The Battle of Clontarf by Hugh Frazer, 1826
The Battle of Clontarf by Hugh Frazer, 1826

2014 marks a thousand years since Cath Chluain Tarbh or the Battle of Clontarf so a quick post to highlight some fantastic articles on the historical and political legacy of the Dál gCais “upstart” Brian Bóroimhe, Ard Rí na hÉireann “High King of Ireland”, who led his forces to a victory over his Irish, Scandinavian-Irish and Scandinavian opponents in one of the great military clashes of Medieval Europe. Two pieces are Brian Boru: High King of Ireland and The Transformation of Brian Boru, and are well worth reading. There is also an article and podcast by the lads at Come Here To Me.

5 comments on “The Legacy Of Brian Bóroimhe

  1. It’s a mystery as to how we never developed a sense of nationhood like the English even during the centuries of imperialism. Does it stem from a lack of trust in central authority and the fact most instiutions are descended from cattle-rustling tribes?

    This Brian Boru couldv’e laid a solid foundation for Ireland’s future and the Union wouldv’e been far more equitable to us in the long term.

    • Oh it was there alright but largely confined to the Irish language until the likes of Thomas Davis and others came along to refashion it in the English language. If you look to the earliest Irish texts, from the medieval period onwards, that sense of Irish nationhood and identity is there, albeit quite a malleable one. The monastic schools played no small part in that with their various names for the Irish: the Féine, the Gaeil, etc. Then Éirennaigh was popularised in the post-Norman-British period as an umbrella term to unify and counter Anglo-Britishness in Ireland.

      • I’m baffled as to why the Irish equivalent of ‘The Declaration of Arbroath’ never happened

        • More extensive and earlier penetration by Anglo-Norman elements?? Or was it simply a case that these elements came down on the side on the English, rather than siding with the natives. I think for a while they tried to play off one side against the other in Scotland. Anyway I’d be very interested in any theories anyone has.

          • I think in Scotland the emergence of a unified Norman-Scots “ethnicity” did much to sideline a Gaelic-Scots “ethnicity” and Scottish nationalism, if we may use that term, seemed to largely coalesce around the former with elements of the latter.

            In Ireland the Normans were largely subsumed into the existing order, becoming “ethnically” Irish rather than developing a completely new or separate identity. Later waves of English colonisation then failed to make a foot-hold and Irish “nationalism” as such remained confined to the Gaelic-Irish (and Norman-Irish).

            Of course that is a simplification.

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