QUEEN MACHA  pp. 9-15

QUEEN MACHA

By E. Owens Blackburne

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3603. a.m.

MACHA MONG-RUADH, or Macha of the Red Tresses, is the first Irish queen concerning whom we have any authentic record in the early history of Ireland. The praise of her beauty and prowess has been so often, and so minutely, said and sung by both chroniclers and bards, that it requires no very great effort of the imagination to fancy her standing at the head of her stalwart-looking troops, with her long ruddy hair streaming on the wind, her regal mantle thrown carelessly around her, and fastened on the right shoulder—in order to leave her right hand and arm free—with the famous golden brooch, of which more anon.

A veritable Queen of Beauty sufficient to sway the hearts of men, the only empire which, in these primitive, patriarchal times, they were willing to concede to a woman. But Macha Mong-Ruadh wanted something more. She aimed at the sovereignty of the kingdom left to her by her father, Aedh Ruadh, whose sole child she was.

Womanlike, she aimed at power, and womanlike, she attained her desire by stratagem.

Aedh Ruadh, Kimbaoth, and Dithorba reigned over the Ulidians in alternate succession, each for the period of seven years, until they had each enjoyed the royal power three times respectively. Then Aedh Ruadh died, leaving no posterity except Macha Mong-Ruadh, his only daughter, who, when the turn came that should have been her father's, claimed her right to the alternate succession as his representative.

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Illustrious Irishwomen Volume 2

E. Owens Blackburne

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Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511697814