for power among provincial kings went on, in spite of the Viking
invasions. By the end of the 900's, Brian Boru, the king of a small
state in Clare called Dal Cais, had conquered his greater neighbours
and made himself the strongest king in the southern half of Ireland.
Brian Boru had set aside his troublesome wife
Gormlaith, a 'bartered' princess of Leinster. By an earlier marriage
she was mother to Sitric Silkbeard, King of Viking Dublin. The name
Boru is a shortened version of Brian Boroimhe, meaning Brian of
the tributes referring to his tendency to exact tributes by taking
hostages from defeated enemies, this was a practice in which most
rulers of the time engaged.
and her brother Maelmora, encouraged Sitric to rally their Viking
allies from Scandinavia and overthrow the powerful Boru, thus completing
their conquest of Ireland. Maelmora made an alliance with
Sitric, who got help from the Vikings of the Orkney Islands and
the Isle of Man. Boru, in the meantime, sent
word to his allies in Ireland, both his Viking allies and the great
Gaelic clans. Amongst those who responded were the O'Kellys of Uí
Maine who, under their chieftain Tadhg Mór O'Kelly, marched to Clontarf
to side with Boru.
powerful O'Kelly chieftain and his army were the only Connacht chieftain
to rally with Boru. A great battle was fought at Clontarf,
near Dublin, on Good Friday, 1014. It ended in victory for Brian's
army, at this time he was an old man, prior to the battle he addressed
his assembled troops with great eloquence, exhorting them to fight
for their freedom and rid their country of foreign repression, Brian
himself was killed after the battle by fleeing Vikings who came
upon his tent by chance.
remains were conveyed to Armagh.
With Brian, some accounts say, went also the bodies of Murrough
(Brian's son), Conaing, and Moltha. The body of Brian was deposited
in a stone coffin on the north side of the high altar in the great
cathedral, the body of Murrough, it is said, being interred on the
south side of the church.