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    BRIAN BORU - THE LAST GREAT HIGH KING OF IRELAND
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    The line between Irish Legend and Irish Myth have often been
    blurred, especially as the retelling of heroic deeds has
    been passed on through generations.

    Brian Boru was no legend although his life deeds were
    legendary. He was very much a real man and was in fact the
    last great High King of Ireland and perhaps the greatest
    military leader the country has ever known.

    Brian Boru was born Brian Mac Cennétig. He mother was sister
    to the mother of Conor, the King of Connaught.

    His brother, Mahon, had become King of Munster in 951, upon
    the death of their father, Cennétig. Together they fought
    against the invading Norsemen, who had imposed taxes in
    Munster. This struggle eventually led to the murder of Mahon
    in 975 Mahon by the Ostermen (Norse). Brain avenged his
    brother's death by killing the King of the Ostermen of
    Limerick, King Ímar.

    From this point onwards Brian held Munster as his own,
    including the pivotal trade-centre of Limerick. He marched
    into Connaught and Leinster and joined forces with Mael
    Sechnaill II in 997. Together they divided Ireland between
    them.

    The Norse settlers in Dublin especially ranged against Brian
    but were defeated at Glen Máma where the King of Leinster
    was captured. The King of Dublin, Sitric Silkenbeard, was
    soon defeated too.

    In 1002 Brian demanded of his comrade Mael Sechnaill that
    he recognize him as King of Ireland. Mael agreed, partially
    because many of his own people viewed Brian as a hero who
    had restored Ireland to greatness after the Viking invasions.
    The rule of the UíNéill's was thus at an end as a non-O'Neill
    was proclaimed as King. The O'Neill's had been rulers for
    over 600 years.

    He earned his name as 'Brian of the Tributes' (Brian Boru) by
    collecting tributes from the minor rulers of Ireland and used
    the monies raised to restore monasteries and libraries that
    had been destroyed during the invasions.

    The Norsemen were not done yet however, and once more waged
    war on Brian Boru and his followers at Clontarf in Dublin in
    1014. The King of Connaught, Tadhg O'Conor refused to ally
    with Brian against the Ostermen although Uí Fiachrach Aidne
    and Uí Maine did join with him.

    Despite the lack of backing from the men of Connaught, the
    Munstermen won the day but lost Brian Boru in the battle. This
    battle was a major turning point as it finally subjugated
    the Norse presence in Ireland who were henceforth considered
    subordinate to the Kingships of Ireland. Their military
    threat had been ended and they retreated to the urban centres
    of Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Wexford, and Cork. They
    eventually became completely hibernicized and integrated into
    Gaelic culture.

    After his death and the death of one of his sons, his
    remaining sons, Tadg and Donnchad, were unable to assume the
    kingship which was assumed by Mael Sechnaill. He died in 1022
    after which the role of High King of Ireland became more of
    a position in name only, rather than that of a powerful ruler.

    Perhaps the best that should be said of Brian Boru therefore,
    is that he was the last great High King of Ireland.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    (C) Copyright The Information about Ireland Site, 2000
    The Leader in Free Resources from Ireland
    Free Irish coats of arms, screensavers, maps and more

    http://www.ireland-information.com
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     



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