Inishowen - A Brief History
Inis Eoghain (Inishowen), meaning 'island of Eoghan’, is a peninsula in the north of County Donegal.
Predating the formation of County Donegal by centuries, the area was named Inis Eoghain after Eógan mac Néill, son of Niall Naoigeallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages), a legendary High King of Ireland.
Eógan’s name is also the source of Tír Eoghain (Tyrone).
Eógan is reputed to have died in 465 and is buried in Uisce Chaoin (Iskaheen) in Inishowen.
He was the ancestor of the Cenél nEógain (‘kindred of Eoghain’) branch of the Northern Uí Néill
The Cenél nEógain founded the Kingdom of Aileach, which at one point incorporated Inishowen, Derry, all of present day Tyrone, and parts of Antrim, Fermanagh and Armagh.
Inis Eoghain is also the ancient homeland of the Meic Lochlainn, a clan descended from the Cenél nEógain and part of the Northern Uí Neill, whose dynasty controlled the Kingdom of Aileach for centuries.
The Cenel nEógain grew in prominence after the battle of Leth Cam in 827 and eventually expanded across most of central Ulster.
The Cenel nEógain kings were also instrumental in defeating attempts by Viking invaders to establish a permanent foothold in Ulster, most notably under Áed Finnliath who fought a large force in Lough Foyle in 866.
They also supplied a number of High Kings of Ireland, including Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn (d. 1166), who died just prior to the Norman invasion of Ireland.
The decline of the Meic Lochlainn is one of the factors that enabled the Normans to invade Ulster and expand into Inishowen, founding Northburgh Castle in the process.