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The Life & Legacy of Brian Boru

The Early Life of Brian Boru:

Born as the youngest of twelve brothers, the baby known as Brian Boru would go from having no chance to sit on the throne, to uniting the entirety of Ireland and leaving a legacy of being an incredible warrior and visionary.

At an early age, Brian was sent by his father to the church to gain an education, however, before completing his studies he was recalled home in 951AD at the you age of 10 due to the death of his father, an Irish king. Brians older brother, Mathgamian, took the throne of Thomond.

The Conflicts

Over the next few years, Brian's brothers would be systematically killed in various raids by Vikings, instilling a deep and passionate hatred for the Norse raiders - eventually he decided to take revenge.

Leading only fifteen men, Brian fearlessly fought a group of Vikings belonging to Ivar of Limerick and won. His courage and bravery inspired his elder brother to create a coalition amongst the Irish factions to fight the Vikings and drive them out of Limerick. This alliance was uneasy at best and in a battle against the Vikings, Mathgamian was killed, leaving the throne empty and Brian as the rightful heir.

After becoming the King of Thomond, Brian hunted down and killed Ivar of Limerick, before going on to strike a deal that the Vikings could keep Limerick as a Norse settlement, however they were to cease all raiding and pillaging.

Threatened by the resurgence of Munster and Thomond, the High King of Ireland, Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill declared war on Boru. After attacks on his territory, Brian decided to retaliate, however he did so in an unexpected way; at the time, Irishmen and Irish Armies were expected to fight in a specific way by one another, however, Boru broke tradition and went on to sail down the River Shannon in longboats, pillaging and raiding Domnaill’s territory along the way, using tactics of the Vikings.

Eventually, Ireland would be split into the North and South, with Domnaill retaining the north as well as his title as High King, while Boru would remain a king, and take control of the south, a fantastic deal for Boru.

The Aftermath

Relations soured and in 1002AD, Boru and Domnaill fought a vicious battle which led to Boru’s ascension to High King, within the next three years Brian had taken majority control of Ireland. As a show of respect, Brian sent the amount of 22 oz. of Gold to the highest church in Ireland, who in turn bestowed upon him the title of “Emperor of the Gaels”.

In April of 1014AD, a full-scale Norse Invasion took place in Ireland - Brian Boru’s army marched into battle, which resulted in one of the deadliest, and brutal battles in Irish History. It was soon clear that Brian’s army was to be victorious, so a small faction of fighters broke through Brian's lines and found the encampment in which Brian was staying.

While praying for the victory of his army, Brian was killed, the High King was too old to even think about fighting back, after his death his army did in fact win the battle, however his death allowed for the rise of another High King, the very man which Brian had fought against so many times, Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, who went on to reign until his death in 1022AD.

Boru died as High King of Ireland, Emperor of the Gaels, and left behind a legacy as an incredibly intelligent tactician and deadly warrior, and as we come to the 1,009th anniversary of his death we celebrate his life and legacy.