Dermot MacMurrough was the son of the King of Leinster, a title he would one day hold. He is a king who has quite a checkered past, as upon being confirmed as the King of Leinster, Dermot embarked on several battles with kings looking to oust him, most notably Tiernan O’Rourke, the King of Breifne (Leitrim and Cavan), and Rory O’Connor, the last King of Ireland. These battles ultimately resulted in MacMurrough being ousted from his position as King of Leinster, and he fled Ireland for several years to live in Wales, England and France.
During this exile, MacMurrough sought out help from the English, and King Henry II, and as a result is remembered as the king who brought the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, and a period of British Rule. This earned Dermot the nickname of Dermot na nGall – Dermot of the Foreigners. Norman warrior Richard de Clare (better known as Strongbow) fought for Dermot with his half-brothers, helping him regain his throne. De Clare was rewarded for his support with the hand in marriage of MacMurrough’s daughter, Aoife, and was famously gifted the Rock of Dunamase in Laois as a wedding gift. MacMurrough’s later years were spent building abbeys, with Glendalough and Ferns two famous abbeys commisioned by MacMurrough. Upon his death in 1171, he was buried at Ferns Abbey in Wexford.
Retrace the steps of King Dermot with the 2-day Waterford and Wexford itinerary below.
MacMurrough was born around 1100 and was the son of Donnchad MacMurrough, the king of both Dublin and Leinster. Dermot was a descendant of Brian Boru, as his father was a grandson of Boru's granddaughter, Dervorgilla. Dermot's father died in 1115 in a battle with his cousin, Sigtrygg Silkbeard, the Viking king of the Dublin.
Following the death of his older brother Énna in 1126, Dermot became the King of Leinster. He became a feared rival of the then King of Ireland, Turlough Mór O'Connor who sent one of his allied kings, Tiernan O'Rourke to oust MacMurrough and take over Leinster. This resulted in a brutal campaign in which many livestock was slaughtered, and ultimately led to the dethroning of MacMurrough.
Dermot called on the help of several Leinster clans and was able to regain control of Leinster and return to the throne in 1132. This resulted in some 20 years of tension and battles between Dermot and the King of Ireland, Turlough Mór O'Connor.
Following the death of Dermot's ally Muircheartach Mac Lochlainn (King of Ireland from 1156 - 1166), MacMurrough was deposed from his throne by his arch enemy Tiernan O'Rourke, and the new king of Ireland, Rory O'Connor. MacMurrough fled Ireland to seek help from Henry II, a decision that would ultimately result in the end of Irish kingship, and the introduction of British Rule in Ireland for several centuries.
Strongbow launched an attack on Leinster from his base in Wales, and duly captured Waterford and Dublin, ensuring MacMurrough would once again become King of Leinster. Dermot had previously captured Wexford in 1167 in preparation for the invasion from Strongbow. Dermot reworded Strongbow with the hand of his daughter Aoife in marriage, and they married in Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin in 1170.
Dermot MacMurrough is believed to have died in 1171 with Strongbow replacing him as King of Leinster. MacMurrough was buried at Ferns Abbey in Wexford, an abbey that he founded in 1158, and a place of solace from 1167 to 1170 as he waited for the arrival of Strongbow.
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