Donnchad mac Briain

Donnchad mac Briain was a son of the Great High King Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) and Gormflaith ingen Murchada. On the Battlefield of Clonarf in 1014, Brian together with his son Murchad died. Donnchad had 5 half-brothers, Tadc, Domnall who died in 1011 and Conchobar and Flann who left no trace in Irish records. The only 2 sons to have survived after the death of their father were Donnchad and his half-brother Tadc. It is said that, Donnchad lead the surviving Dál Cais back home into Munster after the Battle of Clontarf facing armies from Osraige, an ancient kingdom within Munster, defeating them along the way.

There was a struggle in Ireland to deal with the turmoil and shift in power that followed the death of the High King Mael Sechnaill mac Domnaill.

Donnchad was growing in power and started to make his presence felt outside Munster around 1025. His half-brother Tadc was slayed in 1023, apparently done on Donnchad’s order while in 1019, he himself had lost his right hand, which may have been because of a failed assassination effort. In the late 1050’s, Donnchad faced strong confrontation, his nephew, Tadc’s son, Toirdelback Ua Briain was apparently behind these attacks. Donnchad’s main challengers were Áed in Gaí Bernaig, King of Connacht and Diarmait mac Maíl na nBó, King of Leinster. Diarmait was a serious treat; he was allied with Niall mac Eochada, King of Ulster. Niall mac Eochada’s son Murchad was appointed as ruler of Dublin, overthrowing Donnchad’s brother in law and allie Echmarcach mac Ragnaill.

In the meantime, Toirdelback Ua Briain joined forces with Áed in the early 1050’s, inflicting defeat on Donnchad’s son Murchad in the North West of County Clare in 1055. By 1058, Toirdelbach had gained the support of Diarmait mac Maíl, together with the Osraige they drove Donnchad from Limerick, defeating him and burning it so it would not fall into the hands of the enemy.

After years of conflict Donnchad was finally overthrown in 1063, he went on pilgrimage to Rome, where he died the following year and was buried in the basilica of Santo Stefano al Monte Celio.