Nial of the Nine Hostages
'Niall Noígíallach' (Old Irish "having nine hostages")
is one of the better known kings who ruled in the century just prior
to the coming of Christianity, Nial founded the dynasty The O'Neill's
(Descendant of Nial) Nial's portrayed in history as high king is
undoubtedly a result of the propagandists of his descendants, as
the high kingship did not become a reality until the 9th century.
The O'Neill's held considerable sway in Ireland
intermittently for over 1,000 years until the Flight
of the Earls in 1607 when Hugh
O'Neill led the Gaelic chieftains to exile in the continent.
Hard historical facts from the late 4th century
are difficult to find The Annals of the Four
Masters dates his accession to 378 and death to 405. Most of
the information written about him dates from long after his existence,
all broadly agree that he reigned from 368-395. Although many modern
day historians think that his period of activity may be some fifty
years later than that which is generally accepted.