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1170 - 1176AD
HER STORY & TIMELINE
Known as “Eva of Leinster” to historians, Aoife MacMurrough was the daughter of the King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurrough, and is probably best known for being the wife of Richard de Clare (Strongbow). Aoife was the Princess of Leinster and Countess of Pembroke, and can also lay claim to being the Queen of Leinster following Strongbow’s appointment as King of Leinster after the death of her father Dermot in 1171.
Aoife earned a reputation as being well educated and as a capable warrior from her leading of troops into battles. This earned her the name of “Aoife Rua”, which translates as Red Eva.
Born in 1145, Aoife was the daughter of Dermot MacMurrough (the King of Leinster) and Mor O'Toole (Dermot's first wife).
Aoife married Richard de Clare (Strongbow) in 1170. She was offered to him as a thank you after Strongbow’s success in helping her father regain his throne in Leinster. The wedding took place in Christchurch Cathedral in Waterford. Aoife’s father (Dermot) is said to have gifted Strongbow with the Rock of Dunamase on their wedding day. They were the ultimate Irish power couple of the 12th century.
During their marriage, Strongbow and Aoife became parents to three children. Upon the death of her father Dermot, Strongbow was made King of Leinster under Anglo-Norman law, with Aoife afforded life-interest only under Irish Brehon law. Aoife did go into battle with Strongbow, often leading the troops.
Following the death of Strongbow in 1176, Aoife continued to defend their lands and devote her time to raising their children. The children of Aoife and Strongbow, particularly their daughter Isabel, left noble descendants across Europe. It is rumoured that Strongbow is buried in a tomb at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin.
Aoife is believed to have died around 1188 and would not have been more than 40 years old. Her body is supposedly buried on the grounds of Tintern Abbey in Wales.