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Na Cianachta / The Descendants of (the god) Cian

Ginealas / Genealogy Miotas / Mythology Stair / History

A chairde go léir / Hi everybody,

There was some discussion recently in the excellent Yahoo group dedicated to genetic genealogy called the R1b-M222-Project.  The discussion was about the Cianachta, the Fir Arda Cianacht (i.e., the Cianacht Breagha), and the Fir Maighe Ítha.  A number of you descend from these tuatha (peoples, often called 'tribes' in English).  Here are some notes I contributed.

1.  Cianachta ('Descendants of Cian')

Also called the Ciannachta (with 2 n's) and the Dál gCéin ('Share of Cian'), the Lebor Gabála Érenn makes the Cianachta descend from Éber Finn (LGV, p. 45).  The Cianachta held territory in various places including north central Derry around Glenn Gaimin which was over-run by the Fir Maige Ítha in the early 12th century (Gill II, p. 15-16; O'R, p. 95, 98, 137, 184, 224, 393-394; Gill I, p. 4, 18, 29).  They are named after the god Cian, who the official genealogists made a son of the Érainn god Oilill Olum ('Spirit Bare-Ear'), who in turn was euhemerized as a king of Munster in the 3rd century.  The Cianachta were counted in the 'official' genealogies as one of the six saorchlann ('free clans') of the Gaeil of Leath Cuinn ('Conn's Half'), the northern half of Ireland.   (Céitinn, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, Volume IV, p. 13)                                                                     

2.  Cianachta Breagha (Cianachta of the Plain of Breagha ('the Fair Plain') / Fir Arda Cianacht ('Men of the Height of the Cianachta')

These were settled in the baronies of Duleek in Co. Meath.  When defeated by the dynasty of North Brega in the 8th century, they marched north along the coast and established the independent kingdom of Fir Arda Cianacht which gave its name to the barony of Ferrard in Co. Louth.  (Gill History of Ireland, Volume II, p. 20)

3.  Gods and Humans

The alleged ancestors of the Cianachta include the names of a number of gods including Cian (father of the god Lugh) s. Ailill Aulomm s. Mug Nuadat (Slave of Nuadu), Eógan s. Mug Néit, Mug Nuadat, Mug Néit, Connla s. Tadg s. Cian s. Ailill Aulomm.  This Connla was made a brother of Cormac Gailing, alleged ancestor of the Gailing & Luigne.   Based in part on the ancestor-gods contained in their genealogies, T.F. O'Rahilly believed that the Cianachta were originally a branch of the Laighin and that the Luighne were Érainn.  The -achta and - ne endings of their names are usually (but not always) an indication that peoples bearing these kinds of names arose before the 5th century A.D. (i.e., in Ireland's pre-historic period).  Other tribal designations of this ancient type include -raige, Dál X, and Corca X, and their variations.  Names of this type often include names of gods.  Gearóid Mac Niocaill classifies tribes bearing names of this type (except those bearing names which have been intentionally archaized, such as Dál gCais) as 'archaic peoples' of Ireland.  (Ireland Before the Vikings, Gill History of Ireland Volume I, pps. 3-4)         

4.  Fir Maige Ítha (Men of the Plain of Íth)

This is a branch of the Cinéal Eoghain of the Northern Uí Néill which had developed by the 9th century (Gill II, p. 16, 41).  They were also known as the Clann Conchobhair (Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae, p. 179) but are distinct from the Clann Conchobhair of the Síl Muiredaig of the Uí Bhriúin Aí of the Uí Bhriúin of the Connachta.                                                         

Le gach dea-ghuí / Best,

Gearóid / Jerry    


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