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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).

Toirdhealbhach Ua Conchobair
King of Connacht; High King of Ireland
King of Connacht
PredecessorMuircheartach Ua Briain
SuccessorMuircheartach Mac Lochlainn
Spouse6 known
FatherRuaidrí na Saide Buide
MotherMór Ua Briain


Family backgroundEdit

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), and 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 gained the kingship at different times, but depended upon the support of Ua Briain.


The Cross of Cong, a reliquary and processional cross that contains a piece of the True Cross, was commissioned by Toirdelbach and made at Roscommon.

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. "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 Gaillimhe 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.

Tairrdelbach has been summed up as follows:

"[he] was fifty years King of Connacht, one of the longest reigns of any European monarch. He dominated Irish politics .. leading armies and navies all over Éire ... subjugating entire kingdoms. A superb military commander by any standards, his victory at Móin Mór in 1151 was among the most decisive in Irish history, inflicting 7000 enemy casualties ... An innovative tyrant, his creation of castles was novel in Éire ... as was his apparent wish to introduce male primogeniture ... Commercial and political networks connected him with fellow-rulers in Britain, Francia, and Scandinavia. He reorganised lordships and kingdoms as suited him, carving out a well-defended personal domain within Connacht, an imperium that he would have span all Éire. Dún Mór was its caput, Tuaim Dá Ghualann the seat of its archbishop, and Dún Gaillimhe its main port - military and merchant. Quite an achievement for what is perceived as the 'timeless' western 'fringe' of twelfth-century Europe, but was a dynamic society ruled as aggressively as those in 'feudal' Europe." (Martyn, 2016, p. 35)

Móin MórEdit

Despite giving hostages to Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn in 1150, and thereby ceasing to be King of Ireland, Tairrdelbach was still capable of active overlordship in southern Ireland. In 1151 he and his allies - King Diarmaid Mac Murchadha of Leinster, Maelseachlainn son of Murchadh Ó Maelseachlainn of Mide, King Tighearnán Ó Ruairc of Kingdom of Breifne - met the forces of King Toirdhealbhach Ó Briain of Thomond at Móin Mór near Glanmire. In what was one of the most decisive battles ever fought in Ireland, Tairrdelbach defeated Ó Briain, killing "7000". According to the Annals of Tigernach:

"Until sand of sea and stars of heaven are numbered, no one will reckon all the sons of the kings and chiefs and great lords of the men of Munster that were killed there, so that of the three battalions of Munster that had come thither, none escaped save only one shattered battalion."

Wives and childrenEdit

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):

" Toirdhealbhach 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. Conchobar Ua Conchobair, fl. 11261144
  2. – unnamed daughter, wife of Murchadh Ua hEaghra, murdered 1134
  3. Aedh Dall Ua Conchobair, fl. 11361194
  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.


Family treeEdit

Uí Conchobair, Kings of Connacht.
Dal gCais, Kings of Munster.
Aed in Gai Bernaig (d. 1067)
Toirdelbach Ua Briain (1009–1086)
Ruaidrí na Saide Buide Ua Conchobair (d. 1118)
Mór (d. 1088)Tadc (d. 1086)Diarmait (1060–1118)
Muirchertach (d. 1119)
Niall (d. 1093)TadcConchobar (d. 1103)DomnallDubhchobhlaigh (d. 1131)Tairrdelbach, 1088–1156.
ToirrdelbachConchobarTadg Glae
CathalAedDomnall Kings of Connacht.
Kings of Munster and Thomond.
Domnall (d. 1153.)
Ruaidri (d. 1151.)


  • 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
  • Martyn, Adrian, The Tribes of Galway: 1124–1642, Galway, 2016. ISBN 978-0-9955025-0-5
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