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The Cycle of the Kings

The Cycle of the Kings is the less-defined "fourth" cycle in early Irish literature. It consists of two groups: the tales surrounding King Cormac mac Airt and his ancestors; and the tales of other semi-legendary kings, including those surrounding Niall of the Nine Hostages, the first arguably historical ard righ of Ireland.

Historically, the stories cover a time period from about the year 200 AD to the time of Saint Patrick--roughly 475 AD or so. This is a time of transition in Irish history, moving away from the native Celtic religion towards the introduction of Christianity. We see this in the ways that the gods have fewer and fewer dealings with men; the king who recieves the most attention of the Tuatha de Dannan is Cormac mac Airt, the Arthur-like king who restored Temhair to glory and who was the employer of Fionn mac Cumhaill and his Fianna.

Otherwise, what we see are tales of revenge and murder, but mostly without the supernatural elements of the earlier cycles.

The Stories:

  • The Cormac Cycle
    • The Phantom's Frenzy, or, the Vision of Conn the Hundred-Fighter
    • The Adventures of Connla
    • The Adventures of Art son of Conn
    • The Story of Eogan and the Heroic Birth of Cormac mac Airt
    • The Yew Tree of the Disputing Sons
    • The Battle of Magh Mucrama
    • The Tale of the Ordeals: Cormac's Adventures in the Land of Promise, and the Decision as to Cuchulainn's Sword
    • The Instructions of King Cormac (technically a poem)
    • The Seige of Druim Damhgaire, or, the Battle of Knocklong
    • The Melody of the House of Buchet
  • The Story of Mosaulum and Mac Con and Luigith
  • The Battle of Cenn Abrad
  • The Story of Baile of the Clear Voice
  • The Settling of the Manor of Temhair
  • The Tragic Death of Fergus mac Leide
  • The Adventures of the Sons of Eochaid Mugmedon
  • The Adventures of Niall of the Nine Hostages
  • The Death of Niall of the Nine Hostages
  • How Ronan Slew His Son
  • The Wooing of Becfola
  • The Death of Muircertach mac Erca
  • The Adventures of Loegairi
  • The Death of Mael Fothartaig mac Ronan
  • The Destruction of Dind Rig

    Celtic Mythology & Medieval Celtic Manuscripts
    Early Irish Literature Guide:
    Mythological Cycle | Ulster Cycle | Fionn Cycle | Cycle of the Kings
    Saints' Lives | Independent Narratives | Dindsenchas | Banshenchas

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