Toirdhealbhach Ua Conchobhair

For the association football player, see Turlough O'Connor (footballer).

Toirdhealbhach Ua Conchobhair (old spelling: Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair) (1088–1156), anglicised Turlough Mór O'Connor / O'Conor, was King of Connacht (1106–1156) and High King of Ireland (ca. 1120–1156).

Family background

The youngest son of Ruaidrí na Saide Buide (died 1118), his mother was Mór, daughter of Toirdelbach Ua Briain (1009–14 July 1086). His brothers were Niall (killed 1093), Tadc (killed 1097), Conchobar (murdered 1103), Domnall, King of Connacht (deposed 1106). There was at least one sister, Dubhchobhlaigh Bean Ua hEaghra of Luighne Connacht (died 1131). Ruaidrí was married to four or more women.

In 1092, King Ruaidrí was blinded by Flaithbertaigh Ua Flaithbertaigh, an incident which led to the domination of Connacht by the Dal gCais of Munster, led by Tairrdelbach's uncle, Muirchertach Ua Briain, who possibly took Tairrdelbach into his household to groom him for the day when he would be king of Connacht. (p. 471,MIAE 2005)

However this would not occur until 1106; until then, Connacht endured a prolonged period of civil strife between different factions of the Uí Conchobair, Uí Ruairc of Bréifne as well as more minor families of the Uí Briúin and Síol Muireadaigh, including the long-displaced Ui Fiachrach Aidhne. Tairrdelbach's brothers Tadc and Domnall both gaining the kingship at different times, but depended upon the support of Ua Briain.

Family tree

                                             Dal gCais, Kings of Munster.
   Uí Conchobair, Kings of Connacht.                    |
    |                                                   Toirdelbach Ua Briain (d. 1086)
    |                                                   |
    Aed in Gai Bernaig (d. 1067)                        |______________________________________________________
    |                                                   |                 |              |                    |
    |                                                   |                 |              |                    |
    Ruaidrí na Saide Buide Ua Conchobair (d. 1118)  = Mór (d. 1088) Tadc (d. 1086) Diarmait (d. 1119) Muirchertach (d. 1119)
    |                                                   |                                |
    |________________________________________           |                                |___________________________________
    |       |       |         |            |            |                                |             |          |          |
    |       |       |         |            |            |                                |             |          |          |
    Niall Tadc Conchobar Domnall Dubhchobhlaigh     Tairrdelbach, 1088–1156.   Toirrdelbach Conchobar Tadg Glae Donnchad
   d. 1093   |     d. 1103      |         d. 1131.         |                                |
    ________|                 |                         |                                |
    |       |               Domnall Kings of Connacht.          Kings of Munster and Thomond.
    |       |                 |
  Cathal Aed                |
    |                       Ruaidri
    |                        d. 1151.
  d. 1153.


In 1106, with the support of his uncle Muirchertach Ua Briain, eighteen-year old Tairrdelbach deprived his older brother Domnall of the kingship of Connacht. He would remain king of Connacht for fifty years.

"Tairrdelbach carefully maintained his alliance with Ua Briain, sending troops to aid the high king against the Ui Ruaric of Bréifne in 1109. But he was also determined to defend his kingdom against predators such as Domnall Mac Lochlainn (d. 1121), king of the north of Ireland." (O'Byrne, p. 471)

Tairrdelbach constructed Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe ("Fort at the Mouth (bottom) of the Gaillimh") in 1124. A small settlement grew up around this fort and eventually this developed into Galway city.

The Cross of Cong, made at the behest of Tairrdelbach was designed to be placed on top of a religious staff or crosier. It was made for the Cathedral church at Tuam. The cross was subsequently moved to Cong Abbey. He is also believed to have refounded Cong Abbey ca. 1135.

Wives and children

Tairrdelbach had the following known wives:

  • Caillech Dé Ní Eidin
  • Órfhlaith Ní Mailshechlainn, died 1115
  • Mór Ní Lochlainn, died 1122
  • Tailltiu Ní Mailshechlainn, sister of Órfhlaith, died 1127
  • Derbforgaill Ní Lochlainn, died 1151.
  • Dubhcobhlach Ní Maíl Ruanaid, died 1168.

Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh, writing in 1649, wrote the following account of Tairrdelbach's family (219.16 – 220.13, pp. 486–489):

" Toirdehealbach Mor s. Ruaidhri, high-king of Ireland, had many sons; Ruaidhri, king of Ireland also, Cathal Croibhdhearg, king of Connacht, Domhnall Mor, tainst of Connacht (to him was finally granted the hundredfold increase) were his three sons by his wife; Maol Iosa, coarb of Coman, was the eldest of his family (and his heir), and Aodh Dall and Tadhg Alainn and Brian Breifneach and Brian Luighneach, Maghnus and Lochlainn, Muircheartach Muimneach, Donnchadh, Maol Seachlainn, Tadhg of Fiodhnacha, Cathal Mioghran, two [sons named] Conchabhar, Diarmaid, Domhnall, Muirgheas, Tadhg of Dairean, Murchadh Fionn."

  1. Conchobair Ua Conchobair, fl. 1126–1144
  2. – unnamed daughter, wife of Murchadh Ua hEaghra, murdered 1134
  3. Aedh Dall Ua Conchobair, fl. 1136–1194
  4. Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, fl. 1136–1198
  5. – Tadhg Alainn Ua Conchobair, died 1143/1144
  6. – Cathal Migarán Ua Conchobair, died 1151 or 1152
  7. Cathal Crobdearg Ua Conchobair, 1152–1224
  8. Donnell Mor Mideach Ua Conchobair, died 1176
  9. Brian Breifneach Ua Conchobair, fl. 1156
  10. Brian Luighnech Ua Conchobhair, fl. 1156–1181
  11. Maghnus Ua Conchobair, died 1181
  12. Mór Ní Conchobair, died 1190
  13. Muirchertach Muimhnech Ua Conchobair, died 1210
  14. Máel Ísa, Abbot of Roscommon, died 1223
  15. – Muirgheas the Canon, died 1224
  16. – Aedh
  17. – Maghnus
  18. – Lochlann
  19. – Donchadh
  20. – Maol Seachlainn
  21. – Tadhg Fiodhnacha
  22. – Conchobair
  23. – Diarmaid
  24. – Tadhg Dairean
  25. – Murchadh Finn
  26. – Uran

Via his son, Brian Luighnech O Conchobhair, descended the dynasty of the Ó Conchobhair Sligigh, and from Cathal Crobdearg Ua Conchobair his youngest son both the O Conchobhair Ruadh and the Ó Conchubhair Donn.

External links



  • Leabhar na nGenealach
  • Annals of the Four Masters, ed. John O'Donovan, Dublin, 1856
  • Annals of Lough Ce, ed. W.M. Hennessey, London, 1871.
  • Irish Kings and High Kings, Francis John Byrne, 3rd revised edition, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2001. ISBN 978-1-85182-196-9
  • A very puzzling Irish Missal, John A. Claffey, Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, Volume 55, 2003, pp. 1–12.
  • Emmet O'Byrne. "Ua Conchobair, Tairrdelbach", in Seán Duffy (ed.). Medieval Ireland: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. 2005. pp. 471–4
  • The Inauguration site of Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair, Elizabeth FitzPatrick, in Assembly Places and Practices in Medieval Europe, ed. Aliki Pantos and Sarah Semple, Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2004. ISBN 1-85182-665-3.
  • Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland, c. 1100–1600:A Cultural Landscape Study, Elizabeth FitzPatrick, Boydell Press, 2004. 978 1843830900
  • Freya Verstraten. "Ua Conchobair", in Seán Duffy (ed.). Medieval Ireland: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. 2005. pp. 464–6
Preceded by
Domnall Ua Conchobair
King of Connacht
Succeeded by
Ruaidri Ua Conchobair
Preceded by
Muircheartach Ua Briain
High King of Ireland
Succeeded by
Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn
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