Index of Names in Irish Annals: Descriptive Bynames: Geimhleach

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

© 2000-2007 by Kathleen M. O'Brien. All rights reserved.
Version 2.0, updated 08 April 2007

Descriptive Bynames: Geimhleach


"[the] Fettered" (probably meaning "[the] Prisoner")


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: 1589, 1590

Research Notes:

The meaning "of the fetters" is given in regards to a man's name in 1590 (FM vol. 6, p. 1886-7, footnote "g").

[Answering a question about clarification of the meaning of this byname:]

EIr gemlech is both a noun 'a fettered person, a prisoner, a hostage' and an adjective 'of or belonging to fetters; fettered, captive'. This is EMIr geimhleach, which as a noun is 'a prisoner' and as an adjective is 'held in bondage, fettered'.

As DCS said, na n-Geimhleach is a genitive plural; the gen. sing. would, I think, be na Geimhligh. This should be 'of the captives, of the prisoners'.

The obvious interpretation of Aodh Geimhleach is 'fettered Hugh' or 'Hugh (the) prisoner', interpreting geimhleach either as an adjective or as a noun in the nom. sing. (The latter is possible, pace DCS: Aodh Geimhleach would then be two nouns in apposition, not a noun phrase.) It can also be a noun in the gen. plur., however, and if such a noun can be used without the article, I suppose that it could be elliptical for na n-Geimhleach 'of the captives, of the prisoners'.

It's really not clear whether Aodh and Sean had synonymous bynames. [email from Talan Gwynek - 06 Apr 2007]


Further information about the byname Geimhleach, 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)
[] (d. 1590)
LC2LC1589.51Mac I Neill .i. Aodh Geimleach mac Seain
LC2LC1590.3Mac I Neill .i. Aodh Geimlech mac Seain mic Coind
FM1590.5Mac Uí Neill .i. Aodh Geimhleach, mac Seain Dhonnghailigh mic Cuinn Bhacaigh mic Cuinn, mic Enri, mic Eoghain
FMvol. 6, p. 1886, 1590Mac uí neill .i. Aod. geim.leac., mac Seain d.onng.ailig. mic cuinn b.acaig. mic cuinn, mic enri, mic eog.ain

Medieval Scotland | Medieval Names Archive | Index of Names in Irish Annals
Feminine Given Names | Feminine Descriptive Bynames | Masculine Given Names | Masculine Descriptive Bynames