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Meath, kingdom of

Meath, kingdom of. Meath (Mide, ‘middle province’) became the fifth province of Ireland along with Ulster (Ulaid), Leinster (Laigin), Munster (Mumu), and Connacht (Connachta) after the Uí Néill established their supremacy over central and north Ireland in the 5th cent. It is not mentioned in the Táin Bó Cuailnge and must have come into existence afterwards. The dynasty was founded by Níall Noígiallach, a Goidel, with Tara as the centre of power and sanctuary. However, in the 8th cent. the kingdom of Meath collapsed and a separate kingdom of Brega was formed, taking in the present county of Meath, south Louth, and north Dublin. Though the two were reunited in the 11th cent. when Brega came to an end, Meath never regained its former importance.

Sandra M. Dunkin

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