King of Ireland


July 3, 2022

The appellation King of Ireland (in Irish “Ri na hÉireann”) has been used during three distinct periods of Irish history. During the centuries before 1169, Ireland was likely becoming a kingdom ruled by a High King of Ireland. Following the 1169 Cambro-Norman incursion into Ireland, Henry II and his successors became "Lords of Ireland". The Treaty of Windsor of 1175 recognized as sovereign of all Ireland which was not under Norman authority the last native king, but the Cambro-Norman incursions, which continued, weakened his authority, and after his abdication, this title fell into disuse. After declaring himself supreme head of the Church of England, Henry VIII requested and obtained from the Irish Parliament in 1541 the text of a law establishing him as King of Ireland and head of the Church of Ireland from 1542. Now, Ireland was formerly a feudal possession of the papacy. In 1155, by the Bull Laudabiliter, Pope Adrian IV had granted the sovereign of England Henry II the right to govern this country as "Lord of Ireland". By arrogating to himself the title of King of Ireland, after his excommunication in 1533 for his refusal to henceforth recognize the spiritual authority of the Pope, the English King Henry VIII effectively eliminated papal sovereignty over this territory. In response, Pope Paul IV issued a bull on June 7, 1555 granting the title of King of Ireland to Philip II of Spain. But because of the failure of the Invincible Armada, Philip II was unable to gain a foothold in Ireland, and the combined efforts of the Spaniards and Gaelic Irish to roll back English rule over Ireland were crushed at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. The title "King of Ireland" was then used until January 1, 1801, the date of application of the second Act of Union, which merged the Kingdom of Ireland and Great Britain to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain. -Britain and Ireland. After the establishment in 1922 of the Irish Free State as an independent dominion within the British Empire, the King continued to be the British monarch but as a separate crown. However, George V continued to rule Northern Ireland as King of the United Kingdom. In the Free State in 1927, the old Anglo-Irish title 'King of Ireland' was revived to emphasize the status of the Free State as a distinct monarchy. In 1949, Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, severed the last link with the monarch by becoming a republic, thereby leaving the Commonwealth and ending the title of "King of Ireland".


The Kings of Ireland until 1607

Gaelic Ireland had between five and nine main kingdoms, which were further subdivided into dozens of smaller kingdoms. The main kingdoms were: Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Mide, Ulster, Ailech, Airgíalla, Osraige. Until the end of Gaelic Ireland they kept on fluctuating, growing or shrinking, disappearing entirely or merging into new entities. The names Connacht, Ulster, Leinster and Munster are still in use, now applying to modern provinces of Ireland. Below is a list of the main kingdoms of Ireland and their kings: Ard ri Erenn — mythical, legendary or historical rulers up to 1198; Kings of Tara — the most sacred title in Irish history; often confused with "High King"; kings of Ailech — Uí Néill of Cenél nEógain (Tír Eógain), until the destruction of Ailech in 1101; Kings of Tir Éogain — successor kingdom to Ailech, centered on Dungannon and present-day County Tyrone; dissolved 1607; kings of Tir Conaill — Uí Néill of Cenél Conaill also until 1607 in present-day County Donegal; kings of Airgíalla — a federation of n