Eterscél Mór

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Eterscél Mór ("the great"), son of Íar mac Dedad, a descendant of Óengus Tuirmech Temrach, of the Érainn of Munster was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, a High King of Ireland. He succeeded Eochu Airem.

He features in the Middle Irish saga Togail Bruidne Dá Derga (the Destruction of Dá Derga's Hostel).[1] He has no children, and it is prophesied that a woman of unknown race will bear him a son. He finds and forcibly marries the beautiful Mess Búachalla, daughter of Étaín and the former High King Eochu Feidlech (or, in Tochmarc Étaíne, his brother Eochu Airem and his daughter by Étaín),[2] who, because of her incestuous conception, had been exposed but found and brought up by a herdsman and his wife. One night, in Eterscél's house, she is visited by an unknown man who flies in her skylight in the form of a bird, and she has his child, the future High King Conaire Mór, who is brought up as Eterscél's son.

Eterscél ruled for five or six years, at the end of which he was killed by Nuadu Necht in the battle of Aillenn. The Lebor Gabála Érenn synchronises his reign with that of the Roman emperor Augustus (27 BC – AD 14) and the birth of Christ, and makes him contemporary with legendary provincial kings Conchobar mac Nessa, Cairbre Nia Fer, Cú Roí and Ailill mac Máta.[3] The chronology of Geoffrey Keating's Foras Feasa ar Éirinn dates his reign to 70–64 BC,[4] that of the Annals of the Four Masters to 116–111 BC.[5]

Preceded by High King of Ireland
LGE 1st century BC/1st century AD
FFE 70–64 BC
AFM 116–111 BC
Succeeded by


  1. ^ Jeffrey Gantz (trans.), Early Irish Myths and Sagas, Penguin Classics, 1981, pp. 60-106
  2. ^ Gantz, 1981, pp. 37-59
  3. ^ R. A. Stewart Macalister (ed. & trans.), Lebor Gabála Érenn: The Book of the Taking of Ireland Part V, Irish Texts Society, 1956, p. 299-301
  4. ^ Geoffrey Keating, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn 1.37
  5. ^ Annals of the Four Masters M5084-5089

Further readingEdit

Primary sourcesEdit

Togail Bruidne Dá Derga (Recension II), ed. Eleanor Knott (1936). Togail Bruidne Da Derga. Mediaeval and Modern Irish Series 8. Dublin: DIAS.; tr. Whitley Stokes (1901–1902). "The Destruction of Dá Derga's Hostel". Revue Celtique. 22–3: 9–61, 165–215, 282–329, 390–437 (vol. 22), 88 (vol. 23).