Bite Sized Facts About Brian Boru High King of Ireland

17 Apr 2014

This weekend is the Millennium of one of the biggest events in Irish history, the Battle of Clontarf. The battle involved the assassination of Brian Boru, the high King of Ireland. The history of Brian Boru and the lead up to the Battle of Clontarf is a fascinating one. With the 1014-2014 Millennium Festival coming up this weekend we thought it might be an idea to post some bite-sized facts about the legendary Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf. 

  • Brian Boru or (Brian Boroimhe c. 940 - 1014) was the first king of an united Ireland.
  • Brian Boru was born Brian Mac Cennétig. His father was Cennétig Mac Lorcain “King of Thomond” and his  mother was “Binn Ingen Murchada”. Very little is know about Brian  Not a lot is known about Brian Boru's parents and yet amazingly their names are a matter of record.
  • Although it is not a hundred percent certain, most historians have accepted that Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom descended from Brian Boru through her mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
  • He was born in Killaloe, County Clare. One must remember that at this time there was no actual record keeping, and most of the history we have today is either of Norse origin or from old songs.
  • And most of what we know about the Battle of Clontarf itself is from the “Annals of Loc Ce”, a medieval Irish manuscript housed at Trinity College, Dublin. The manuscript begins with Clontarf in 1014 marking it as an epochal event and described the battle in 1,200 words.
  • The Battle of Clontarf was fought between the Irish of Munster versus the Irish of Leinster and Dublin Vikings. It was fought because the King of Leinster Maelmorda mac Murchada revolted in 1012. Brian Boru reacted by imprisoning him.
  • Ultimately, the end of Brian's rule and his own demise had its origins in a quarrel between the King of Leinster and Brian's son Murrough over a chess game in 1013. When the King stormed out of Brian's Kincora castle, his sister Gormflaith went with him. She then rallied her son Sitric along with some Vikings from the Isle of Man and Hebrides, and assembled a fleet at mouth of the Liffey. The Vikings also sent out word back home for reinforcements, and Scandinavian mercenaries arrived in huge numbers.
  • Brian Boru did not die in battle. Although Brian Boru died at the Battle of Clontarf, he did not die on the battlefield. He was slain in his tent by Brodir, but was avenged by his brother Wolf the Quarrelsome.
  • On Good Friday (Apr. 23), 1014, Brian's forces met and annihilated the allies at Clontarf, near Dublin. Soon afterward he was murdered in his tent. Brian's victory broke the Norse power in Ireland forever, but Ireland fell into anarchy.
  • Brian's body was carried to Armagh in a solemn cortege. Yet his 1014 victory at Clontarf remains a momentous date in Irish history, the year that marked the end of Viking aggression in Ireland.
  • The Brian Boru harp is the symbol of Ireland (and on Guinness glasses) and we might all be sipping Carlsberg and not Guinness if the Vikings had won!

This weekend the Battle of Clontarf Millennium Festival will take place in St. Anne’s Park. 

Check out the full CALENDER OF EVENTS


Sources: Irish CentralIreland Information