Mac Áeda, Máel Sechlainn (Malachy, Malachias) (d. 1348), archbishop of Tuam, was a native of Iar Connacht and related to the ruling O'Flaherty family. A canon of Elphin, he was elected bishop of Elphin sometime after 2 September 1307 by a group of canons, though another group elected Cathal Ó Conchobair (d. 1343), abbot of Loch Cé, who was consecrated in October by the archbishop of Armagh. However, the metropolitan, Archbishop William Bermingham (qv) of Tuam, supported Mac Áeda, who travelled to Rome, where the pope eventually upheld his claim. Mac Áeda was consecrated by the bishop of Ostia and Velletri on 22 June 1310 and received Edward II's confirmation of his appointment the following December. In 1312 Mac Áeda was the second choice of the chapter to become the new archbishop of Tuam after the first choice refused to be considered. Mac Áeda also refused and put his case to the pope; he subsequently accepted the papal decision that he become archbishop, was formally translated on 19 December 1312 and received the temporalities of the see the following April. As archbishop Mac Áeda presided over a large divided see, but he was able to work with both Gaelic and Anglo-Irish, as when he was called in to mediate a dispute among the de Burghs (1338). However, though the see was large, Mac Áeda felt it lacked sufficient resources to support an archdiocese. His solution was to expand it, unifying Tuam with the sees of Achonry, Kilmacduagh, and Annaghdown. Although Edward II accepted and supported this union, papal support was not forthcoming till 1327, and Edward III was lukewarm in his support for the plan; the other sees refused to accept the union and complained to Rome. Mac Áeda faced a commission sent by Rome in 1330 to investigate the viability of the union in terms of wealth and distance. Although nothing came of this commission, even Mac Áeda recognised that the new see was simply too large to be governed effectively. He did not oppose the request of Achonry for a dissolution of the union of the sees (1346), and within a decade of his death – from plague on 10 August 1348 – the union with Kilmacduagh was also dissolved. However, the union with Annaghdown remained, and with it control of the important town of Galway.
Ann. Conn.; C. pap. reg.; E. A. D'Alton, History of the archdiocese of Tuam (2 vols, 1928); J. A. Watt, The church and the two nations in medieval Ireland (1970), 194–96; NHI, ix, 319; 324, n.8; 327; 331, n.17; ODNB