Index of Names in Irish Annals: Descriptive Bynames: Frossach, Frassach

by Mari Elspeth nic Bryan (Kathleen M. O'Brien)

© 2000-2012 by Kathleen M. O'Brien. All rights reserved.
Version 2.1, updated 03 January 2012

Descriptive Bynames: Frossach, Frassach


"[of the] Showers" (NOTE: this byname seems to be unique to Niall Frossach, see Research Notes section below.)


What we know as a set of Irish Annals are manuscripts that were each compiled during a particular time period, usually using older material as sources. For example, when the Annals of the Four Masters were written from 1632 to 1636, they covered events that occurred centuries and millenia before (including legendary history). So, when an entry in this set of annals refers to a person who lived in the year 738, the spelling used for that person's name is very likely not using the spelling that would have been used in 738.

Standard forms of this name (based on spelling systems of different periods) would be:

Frequency & Dates:

Number of men found in the annals with this name: 1
Found in Years: 718, 759 760, 763, 765, 817, 819

Research Notes:

[Answering a question about a standardized form of this byname:]

The DIL has a double headword: 'frasach, frossach'; the headword for the noun from which it's derived is 'fras (fros)'. I have some small reason to think that /o/ might be older than /a/ in this word, which looks like it may derive from PIE *wors-, but I don't really know. The DIL gives the a forms first, but it covers EIr generally; OCM have a; O'Brien, on the other hand, normalizes it to frossach. O'Brien and OCM do seem to agree on ss, so perhaps the simplest is to offer both frossach and frassach. [email from Talan Gwynek - 13 Jun 2006]

Annals Citations:

The full text of entry U718.7 in the Annals of Ulster (vol. 1) gives more information regarding why this person had this descriptive byname:
Pluit frois melo for Oithin Bicc. Pluit frois sanguinis super Fossam Laginarum. Inde uocatur Niall Frosach m. Fergaile, qui tunc natus est.
which appears in the translation as:
A shower of honey rained upon Othan Bec, a shower of blood upon the foss of Laigin. Hence Niall Frosach who was born at that time, is so named.

Entry M716.9 in the Annals of the Four Masters (vol. 1) lists three showers that occurred:

Trí frosa inggnathacha isin bhliadhain-si, fros airccid for Othain Móir, fros mealae for Othain m-Bicc, & fross fola h-i Laighnibh.
which appears in the translation as:
Three wonderful showers fell in this year: a shower of silver on Othain Mor, a shower of honey on Othain Beag, and a shower of blood in Leinster.
FM (vol. 1, p. 362, footnote o):
[...] the Annals of Clonmacnoise under the year 759 as follows:

"A. D. 759. Nealle Frassgh, son of King Ferall, began his reign imediately after the death of King Donell, and reigned seven years.

"There was a great famyne throughout the whole kingdome in generall in the time of the beginning of his reign, in so much that the King himself had very little to live upon; and being then accompanied with seven goodly Bushops, fell upon their knees, where the King very pitifully before them all besought God of his Infinite Grace and Mercy, if his wrath otherwise could not be appeas'd, before he saw the destruction fo so many thousands of his subjects and Friends, that then were helpless of reliefe, and ready to perish, to take to himself, otherwise to send him and them some releive for maintenance of his service; which request was no sooner made, than a great Shower of Silver fell from heaven, whereat the King greatly rejoyced; and yet (said he) this is not the thing that can deliver us from this famyne and iminent danger; with that he fell to his prayers again, then a second Shower of hevenly Hony fell, and then the King said with great thanksgiving as before; with that the third Shower fell of pure Wheat, which covered all the fields over, that like was never seen before, so that there was such plenty and aboundance that it was thought that it was able to maintain a great many Kindomes. The the King and the seven Bushops gave great thanks to our Lord.


Note that the surviving version of Clonmacnoise is an English version finished on the last day of June, 1627. (See FM, p. xxxiii). No surviving copies of the Gaelic version of the Annals of Clonmacnoise are known to survive today.


Further information about the byname Frossach, Frassach may be found in:

The Sources page lists the Annals referenced below. Information about secondary sources is included on that page as well.

Raw Data

In the table below, I have separated individuals with a blank line. That is, when there are multiple entries in the annals that refer to a single person, those entries are grouped together.

Within the list of entries refering to a single person, I have sorted the entries primarily by orthography when it is obvious that what I am seeing is the same entry showing up in multiple annals. The entries that tend to use older spellings are listed first.

NOTE: The Annals referenced below under the code letters A, B, C, E, & F tend to use later spellings than the other Annals. In some cases, the spellings listed in these Annals may not be appropriate for the year referenced in the Annal entry.

In some Gaelic scripts, there is a character that looks approximately like a lowercase f, but without the crossbar. This character (represented by an underscored , e, in the entries below) sometimes represents e and sometimes ea depending upon the context of the text.

[Standardized form of this man's name]
AnnalsEntryContextCitation (formatting preserved)
[Niall Frossach mac Fergail] (d. approx. 773)
UT718.9Niall Frasach mac Feargail
UU718.7Niall Frosach m. Fergaile
CSCS718Níall Frosach mac Fergaile
FAFA 171 [year 718]Niall Condail mc. Feargail; unde Niall Frosach
UU763.11Niall Frossach
AM759.1Niall Frosach, mac Feargaile
AM760.1Niall Frosach
AM765.17Niall Frosach, mac Ferghaile
UU819.2Aedha m. Neill, Aedh Oirnidhe mc. Neill Frassaig
AM817.11d'Aodh Oirdnidhe, mac Néill Frasaigh
CSCS819Aedha meic Neill Frosaigh

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