Toggle between screens

HIS Story & Timeline

Brian Boru

Find out more about one of Ireland's most famous kings.




Brian Boru


One of Ireland’s most famous kings, Brian Boru was born “Brian Mac Cennétig” in Killaloe, Co. Clare. Brian was born into a family of no great distinction (his father was a Dál gCais Chieftain called Cinnéide), but through his battles he would go on to become Ireland’s most famous king, and arguably one of the most famous Irishmen of all time.

941AD Born in Killaloe

While the exact birth date of Brian Boru isn't certain, it is thought that he was born around 941, although some historians claim that he was born in the 920s. Brian was born in the town of Killaloe, Co. Clare, an area that would later become the location for his fort when he became both King of Munster, and Ireland.

968AD Recovers Cashel from the Vikings

Following the death of their father, Brian and his brother Mathghamhain (Mahon) would have fought many battles against Vikings, mainly in the regions of Clare, Limerick and Tipperary. Brian and Mahon recovered the town of Cashel from the Vikings in 968.

976AD Became the Leader of Dál gCais

Brian's father, Cinnéide, was a Dál gCais Chieftain and in 968, Brian's brother Mathghamhain (Mahon) became the King of Munster. Following his brother’s death in 976, Brian Boru became the leader of Dál gCais, and his journey to becoming King of Ireland was underway.

977AD Defeats King Ivar of Limerick

Brian surprises the Viking King Ivar of Limerick in an attack at Scattery Island that is also thought to have resulted in the death of two of Ivar's sons. Scattery Island had lots of invasions over the years, especially from the Vikings, but Brian managed to win it back, and in the process end Viking rule in Limerick.

997AD Ruler of the South of Ireland

In 997 Brian made an alliance with the reigning Irish high king, Máel Sechnaill (Malachy) of Meath. The kings agreed to split Ireland in two, with Mael effectively ruling the north and Brian ruling the south.

997AD Marries Gormlaith

As part of the deal for ruling the south of Ireland, Boru took control of Dublin before restoring Sitric Silkbeard to the throne as his underling. Brian then married Sitric's mother, Gormlaith. Although the marriage was short-lived, they had a son called Donnchad, who would go on to become Brian's successor as the King of Munster.

999AD The Battle of Glenmama

The Battle of Glenmama was a battle in which Brian and Máel Sechnaill defeated the Leinster army led by Sitric and King Máel Mórda. Following this battle, Sitric would go on to marry Brian's daughter, Sláine, in an effort to unite the armies of Dublin and Munster.

1002AD Became King of Ireland

Brian defeated the Uí Néill High King, Máel Sechnaill in 1002, ending a near 600-year rulership of Ireland from the Uí Néill's (dating back to the days of Niall of the Nine Hostages). This resulted in Brian being recognised as King of Ireland, duly taking up this seat at his headquarters in the town of Killaloe.

1005AD Declares Armagh the Religious Capital of Ireland

In 1005, Boru embarked on a journey around Ireland. Brian was a generous benefactor of the Irish church, and during this trip around Ireland, he declared Armagh as the religious capital of Ireland. Boru's remains would later return to Armagh following his death.

1014AD The Battle of Clontarf

Considered to be the bloodiest battle in Irish history, Brian Boru marched his army into battle in Dublin where he fought the Vikings and Leinster men in several locations around the area, including the Clontarf seafront. With some 10,000 thought to have lost their lives at the battle, Boru ended victoriously in the biggest battle of his career. although this did prove to be his last battle as he was However, his victory was short-lived when killed at his tent by Brodir, a Viking from the Isle of Man.

1014AD Laid to Rest in Armagh

Following his death soon after the Battle of Clontarf, a battle that also saw his son Murchad and grandson Tairdelbach killed, Boru was taken to Armagh where he was eventually laid to rest at St Patrick's Cathedral in the city.