Apr 13, 2011

Ireland: A Heritage of Kings

When someone with Irish roots boasts that he is related to an Irish king, don't be surprised. Ancient Ireland was divided into five kingdoms--five! The island is approximately the size of the state of Indiana, which of course is only one of fifty states in our "kingdom." Each kingdom had a provisional king, but there were local kings as well, which amounted to approximately 200 kings for a total population of just under 500,000 people (according to The Irish Mystique, America's Enchantress England's Secret Envy, Ireland's Despair, by Max Caulfield.)

To further confuse things, look at the status of the individual. In each kingdom there were freemen and women (commoners) and slaves. When surnames came into use (not until the 11th century) everyone took the surname of their chieftan, whether blood-related or not. So, having a kingly name like O'Neill does not necessarily mean you are the descendant of a king.

But then again, with so small a population, and so many kings out there.....

Well, you know what the Irish say: Never let what really happened get in the way of a good story! ;-)


  1. Would you happen to know who the King in the image is that you have? And where you got it? I'm trying to find drawings of Irish Kings

    1. Brian Boru, of course. ;-)

      I don't think the site I originally got this from is still up, but if you search Brian Boru on Google images you'll see a couple of versions of this.