MALE Eochaid mac Echach

King of Dál Riata, 726-733.
Probably also king of Dál nAraide, 727-733.

Eochaid began to reign in Dál Riata in 726 after the expulsion of king Dúngal mac Selbaig ["Dungal de reghno iectus est, ..." AT 17: 232; "Eochaid mac Eachach regnaire incipit." AT 17: 232 (several entries later)]. He is evidently the Eochaid mac Echach who appears on the king list of Dál nAraide (also called the Cruithne, a sept neighboring the Dál Riata of Ireland) at this time, presumably becoming king there on the killing of Dub dá Inber mac Congalaig in 727 ["Dub Da Inber m. Congalaig, rex Cruithne, iugulatus est." AU 727 (s.a. 726); similarly in AT; Eochaid's identity as king of Dál nAraide is discussed below]. In that year he apparently also had a confrontation with Dúngal's father Selbach (d. 730), the former king of Dál Riata who had retired to a monastery in 723 ["Congressio Irrois Foichne ubi quidam ceciderunt dendibh Airgiallaib inter Selbacham & familiam Echdach nepotis Domnaill." (The encounter of Irros Foichnae between Selbach and the 'family' of Echaid, grandson of Domnall, in which some of the Airgialla fell.) AU 727 (s.a. 726)]. Eochaid died in 733 (see below).

Date of Birth: Unknown.
Place of Birth: Unknown.

Date of Death: 733.
["Eochaid mac Echach, rí Dail Riada & Conall mac Concobar mortuus est." AT 17: 237]
Place of Death: Unknown.

Father: Eochu ua Domnaill, d. 697, king of Dál Riata, 697.
See the discussion below in the Commentary section.

Mother: Unknown.

Spouse: Unknown.

Children:

MALE Áed Find, d. 778, king of Dál Riata.
See the discussion below in the Commentary section.

MALE Fergus mac Ech[d]ach (probable), d. 781, king of Dál Riata, 778-781.
["... & Fergus m. Ecach ri Dal Riati, omnes defuncti sunt." AU 781 (s.a. 780)] The immediate descendants of Fergus dominated Scottish politics from the 780's until the 830's, followed by the prominence of Cináed (Kenneth) mac Alpín (great-grandson of Áed Find) and his descendants. The principal evidence for placing Fergus as a son of Eochaid is the patronymic of Fergus in the annals, which, however, gives the father's name as Eochu rather than Eochaid. (See below on the distinction between these two names.) Among known men named Eochu/Eochaid in the royal dynasty of Dál Riata, only the present Eochaid makes a chronologically suitable candidate as the father of Fergus. While the connection is probable (given the common confusion between the two names), it is hard to rule out the possibility that Fergus was the son of an otherwise unknown Eochu. This case is typical of the difficulty of identifying parents based mainly on a patronymic.



Commentary

Falsely attributed mother: Spontana, daughter of Gartnait, king of the Picts.
[e.g., RFC, 120] If there is any truth to Boece's story that Spontana existed (itself unlikely), then we should also accept his statement that this woman died while pregnant the year after her marriage. See the page of
Eochu.

The confusion of the names Eochu and Eochaid

The two very similar names Eochu and Eochaid have been often confused, in medieval as well as modern times. The name Eochu (Old Irish Echu) had genitive form Echach, while Eochaid (Old Irish Echaid) had genitive forms Echdach and later Eochada. In the case of Eochaid and his father, we have three important pieces of evidence which agree in calling the father Eochu and the son Eochaid. These are the two appearances of Eochaid in the Annals of Tigernach (quoted above) and his appearance in the Poppleton genealogy (quoted below).

The Dál Riata genealogy between Áed Find mac Echdach and Domangart mac Domnaill Bricc

The genealogy of the immediate ancestors of Cináed mac Ailpín (Kenneth I, d. 858) is complicated at this point by defects in the genealogy which have left out one or more generations in most versions. The three most important are given below, starting with Alpín, and proceeding through Eochu/Eochaid Munremar (see the page of Fergus for the earlier generations in these genealogies). The key generations are those from Áed Find mac Echdach to Domangart mac Domnaill Bricc, which are indicated in bold face to emphasize the differences.

The Poppleton Manuscript: "... filii Alpin, filii Echach, filii Edafínd, filii Echadach, filii Echach, filii Domongrat, filii Domnailbrie, filii Echachbuide, filii Edan, filii Gabran, filii Dom[mun]grat, filii Fergusa, filii Eire, filii Echach Muinremuir, ..." [KKES 256-7]

Genelaig Albanensium: "... mc Alpín m Echach mc Áeda F[h]ind mc Echach mc Domangairt mc Domnaill Bricc mc Echach Buide mc Áedáin mc Gabráin mc Domangairt mc F[h]ergusa mc Eirc mc Echac[h] munremair ..." [Bannerman (1974) 108]

Rawlinson B502: "... m. Alpín m. Echdach m. Áeda Find m. Domongairt m. Domnaill Bricc m. Echach Buidi m. Áedáin m. Gabráin m. Domongairt m. Fergusa m. hEircc m. Echdach Muinremuir ..." [fol. 162c44, CGH 328]

The relevant obituaries are ca. 673 for Domangart [AU (s.a. 672)], ca. 697 for Eochu [AU (s.a. 696)], 733 for Eochaid [AT, see above], and 778 for Áed Find [AU (s.a. 777)]. Áed Find was clearly not a son of Domangart, so the genealogy of Rawlinson B502 is clearly impossible, while the account of Genelaig Albanensium also has chronological problems. Given the excellent fit of the genealogy of the Poppleton Manuscript with the annals, it is apparent that the similarity between the names Eochaid and Eochu has caused a generation to be omitted from Genelaig Albanensium.

Eochaid as king of Dál nAraide

The list of kings of Dál nAraide shows the following seven consecutive kings, shown here in bold face as they appear in the published Book of Leinster, with italics indicating expanded abbreviations. The Laud manuscript has the same kings, except that it gives Eochu mac Eochach, and stops at Inrechtach [Laud, 480; LL, fol. 41e (1: 195)]. Following each king is any relevant (or possibly relevant) entry from AU (with years indicating the usual "corrected" chronology).

Cu Chuaráin: 708 "Canis Cuarain, rex Cruithne, iugulatus." (Also in AT, with more details)

Lethlobor mac Echach Iarlathi: 709 "Bellum Dolo in Campo Eilni ubi iugulati sunt Lethlabar m. Echdhach, Cú Allaidh, & Cu Dinaisc." (Also in AT)

Fiachra Cossalach: 710 "Fiachra m. Dungaile apud Cruithne iugulatus." (AT 708)

Dubthach mac Congaile: 727 "Dub Da Inber m. Congalaig, rex Cruithne, iugulatus est." (Also in AT)

Eochaid mac Echach: No enries as "rex Cruithne"

Inrechtach: 741 "Bellum Droma Cathmail inter Cruithniu & Dal Reti fri Indrechtach."

Cathassach mac Ailella: 749 "Iugulatio Cathusaigh filii Ailello i r-Raith Beithech, regis Cruithne." (Also in AT)

The first and last entry show a clear link between annal and king list, and indicate the approximate chronology. The discrepancy at the year 727, involving similar but different names, suggests that the king list has suffered some corruption at this point. The difference between Eochu mac Eochach in Laud and Eochaid mac Echach in the Book of Leinster is an illusion, because both are expansions of an abbreviated Eoch' which has been expanded by two different editors in two different ways. The question of which expansion is correct can be settled by the observation that it was not the practice for a son to be named after the father during this period in Ireland or Scotland (as an inspection of the annals and genealogies will show), and we must thus in all probability expand the name as Eochaid mac Echach. The geographical proximity of the Dál nAraide (Cruithne) and Irish Dál Riata, added to the chronology suggested by the above entries, strongly suggests that the Eochaid mac Echach who appears on the king list of Dál nAraide was the same person as the king of Dál Riata of that name. While other scenarios, such as the existence of two distinct Eochaid mac Echachs, or the intrusion of Eochaid into the king list of Dál nAraide, cannot be ruled out, the most likely interpretation of the evidence is that the king of Dál Riata succeeded in temporarily becoming king of the neighboring sept of Dál nAraide.


Bibliography

AT = Whitley Stokes, ed. & trans., ‘The Annals of Tigernach’, Revue Celtique 16 (1895), 374-419; 17 (1896), 6-33, 116-263, 337-420; 18 (1897), 9-59, 150-303, 374-91. See also the CELT website.

AU = Seán Mac Airt and Gearóid Mac Niocaill, The Annals of Ulster (Dublin, 1983). See also the CELT website.

Bannerman (1974) = John Bannerman, Studies in the History of Dalriada (Edinburgh & London, 1974).

CGH = M. A. O’Brien, ed., Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae (Dublin, 1962, reprinted 1976 with a new introduction by J. V. Kelleher).

KKES = Marjorie Ogilvy Anderson, Kings and Kingship in Early Scotland (Edinburgh, Totowa, NJ, 1973).

Laud = Kuno Meyer, "The Laud Synchronisms", Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 10 (1915): 471-485.

LL = Best, Bergin, & O'Brien, eds., The Book of Leinster, 6 vols. (vol. 1, Dublin, 1954).

RFC = Roderick W. Stuart, Royalty for Commoners (2nd ed., Baltimore, 1992).


Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

First uploaded 26 April 2007.

Minor revision 30 April 2007.

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