History of the Battle of Clontarf

Historical information about the Battle of Clontarf

2014 marks the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf which claimed the lives of over 10,000 people including perhaps the greatest High king of Ireland, Brian Boru. The battle took place on  April 23rd 1014 between the forces of Brian Boru and the forces led by the King of Leinster, Máel Mórda mac Murchada: composed mainly of his own men, Viking mercenaries from Dublin and the Orkney Islands led by his cousin Sigtrygg as well as the one rebellious king from the province of Ulster. It ended in a rout of the Máel Mórda's forces, along with the death of Brian, who was killed by a few Norsemen who were fleeing the battle and stumbled upon his tent.

Growing up as kids in Ireland we all read about the exploits of Brian Boru in school, but sometimes the fact and folklore can become clouded. Meeting with the local historical representatives in each of the relevant locations was truly enlightening and, as luck would have it, it would appear that during this period in Irish history the historical records of the era were considerably more accurate than times past. The proof of this was very evident in a recent meeting that we attended in the offices of the Taoiseach in Government buildings when a number of Ireland’s premier historians made the point that there is no excuse for historical inaccuracies when so much information is available on the Battle of Clontarf, Brian Boru, the O’Brien Clan and of course the other Clans of Ireland that were involved in the battle. In fact, the Norwegian and Danish Ambassadors who were also present reminded all attendees that in the event of any lopsided inaccuracies relating to our Viking friends, they may be forced to invade the island of Ireland once again”.