The Kings of Ailech belonged to the northern Uí Néill and took their name from the Grianán of Ailech (Irish: Grianán Ailigh), a hillfort on top of Greenan Mountain in modern County Donegal. The restored fort stands in a commanding position at the base of the Inishowen peninsula overlooking Lough Swilly to the west and Lough Foyle to the east.
Eoghan mac Néill (old orthography: Eóġan mac Néill) (died 465) son of Niall Noígiallach, was an Irish king who founded the kingdom of Ailech, later Tír Eoghain (modern County Tyrone) in the 5th century. He was also the ancestor of the Cenél nEoghain dynasty and their septs (MacLaughlin, O'Neill, Corrigan, etc.).
Eogan was a close friend of Saint Patrick and received Patricks blessing. With his brother the high king Lóegaire mac Néill (d.462), he was one of the judges in a dispute over the succession to Amalgaid (d.440), king of Connacht among his sons competing to rule their territory of Tir Amalgaidh in northwest Connacht.
Eoghan, King of Tír Eoghain, and Prince of Inis Eoghain is buried at St. Patrick's Church in Iskaheen, Innishowen, Donegal. A plaque there states "Eoghan Prince of Iniseoghain, Son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. Died 465 of grief for his brother Conall. Baptised by Patrick and buried in Uisce Chaoin"
His sons included Muiredach mac Eógain, his successor in Ailech; Fergus, founder of the Cenél Fergusa; and Echach Binnich, founder of the Cenél mBinnig.
|The old graveyard and the ruined church in Iskaheen - the resting place of Eógan mac Néill|
|The plaque marking the burial place of Eógan mac Néill|
To be continued: