I have searched in vain through my library, such as it is (and mostly in
boxes, alas) for anything as decisive as this statement. The closest I have
come to it so far is in Alwyn and Brinley Rees' book *Celtic Heritage *(Thames
& Hudson, 1961, reptd. 1989): 'the festive occasion, the fateful bride and
the elaborate predetermined circumstances of the deaths of Conaire,
Diarmait, Muirchertach -- and of Cu Chulainn too -- recall the ceremonial
"killing of the king", when his powers failed or when he had ruled for a
prescribed term, which was once the custom over a large part of Africa and
of which there are traces in other parts of the world' (p. 340).
Fracis John Byrne's *Irish Kings and High-Kings* (Batsford, 1973, paperback
1987) has a good description of the Three-fold Death, extending from p.97 -
104 in which he does say things like 'if the high-kingship of Tara was
sacral in origin, it is not surprising that the high-kings should fall by no
mere human hand. In this respect the Irish king-tales provide an
interesting complement to those told of the early kings of Uppsala ... Even
the euhemerising Snorri states bluntly that some of the Uppsala kings were
sacrificed "for peace and a good year" (p. 103).
Finally, Daithi O hOgain's *Myth, Legend and Romance: An Encyclopaedia of
the Irish Folk Tradition*, in his entry on Diarmaid Mac Cearrbheoil, states
that 'there were remnants in existence of sacrificial imagery in connection
with the deaths of kings' and gives a reference to an article on the
Three-fold Death by Kenneth Jackson in Ua Riain, ed., *Féil-sgribhinn Eoin
Mhic Néill*. I haven't read this article, so I can't tell you if it will
get you an further or not.
You probably know all these references already, but you did put up Ned's
blog to promote a discussion. The Three-fold Death, by the way, which comes
up in a number of king-stories (see any of the references above) usually
involved being speared, drowning in a vat of mead, and being burned alive,
all at once.
Dennis King <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> “Irish kings in the ancient period were replaced after a number of years.
>> The old king would be sacrificed and a new king chosen. - Ned Kelly,
>> National Museum of Ireland