Ireland again Divided

Justin McCarthy
Chapter II | Start of Chapter

After Brian's death there came up no man capable of reuniting the whole Celtic population under his rule, and the resident Danes were only too ready to avail themselves of any dissensions going on among the Irish ruling families, and to support one Chieftain or to oppose another, according as it might seem to suit their own immediate interests. Thus the condition of Ireland, when the rule of the strong man ended, became, so far as its system of rule was concerned, very much the same as before the birth of Brian. The country was once again divided into the dominions of separate Chiefs or Kings, all professing an allegiance, which was merely nominal, to the government of one Sovereign Chief. The country was divided amongst four rulers. Each of these four dominions was but a federation of tribes and families. The four divisions were those we now know as the provinces of Leinster, Ulster, Munster, and Connaught. Lagenia was then the name of Leinster, Mononia Munster, Conacia Connaught, and Ulidia Ulster. It is believed that with the reign of King Brian came into settled use the fashion of describing Irish families by the prefix O or Mac, in each case indicating descent, and showing that the head of the family was the son or grandson of some distinguished founder or leader of a sept.