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Brian Boru.

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Brian Boru.

Brian Bóruma.

(941 1014)

The exact date of Brian's birth is not known it is reported as 926 or 941, he was born near Killaloe in County Clare. his father was Cennétig mac Lorcáin, King of Thomond and his mother was Bé Binn Ingen Murchada, a daughter of the King of West Connacht. The name Brian Boru is the anglicized version of his Irish name Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig. Brian's mother Bé Binn was killed by Vikings when he was a child.

Brian was a member of the Dál Cais (or Dalcassians) a tribe who occupied territory on either side of the river Shannon, today this area incorporates parts of counties Clare and Limerick, it was later to be known as the Kingdom of Thormond.

In Brian's youth his family were involved in raids against neighbouring tribes, the Shannon would no doubt have been used as a highway to conveniently carry their army east to County Meath and west to Connacht, it was probably during this period that Brian learned the advantages of using naval forces in warfare.

Upon the death of Brian's father the kingship passed to his elder brother, Mathgamain commonly referred to as Mahon, in 946 Mathgamain captured the Rock of Cashel from their rivals Eóganacht dynasty led by the Eóganacht King, Máelmuad mac Brain, Mac Brian had organised an alliance with Ivar the Viking leader of Limerick against the Dalcassians. The latter led by Mathgamain and Boru decisively defeated the alliance at the Battle of Sulchoid after the battle Limerick was looted and burned. In 976 Máelmuad attended what was intended to be a peaceful meeting aimed at reconciliation, however Máelmuad was set upon and murdered, and Brian acceded to the Kingship of the Dalcassians.

Brian immediately began expanding his holdings eventually becoming he King of Munster, he was a skillful warrior and diplomat and by 1002 he forced Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill the reigning high king of Ireland to submit to him, previous to Brian the High Kings were High king in name only and none actually controlled the whole of Ireland. By 1011 all the provincial kings of Ireland recognised Brian as the High King, this was not to last

Brian was married four times, his first wife was Mór, she was the mother of Murchad 'Murrough' who died with brian at Clontarf. His second was Echrad.she was the mother of Tadc who was to become his successor. His third and most famous wife was Gormflaith, she was the daughter of Murchad MacFinn, King of Leinster and the widow of Olaf Cuaran, the Viking king of Dublin and York., their son Sitric became Viking king of Dublin. Brian and Gormflaith's son, Donnchad succeeded Brian as king of Munster. His last wife was Dub Choblaig, daughter of the King of Connacht.

He is buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral in the city of Armagh (currently Church of Ireland). Legend dictates he is buried at the north end of the church, a plaque on the exterior of the building is dedicated to him.

See the Battle of Clontarf.

Watch a video about Brian Boru from the Discovery Channel.

Read about Brian Boru from P W Joyce's book 'A Concise History of Ireland'

Go to famous Irish People home page.