Known as Eva of Leinster to historians, Aoife MacMurrough was the daughter of the King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurrough, and is perhaps best known for being the wife of Richard de Clare, more commonly known as Strongbow. Aoife was the Princess of Leinster and Countess of Pembroke, who can also lay claim to being the Queen of Leinster following Strongbow’s appointment as King of Leinster following the death of her father Dermot in 1171.
Aoife was well educated due to her standing as the daughter of a king, and is brought to the attention of many following her marriage to Strongbow in 1170, making them the ultimate Irish power couple of the 12th century. This wedding would end up changing the face of Irish history forever, as it ultimately led to the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, and centuries of British Rule. Aside from being well educated, Aoife earned a reputation as a capable warrior and is said to have led troops into several battles. This earned her the name of Aoife Rua – Red Eva. Aoife and Strongbow are believed to have three children – two boys and one girl.
Follow the journey of Aoife and Strongbow with the 3-day Laois to Waterford itinerary below.
Aoife MacMurrough was born in 1145, and the daughter of the King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurrough, and his first wife Mor O'Toole.
Aoife married Richard de Clare (Strongbow) in 1170 after she was offered to him in thanks of his success in helping her father, Dermot, regain his throne in Leinster. The wedding took place in Christchurch Cathedral in Waterford, while Dermot is said to have gifted Strongbow with the Rock of Dunamase on the wedding day.
Following her marriage to Strongbow on 23rd August 1170, Aoife went on to have three children with the famous warrior. Upon the death of her father Dermot, Strongbow was made King of Leinster under Anglo-Norman law, with Aoife afforded life interest only under Irish Brehon law. Aoife did go into battle with Strongbow, often leading the troops. As Strongbow continued to strengthen his grip on Leinster, he organised the construction of several buildings including Kilkenny Castle (Strongbow is believed to have built the first structure here), Dunbrody Abbey and Arklow Castle. He is also believed to have played a role at some point in the building or rebuilding of Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin.
Following the death of Strongbow in 1176, Aoife continued to defend their lands and devote her time to raising their children. The children of Aoife and Strongbow (mainly Isabel de Clare) would result in descendants that would include generations of noble figures across Europe. It is rumoured that Strongbow is buried in a tomb at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin.
Aoife is believed to have died around 1188, and it is thought she wouldn't have been much older than 40 when she died. Following her death, Aoife is thought to have been buried in Tintern Abbey in Wales.
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