Menu – for all parts of the presentation Key questions Part one Who were the Irish Vikings? The first Viking attack The first phase – raiding, 795 – c. 830 Ireland – an easy target 1? - rich monasteries Ireland – an easy target 2? - political divisions Pagans versus Christians The second phase – settlement Part two Viking Dublin The first Dublin The second Dublin Linking British & Irish history The end of Viking power in Ireland?This part Notes, etc. Timeline Historical novels
The end of Viking power in Ireland? The battle of Tara in 980 was the beginning of the end of Viking power in Ireland. Their territories were taken over by Irish kings. However, popular histories say that the battle of Clontarf in 1014 was more important. This was because writers at the time liked to emphasise the heroic role played by Brian Boru. Born in what is now County Clare, he did not like the Vikings. He had seen them destroy his family home Brian wanted to be the High King of Ireland and force all others, including the Vikings, to submit to his rule. When he was a young man, he and his army of warriors fought and killed many Vikings in and around Limerick. Brian's eldest brother was king of a large part of Ireland and when he died, Brian took his place. Because he was such a great leader, his kingdom grew. In 1002 he became High King. This meant that he was the most powerful king in Ireland. He tried to persuade all the other Irish kings and some Vikings to join him in fighting against Vikings from Ireland and abroad. Click here for a historical novel about Brian Boru
The Battle of Clontarf, 1014 At Easter in 1014, a huge Viking army invaded Ireland, landing at Clontarf, near Dublin. They had the support of some Irish kings and wanted to take over the whole of Ireland. Now old, Brian could not fight, but he gathered a large army of Irish and Vikings to fight other Vikings and their Irish allies. He watched from his tent as about 8,000 men took part in the battle. The Battle of Clontarf was one of the biggest battles ever fought in Ireland. Brian’s side won, but as the Vikings were running away, one of their chiefs, called Brodir, found Brian's tent. Brian was inside and Brodir ran in and killed him. Click here for a ‘cartoon’ version of the battle
Brian Boru, high king of Ireland, blesses his troops before the Battle of Clontarf, 1014. One of James Ward’s early twentieth-century frescos in Dublin’s City Hall.
How important was the Battle of Clontarf? On one side Irish Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, & Munster army Brian’s Viking allies from Limerick and Waterford On the other side Vikings Sigurd of Orkney & Sitric Silkbeard, King of Dublin Brian’s Irish opponents Maelmora, King of Leinster Literary (and popular) accounts Struggle for sovereignty of Ireland Final defeat of a foreign oppressor Learned accounts Little changed Viking power crushed before at Battle of Tara, 980 Vikings kept their towns in Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Waterford & Limerick Brian’s attempt to found dynasty defeated at Clontarf with the death of his most able sons ‘Brian's lasting impact was to set the precedent that the title of High King belonged to whoever could seize it, which was the case for the next 150 years.’
Ireland. A Graphic History by Morgan Llywelyn Element, 1-85230-627-0 Click here to return to original page
Last slide of cartoon version of the Battle of Clontarf Click here to return to original page
Brian Boru by Llywelyn, Morgan O'Brien Press, 0-86278-230-9 Brian Boru, who died 1014, grew up in an Ireland torn by wars - chieftain again chieftain, tribe against tribe - and invaded by the Vikings. As a boy, Brian wanted to be a mighty warrior, and when his family was massacred by the Vikings, his only aim was to defeat his enemies forever. But Brian was just not a fearless fighter, he was a clever, educated man. He learned the ways of his enemies and overcame opposition and treachery to become High King of Ireland. Llywelyn sees the famous Battle of Clontarf in 1014, Brian's last act, as securing the final conquest of the Vikings, but historians have a different view of the significance of the battle. Click here to return to original page