THE LION OF IRELAND
Brian Boru was the most famous of all Ireland's kings and is remembered with reverence and pride to this very day.
Born in 941 A.D. of royal blood in the province of Munster he became chieftain of Dalcais in the north area of that province and eventually its king by the force and vigor of his warrior-like leadership and administrative skills.
By the 8th. century monasteries had become secular lordships in all but name. Their wealth and stores of precious vessels, made of them, an inviting target for the marauding Vikings.
In time Brian's ambition won him the highest throne in the land, that of High King. He transferred the ancient seat of the High King from Tara to Cashel of the Rock and got to work. Amongst his plans was the establishment of an all-Irish Navy to help defeat the Vikings on the coastal waters. Christian faith, art, chess and the music of the harp otherwise ruled his life.
Paradoxically, when King Brian was ready to fight the Vikings he was too old to wield a sword. So the great army he built up he placed in the hands of his two sons, both strong, willful and trained in generalship.
The Vikings decided to stand their ground at Clontarf beside their Dublin settlement where they could embroil their Leinster Allies in the battle to come. Their fellow Vikings came in thousands to help them from the Isle of Man, Orkneys and elsewhere.
The great Irish army moved relentlessly to Clontarf to attack the foreigners. Brian was an inspiration to his warriors. The battle began on April 23rd, Good Friday, the year 1014. Grappling in a close fight all day the Irish side gained ground in mighty hand-to-hand single combat with their long "swords of light". Brian's encouragement prevailed and the retreat of survivors from the battle field to the sea began. It was a momentous event in Irish history but the price was high.
While in flight a foreign soldier spotted King Brian in his tent saying a prayer of Thanksgiving for a great and final victory. The Viking leader Broder on hearing this returned in rage and attacked Brian with his sword. Old as he was the King severed his attacker's two legs as the battle axe fell heavily on his head. On his longed-for day of victory the great, well loved monarch died. It was King Brians life work that began the aspirations of the Irish nation everywhere to resist foreign domination whenever and wherever it had forced itself into the motherland.