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Celtic peoples in Ptolemy's Ireland.

The Darini (Δαρῖνοι) (manuscript variant: Darnii [Δάρνιοι]) were a people of ancient Ireland mentioned in Ptolemy's 2nd century Geography as living in south Antrim and north Down.[1] Their name implies descent from an ancestor called Dáire (*Dārios)[2], as claimed by several historical peoples, including the Dál Riata and Dál Fiatach in the same area of eastern Ulster[3] as well the Érainn (Iverni) of Munster. An early name for Dundrum, County Down, is recorded as Dún Droma Dáirine, and the name Dáirine was applied to the Érainn dynasty of the Corcu Loígde (as descendants of Dáire Doimthech), further suggesting a relationship between the Darini and the Iverni.[2]

The cognate Dari(o) ("agitation, tumult, rage") is a form widely attested in the Gaulish language, especially in personal names.[4] An example from the Welsh language is cynddaredd ("rage"). Thus the Darini may have been considered a people "of great violence", or descendants of a "God of Tumult". Over time, however, the Irish personal name Dáire would develop the meaning of "rutty" or "violently horny" ("fruitful"), apparently following a meaning of "bestial rage".[5]

It is worth noting that Dáirine can sometimes refer to the so-called Érainn dynasties altogether and not only to the Corcu Loídge and their corelatives in Munster.[6]

Cú Roí mac Dáire is a god or king from Munster who appears frequenly in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, possibly reflecting memories of the prehistoric Darini when their power was great in Ireland. The Dál Fiatach of Ulster later claimed descent from his (probably divine) clan, the Clanna Dedad,[7] further associating the two provinces... although seemingly in contradiction to their descent from the Ulaid or Voluntii proper, until it is remembered that the Darini and Voluntii lived adjacent to one another in Ptolemy's Ireland and were no doubt ancient kin. Cú Roí's father was Dáire mac Dedad. The Clanna Dedad take their name from his grandfather, Dedu mac Sin.

The legendary Conaire Mór, ancestor of the Dál Riata, Múscraige, Corco Duibne, and Corca Baiscinn, was said to descend from Íar mac Dedad, brother of Dáire. This is simply another variant of the root present in Iverni/Érainn.[8] Finally, the name Íth, given in the genealogies as the ultimate ancestor of the Corcu Loígde (Dáirine) and offering some confusion about their parentage and relation to the Iverni, in fact preserves the same Indo-European root *peiH- ("to be fat, swell"),[9] thus in effect completing a basic picture of the Darini/Dáirine and their kindred in later historical Ireland.


Modern descendants

In addition to a number of Scottish clans, as well as the British Royal Family (through the House of Dunkeld), several Irish kindreds of note, in the provinces of Ulster and Munster, trace their origins either among the Darini proper or peoples closely related to them. These include Haughey/Hoey (Dál Fiatach), O'Driscoll (Corcu Loígde), and O'Shea (Corcu Duibne). As a result of the changing politics of the last two millennia and the tendency of dynasties to eventually fade or mismanage their affairs, the majority are now found along the shores of the southern province.

In Great Britain, the prominent House of Neville claim kinship with the House of Dunkeld, and thus descent from the Cenél nGabráin of Dál Riata. The Clan Maclean claim descent from the rival Cenél Loairn.

See also


  1. ^ Ptolemy, Geography 2.1
  2. ^ a b T. F. O'Rahilly, Early Irish History and Mythology, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1946, p. 2, 7
  3. ^ Donnchadh Ó Corráin, "Prehistoric and Early Christian Ireland", in R. F. Foster (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland, Oxford University Press, 2001
  4. ^ Xavier Delamarre, Dictionnaire de la Langue Gauloise. Paris: Editions Errance. 2001. p. 113
  5. ^ see Delamarre
  6. ^ electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language Letter: D1 (D-Degóir), Columns 35 and 36
  7. ^ The Kingdom of Ulster
  8. ^ *Eoin MacNeill, "Early Irish Population Groups: their nomenclature, classification and chronology", in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy (C) 29. 1911. pp. 59–114
  9. ^ John T. Koch. "Ériu", in John T. Koch (ed.). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. 2006. pp. 709-18

Further reading



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