Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill

Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill
Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill
High King of Ireland
Reign 980-1002
Died 2 September 1022(1022-09-02)
Place of death Lough Ennel, County Westmeath
Buried Armagh
Consort Gormflaith ingen Murchada, Máel Muire ingen Amlaíb
Father Domnall Donn

Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill (948[1] - 2 September 1022), also called Máel Sechnaill Mór, Máel Sechnaill II, anglicized Malachy II, was King of Mide and High King of Ireland. His great victory at the Battle of Tara against Olaf Cuaran in 980 resulted in his and Ireland's control of the Kingdom of Dublin, and was of far greater consequence in Ireland and abroad than the much more famous Battle of Clontarf later fought by Brian Boru.

Máel Sechnaill belonged to the Clann Cholmáin sept of the Uí Néill. He was the grandson of Donnchad Donn, great-grandson of Flann Sinna and great-great-grandson of the first Máel Sechnaill, Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid. The Kings of Tara or High Kings of Ireland had for centuries alternated between septs of the Uí Néill. By Máel Sechnaill's time this alternating succession passed between Clann Cholmáin in the south and the Cenél nEógain in the north, so that he succeeded Domnall ua Néill in 980. This system, which had survived previous challenges by outsiders including the kings of Ulster, Munster and Leinster, and the Viking invasions, was ended by Brian Boru's so-called overthrow of Máel Sechnaill in 1002. In fact this was a bloodless shift resulting from the failure of the Northern Uí Néill, his kinsmen, to support Máel Sechnaill against the aspirations of the extremely militarized overlord of Munster. Brian would have little more success with them himself.

Defeat of Olaf Cuarán

In 980 Olaf Cuarán, King of Dublin, summoned auxiliaries from Norse-ruled Scottish Isles and from Man and attacked Meath, but was defeated by Máel Sechnaill at Tara. Reginald, Olaf's heir, was killed. Máel Sechnaill followed up his victory with a siege of Dublin which surrendered after three days and nights.

Because of the death of Brian Boru, his son, and many other clan leaders, at Clontarf, he succeeded in regaining the titular High Kingship, with the aid of his northern kinsman Flaithbertach Ua Néill, but High Kingship, albeit with opposition, did not reappear until Diarmait mac Maíl na mBó of Leinster rose to power. Clann Cholmáin provided no further High Kings, but the northern Uí Néill of the Cenél nEógain provided two: Domnall Ua Lochlainn and Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn.

Marriages and issue

Máel Sechnaill had two known wives:

His senior descedant, as of the mid-20th century, was Cornelius Frederic McLoughlin, Chief of the Name, born 11 July 1897.

Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Muirchertach mac Mael Sechnaill
King of Mide
c. 975 – 1022
Succeeded by
Mael Sechnaill Got mac Mael Sechnaill
Preceded by
Domnall ua Néill
High King of Ireland
Succeeded by
Brian Boru
Preceded by
Brian Boru
High King of Ireland
Succeeded by
Diarmait mac Maíl na mBó


  1. ^ Annals of Ulster - Corpus of Electronic Texts
  • Brady, John: Kingdom and County of Meath, 6-13. Ríocht na Mídhe I, 2, (1956)
  • Moran, W.: The hereditary lands and Royal Tuath of the O'Melaghlins, 33-44.Ríocht na Mídhe I, 4, (1958)
  • Moran, W.: Uisneagh, Tara and the rise of monarchy, 3-17.Ríocht na Mídhe II, 1, (1959)
  • Cox, Liam: The O Maeleachlainn Kings of Meath, 22-53.Ríocht na Mídhe V, 2, (1972)
  • O'Flynn, Eoin:The career of Máelsechnaill II, Ríocht na Mídhe XX (2009), pp. 29-68

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