Dermot MacMurrough


Dermot MacMurrough

Diarmaid Mac Murchadha (later known as Diarmaid na nGall or "Dermot of the Foreigners"), anglicized as Dermot MacMurrough (1110 - 1 May 1171) was a King of Leinster in Ireland. Ousted as King of Leinster in 1166, he sought military assistance from King Henry II of England to retake his kingdom. In return, MacMurrough pledged an Oath of Allegiance to Henry, who sent troops in support. As a further thanks for his reinstatement, MacMurrough's daughter Aoife was married to Richard de Clare, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke and a Cambro-Norman lord, known as "Strongbow". Henry II then mounted a larger second invasion in 1171 to ensure his control over Strongbow, since when parts or all of Ireland has been ruled or reigned over by the monarchs of England.

Early Life and Family

Mac Murchadha was born in 1110, a son of Donnchadh, King of Leinster and Dublin; he was a descendant of Brian Boru. His father was killed in battle in 1115 by Dublin Vikings and was buried, in Dublin, along with the body of a dog - this was considered a huge insult.

Mac Murchada had two wives (as allowed under the Brehon Laws), the first of whom, Mór Uí Thuathail, was mother of Aoife of Leinster and Conchobhar Mac Murchadha. By Sadhbh of Uí Fhaoláin, he had a daughter named Órlaith who married Domhnall Mór, King of Munster. He had two legitimate sons, Domhnall Caomhánach (died 1175) and Éanna Ceannsealach (blinded 1169).

King of Leinster

After the death of his older brother, Mac Murchadha unexpectedly became King of Leinster. This was opposed by the then High King of Ireland, Toirdelbach Ua Conchobair who feared (rightly so) that Mac Murchadha would become a rival. Toirdelbach sent one of his allied Kings, the belligerent Tigernán Ua Ruairc (Tiernan O'Rourke) to conquer Leinster and oust the young Mac Murchadha. Ua Ruairc went on a brutal campaign slaughtering the livestock of Leinster and thereby trying to starve the province's residents. Mac Murchadha was ousted from his throne, but was able to regain it with the help of Leinster clans in 1132. Afterwards followed two decades of an uneasy peace between Ua Conchobhair and Diarmaid. In 1152 he even assisted the High King to raid the land of Ua Ruairc who had by then become a renegade.

Mac Murchada also is said to have "abducted" Ua Ruairc's wife Dearbhforghaill along with all her furniture and goods, with the aid of Dearbhforghaill's brother, a future pretender to the kingship of Meath. It was said that Dearbhforghaill was not exactly an unwilling prisoner and she remained in Ferns with MacMurrough, in comfort, for a number of years. Her advanced age indicates that she may have been a refugee or a hostage. Whatever the reality, the "abduction" was given as a further reason for enmity between the two kings.

After the death of the famous High King Brian Boru in 1014, Ireland was at almost constant civil war for two centuries. After the fall of the O'Brien family (Brian Boru's descendants) from the Irish throne, the various families which ruled Ireland's four provinces were constantly fighting with one another for control of all of Ireland. At that time Ireland was like a federal kingdom, and not a unitary state, with five provinces (Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connaught along with Meath, which was the seat of the High King) each ruled by kings who were all supposed to be loyal or at least respectful to the High King of Ireland.

Church builder

As king of Leinster, in 1140-70 Dermot commissioned Irish Romanesque churches and abbeys at:
* Baltinglass - a Cistercian abbey (1148)
* Glendalough
* Ferns (his capital - St Mary's Abbey Augustinian Order)
* Killeshin

He sponsored convents (nunneries) at Dublin (St Mary's, 1146), and in c.1151 two more at Aghade, County Carlow and at Killculliheen in County Kilkenny.

He also sponsored the successful career of churchman St Lawrence O'Toole (Lorcan Ua Tuathail). He married O'Toole's half-sister Mor in 1153 and presided at the synod of Clane in 1161 when O'Toole was installed as archbishop of Dublin. [Tahdg O'Keefe essay in JRSAI vol.127 pp.52-79 (1997).]

Exile and Return

In 1166, Ireland's new High King and Mac Murchadha's only ally Muircheartach Ua Lochlainn had fallen, and a large coalition led by Tighearnán Ua Ruairc (Mac Murchadha's arch enemy) marched on Leinster. Ua Ruairc and his allies took Leinster with ease, and Mac Murchadha and his wife barely escaped with their lives. Mac Murchadha fled to Wales and from there to England and France, in order to have King Henry II's consent to be allowed recruit soldiers to bring back to Ireland and reclaim his kingship. On returning to Wales, Robert Fitzstephen helped him organize a mercenary army of Norman and Welsh soldiers, including Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, alias Strongbow

In his absence Ruaidhrí Ua Conchobhair (son of Mac Murchadha's former enemy, High King Toirdhealbhach) had become the new High King of Ireland. Mac Murchadha planned not only to retake Leinster, but to oust the Uí Conchobhair clan and become the High King of Ireland himself. He quickly retook Dublin, Ossory and the former Viking settlement of Waterford, and within a short time had all of Leinster in his control again. He then marched on Tara (then Ireland's capital) to oust Ruaidhrí. Mac Murchadha gambled that Ruaidhrí would not hurt the Leinster hostages which he had (including Mac Murchadha's eldest son, Conchobhar Mac Murchadha). However Ua Ruairc forced his hand and they were all killed.

Diarmaid's army then lost the battle. He sent word to Wales and pleaded with Strongbow to come to Ireland as soon as possible. Strongbow's small force landed in Wexford with Welsh and Norman cavalry and took over both Waterford and Wexford. They then took Dublin. MacMurrough was devastated after the death of his son, Domhnall, retreated to Ferns and died a few months later.

Strongbow married Dermot's daughter Aoife of Leinster in 1170, as she was a great heiress, and as a result much of his (and his followers') land was granted to him under the Irish Brehon law, and later reconfirmed under Norman law. The marriage was imagined and painted in the Romantic style in 1854 by Daniel Maclise.

Later reputation

In Irish history books written after 1800 in the age of nationalism, Diarmaid Mac Murchadha was often seen as a traitor, but his intention was not to aid an English invasion of Ireland, but rather to use Henry's assistance to become the High King of Ireland himself. He had no way of knowing Henry II's ambitions in Ireland. In his time, politics was based on dynasties and Ireland was not ruled as a unitary state. In turn, Henry II did not consider himself to be English or Norman, but French, and was merely responding to the realities on the ground.

Gerald of Wales, a Cambro-Norman historian who visited Ireland and whose uncles and cousins were prominent soldiers in the army of Strongbow, said of Mac Murchadha::"Now Dermot was a man tall of stature and stout of frame; a soldier whose heart was in the fray, and held valiant among his own nation. From often shouting his battle-cry his voice had become hoarse. A man who liked better to be feared by all than loved by any. One who would oppress his greater vassals, while he raised to high station men of lowly birth. A tyrant to his own subjects, he was hated by strangers; his hand was against every man, and every man's hand against him"."

Death and Descendants

After Strongbow's successful invasion, Henry II mounted a second and larger invasion in 1171 to ensure his control over his Norman subjects, which succeeded. He then accepted the submission of the Irish kings in Dublin. He also ensured that his moral claim to Ireland, granted by the 1154 papal bull "Laudabiliter", was reconfirmed in 1172 by Pope Alexander III and also by a synod of all the Irish bishops at Cashel. He added "Lord of Ireland" to his many other titles.

Ua Conchobhair was soon ousted, first as High King and eventually as King of Connaught. Attempting to regain his provincial kingdom, he turned to the English as Mac Murchadha had before him. The Lordship directly controlled a small territory in Ireland surrounding the cities of Dublin and Waterford, while the rest of Ireland was divided between Norman and Welsh barons. The 1174 Treaty of Windsor, brokered by St Lawrence O'Toole with Henry II, formalized the submission of the Gaelic clans that remained in local control, like the Uí Conchobhair who retained Connacht and the Uí Néill who retained most of Ulster.

Dermot's descendants continued to rule parts of Leinster until the Tudor re-conquest of Ireland in the 1500s. Today they live on with the surname "MacMurrough Kavanagh" at Borris in Co. Carlow and at Maresfield, East Sussex, being one of the few surviving "Chiefs of the name".

ee also

*Kings of Leinster

References

ources

*"Annals of the Four Masters", ed. J. O'Donovan; 1990 edition.
*"Expungntio Hibernica", by Geraldus Cambrensis. Martin & Moody, editors.
*"Irish Kings and High Kings", Francis J. Byrne, 1973.
*"The Norman Invasion of Ireland", by Richard Roache, 1998.
*"War, Politics and the Irish of Leinster 1156-160", Emmett O'Byrne, 2004.
*Gerald of Wales
*Diarmait & Strongbow"" "akajava films (2005) TV documentary for TG4 (Irl)"
*"Dermot MacMurrough", Nicholas Furlong.
*Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis, Lines: 66-26, 175-6

ource for Genealogy

*"Uí Cheinnselaig Kings of Laigin", "Irish Kings and High Kings" by Francis J. Byrne, page 290, Dublin, 1973.
*"The MacMurrough-Kavanagh kings of Leinster", "War, Politics and the Irish of Leinster", Emmett O'Byrne, Dublin, 2004, Outline Genealogies I, Ia, Ib,, pages 247-249.


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  • Dermot Mac Murrough — Diarmait MacMurrough Diarmaid Mac Murchada (plus tard connu sous le nom de Diarmaid na nGall i.e Diarmait des Etrangers ), anglicisé en Dermot MacMurrough (1110 1er mai 1171) est un roi de Leinster de 1126 à 1171 et un roi de Dublin de 1127… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dermot Mac Murrought — Diarmait MacMurrough Diarmaid Mac Murchada (plus tard connu sous le nom de Diarmaid na nGall i.e Diarmait des Etrangers ), anglicisé en Dermot MacMurrough (1110 1er mai 1171) est un roi de Leinster de 1126 à 1171 et un roi de Dublin de 1127… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dermott MacMurrough — Diarmait MacMurrough Diarmaid Mac Murchada (plus tard connu sous le nom de Diarmaid na nGall i.e Diarmait des Etrangers ), anglicisé en Dermot MacMurrough (1110 1er mai 1171) est un roi de Leinster de 1126 à 1171 et un roi de Dublin de 1127… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Diarmait MacMurrough — Diarmaid Mac Murchada (plus tard connu sous le nom de Diarmaid na nGall i.e Diarmait des Étrangers ), anglicisé en Dermot MacMurrough (1110 1er mai 1171) est un roi de Leinster de 1126 à 1171 et un roi de Dublin de 1127 à 1136. Il est chassé …   Wikipédia en Français


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