Ireland is known to the changelings as the Kingdom of Hibernia. Both Northern Ireland and the Republic are considered to be part of the overall kingdom. This all sounds very unified, except there is no high king as there is in Concordia. Instead, the island is divided into four kingdoms that correspond to the four historic provinces of Leinster, Munster, Connaught, and Ulster. Divided by the drawing of lots so as to prevent conflict, they are each controlled by a different noble house. Leinster consists of 12 counties in the East and is ruled by King Bran of House Gwydion. Munster falls under the dominion of Queen Nuala of House Eiluned. It claims six counties in the Southwest, and is the largest of the four. Connaught’s ruler is King Fiachra of House Dougal. He claims five counties that lie in the Northwest of the island. Ulster, the northernmost kingdom, includes three counties that fall within the Republic of Ireland and six more that comprise the entirety of Northern Ireland. Ulster’s ruler is King Finn of House Fiona, who has thus far hidden his Unseelie nature from the other monarchs.
Aside from these regional kingdoms, the whole island is inundated with petty kings claiming a particular county, town, forest, mountain, village, ruined fort, or even the remembrance of a freehold that once existed. Duchies, baronies, and other holdings are awarded to those sidhe (and a very few commoners) who by birth or service to the four Great Kings (as they are called) are entitled to them. Additionally, many petty kings and queens bestow holdings upon those who support their claims to a kingdom, however small. Many of the petty kings acknowledge the overlordship of the Great Kings, and thereby benefit from their protection and resources. Some few of the petty kingdoms are ruled by members of Houses Liam, Scathach, Balor, and Leanhaun.
Many of the ancient freeholds and glades that once were so plentifully supplied with Glamour have become depleted in the centuries since the sidhe fled the island. Though some powerful magics remain, in many areas the returning nobles had to make do with lesser holdings than they imagined. There is thus a great disparity between the Great Kings and the lesser ones, and even between the Great Kings of the four kingdoms. While it would have seemed natural for King Bran to claim Tara as his seat of power, the constant comings and goings of tourists through the years have robbed the ancient site of its Glamour. Whatever Glamour now resides in Tara is brought there by those who dream of its days of glory. Conversely, King Finn of Ulster was able to return and take Navan Fort, which has been called the “Tara of the North,” as his chief holding. Once known as Emain Macha, it was the dwelling place of Conor Mac Nessa, king of Ulster in the time of the original Red Branch Knights and the great hero Cuchulainn.
The commoners of Hibernia, including the native kith known as the clurichaun, have a few holding they can call their own. For the most part, so long as they behave themselves, the sidhe either tolerate or ignore them. Some are attached to the various noble houses, and some live in faerie towns, distancing themselves from the snobbery and intrigues of the noble courts.
Unlike their American cousins, the Irish sidhe had no high king to make an accord with the commoners. Battles were fought and freeholds claimed. Eventually a sort of peace was declared among most of the Kithain, but they continue to distrust one another to some extent. The sidhe, cognizant of their few among the great number of commoners, are proud of their noble status, loath to give up any of their privileges or rights to rulership, quick to take offense, and swift in dealing out judgements and retributions. In short, they exist under a siege mentality not unlike that of the Protestants of Northern Ireland who were sent centuries ago to hold the land for the English crown against the “wild, disloyal” Irish.
The Four Courts
When the five noble houses returned to Earth, four of them agreed to split Hibernia into its traditional provinces and each take one region as their due. House Liam was not considered worthy to rule, and those of House Scathach were hardly considered sidhe. Those with claims to kingship each made known their desired holdings, but could not agree as to who should rule which province. Fiachra wanted Ulster, while both Finn and Bran wanted Leinster. Nuala just wanted the largest portion. Finally, failing to reach any accord, they placed the names of the provinces in a large jar and drew out names simultaneously. The name of the province that each drew became the ruler's domain. Thus, Fiachra got Connaught, Finn drew Ulster, Bran was awarded Leinster, and Nuala received Munster.
These four are known as the Great Kings of Hibernia. Under them there are dozens of lesser kings and petty nobles. Except in Ulster (where people are content to be called by their actual titles), the nobles' unyielding pride results in their insistence on being called "kings," though in reality they are actually dukes, counts, barons, and knights. A wise visitor should address even the lowliest knight as "Your Majesty" in their freehold, just to be on the safe side.
- King Fiachra
- Princess Bethany
- King Bran
- Sir Odhran
- Queen Nuala
- Duchess Lenore
- King Finn
- Duke Lorenzo
- Lord Galway
- Iarfhlaith Finleigh
- King of Wicklow
- Lady Rowena
- Geraldine Quigley
And One More
- King Meilseoir
The Shadow Court
For all practical purposes, the "known" Shadow Court sin Hibernia is a joke. Widely acknowledged as a catch-all for the powerless discontented (more like a drinking brotherhood for whiners than anything else), no one is particularly disturbed at the thought that they might be planning a takeover. It would be more likely that they'd fall on their faces trying to take over the dart board at the local pub. Of course, that's exactly what the real Shadow Court wants people to think. It gives them more room to work.
Composed of a number of members from Houses Ailil, Balor, and Leanhaun, the Shadow Court has recognized the need for commoners among them as well. Many are seen as little more than cannon fodder in the eventual battle; others have skills the role houses value and have been given titles, presumably ones they will get to keep "when the revolution comes." Never ones to let little things like corruption and Banality stand in their way, the Shadow Court's tentacles enmesh a few vampires and werewolves as well. Somewhere back in prehistory, the Black Spiral Dancers who have answered the call to join the Shadow Court of Hibernia are related to House Balor. Picts, Fir Bolg... there's really little difference.
Those who belong to the real Shadow Court have all been required to prove their loyalty to the cause. This takes the form of some sort of test that each must pass. Those who succeed are known as the Initiated or the Blooded. Unknown to the patsies who believe they are the Unseelie presence in Hibernia, the Real Shadow Court meets at Dún Aenghus and on Tory Island.
With the plethora of kings, queens, dukes, duchesses, countesses, barons, and knights that populate the Irish countryside, it sometimes feels as though you'd be hard-put to find a commoner in the place. This isn't true, of course, but the Irish are so used to "watching the royals" that even the lowest redcap sometimes claims to be the second cousin of the wife of the duke of Ballmacwhatever.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of motleys. In fact, Ireland boasts an enormous number of commoners for its relatively small size. Luckily, the fae went underground (literally) hundreds of years ago, or the land would be so covered with fae there'd be no room for the sheep!
- The Scalawags
- James Spencer
- Robin McAllister
- Gaddy McDonough
- Nainsi and Trevor
- Lurgan, Mad Caitlin, and Evin Delaney
- Sorcha McSkeath
- Hogan and Mother Cobbins
- Una Feeney