The Ancient Kingdom of Leinster[1]

Hy-Kinselagh and Cualan; or Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, and part of Dublin

UNDER this head will be given the history and topography of the ancient territories comprised in the present counties of Wexford, Wicklow, and Carlow, with their chiefs and clans, and the possessions of each in ancient and modern times. The territory of "Hy-Cinsealach" [Hy-Kinsela] derived its name from Enna Cinsealach, King of Leinster in the time of St. Patrick; and comprised at one time the present counties of Wexford and Carlow, with some adjoining parts of Wicklow, Kilkenny, and Queen's County.

O'Dugan, the learned historian of the O'Kellys, princes of Hy-Maine, gives a full account of all the chiefs and clans of Leath Cuin (i.e. Conn of the Hundred Battles' half of Ireland or the kingdoms of Meath, Ulster, and Connaught—see No. 83, page 67), and collected part of the topography of Leinster; but O'Heerin, another learned historian, who died A.D. 1420, wrote a continuation of O'Dugan's Topography, commencing thus: Tuilleadh Feasa air Eirinn Oigh, or "An Addition of Knowledge on Sacred Erin;" in which he gives an account of all the chiefs and clans of Leath Mogha (i.e. Mogha's half of Ireland or the kingdoms of Leinster and Munster), and the territories they possessed in the twelfth century.


[1] Leinster: The ancient kingdom of Leinster comprised the present counties of Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, and Queen's County, the greater part of Kildare, of King's County, Kilkenny, and that part of Dublin south of the river Liffey. Parts of Kilkenny bordering on Tipperary, and the southern parts of the King's County, belonged to ancient Munster; and some of the northern part of the King's County belonged to the province of Meath. The above named territories continued to be the limits of Leinster down to the reign of Queen Elizabeth; but in after times the old kingdom of Meath was added to Leinster, and also the county Louth, which was a part of the ancient kingdom of Ulster.

Leinster in early times was called Gaillian or Coigeadh Gaillian, from its being possessed by the tribe of Firvolgians called Fir-Gaillian, signifying spear-men; but it afterwards got the name of Laighean [Laen] from the following circumstance: A few centuries before the Christian era, an Irish prince, named Labhra Loingseach or Laura of the Ships (Latinized Lauradius Navalis), having been banished to Gaul, became commander of the forces to the king of that country: and afterwards led an army of Gauls to Ireland for the recovery of the crown. He landed at a place more lately called Lough Garman (now Wexford Bay), and proceeded to Dinnrigh, an ancient fortress of the kings of Leinster, which was situated near the river Barrow, between Carlow and Leighlin, and there put to death the Monarch Cobthach Caolbhreagh (No. 60, page 355), son of the Monarch Hugony the Great; and became himself the Ardrigh of Ireland. The name "Garman" was afterwards applied to the whole of the territory now forming the county Wexford; and the people called "Garmans," because this Gaulish colony who settled there came from those parts of Germany adjoining Gaul. The Gaulish troops brought over by Laura were armed with green broad-headed spears, called Laighin, which were introduced amongst all the forces of the province: hence it got the name of Coigeadh [coogu] Laighean or the "province of the spears;" and from Laighean or Laen came the name Laen-Tir, which has been anglicised "Leinster" or the Territory of the Spears.

When the Firvolgians invaded Ireland, some of them landed in large force in Connaught, at Erris, in Mayo; and were called Firdomnians or Damnonians. Another body of them landed under one of their commanders named Slainge, the son of Dela, at a place called after him Inbhear Slainge [Inver Slaney], now the Bay of Wexford, from which the river "Slaney" takes its name. These Firvolgians were called Fir-Gaillian or spear-men as already mentioned; and possessed the counties of Wexford, Wicklow, and Carlow, under the name of "Galenii" or "Galenians." This territory was in after ages called Hy-Cinsealach, which derived its name from Enna Cinsealach, King of Leinster at the advent of St. Patrick to Ireland; and comprised the present counties of Wexford and Carlow, with some adjoining parts of Wicklow, Kilkenny, and Queen's County.

The territories now forming the counties of Dublin and Kildare are connected with some of the earliest events in Irish history: Partholan or Bartholinus, the Scythian, who planted the first colony in Ireland, had his residence at Binn Eadair, now the Hill of Howth. At this place Bartholinus was cut off by a plague, together with his entire colony; all of whom were buried, according to some authors, at Moy-nEalta or the Plain of Birds, afterwards called Clontarf; but according to O'Brien these people were buried at a place called Tamlachta Muintir Partholain (signifying the burial cairns of the people of Bartholinus), which is now the Hill of Tallaght, near Dublin. Crimthann Niadh-Nar, Monarch of Ireland when Christ was born (see No. 75, page 356), had his chief residence and fortress, called Dun Crimthann or Crimthann's Fort, on the Hill of Howth; and so had Conary the Great, the 97th Monarch of Ireland. Crimthann Niadh-Nar was a famous warrior, celebrated for his military expeditions to Gaul and Britain; and brought to Ireland from foreign countries many valuable spoils, amongst other things a gilded war-chariot, two hounds coupled together with a silver chain, and valued at three hundred cows; according to the Glossary of King Cormac MacCullenan of Cashel, this was the first introduction of greyhounds into Ireland. The ancient Irish kings and chieftains (like their Celtic or Scythian ancestors), as well as those of Gaul and Britain, fought in war-chariots, in the same manner as did Maud (elsewhere mentioned), the famous heroine and Queen of Connaught; and as did the British Queen Boadicea, etc. Numerous memorials of the most remote ages still exist in the counties of Dublin and Kildare, as in all other parts of Ireland; of which full accounts may be found in D'Alton's History of the County, and of the Archbishops of Dublin; Ware's and Grose's Antiquities; Vallancey's Collectanea, etc.—CONNELLAN.