The Life of Brian Boru

Contrary to the popular perception of Brian as the liberator of Ireland from foreign dominance, he purposely used outsiders to expand his authority. Brian "Boru" combined Irish tradition with innovation to become the most successful Irish king of his time. (David B. Beoughter)

0941-01-01 00:00:00

c. 941 - Birth of Brian Boru

Year approximate. Parents: Cennétig mac Lorcain and Bé Binn inion Urchad

0951-03-18 01:01:00

951 - Death of Brian's Father

After Brian’s father, Cennétig mac Lorcáin dies in 951, the kingship of Tuadmumu passed to Brian's older brother, Mathgamain.

0956-12-29 12:55:08

956 - Brian marries Mor.

Brian marries Mor, daughter of Eidigean of Ui Fhiachrach Aidhne.

0962-12-29 12:55:08

962 - Guerilla Raids

Brian leads his guerilla band on raids into Norse settlements.

0964-04-23 00:00:00

964 - Mathgamain Controls Munster

Brian's older brother, Mathgamain, claimed control over the entire province of Munster by capturing the Rock of Cashel, capital of the ancient Eóganachta, the hereditary overlords or High Kings of Munster, but who in dynastic strife and with multiple assassinations had weakened themselves to the point they were now impotent.

0967-04-23 00:00:00

967 - The Battle of Sulcoit

Norse king Ivar of Limerick was a threat and may have been attempting to establish some overlordship in the province or a region of it himself, with the Cogad Gaedel re Gallaib even asserting he actually achieved this until routed by Mathgamain in the celebrated Battle of Sulcoit (near Limerick Junction). This was the first battle in which Brian, now in his mid-twenties, distinguished himself, according to the slightly later history known as "Cogadh Gáedhel re Gallaibh" (‘The war of the Irish with the foreigners’).

0972-08-01 11:53:29

972 - Mathgamain Against the Norse

There is a brief alliance between Mathgamain, Máel Muad and others to drive the Norse "soldiers" or "officials" out of Munster and destroy their Limerick fortress.

0976-08-01 11:53:29

976 - Mathgamain is Murdered

When Mathgamain was killed, Brian replaced him as Dál gCais king. Subsequently he became the King of the entire kingdom of Munster.

0978-08-01 11:53:29

978 - The Battle of Belach Lechta

Brian challenged Máel Muad in 978 and defeated him in the fateful Battle of Belach Lechta

0982-07-23 12:31:36

982 to 997 – Battles to Extend Control

From 982 to 997, High King Máel Sechnaill repeatedly led armies into Leinster and Munster, while Brian, like his father and brother before him, led his naval forces up the Shannon to attack Connacht and Meath on either side of the river.

0996-07-23 12:31:36

996 - Brian Controls Leinster

In 996 Brian finally managed to control the province of Leinster, which may have been what led Máel Sechnaill to reach a compromise with him in the following year, 997.

0998-07-23 12:31:36

998 - King of Leinster Overthrown

Because he had submitted to Brian's authority, the King of Leinster was overthrown in 998 and replaced by Máel Morda mac Murchada.

0999-07-23 12:31:36

999 - Battle of Glen Mama

Brian assembled the forces of the Province of Munster with the intention of laying siege to the Hiberno-Norse city of Dublin, which was ruled by Máel Morda's ally and cousin, Sigtrygg Silkbeard. Together Máel Morda and Sigtrygg determined to meet Brian's army in battle rather than risk a siege. Thus, in 999, the opposing armies fought the Battle of Glen Mama.

1000-07-23 12:31:36

1000 - Attack on Meath

In the year 1000, Brian led a combined Munster-Leinster-Dublin army in an attack on High King Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill's home province of Meath.

1002-07-23 12:31:36

1002 - Brian Recognised as Ard Rí

Brian was recognised as Ard Rí, High King of Ireland, thus ending the six hundred year reign of the Uí Néill’s in Leinster. Breaking from tradition, he ruled from Kincora. The Uí Néill king Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, abandoned by his northern kinsmen of the Cenél nEógain and Cenél Conaill, acknowledged Brian as High King. The Cogadh Gaedhil re Gallaibh provides a story in which Brian challenges High King Máel Sechnaill to a battle at the Hill of Tara in the province of Meath, but the High King requests a month long truce so that he can mobilise his forces, which Brian grants him.

1005-10-25 14:19:04

1005 - "Emperor of the Irish"

Brian’s name was inscribed in the Book of Armagh, in gold lettering, as “Emperor of the Irish” during his campaign in the north of Ireland after he donated twenty-two ounces of gold to the monastery and declared that Armagh was the religious capital of Ireland.

1013-10-20 13:04:30

1013 - Rebellion and Challenges

Maelmordha rebelled against Brian’s rule, and then his ally Máel Sechnaill was attacked by the Cenél nEógain king Flaithbertach Ua Néill, with the Ulstermen as his allies.

1014-03-23 14:19:04

March 23, 1014 - The Battle of Clontarf

Maelmordha and Sitric, along with Dane Vikings of Northern Ireland in Leinster and Dublin, as well as native Irish rivals to Brian, gathered their forces in rebellion to Brian at Clontarf on Good Friday. While Brian’s forces were victorious in the Battle of Clontarf, Brian, his son Murchad, and Máel Mórda were among those killed.

The Life of Brian Boru

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