Nial of the Nine Hostages

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter VII. concluded

Nial of the Nine Hostages and Dathi are the last pagan monarchs who demand special notice.

In the year 322, Fiacha Sraibhtine was slain by the three Collas,[8] and a few short-lived monarchs succeeded.

In 378, Crimhthann was poisoned by his sister, who hoped that her eldest son, Brian, might obtain the royal power. Her attempt failed, although she sacrificed herself for its accomplishment, by taking the poisoned cup to remove her brother’s suspicions; and Nial of the Nine Hostages, the son of her husband by a former wife, succeeded to the coveted dignity. This monarch distinguished himself by predatory warfare against Albion and Gaul.

The “groans”[9] of the Britons testify to his success in that quarter, which eventually obliged them to become an Anglo-Saxon nation; and the Latin poet, Claudian, gives evidence that troops were sent by Stilicho, the general of Theodosius the Great, to repel his successful forays.

His successor, Dathi, was killed by lightning at the foot of the Alps, and the possibility of this occurrence is also strangely verified from extrinsic sources.[1]

Gap of Dunloe, Killarney

Gap of Dunloe, Killarney


[8] Collas.—They were sons of Eochaidh Domlen, who made themselves famous by their warlike exploits, and infamous by their destruction of the palace of Emania.

[9] Groans.—Bede, Eccl. Hist. c. 12.

[1] Sources.—The Abbe M‘Geoghegan says that there is a very ancient registry in the archives of the house of Sales, which mentions that the King of Ireland remained some time in the Castle of Sales. See his History, p. 94.