Niall of the Nine Hostages

Niall of the Nine Hostages, a distinguished warrior, reigned over Ireland, according to the Four Masters, from 379 to 405. He carried his victorious arms into different parts of Ireland, Britain, and Gaul, and derived his name “Naoighiallach,” from the hostages held captive for the good behaviour of districts he had conquered.

A Roman poet, Claudian, is by some believed to have referred to his expeditions in the lines:

“Totam cum Scotus Iernen,

Movit, et infesto spumavit remige Tethys.”

It has been suggested that St. Patrick may have been brought to Ireland among the captives taken in one of Niall’s foreign incursions. He was assassinated in Gaul in 405, by Eochaidh, King of Leinster, whom he had exiled.

Niall was succeeded in the sovereignty by Dathi.

The O'Neills and other Irish families trace their ancestry to Niall.


134. Four Masters, Annals of Ireland by the: Translated and Edited by John O’Donovan. 7 vols. Dublin, 1856.

171. Ireland, History of, from the earliest period to the English Invasion: Rev. Geoffrey Keating: Translated from the Irish, and Noted by John O’Mahony. New York, 1857.