Conor MacNessa

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Conor MacNessa, King of Ulster, flourished in the 1st century. His mother, Nessa, married Fergus MacRoigh, King of Ulster, on condition that her son should reign for one year. At the expiration of that period, the people had become so attached to him, and his father-in-law was so impressed by the wisdom of his counsels, that he was permitted to occupy the throne of Ulster. A mythical story is told of how in battle with the Connaught clans he was wounded by a magic ball of lime and human brains. It remained embedded in his forehead, and his physicians declared that the least excitement would cause the ball to drop out, and death to ensue. With the utmost difficulty his life was prolonged for a few years; and we are told that his death was caused in the end by his agitation on hearing the narrative of the Crucifixion — the ball fell out of his forehead, and he died immediately. He extended the limits of Ulster, and instituted the Red Branch Knights. We meet his name continually throughout the heroic period of Irish history, and incidents in his life have been strikingly illustrated by Ferguson, Sullivan, and other modern poets. One of Ferguson's most beautiful poems is "The Abdication of Fergus MacRoy." [See FERGUS MACROIGH]

Sources

260. O'Curry, Eugene: Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History. Dublin, 1861.

339. Ware, Sir James, Works: Walter Harris. 2 vols. Dublin, 1764.

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