Echtra mac nEchach Muigmedóin ‘The adventures of the sons of Eochaid Muigmedóin’

  • Middle Irish
  • prose
  • Cycles of the Kings
A composite text about Níall Noígíallach, his early life and accession to the kingship of Ireland.
Dublin, National Library of Ireland, MS G 390
pp. 97–107
Copy from BB
Dublin, National Library of Ireland, MS G 527
pp. 159–179
Copy from BB
Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 24 B 32
pp. 115–122
  • Middle Irish
prose (primary)


Cycles of the Kings
Cycles of the Kings
id. 80


Níall Noígíallach
Níall Noígíallach
(supp. fl. 4th/5th century)
high-king of Ireland in early and medieval Irish tradition

See more


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] OʼGrady, Standish Hayes, Silva Gadelica (I–XXXI): a collection of tales in Irish, vol. 1: Irish text, London: Williams & Norgate, 1892.
Digitale-sammlungen.de: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>, <link> CELT – various: <link>, <link>, <link>, <link>, <link>, <link>
Vol. 1, 326–330 Edited from BB direct link
[tr.] OʼGrady, Standish Hayes, Silva Gadelica (I–XXXI): a collection of tales in Irish, vol. 2: translation and notes, London: Williams & Norgate, 1892.
Digitale-sammlungen.de: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
[ed.] [tr.] Stokes, Whitley [ed. and tr.], “The death of Crimthann son of Fidach, and the adventures of the sons of Eochaid Muigmedón”, Revue Celtique 24 (1903): 172–207, 446 (add. and corr.).
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
190–207 edited from YBL direct link
[tr.] Carey, John [tr.], “[Various contributions]”, in: John T. Koch, and John Carey (eds), The Celtic Heroic Age. Literary sources for ancient Celtic Europe and early Ireland & Wales, 4th ed., 1, Aberystwyth: Celtic Studies Publications, 2003. [Various].
§ 97 [‘Echtra Mac nEchach The Adventures of the Sons of Eochaid Mugmedón’]

Secondary sources (select)

Downey, Clodagh, “Intertextuality in Echtra mac nEchdach Mugmedóin”, in: John Carey, Máire Herbert, and Kevin Murray (eds), Cín Chille Cúile: texts, saints and places. Essays in honour of Pádraig Ó Riain, 9, Aberystwyth: Celtic Studies Publications, 2004. 77–104.
Jaski, Bart, Early Irish kingship and succession, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000.  
Early medieval Ireland was politically fragmented, with a multitude of lordships and kingships ruled by dynasties of which many were genealogically inter-related. This book begins by discussing the political power of the Irish lords and kings over their subjects, their roles as mediators between natural and divine forces and their position as rulers over their subjects. It then moves on to a detailed analysis of the rule of succession in early Ireland. A lord or king had to be qualified for his office, and for this many considerations were taken into account, such as his pedigree, the status of his mother, his behaviour and his physical appearance. This is widely evidenced in legal material, saga literature, annals and other sources, and the author sets these notions in a wider context of various aspects of Irish political and social life, such as the division of the inheritance, loss of noble and royal status, clientship and suretyship. The meaning of the titles rígdamna and the office of tánaise ríg are also examined. The Irish custom of succession forms the background to the tendency of close and distant relatives to compete for power and of the ruling dynasties to expand and fragment. It also explains why it was so difficult for one dynasty to become permanently paramount in Ireland. The book concludes with a discussion of the nature of the kingship of Tara.
Ó Corráin, Donnchadh, “Historical need and literary narrative”, in: D. Ellis Evans, John G. Griffith, and E. M. Jope (eds), Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Celtic studies, held at Oxford, from 10th to 15th July, 1983, Oxford: D. E. Evans, 1986. 141–158.
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
October 2010, last updated: January 2024