Princes of Éile

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Ó Cearbhaill
O'Carroll Shield.png
Armorial Bearings of O'Carroll
CountryKingdom of Éile
Parent houseCiannachta
  • King of Éile
  • Prince of Éile
FounderCian mac Ailill Aulom
Final rulerTiege Caoc O'Carroll, King of Éile
Current headFredrick Arthur O'Carroll, Prince of Éile
Cadet branchesO'Carrol of Maryland

The Princes of Éile (commonly anglicised as Ely), were Princes of a medieval petty kingdom in northern Munster, Ireland. The historic Barony of Eliogarty was the core of the kingdom and its rulers were styled the Princes/Princesses or Kings/Queens of Eile. The Royal House of O'Carroll (Irish: Ó Cearbhaill) is a Gaelic Irish clan which is the most prominent sept of the Ciannachta (also known as Clan Cian) and ruled this petty kingdom for centuries until 1552. Their genealogies claim that they are kindred with the Eóganachta (themselves led by the MacCarthys), descended paternally from Ailill Aulom. The last monarch Tiege Caoc O'Carroll surrendered and regranted to the Tudor Kingdom of Ireland.


The clan or people of Éile claimed descent from Céin (Cian), a younger son of Ailill Aulom and brother of Éogan Mór, and thus had kinship with the Eóganachta. It has been suggested that the Éile were actually of Laigin origin and that they may have been the rulers of the Cashel area before the rise of the Eóganachta, as suggested by their role in Eóganachta origin tales, such as the Senchas Fagbála Caisil.[1][2][3] Éile was bounded to the north by the Kingdom of Mide, to the south by Cashel and to the east by the Kingdom of Ossory. It consisted of the baronies of Clonlisk, Ballybritt, Ikerrin and Eliogarty. By the 12th century, approximately one thousand years later, it was much reduced in size.

The area then known as Éile was divided into two principal regions or lordships, the northern of which, called Éile Uí Chearbhaill (Ely O'Carroll), was ruled the O'Carroll family. The southern lordship, called Éile Uí Fhogartaigh (Ely O'Fogarty), was ruled by the O'Fogarty family, who may have been of a separate lineage, possibly Dalcassian, from the O'Carrolls.[4] Alternatively they were actually kindred but regional politics influenced later genealogists to associate them with different provincial dynasties at different periods. John O'Hart finds an Uí Néill descent from Fogartach mac Néill for the O'Fogartys.[5]

Ely O'Carroll originally belonged to Munster, but is now located in County Offaly in the Barony's of Clonlisk and Ballybritt. The boundary between Ely O'Carroll and the ancient Kingdom of Mide is co-terminous with the present boundary between the diocese of Roman Catholic Diocese of Killaloe and the Diocese of Meath. That portion of County Offaly which belongs to the diocese of Killaloe was Ely O'Carroll and originally belonged to Munster. Ely O'Fogarty included the baronies of Ikerrin and Eliogarty, now in County Tipperary, Munster. After the Norman invasion of Ireland, these baronies were added to the Earl of Ormond's county palatine. The native chieftains, O'Meagher and O'Fogarty, were left in possession of their lands, but were obliged to pay tribute to the Earl of Ormond.[6]

New World

The O'Carroll Princes of Eile are survived to this day by the prominent O'Carroll family of Maryland in the United States.[7] Charles Carroll of Carrollton was a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence. His branch of the family have been seated at Doughoregan Manor for over two centuries. Charles Carroll the Barrister, a distant cousin, descended from among the very last lords of Éile. Mount Clare was his home in Maryland.


  1. Byrne, p. 133, 180-1
  2. Charles-Edwards, p. 546
  3. MacCotter, p. 212
  4. Tuadmumu, The Kingdom of Thomond by Dennis Walsh
  5. O'Hart, p. 454
  6. [Leabhar na gCeart, pp. 78, 79, note i.]
  7. Hoffman and Mason