Kingdom of Breifne
The Kingdom and Princes of
Breifne or Bréifne ([ˈbrʲeːfnʲe]; anglicized Breffny)
was a medieval kingdome Ireland. Breifne
included what is part of Ancient Annaly, County Longford County Leitrim, County
Cavan and parts of neighbouring
counties, and corresponds roughly to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kilmore. Breifne emerged by the 10th century, as a confederation
of túatha headed by an overking drawn from
the Uí Briúin Bréifne.
By the 11th century, Bréifne was controlled by
Ruairc (O'Rourke) dynasty. The
Breifne kingdom reached the height of its power in 1200s under Tigernán Ua Ruairc.
During the latter part of his reign, Bréifne took part in campaigns against the Norman invasion of Ireland. His assassination by the Anglo-Normans in
1172 was followed by a succession dispute, and a conflict between the Ua Ruairc and Ua
Kingdoms - Following the Battle of Magh Slecht in 1256, Bréifne split into West
Breifne (ruled by the Ua Ruairc)
Breifne (ruled by the Ua
In about 800 AD, The lesser
Longford, O’Rourke and family, made claim
on the throne of Breifne. A feud and war continued for two hundred years between O’Reilly and O’Rourke
with various success on both sides. Eventually the High Irish King at the council of the Kings divided
Breifne in two: East and West.
O’Reilly continued to rule the Kingdom of Breifne East, with the greater population and access to the sea
port of Drogheda while O’Rourke was granted the Kingdom of West Breifne, land bound portion of the western area of
County Meath, now known as Westmeath. O'Rourke submitted to the crown and the crown granted many of
these lands in the 1500s to then Nugents and Lords of Delvin and Earls of
Westmeath. Bréifne was part of the province of
Connacht until the
reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
The last King of West Breifne was Brian
Brian na Múrtha Ó Ruairc
) (c. 1540 – 1591) was King and lord of West
in Ireland from 1566 until his execution in 1591. He reigned during the later stages of
the Tudor conquest of Ireland
and his rule was marked by English encroachments on his lands. Despite being knighted by the English in 1567, he
would later be proclaimed a rebel and forced to flee his kingdom in 1590. He travelled to Scotland
in early 1591 seeking assistance from King
, however he was to become the first man extradited
on allegations of crimes committed in Ireland and was sentenced to death in London in November
Before and after King O'Rourke of West Breifne was executed, the the
Lords of Meath and Crown of England granted lands in Westmeath and Longford to Baron Delvin. These lands of
Longford constitute the part of the West Breifne granted to Delvin before and after Longford was separated from
Breifne's Districts in Annaly and
- Magh Breacraighe [or Breacruighe]: a district near the borders of Co. Longford and Leitrim. Also
described in NW county Westmeath.
- Muinter Geradhain: on the west side of Lough Gowna in Co. Longford, possibly extending into south
: likely the patrimony of the O'Farrells, of Conmaicne descent (Clann Fergus), including much of north and
central co. Longford.
Tribes of Breifne's Longford
- Tellach Congaláin of Muintir Anghaile [co. Longford].
- Tellach Connucan of Muintir Gillgáin [co.Longford].
- Tellach Tanaide
of the Cenél Luachain on the west of Lough Gowna, co. Longford.
Placenames of Breifne, O'Rourke Family History and Folklore. ... Longford. A summary of some of the chief septs and territories in or near
Breifne: O Ruairc ...
Map of Breifne Kingdom including Annaly Below
Princes of Breifne
Notice Country of Breny and Country of Anally above.
The ousted Brian Óg again sought to strike a deal with the English allowing him to keep his lands but this was
flatly refused. Finally, in September 1603, King James I granted Sir Tadhg O’Rourke "
the country or lordship of Breny Ui Ruairc and Muinter Eoluis
". On 28 January 1604 Brian Óg died of fever in exile in Galway
and was buried in
the Friary of Ross Errilly