Kings of Ireland - Understanding how they functioned.
It was the Gaels who essentially laid the foundation for what is considered to be an Irish culture and lifestyle. This combined with the failure of the Romans to reach Ireland did leave Ireland with a marked difference in culture and infrastructure to that of other parts of Europe and Britain.
Before this particular period, it is almost pointless to try and define or even to trace nationality. We are certain now that it was the Gaels, with their loose tribal structures and what can best be described as an ornamental civilization combined with the absence of any influence from the Romans that has left Ireland with the foundations of its culture and nationality.
Let us now bring those thoughts through to this period in Irish history. There is an important term that existed in Ireland in the 11th Century, known as “King of Ireland with Opposition”.
This meant that kings of Ireland who claimed the kingship of Ireland had managed to get most of the other province kings to support them, but to whom, some other provincial kings had not given their support.
Notice that the term opposition is important, as they were not as such the accepted “King of Ireland”. So during the 11th and 12th Centuries there was a constant fight for power and open warfare, but for one main reason to become the King of Ireland without opposition.
The grandson of Brian Boru, Tairdelbach O Briain was a man of considerable importance in Ireland at that time and was well known internationally.
Based in the wealthy trading centre of Limerick in 1072, he gathered his army and marched on Dublin and became King. He appointed his son Muirchertach O Briain as King of Dublin and eventually succeeded his father as King of Munster.
He fell from power in 1114 and moved north and Tairdelbach O Conchobar took over. Like the others before him he also took Dublin and became the king of Ireland in 1126. He was noted for his use of naval forces and the building of castles and bridges.
He remained unchallenged until 1154 when he was attacked by Muirchertach MacLochlainn, king of Cenel nEogain and when he arrived in Dublin was proclaimed king by the Ostmen. (The Ostmen were the Danish settlers who had remained in Ireland) Two years later he joined up with Diarmuit MacMurchada of Leinster.
In the North of Ireland, the O'Neills power returned and Muirchertach was killed leaving Diarmuit of Leinster suddenly exposed and his armies heavily weakened.
This is a significant moment in Irish History as this battle between the Kings of Ireland would bring the first arrival of English and Norman troops to the island of Ireland. You should now read about Strongbow Ireland.