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The Rise to Power of Brian Boru
Early Life in Killaloe
Brian Boru was born Brian Mac Cennétig at Kincora, Killaloe, County Clare c. 941. He was one of 12 sons of Cennétig mac Lorcáin, ing of the Dalcassian (Dál gCais) Tribe and ruler of the Kingdom of Thomond. His family was members of the Dál gCais tribe which had an ancient royal ancestry and vied with the Eóganachta for the rule of Munster. Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) was a great harp musician and the harp was to become a symbol of unity and peace in Ireland in his memory. He felt very strongly about his faith and was a strong Christian. Brian Boru had a happy childhood; living with his large united family in a time where he wanted for nothing.
But this was not to last, the Vikings invaded and this is the follow the worst days of tyranny for the Dalcassians. His earth is shattered when Viking’s plunder his home and kill some of his family including his mother “The centre of his world”. A heartbroken Brian is sent away to Clonmacnoise. He was educated in the monastery where he became literate in Greek and Latin. He was also educated in the battles fought by Caesar; his is where he got a lot of ideas about his career on the battle field. During Brian’s time at Clonmacnoise he has taught of nothing else but one thing, defeating the Vikings, it is strong in his mind when he returns home after his studies.
Mahon Head of the Dál gCais
When Brian’s father is killed by Vikings in 951, his brother Mathghamhain (Mahon) becomes King of the Dal gCais.
But as Mahon makes a truce with the Vikings, Brian is devastated, seeing his mother brutally murdered by the Vikings, the brothers are split and eventually Mahon asks the young Brian to leave, he does this taking a small band of supporters with him, as word spreads his army grows in strength. They live in the mountains attaching Viking settlements.
After a time, the brothers are finally reconciled when Brian invites him to his wedding to Mór. During this time the ancient seat of Cashel was lost to the Danes but Brian defeated the Danes in 968 and restored Cashel to its rightful place. Mahon seeing this renounced his truce with the Vikings. Together once again side by side the Dalcassians grew in strength and began driving the Vikings out of Munster and Southern Ireland.
Brian Boru King of Munster
In 970 Mahon becomes King of Cashel and Munster. During these years the brothers fight together side by side and gain strength in numbers. However, Ivar returned to Ireland to seek revenge, he has Mahon assassinated in 976 thus leaving Brian next in line. Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) being honourable challenged to combat, in which Brian was triumphant. Brian succeeded his brother and wasted no time taking to the field to face his brother’s enemies establishing himself as King of Munster.
During his time another great leader was rising in the north, Mael Sechnaill mac Domnaill the Ui Neill King of Tara. Mael Sechnaill became High King with he defeated a Norse army and took control of Dublin in the Battle of Tara in 980.
As Brian was growing in strength in the South, becoming King of Munster, crowned at the Rock of Cashel in 984, Mael Sechnaill was growing in strength in the North, the clash beween was inevitable. Eventually in 988 both men meet and decided to divide Ireland into two. Malachy became King of the North and Brian Boru becames King of the South or Ireland.
Thank you Stephanie! I have been meaning to write you a note and have been so crazy with work since we returned. The trip was unbelievable! We had a wonderful time and loved every minute of the trip.
Andrea Stevens, Plantation, Florida