AIRGIALLA   Anglicised as Uriel or Oriel.

A region of small kingdoms in Ulster until the 13th century, which lay in an area where now are found the counties of Fermanagh, Monaghan, Armagh and Louth, and, in its early years, in Tyrone and Londonderry as well.

English: png map of Ireland circa 900, with ov...

English: png map of Ireland circa 900, with overkingdoms and principal towns indicated (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In those early years the people of Ulaid, who had dominated northern Ireland, were pushed back to the lands east of the Boyne, probably by Airgialla and the Uí Néill together.   Even if it was the work of Airgialla alone, the little kingdoms composing it, which usually acknowledged one of the kings as over-king, were unable to stand up to the Uí Néill, and they were driven from the more northern lands.    The Northern Uí Néill had control of northern Armagh by the mid-9th century.    After that, the fluctuating territory of Airgialla formed a buffer zone between the lands of the Northern and Southern Uí Néill, and its subservient status may well be suggested by its name, for it is generally believed that it means hostage-givers.

When the Normans arrived in the later 12th century, eastern Uriel came within their orbit.   They usually held the coastal zone, or English Uriel, later the County of Louth, a region which, because it was linked to the Pale, came to be thought of as part of Leinster, whereas the other lands connected with Airgialla are in Ulster.   Inland, the extent of Anglo-Norman influence varied in Irish Uriel, later Monaghan and southern Armagh.

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