In 1152 Dervorgilla, wife of
the brutal Tiernan O'Rourke, king of Breifne was abducted (along
with many cattle) by Dermot Mac Murrough, king of Leinster, some
say at the behest of her brother, Dennchad Ua mael Sechlainn. This
was part of an ongoing power struggle, over the high kinship that
had gone to Turlough O'Connor, king of Connacht.
Dervorgilla, has been blamed
by many for the Norman invasion of Ireland, which led to centuries
of English domination. Some historians contend that early clerical
historians used the abduction to cloak The Bull Laudabiliter issued
by Pope Adrian IV in 1155 to Henry II inviting him to invade Ireland
on a crusade., whose anti female bias is endemic in their religious
thinking. Here we set out some of the salient fact about her life,
In 1156, O'Connor died and with
the help of Mac Murrough, the king of Ulster, Mac Loughlin became
high king of Ireland. This held until ten years later, when Rory
O'Connor, (Last native high king of Ireland), overthrew him. Mac
Murrough refused to recognize his authority and fled from the country
to seek help from King Henry II of England.
Henry allowed Dermot to recruit allies among the Norman barons of
Wales, who were his subjects. Chief among these was Richard Fitz
Gilbert de Clare (Strongbow). In return for Strongbow's help Dermot
promised him his daughter Eva in marriage and the succession to
the throne of Leinster, overlooking his own son.
Many historian's blame Dervorgilla
for the Norman invasion of Ireland, others contend that this is
an anti female bias of the Catholic church whose monks (Many of
of whom were married) have written the history of Ireland and that
much of it is fictional, purely political and religious propaganda.
The Book of Rights, Lebor na Cert, compiled c1100 as an inventory
for the Synod of Cashel in 1101, to boost the prestige of Muirchertach
O'Brien as High King.
Blaming Dervorgilla, overlooks the eighteen
years that had elapsed from her abduction in 1152, when she was
46, by the time Mac Murrough invited Strongbow to Ireland in 1170,
she would have been 63, and it seems very un-likely that the sexual
passions of a lady of her age, could lead to such consequences,
in a society that viewed woman as little more than chattels. It
also overlooks the political rape of the Abbess of Kildare, by Mac
Murrough in c1131. Rape as a weapon has been used from time immemorial
and continues to be used to day.