was the senoir branch of the o Neills superceeding both the Domnaill branch and the Nial glunddub decendants.

By 1054 Aed o Neill, heir of Aileach ,grandson of Feaegal M Conaing Mac Nial O Neill ws killed by the Airgialla and Fermanagh.
He was lord of Cinel Owen and Tealach Og.

In 1056 Flann Mainstreach, sage of 3 lands, died on 14 December at Mainstreach Buite in Lug or, Louth, Bregia.

By 1063 Ardgar twin of Achu was roydamna of Oileach and he and his brother stuck down Nial Mc Louchlainn to inherit this hill of soldiers.

By 1066 the Battle of Hastings was being fought in England by William the Conquer which changed the fate of the entire region of the north island and in 1067 Echtigern Mic Flann Mainstreach Buite died.

In Tyrone county the Battle of Saithbe, Desert Creat, took place at Dungannon and by 1094 Domnaill mc Loughlain was rightful king of Aileach and the Clann O Neill.

In 1000 Donnell Lochlainn king of Aileach distoyed the O Briain sacred tree at Kin Cora and in return Muircheartac O Brien went with his army plundered Tir Owen [Inis owen], broke down Aileach fort ordering his army to carrry away the wall stones.

He gave Cashel to the Church, distoyed all towns, churches, forts at inis Eogain and the O Neill were content to stay at the new found home in Tyrone and to be inagurated at Tulach Og overlooking the luch tige from Loch Neagh west to Strabain.

In 1107 Domnaill m Lochlainn took 300 prisoners to Aileach fort from Connacht which he had raided previously from Tuam to Derry to Loch Neagh.

In 1111 Tulach Og trees were cut down by Ulaid, east of Loch Neagh now Antrim and Down, but a peace was struck between Ulaid and Ailech and in
1113 Nial Ua Lochlainn allied with Connail and Oriel took Glen Righe and divided Ulidia .
He kept Dal Araide lands and Ui Eachdach for himself and the Ui Loingsigh were Lords of Dal Araidne.

By 1120 Ardgar mc Loughlainn was elected or made himself king of Ireland and he was prince of Aileach.

He was high king for 27 years till 1147.

In 1122 Turlough O Conner, a tyrant in his own right, was chosen king of Ireland.
Rory his son was made king of Ireland Ruaidri after the death of Muircheartach O Louchlainn O Neill.

After the Norman invasaion in 1169 the old fort fell into further ruin and was later occupied in the 14 century by galloglass troops brought in by the O Donnells to uphold the right of the Irish to keep their own lands and princely heritage.

The history of this ancient ring fort was forgotten by the church and the locals and was only rescued in the 19th century by volunteers trying to locate its past and rebuil its shattered walls.

The lost history of this ancient hill top ring fort overlooking the lochs and north sea , built at least 3400 years ago and before that. Lives consigned in this misty fogs of Irleland.
Rearing over the desolate lands below.
Not a tree or a bird or a bugle or a brata [standard bearer].

Its new found name the graine a grain of salt, or grianna of the sun, resting its open gate before its wide road accompanied by a hill top bog and tendered laconically by the Monuments Commission and the department of Archeology of the Republic of Ireland.

These modern watchmen have not done justice to its once illustrious state of the soldiers agreement in his hunt of life and vitality, wooden booths, music, sound and great historic personlitys beyond the Dananan champion ,Dagda and his son Aengus ,god of love, down through the holdings of the O Donnells and the scots axmen.

Now a graveyard of spirits and ghoasts calling into its silence from within the shealved seats.
Clanns along the mighty walls and the center flagstone shinning in the drizzle which may be the flagsone of St Patrick or the cap stone of a mythological grave of the prince buried there for his love of a woman.

And one can sense the ghoasts of guards standing at the assembly.
Their spears erect while the Chief gave his lesson or speech or tried to convince his clanns the rights and justice of his cause.


The new found future of Ireland today does not do justice to this ancient site visited occationally as a pass by to the further down Doucherty Castle at Burt by a tour bus from Derry in the north and that to encourage useage of the Grianna hotel.

Or by the local parishiners of the gaelic church of Father Michael and his cat to hear the Mass said once more in the Gaelic.



Mo fearfaire ar na cnoc

My Wathman on the hill

*the use mac=son
mic=grandson
maic= one of the sons



Judi Donnelly
copyright 13 November 2010

sourse: My Notes. Probably Fearsa Forsa or the 4.
somewhere in the past. Did not note it.

No comments:

Post a Comment