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Prelude to the Battle of Clontarf 1014
Build-Up to the Battle
There was much resistance and many battles in the decades that led up to The Battle of Clontarf. Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) and the Dal gCais had been fighting the Vikings, who had occupied parts of his country from his youth. From the earlier days in county Clare, together with his brother, Mahon he had defeated them in The Battle of Sulcoit. After Mahon was murdered by the same, seeking revenge he fought them in The Battle of Bealach Leachta, which was a major victory for him and put him in contention for the position of Ard Rí (High King) of Ireland. Soon after this victory, Brian and his army overpowered the remaining Norse army in Munster at The Battle of Cathair Cuan, slaying the rest of Ivar, the Viking King of Limerick's lineage.
His relationship with the other Viking leaders grew worse as he grew in power. It was not until the Battle of Tara in 980 where Mael Sechnaill mac Domhnaill wiped out the strong leadership of Viking King Olaf, who was then forced to flee. This was a conclusive battle that marked the end of Viking Dublin and its powerful leader King Olaf.
Rising in revolt against Brian Boru - High King of the Irish
At this stage Brian had established himself as High King of Ireland, taking the High Kingship from the Uí Neills but rising in revolt against Brian was Máel Mórda mac Murchada, the king of Leinster. Brian had previously beaten the army of Mael Morda and Sigtrygg at The Battle of Glenmama. He wanted to ease the tension and use diplomacy to unite the sides, trying to build on relations with the leader of the Dublin Vikings, Sigtrygg Silkenbeard, the Danish chieftain by giving to him his daughter in marriage. He also married Sigrygg’s mother, Gormlaith, previously wife of Mael Sechnaill, to further enhance the relations between them. This alliance however was not to last.
In 1013, the King of Leinster, Mael Morda succeeded in getting help to Sitric. Both men rallied together and went to war against Brian. After the breakdown of relations between Brian and Gormlaith, together with the Vikings, she left Brian and immediately sought Viking allies from overseas; they also rallied help from many Irish clans who were rebelling against Brian. The largest contingent was bought by the Great Sigurd, Earl of Orkney from the Orkney Islands of Scotland and Brodir or the Isle of Man. Both of these men had a hidden agenda for taking part, they had been promised the seat of High King by Gormlaith. Busy forming all these alliances Sigtrygg wanted to just retain his own base in Dublin as leader.Viking contingents came from as far afield as Iceland and Normandy also.
At this time the island of Ireland consisted of small kingdoms under the overall rule of Brian Boru (Bryan Boru), the High King of Ireland. Boru would have been about 73 years of age when he faced a rebellion led by Mael Morda, the King of Leinster. The Rebel army numbered around 3,000 Vikings and 3,000 Leinstermen. Boru’s forces were mostly Irish, with around 6,000 Irish under various chieftains, and around 1000 Viking mercenaries, giving him a slight numerical advantage over his enemy.
Before this time, Brian had continued to attack and harass the Leinstermen bases allied to the rebel forces in the hope of reducing the numbers the rebel army could reach.
Together once again side by side the Dalcassians grew in strength. Word got to Ivar of Limerick of the uprising between the brothers; he gathered his Danish army and headed towards Cashel, Mahon and Brian together with their Dalcassian army marched and cut them off at Sulcoit, a district near the current Limerick Junction....read more
The battle of Belach Lechta marked the first major defeat of the Danes in Ireland. Fought in Munster in c.978, The Battle of Belach Lechta (Bealach Leachta) was an important battle between Brian Bóruma (Brian Boru),future High King of Ireland and Máel Muad mac Brain, King of Munster....read more
The Battle of Cathair Cuan was fought in or between 977 and 978 in County Limerick in Ireland. The battle was fought between Brian Bóruma and the Dal gCais, while defending were Donnubán mac Cathail who was in command together with Aralt mac Ímair son of the recently slain Ivar with remaining Viking army of Limerick....read more
This battle was fought near the Hill of Tara in the year 980; it paved the way to taking back control of Dublin and freeing Irish slaves.The opposing armies were on one side, Head of the Southern Uí Néill, Mael Sechnaill mac Domnaill....read more
Following on from Mael Sechnaills truce with Brian Boru in 997 in which they both took control over their respective halves of the country, Mael Sechnaill over the North and Brian over the South. On from this they began to put their efforts in to taking back Dublin....read more
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