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The Battle of Clontarf in Irish History and Legend

Clare Downham

History Ireland, Vol. 13 No.5 (2005)

Introduction: The battle of Clontarf, fought on Good Friday (23 April) 1014, is one of the most famous events in Irish history. In this conflict the forces of the Munster over-king Brian Boru and his allies were pitched against the armies of north Leinster, Dublin, and viking mercenaries and allies from across the sea. The event has been popularly portrayed as a struggle between the forces of good and evil. Brian has been regarded as a national hero, a ruler who rose from relative obscurity to unite Ireland briefly under his rule. He has been seen as a paragon of Christian leadership, who struggled against all odds to rid Ireland from the perils of conquest by pagan vikings. He won the battle, but made the ultimate sacrifice in losing his life while praying for victory.

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