Giric mac Dúngail (Modern Gaelic: Griogair mac Dhunghail), known in English simply as Giric, and nicknamed Mac Rath ("Son of Fortune"), was King of the Picts between 878 and 889. Giric is a mysterious character, who is not found within the Irish Annals or any Anglo-Saxon chronicle and what information is available is often contradictory. Nevertheless, he appears to have been regarded in some importance by Scottish writers in the High and Late Middle Ages and so he finds himself on most modern regal lists.
Giric's ancestry and how he came to be king are deeply obscure. There is a tendency to refer to him as the cousin or ‘first cousin once removed’ of Eochaid, who was the grandson of Kenneth MacAlpine, first king of Scotland, however this is nothing more than speculation. Nothing of any certainty is known of his father Dúngail and so it is possible that Giric was not of the MacAlpin line. However, it has been speculated that ‘Dúngail’ may be a misspelling of ‘Domnall’ and that Giric was in fact the son of Kenneth’s brother, Donald I. The fact that Áed succeeded Constantine could indicate that Giric had been denied the kingship and such a possibility could account for the claim in Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland that Giric succeeded to the throne having killed Áed.
To add to the complexity, the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba has Áed’s nephew Eochaid ab Rhun succeeding to the throne at the same time. The relationship between the two kings is uncertain and various theories have been put forward to explain it. The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, which was written in Latin, used the phrase alumnus ordinatorque to describe Giric’s relationship to Eochaid. Translator T.H. Weeks chose to translate that phrase into English as “teacher and prime minister," yet in the same section offered “foster-son” for alumnus, translating “Eochodius, cum alum(p)no suo, expulsus est nunc de regno” as “Eochaid with his ‘foster-son,’ was then thrown out of the kingdom.” Another theory is that ‘Dúngail’ is actually a misspelling of the early form of the Welsh Dyfnwal, and that Giric was not a Gael but the Briton uncle of Eochaid’s father, and therefore of a different royal line. Such a situation could support the view of Giric being Eochaid’s ‘teacher and prime minister’. Alternatively, if Giric was not of royal blood or indeed different royal blood, it is possible, as several historians have speculated, that he was using Eochaid as a puppet.
Whatever the truth, Giric and Eochaid appear to have ruled either jointly over a unified area or separately over different areas for 11 years. Whilst it is possible that they held the Pictish kingship concurrently as allies, it is also conceivable that they ruled successively as opponents. Another possibility is that, while Giric reigned as King of the Picts, Eochaid reigned as King of Strathclyde.
By the 12th century, Giric had acquired legendary status as liberator of the Scottish church from Pictish oppression and, fantastically, as conqueror of Ireland and most of England. As a result, Giric was known as Gregory the Great. What the truth is and to what extent of Giric carried out any of these activities is however unknown. For example, it seems highly unlikely that Giric conquered Ireland; in fact these conquests appear as Bernicia, which was part of Northumbria, rather than Ireland (Hibernia), in some sources.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba records that Giric and Eochaid’s reigns came to an end when they were both expelled from the Pictish Kingdom. Other sources however suggest that Giric was slain at Dundurn. If the accounts of Giric's downfall are to be believed, and if both he and Eochaid were allied together at the time, it is conceivable that both Eochaid and Giric fell together. Alternately, Giric's killing could have contributed to Eochaid's ejection from the kingship. Although it is unknown who was responsible for Giric's reported demise, one candidate is the succeeding Donald II, who would rule briefly between 889 and 900.
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