Ualgharg Ó Ruairc was born in the first half 11th century, and he was the ancestor of practically all the later Ó Ruairc kings of Bréifne. He is noted in the genealogies as a son of Niall, and as a grandson of Art uallach (oirdnidhe) who was the second Ó Ruairc to be called king of Connacht (refer to this chart for his ancestry). A year after his grandfather's death about 1046 CE, his father Niall is noted as king of Bréifne in his obituary. His father Niall was slain in battle by Aedh ua Conchobuir (Ó Conor) about 1047 CE, in an apparent struggle between the Ó Ruaircs and Ó Conchobuir for the right of the kingship of Connacht. Ualgharg Ó Ruairc would likely participate in the battle of Turlach-Aghna some 20 years later (1067 CE). This battle caused the death of Aedh ua Conchobuir, king of Connacht, and it was Ualgharg's uncle Aedh Ó Ruairc who became the third Ó Ruairc to be called king of Connacht.
It is not certain that Ualgharg attained a kingship for himself, but he likely was a key supporter in supporting Ó Ruairc power in Connacht during his remaining days. His obituary appears in 1085 CE:
M1085.12 - Ualgharg Ua Ruairc, royal heir of Connaught, died.
Shortly after Ualgharg's death, in 1087 CE, his uncle Aedh Ó Ruairc was slain in the battle of Conachail, in the territory of Corann. It was Aedh ua Conchobuir's son Ruaidrí Ó Conor who defeated Aedh Ó Ruairc, and the Connacht kingship was taken by the ua Conchobuir (Ó Conor) sept once more.
Ualgharg Ó Ruairc is cited with two sons in the early genealogies, i.e. Tighernán and Domnall. Although their is not much information on Ualgharg's two sons, the descendants of both Tighernán and Domnall would vie for Bréifne kingship up through the middle of the 13th century. Tighernán, son of Ualgharg, was the father of another Domnall, one who would become the fourth Ó Ruairc to mentioned as a king of Connacht. Domnall, son of Ualgharg, was ancestor of Tighernán mór of 12th century reknown.
The following is a chart of some of Ualgharg Ó Ruairc's descendants as noted in the annals and genealogies, with their respective year of death.
Domnall (1102, king of Connacht) Donnchadh
| | | |
Donnchadh Gilla Bruide (1125) Fergal (1157) Tighernán mór (1172) Aedh
Again, there is not much is known about Tighernán son of Ualgharg but his son Domnall is noted in "A poem on the Kings of Connacht" (manuscript sources: MS. Rawlinson B 502 [facs. p. 165]; Z Celt Philol 9 (1913) 461--69). In this poem he is described as "Domnall son of Tigernan the Silent". In the genealogies he is noted as Domnall, rige Conacht, son of Tigernan son of Ualgarg. In the Irish Annals he is cited as a king of Connacht in various obituaries dated in the year 1102. It is uncertain exactly when and how long Domnall served in that capacity.
M1102 - Domhnall, son of Tighearnan Ó Ruairc, lord of Bréifne and Conmhaicni, and of all Connaught for a time, was slain by the Conmhaicni themselves.
CS1102 - Domnall son of Tigernán ua Ruairc, king of Bréifne and Connacht, was killed by Muinter Eoluis.
T1102.1 - Domnall son of Tighernan O'Rourke, king of Connacht and of the Ui Briuin and the Conmaicne, died in Muintir Eolais
LC1102.2 - Domhnall, son of Tighernan Ua Ruairc, was slain by the Conmaicne; and this Domhnall was king over the Conmaicne and an arbitrator over the Connachtmen.
U1102.3 - Domnall son of Tigernan ua Ruairc, king of Conmaicne, was killed by the Conmaicne themselves.
Domnall son of Tighernán son of Ualgharg, king of Connacht, was the ancestor of the last of the lords of Breifne in later times, those of the O'Rourkes of Dromahair, Carha, and Cloncorick. Domnall is described with three sons in the genealogies: Donnchadh an Gilla Bruide, Fergal, and Ualgharg.
The following is a chart of some of the descendants of Domnall Ó Ruairc (son of Tighernán son of Ualgharg) as noted in the annals and genealogies, with their respective year of death.
Domnall (1102, grandson of Ualgharg)
| | |
Donnchadh Gilla Bruide (1125) Ualgharg Fergal (1157)
| | | | | |
Aedh (1176) Amlaib (1184) Tadhg (1175) Domnall (1207) Ruadhri na caillighi Congalach (1196)
_|_ _|_ _____________|_____________ _|_
| | | | | |
Donnchadh óg Fergal (1183) Lochlan (1205) Art (1210) Aedh (1226) Niall (1228)
_|_ ________________|_______ _|_
| | | |
Cathal riabach (1236) Amlaíb (1258) Art bec (1260) Domnall Gilla in Inme (1276)
We turn for a moment to Donnchadh Ó Ruairc, son of Domnall son of Ualgharg. Donnchadh was a 1st cousin of Domnall (above), the 4th Ó Ruairc king of Connacht. Donnchadh's father Domnall may be the one described as lord of Ui Briúin in an entry in the Annals of the Four Masters dated 1108, although this unclear. Donnchadh's descendants were of a competing Ó Ruairc line for the kingship of Breifne. In the middle genealogies Donnchadh is noted with two sons, Niall and Aedh. The genealogy in Rawlinson B502 suggests that Donnchadh also had a son named Tighernán, who appears to have been Tighernán mór (12th century). Donnchadh's son? Tighernán mór dominated the Breifne scene in the middle half of the 12th century. In the middle genealogies Donnchadh's son Aedh is cited with a number of sons, including Cathal liath, Donnchadh, Art, Ruadhri, Sitriuc, and Tighernán. The latter Tighernán leads to confusion as to the correct lineage of Tighernán mór (12th century), since there are other claims that Tighernán mór had a brother named Cathal liath. However, Cathal liath, son of Aedh, son of Donnchadh, is cited numerous times in the middle genealogies (Book of Ballymote, An Leabhor Donn, and O'Clery).
The following is a chart of some of the descendants of Donnchadh Ó Ruairc (son of Domnall son of Ualgharg) as noted in the annals and genealogies, with their respective year of death.
Donnchadh (grandson of Ualgharg)
| | |
Tighernán mór (1172) Niall Aedh
Máelsechlann Cathal liath
| | |
Aedh (1187) Ualgarg (1231) Domnall mhatail
| | |
Sitric (1257) Aedh Tighernán na corradh
Tighernán (1274) Conchobar (1257)
From the two charts above, we now look closer at the descendants of Domnall and Donnchadh, grandsons of Ualgharg, and focus on those who were cited as lords of Breifne. Following the death of Aedh an Gilla Sronmaol Ó Ruairc (whose lineage is uncertain) the next king of Breifne was Tighernán mór. Tighernán mór served as chief from about 1124 to his death in 1172, his term only breifly interrupted in 1152 when the son of Gillabraide Ua Ruairc (perhaps Aedh son of Donnchadh Gilla Bruide) was given the chieftanship. It was in the same year that Tighernán's wife Dearbhforgaill, daughter of Murchadh Ua Maeleachlainn of Meath, was taken from him. Tighernán mór's many exploits are well documented in the Irish Annals. His story is covered in a little bit more detail in Ua Ruairc of Bréifne, as well as The 12th Century, and Tighernán mór.
Following the death of Tighernán mór at the hands of new arrivals to Ireland, the Anglo-Normans, the kings of Breifne appear to alternate between the descendants of Domnall and Donnchadh, grandsons of Ualgharg. This continued for over 100 years, with additional competion for kingship wihtin two of Domnall's lines: those of his sons Fergal and Gilla Bruide. Following Tighernán mór
the next Ó Ruairc king was noted as Aedh son of Donnchadh Gilla Bruide (of Domnall's line). Aedh's 1176 obituary in the Gaelic Annals of Tigernach reads, "Aedh mac Gilla Bruite Uí Ruairc, rí Brefne, in treas Aedh as fherr do bai a n-Erinn ina aimsir féin, do ég". Aedh was succeeded a few years later by his cousin Amlaíb Ó Ruairc son of Fergal (of Domnall's line). About 1184 Amlaíb was succeeded by Aedh son of Máelsechlann (son of Tighernán mór, of Donnchad's line). For a continued discussion on Donnchad's line, see the lineage of Cathal liath.
From here the lordship of Breifne continued to alternate between the lines of Domnall and Donnchadh, as suggested in the Irish Annals and further covered in the article, The Turbulent 13th Century.
Ua Ruairc of Bréifne --
Genealogy Sources --
Lords and Kings of Bréifne --
Chart of O Ruarc Kings
The descendants of Ualgharg Ó Ruairc, written by Dennis Walsh, April 2006, all rights reserved.
Sources used for this article include the Irish Annals and genealogies (e.g. Ballymote, O'Clery, Rawlinson).