Perhaps no personal name in the Early Christian Period of Celtic Ireland was more evocative of the Period than MaoilMhichil. Meaning, literally, “bald Michael”, it’s colloquial interpretation was as “servant” or “devotee” of Saint Michael. The “Saint Michael” was, of course Michael the Archangel of the Old Testament - the warrior of God.
According to the ancient texts, the first adoptee of the name was, paradoxically, the brother of Ona, archdruid of the Ui Briuin clan, in about 460 AD. The choice of the name MaoilMhichil to proclaim his new faith thus underlines the speed with which the transformation was spreading, as well as the environment in which it was proceeding. What could be more befitting to a newly baptized Warlord than to evoke the image of God’s principal and most terrifying warrior.
© James M. Mulvihill UPDATED: 1/27/03