Cartins and the Cruthin; a living relic


Given the history of the Ui Mhic Carthainn, the area of Ulster involved and some of the references in the literature, it is interesting to speculate if the Ui Mhic Carthainn and thus the Cartins etc. are living relics of the Cruthin.


One of the best references to this connection between the Ui Mhic Carthainn and the Cruthin is the following; one of the earliest entries in the Annals of Ulster:


“ U446.1· The battle of Feimen in which Mac Cairthinn son of Caelub fell. Some say he was of the Cruithin The Annals of Ulster”


Ian Adamson (1) in his book on the Cruthin describes the Cruthin as “those of the most ancient inhabitants of Britain and Ireland to whom a definite name can be given”. According to Ian Adamson the Cruthin resisted the invasions of the Gaels who came from Europe. Living along the north coast of Ulster they had close ties over the centuries with the west coast of Scotland, occupying the “whole area from the Solway to the Clyde, superimposing Gaelic place names on the old Brittonic ones” (2). Along the way circa 1500 they were displaced from the North Coast to East Ulster or Ulaidh. Ian Adamson raises an interesting scenario, namely that the MacCartans of Iveagh Co Down were displaced Cruithin and therefore displaced Ui Mhic Carthainn (3);

“With the destruction of the Anglo-Normans, a branch of the Tyrone O’Neills, the Clann Aedha Bhuidhe (Clannaboy, Clandeboye) moved into Antrim and North Down. Of the old Ulidians only the Mac Aonghusa (Mac Guiness, Mac Genis, Magennis, Mac Innes, Ennis) retained any power. This family were chiefs of the Iveagh Cruthin, the other surviving· families of whom were the Mac Artain, (Macarton, McCartney, Carton) O Ruanaidh (Rooney, Roney) O Labhradha (Lowry, Armstrong, Lavery) and O Sluaghain (Sloan). “

This would also be slenderly consistent with the proposition that· the MacCartans of Co Down were in fact displaced Ui Mhic Carthainn. Another reference (4), to the Mhic Carthainn and the Cruthin· which would need more verification reads:

Yes, the Picts lived in Ireland (and their decendants still do). In Ulster the picts were called Cruithnigh, in Munster they were called Erainn, but in general they are called Forthuatha.

Here is a list of the forthuatha around 750AD: Forthuatha: Corca Mruad Corca Baiscind Uaithne Uí Fidgenti Ciarraige Corca Duibhne In Déis Corca Loígis Uí Liatháin Fir Maige Déisi Éile Músraighe Arae Osraighe Orbraighe Uí Cairpri Fir Domnann Luigne Delbna Conmaicne Marra Conmaicne Réin Conmaicne Grecraighe Partraighe Uí Maine Forthairt Uí Enechglaiss Uí Garrchan Uí Failgi Ciannachta Gailenga Fir Manach Fir Tulach Corbraighe Uí Meic Cairthinn Dal Riata Dal Fiatach Dal nAraide Uí Gremthainn Uí Meithe Mug Dorna Dartraighe Fir Rois Conaille Artraighe Uí Téig Sordraighe Dubhraige Cerdraighe Odraighe Boandraighe Luigne Bibraighe Uí Bairrche Glasraighe Uí Laoighis Calraighe Seogáin Dal na Duithne.


An ancient church called Dun Cruithne is located in Magilligan not far from Ballycarton. Mitchell (5) says:


Patrick established a church at Dun Cruithne (Duncrun) in Tamlaghtard (Magilligan) parish, and Colmcille founded a monastery on the same site in 584. It appears on the 1931 OS 6 inch map as “Ruins of an Abbey”.


The demise of the Cruithin at the hand of the O'Neills is described in the following entry in the Annals of Ulster for 560 AD:

Annal CS563··· Kalends. (6)

The voyage of Colum Cille to the Island of Í in the 42nd year of his age. The battle of Móin Daire Lothair won over the Cruithin by the Uí Néill of the North, in which fell seven kings of the Cruithin including Aed Brec. Baetán son of Cenn with two branches of the Cruithin fight it against the Cruithin, and Cenél nEógain and Cenél Conaill fought it for hire, for the Lee and Ard Eolarg. Of this Cennfaelad sang:


Weapons press forward, men press forward

In the great bog of Daire Lothair,

A cause of strife discomfited,

Around the king of Cruithin, Aed Brecc.

The battle of all the Cruithin is fought,

They burn Eilne;

The battle of Gabar Liphi is fought,

And the battle of Cúil Dreimne.


Another writer addresses the earliest records of the Cruithin:

"The Cruithne or Cruthin were a historical people known to have lived in the British Isles during the Iron Age".According to T. F. O'Rahilly's historical model, the Cruithne were descended from the Priteni, who O'Rahilly argues were the first Celtic group to inhabit the British Isles, and identifies with the Picts of Scotland. They settled in Britain and Ireland between 700 and 500 BC. They used iron and spoke a P-Celtic language, calling themselves Priteni or Pritani, which is probably the origin of the name "Britain". More recent theories though, supported by archaeological evidence, suggest that the Cruithne were a pre-Celtic people, and may have spoken a non-Indo-European language before the spread and dominance of Celtic culture in the British Isles. It is also suggested that these people were the descendants of the aboriginal neolithic people of the isles. Around 50 BC Diodorus wrote of "those of the Pretani who inhabit the country called Iris (Ireland)". The first reference to the name Pict is found in a Latin document dated 297AD.·

In a blog exchange Dr Ian Adamson has recently addresssed the genetic genealogy of the Cruithin (9) (10):

"I don't know if you are familiar with the latest developments in population genetics/genetic genealogy, but in recent times a researcher by the name of Professor Ken Nordtvedt has identified a haplogroup which he associates with some of the very earliest settlers to the British Isles including Ireland in the post-LGM period. He calls this clade of haplogroup I2a2 [old I1b1], 'I2a2-Isles'. He has managed to divide the clade up into 8 separate subclades; A1, A2, B1,B2, C1, C2, D1, and D2. This may be of interest to you because I think we may have a possible [I say that cautiously..] link with the Cruthin here. Nordtvedt conjectures that I2a2-Isles, at least the oldest clade [B1] has been in the isles almost 6,000 years and was probably founded on the north German plain. The clades came to our isles before the Iberian-founded R1b haplogroup which accounts for around 80% of Irish men [and roughly 90% in parts of Connaught]. Its distribution suggests possible Cruthin connections - more the west and Ulster than anywhere else. The haplotypes are also found to a lesser extent in England and Scotland."

Dr Tim Owen has expanded (11) on the likely connections between the Ui Mhic Carthainn (Cartins) and the Cruithin:

"Yes, I certainly DO think that Cartin has a Cruthin link, but firstly let me make it absolutely clear 'who' I think the Cruthin were. I am in agreement with Ian Adamson in viewing the Cruthin as the earlist-post LGM settlers to Ireland. In my view, the best candidate haplogroup for such a group is the I2a2b-Isles group, 'discovered' by my friend, Kenneth Nordtvedt a few years ago.

Let me explain about I2a2b-Isles. This clade is very different from the Balkan, eastern European I2a2, known as I2a2a-Dinaric. I2a2b-Isles is absent from eastern Europe and was probably founded in northern Germany. Ken Nordtvedt dates I2a2b-Isles squarely in the Neolithic. I wonder myself if indeed the clades dates back even further to the late Mesolithic, and the narrowblade culture which replaced the Broadblade culture. At any rate, where Ireland is concerned, L161 I2a2b-Isles was one of the earliest clades to hit the shores, and a long time before R1b. Perhaps the Iberian-founded M26 I2a1 'got there first', but L161 I2a2b-Isles fits the Cruthin picture far better. By the way, it is possible that I2a2b-Isles got to Germany, where the snp L161 was 'born' via LBK movements. The jury is still out on this, but it is likely that I2a2b-Isles got to Britain and Ireland via various 'waves' of people- pre-Celts [Cruthin], Celts and Anglo-Saxons.

There are 8 subclades- A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D1, D2· and there is a decent distribution of these subclades across the north European plain [for a small clade], with Germany in the lead as far as continental members are concerned, and Ireland with the most members overall, with England and lowland Scotland second. There is support from Bryan Sykes that I2a2 when found in England and lowland Scotland probably comes from the Anglo-Saxons. My signature is most likely of this Anglo-Saxon origin.

However, when found in Ireland, the distribution of L161 I2a2b-Isles appears to be confined to refuge areas such as the south-west, Connaught and parts of Ulster. It is found [as is I2b1a] in families like Cartin, Maguiness and O'Driscoll in above average numbers, but generally it is spread across these refuge areas thinly, as if subsumed by the R1b majority. This suggests a relic, pre-Gaelic population to me. Also, very importantly, subclade C1 of L161 I2a2b-Isles has a definite 'hotspot' in Rathcroghan, Roscommon, allegedly the seat of a satellite Cruthin settlement [the bulk was in Ulster].

My view, partly based upon findings from the 2005 'Trinity Study', sponsored by Patrick Guinness, is that the Cruthin dynasty 'hides behind' some of the I2b1a [old I1c] and especially L161 I2a2b-Isles [old I1b1] signatures we find in Ireland. Cartin is most certainly an important component of this Cruthin dynasty."

This analysis places  a connection between "Cartin" and Maguiness, a connection more usually associated with the "MacCartan and Maguiness" axis of Kinelarty  and Co Down.

The Asteroid Cruithne, named after the Cruithin  or Cruithne was discovered according to Wikipedia (12), on October 10, 1986, by Duncan Waldron.· It was not until 1997 that its unusual orbit was determined. Cruithne is approximately 5km in diameter, and its closest approach to Earth is approximately 30 times the separation between Earth and the  moon. Cruithne is fainter than Pluto and would require at least a 12.5-inch reflecting telescope to be seen. Its  period of revolution around the Sun, approximately 364 days at present, is almost equal to that of the Earth. Because of this, Cruithne and Earth appear to "follow" each other in their paths around the Sun. This is why Cruithne is sometimes called "Earth's second moon".



1 The Cruthin A history of the Ulster Land and People by Ian Adamson Donard Publishing· ISBN 0

9503461 0 1 in the Prologue


2 Ibid page 46

3 Ibid page 62

 5 The Land of the Roe Samuel P Mithell 1993 ISBN 0 9509342 1 6 published by Limavady Borough Council  page 7


7 Wikipedia  entry for Cruithin



10 Dr Tim Owen, a Sociologist/Criminologist works for a Btitish University and is quoted by  Ian Adamson in his blog.

11 Email From Dr Tim Owen to Edward Cartin Dec 2010