Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Why Dal Riadas? - A History

Many eons ago in a time when the island that is now Ireland contained as many as 150 separate warring kingdoms, the son of a king from the south, one Cairbre Riata, moved north to the area now known as Antrim and established his own kingdom. He would come to call his kingdom “Dal Riata” (Kingdom of Riata). Here he fought many fierce battles to achieve supremacy over the area and to drive out the occupants that had preceded him. He fought with many different groups, but his fiercest rivals were the U’Neills, later known as the O’Neills. Those who have traveled with our group to Ireland on previous trips will recall that the U’Neills later occupied the ringed fort on the high hill at Grianan of Aileach. The U’Neills would eventually win in a battle with the Dal Riatans which led to the Dal Riatans concentrating their efforts toward what would be a newly established second Dal Riata in what is now the western isles of Scotland.

The fierce followers and descendants of Cairbre Riata would establish his first kingdom throughout the area that is now known as the Antrim coast region of Northern Ireland. Cairbre Riata must have been a very ambitious warrior and leader. It wasn’t long until he and his warriors crossed over the fourteen mile (narrowest point) body of water now known as the Irish sea and began raiding and pillaging the coast of what is now western Scotland. Not satisfied with looting, they began taking women back to their kingdom of Dal Riata for wives for themselves and family members. After many such forays some of these warriors fought and conquered (and in some cases compromised and made peace with) the local inhabitants of these coastal areas of Scotland's islands. As a result these raiders took up permanent residence in the new lands and established a new “Dal Riata”. Later the word was anglicized to “Dal Riada” and later to the joined “ Dalriada”. These inhabitants eventually made their way all across what is now Scotland. Many of them, or their forbearers, would establish the Scottish Clans that became so famous in history.

Because our group travels both the original “Dal Riata” kingdom and the subsequently established “Dal Riada” of Scotland, I assumed the name for our group of annual golf travelers. Once, while in a hotel in Buncrana, some locals happened to overhear our conversation regarding the name of our group. “Dal Riada? Isn’t that the name of the old kingdom around Antrim” , one of them asked. When we replied in the affirmative, they were quite impressed that we would even know that much Irish history.
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