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eallachan (Callahan, Callaghan, Cellachan, Ceallaghan, Cellachain,Ceallachain) of Cashel (Caisal, Caisil), was the 10th century King of the Irish province of Munster (i.e. the southwestern quarter of Ireland) from whom the family names of Callahan and MacCarthy and their variations (e.g. Callaghan, O'Callahan, O'Callaghan, MacCarthaig, etc.) were derived. This website makes available historical sources and written accounts about his life and legacy including the Irish Medieval Saga of Ceallachan of Cashel, the various Irish Annals, and The Circuit of Ireland.

Right: A typical woman's dress in northwestern Europe during the 9th and 10th century. (After a drawing by Eudora Sellner. Published by The School Arts Magazine, 1923, The Davis Press:Worcester MA; color added).


  • Home Page (i.e. this page)
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQ's)
  • Genealogical Information and the Inauguration Ceremony of Ceallachan c. 940/44 A.D
  • Historical Context
  • Maps and 3D Computer animation
  • Geoffrey Keating's, History of Ireland
  • The Medieval Irish Saga of Ceallachan
  • The Irish Annals
  • The Circuit of Ireland
  • References / Bibliography
  • Links
  • Contact information
  • Gallery of Archaeological Artifacts
  • An Opinion
  • Right: Detail of a woodcut in the Ashmolean Museum described as an "Irish Chieftain," probably drawn in the early 16th century (after McClintock 1950: Figure 18; color added). During the 10th century men wore linen clothing. The saga below describes Irish men wearing "elegant tunics with smooth fringes, . . . and beautiful, finely wrought collars."

    Search this website (including the contents of the saga).


     A Brief Chronology  Sources
     Date of birth: unknown at this time.  

     Date of retirement or death of the preceeding king of Munster? Lorcan mac Coinligain (Condligan), (Lorcan's son was Cennedigh)

    unknown at this time.

    Before Lorcan mac Coinligain the King of Munster was Flaithbertach mac Inmainen (ob. 944, suggesting an early retirement).

     Byrne 1973: p. 278
     Date of inauguration: 930's?  
    The saga suggests that at the very beginning of his reign Ceallachan fought battles with the Vikings at Limerick, Cork, Cashel and Waterford and later fought the Desies. Some time afterwards he was captured by the Vikings of Dublin and released following an expediton to Armagh and Dundalk. The historical accuracy of the saga is in dispute. Caithreim Ceallachain Caisil
    Plunders Clonmacnoise: 936 AD

    Chronicon Scotorum: 935 AD

    Annals of Four Masters 941 AD

    Plunders Meath (Midhe), and Clonenagh (Cluan-eidhnech), and Killeigh (Cill-aidedh), as far as Clonard (Cluan-Iraaird): 939 AD. He is explicitly referred to as a king.

    Chronicon Scotorum 938 AD

    Annals of Clonmacnoise 933 AD

    Annals of the Four Masters 936 AD

    Murchertach mac Neill (Mortaugh mcNeale or Murtaugh of the leather coats) obtains the submission of the Osraige (east Munster) and ravages the Deisi of Munster: 941 AD. "King Donnough o'Melaghlyn and Mourtaugh mcNeale went over all Munster and Leinster and took their hostages" A.Clon. 933 AD  Annals of Clonmacnoise 933 

    Ceallachan defeats the Ossorie (east Muntser).

    Mortaugh mcNeale with the forces of the north went to Ossory and Desies and preyed them.

    Ceallachan defeats the Deisi in a battle: 941 AD.

    Annals of Clonmacnoise 933

    Annals of the Four Masters 936 AD

    Annals of Clonmacnoise 934 

    Chronicon Scotorum 940 AD

    Annals of Inisfallen 941 AD

    Annals of the Four Masters 939 AD

    The Deisi combined with the Osraige against Ceallachan and gained a battle. Annals of the Four Masters 939 AD
    Taking advantage of this, Muirchertach mac Neill in the winter of 941 AD makes a surprise wintertime circuit of Ireland with 1000 men and takes Ceallachan and others hostage. They may have been held at Aileach for 5 months, when Donnchadh, (Donnogh mcMelaghlin) the king of tara or Ireland refused the hostages, or as long as until Muirchertach's death in 943 AD.

    Annals of the Four Masters 939 AD 

    Circuit of Ireland 941 AD

    Annals of Clonmacnoise 934

    Muirchertach son of Niall, royal heir of Ireland dies a violent death "at the hands of the heathens" (Norse) in 943 AD. Annals of Inisfallen 943 AD
    After his release, Ceallachan defeats the Dal Cais led by Cennedigh (Kennedy), son of Lorcan, father of Brian Boru at Magh-duine (Moyddwyne) : 944 AD (Did Kennedy try to usurp Ceallachan's office while he was held hostage?)

    Chronicon Scotorum 943 AD

    Annals of Clonmacnoise 937 AD

     Annals of the Four Masters 942 AD

    Donnchadh, or Donough, the high king of Tara or Ireland dies 944 AD Circuit of Ireland 944 AD
    Cennedigh, son of Lorcan, King of Dal-Cais, dies.

    Chronicon Scotorum 950 AD

    Annals of Inisfallen 951 AD

    Annals of Clonmacnoise 964 AD

    Ryan and Bugge's inference that the last conflict with Leinster described in the saga occurred in 951 AD is dependent upon an assumption that the author of the saga correctly knew the date of death of Cormac mac Cuileannain to be 908. However, by 951 AD Donnchadh, king of Tara was dead (he died in 944) and the saga clearly indicates several times that he was alive during the events at Dundalk, Dublin, and Leinster. This suggests a much earlier date for the events in the saga.  Caithreim Ceallachain Caisil

    A foray by Ceallachan and by Donnchad, "plundering Cluan Ferta Brenainn and Cluan Moccu Nois" also "Deaghna-Beathra and Daimh-liag of Gailne"

    Clonmacnoise was plundered by the men of Munster with the Vikings of Limerick ("Foreigners of Luimnech") 953 AD.

    Annals of Inisfallen 951 AD

    Annals of the Four Masters 949 AD

    Chronicon Scotorum 952 AD

    Annals of the Four Masters 951 AD

    Date of death: 954 AD (age at death unknown at this time)

    Chronicon Scotorum 953 AD

    Annals of Inisfallen 954 AD

    Annals of Clonmacnoise 949 AD

    Annals of the Four Masters 952 AD

    Death of Donnchad, son of Ceallachan, king of Cashel. Annals of Inisfallen 963 AD


    Topics covered in Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the Irish saga Caithrem Ceallachain Caisil, The Victorious Career of Cellachan of Cashel or The Wars Between the Irishmen and the Norsemen in the Middle of the 10th Century. (Note: If you let the page load entirely it will bring you directly to the section in text that you have clicked on.) Since most Callahans probably moved to America in the 1840's during the period of the potato famine, and the saga was not translated into English until 1905 (in Norway), most Americans with a Callahan surname probably are unaware that a medieval Irish saga exists about their 10th century ancestor.

    PART 1

    PART 2

    PART 3

    PAGE SCANS (jpg's)


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