Dubh Galls and Finn Galls

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XII

The Danes themselves were now divided into two parties—the Dubh Galls, or Black Gentiles; and the Finn Galls, or White Gentiles. A fierce conflict took place between them in the year 850, in which the Dubh Galls conquered.[3] In the following year, however, both parties submitted to Amlaff, son of the Norwegian king; and thus their power was once more consolidated. Amlaff remained in Dublin; his brothers, Sitric and Ivar, stationed themselves in Waterford and Limerick. A great meeting was now convened by the ecclesiastics of Ireland at Rathugh, for the purpose of establishing peace and concord amongst the native princes.

The northern Hy-Nials alone remained belligerent; and to defend themselves, pursued the usual suicidal course of entering into an alliance with the Danes. Upon the death of the Irish monarch, the northern chief, Hugh Finnlaith, succeeded to the royal power; broke his treaty with Amlaff, which had been only one of convenience; and turned his arms vigorously against the foreigners. This prince was married to a daughter of Kenneth M'Alpine, the first sole Monarch of Scotland. After the death of the Irish prince, his wife married his successor, Flann, who, according to the alternate plan of succession, came of the southern Hy-Nial family, and was a son of Meloughlin, once the formidable opponent of the lady's former husband. During the reign of Flann, Cormac Mac Cullman, a prelate distinguished for his learning and sanctity, was obliged to unite the office of priest and king. This unusual combination, however, was not altogether without precedent. The archbishopric of Cashel owes its origin remotely to this great man; as from the circumstance of the city of Cashel having been the seat of royalty in the south, and the residence of the kings of Munster, it was exalted, in the twelfth century, to the dignity of an archiepiscopal see.


[3] Conquered.—Duald Mac Firbis gives a curious account of these contests in his Fragments of Annals. The White Galls, or Norwegians, had long been masters of the situation. The Black Galls fought with them for three days and nights, and were finally victorious. They take the ships they have captured to Dublin, and deprive the Lochlanns (Black Galls) of all the spoil they had so cruelly and unjustly acquired from the "shrines and sanctuaries of the saints of Erinn;" which the annalist naturally considers a judgment on them for their sins. They make another struggle, and gain the victory. But the Danish general, Horm, advises his men to put themselves under the protection of St. Patrick, and to promise the saint "honorable alms for gaining victory and triumph" over enemies who had plundered his churches. They comply with this advice; and though greatly inferior in numbers, they gain the victory, "on account of the tutelage of St. Patrick."