Discover The Last Kings of Ireland
Ireland has a rich and interesting legacy of Kings, some of whom feature on our new Kings and Queens of Ireland website. On the site, we uncover many hidden facts about the last Kings of Ireland, many of which showed great bravery and strength during their lifetime. Below are four of the kings featured, and the legends and stories connected to each of them. Journey with us we introduce these kings, and the places they roamed some hundreds of years ago and make available itineraries to allow you to follow in these great kings’ footsteps.
One of the most well-known Irish Kings of all time is Brian Boru. Born in Killaloe, Co Clare, this is where he later built his fort when crowned as King of Munster. During this tenure Brian and his brother Mahon recovered the town of Cashel from Vikings in 968 and fought to win back the rule of Limerick through a gruesome war at Scattery Island, defeating Viking King Ivar of Limerick.
Brian had control of Ireland’s main hub at the time – Dublin – which he assigned to Sitric Silkbeard, who held the title of King of Dublin at the time. Around this time Brian married Sitric’s mother, Gormlaith. However, relations between Sitric and Brian soon broke down and battles ensued, leading ultimately to the Battle of Clontarf. Boru had four wives throughout his life with at least six sons and three daughters. Descendants of Ireland’s popular king now have surnames like Ó Briain, O’Brien or O’Brian.
Before his untimely death – in what was considered as the bloodiest battle in Irish history – Brian ended the domination of the Uí Néill dynasty to become King of Ireland, a role he held for 12 years. As King of Ireland, Boru spent considerable time travelling throughout Ireland and spent a lot of time in Armagh which he declared as the religious capital of Ireland, where his body would later return and lie at St Patrick’s Cathedral following his death in 1014. Brian Boru has close ancestral links to County Clare, County Dublin, County Armagh and County Limerick.
Check out Brian Boru’s 3-day itinerary through Clare and Tipperary and visit some of the places affiliated with the famous king.
Born into the line of royalty, Silkbeard was the son of a Norse king and eventually held the noble position of King of Dublin for 47 years. Around that time, he had a tumultuous relationship with The King of Ireland, Brian Boru culminating in the Battle of Clontarf. Sitric has a strong connection with the City of Dublin where you can now see his legacy through Christ Church Cathedral where he founded the first Viking church in c 1030 with Dúnán, the first Bishop of Dublin.
Whilst visiting Christ Church, a visit to the Dublinia Museum will tell visitors more of the story around Ireland’s Viking roots such as the structure of a medieval castle found through excavations at the site of Dublin castle.
When in Dublin, you can visit the coastal town of Clontarf where Sitric took on Brian Boru in the Battle of Clontarf, a battle that led to Boru’s death.
Check out Sitric’s 2-Day itinerary in Dublin and Wicklow and walk in the footsteps of the Norse king.
A descendant of Brian Boru, Dermot was a son of the King of both Dublin and Leinster, with the latter being a title he would later inherit before being ousted and fleeing to England. During his time in England, MacMurrough builds alliances with Henry II and played a leading role in bringing the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, leading to the period of British rule.
MacMurrough later returned to Ireland and spent his time building Glendalough Abbey and Ferns Abbey where he was buried in 1171. Ferns in County Wexford was the ancient capital of Ireland where you can still find the 13th-Century Ferns Castle.
Discover the beautiful Glendalough Abbey and Ferns Abbey as part of King Dermot’s 2-Day Itinerary through Waterford and Wexford.
Ruaidhrí Ó Conchobhair was the King of Connacht and one of 20 sons of King Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair (Turlough O’Connor), who reigned as one of Ireland’s most popular kings for 50 years. Rory was the last King of Ireland with his reign spanning from 1166 until 1193. Throughout his adulthood, Rory had a difficult relationship with his family, rebelling against them in 1143 resulting in his imprisonment by brother Conchobar. Rory was the last Irish King before Henry II invaded Ireland and established British Rule. Rory signed the Treaty of Windsor with King Henry II in 1175, which saw Henry gain power over Leinster, Dublin and Wexford. This ultimately led to the beginning of the end of Rory’s reign.
We can still find many landmarks from Rory’s legacy throughout Ireland, including the Rory O’Connor Castle in Tuam and the Chair of Tuam which was unveiled in 1980 by the Archbishop of Armagh. Rory spent his final years, after being defeated by Henry II, in Cong Abbey. The abbey originally founded by his father and it is possible to visit this place of solace for Rory today. You can also find The Quiet Man Museum and Ashford Castle close to the abbey.
Rory was finally laid to rest at the ancient monastic site of Clonmacnoise in County Offaly after his body was moved from Cong Abbey in 1198.
Visit the sites Rory would have ventured to by exploring his 2-Day Itinerary through Galway and Offaly.
Discover more about Ireland’s ancient kings and queens and follow in their footsteps through Ireland.