I FOUND Chris Lloyd’s recent comment concerning the phrase “life of Riley” (Echo, Dec 21) interesting, but flawed. During the Middle Ages the safest way to transport goods between Northern and Southern Ireland was through the kingdom of East Breifne, which was ruled by the O’Raghallaigh’s.

In 1300 the O’Raghallaigh’s created toll roads which led into the market town of Cavan. Over time this earned the O’Raghallaigh’s wealth and standard of living unparalleled for the time, thus giving rise to the phrase “life of O’Raghallaigh”.

The location of their kingdom dragged them into other people’s conflicts, but caused their prominence within the Irish annals.

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By the 17th Century the English had taken away the O’Raghallaigh’s power, titles and lands.

Their wealth like that of other affluent Irish clans was stolen by England’s ruling classes, including those who would directly or indirectly involve Britain in the African slave trade.

The O’Raghallaigh’s were forced to Anglicise their name, giving rise to such as O’Reilly, Riley, etc, whilst its members suffered under the atrocities which subsequently befell all the Irish.

So the phrase “life of Riley” actually refers to someone who’s obtained a certain standard of living through hard work.

C MacArt, Spennymoor