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Rory O’Connor

Discover the fascinating stories of Ireland’s last king.




Rory O’Connor


Rory O’Connor (Ruaidhrí Ó Conchobhair) was the last King of Ireland, ruling from 1166 to 1193.

Rory was one of over twenty sons of King Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair (Turlough O’Connor), a King of Connacht and a warrior who went on many raids along Ireland’s west coast.

Rory was the last Irish king before Henry II invaded Ireland and set about a period of British rule.

1116AD Born in Connacht

Rory O'Connor was born in 1116 and was one of over twenty sons of King Turlough O'Connor. Rory was the only son that Turlough had with his third wife, Cailech. Rory's father was the King of Connacht from 1106 until his death in 1156, and the King of Ireland from 1120 to 1156.

1136AD Rebels Against the Family

Along with his brother, Aedh, Rory staged a rebellion against his brother Conchobar.

1143AD Imprisoned by Conchobar

Rory rebelled against the family once again in 1143, but this time he was arrested and imprisoned by Conchobar. He was, however, released a year later, and following his release Rory went from strength to strength and moved up the family ranks.

1153AD Divides Munster

Rory was very active in the years leading up to 1156, and especially in the early 1150s when he attacked parts of Munster - burning Croome in Limerick and ultimately dividing Munster in half. Future king Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn fought Rory in the years that followed this division, with Rory defeating him at Inishowen. MacLouchlainn did, however, respond with raids on east Connacht.

1156AD Becomes King of Connacht

Following the death of his father in 1156, Rory became the King of Connacht, an appointment that was reportedly unopposed. Rory's rival Muirchertach MacLochlainn became the King of Ireland following the death of Rory's father. Despite several reported battles, MacLochlainn stayed in power until his death in 1166.

1166AD The Last King of Ireland

Following the death of Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn in 1166, Rory made the journey to Dublin where he was announced the new King of Ireland. One of Rory's first tasks as king was to conquer Leinster, ousting its king, Dermot MacMurrough, in the process.

1170AD Loses Control of Leinster

Despite still being King of Ireland, Rory was attacked by Strongbow in 1170 and forced to retreat to Connacht. This allowed Dermot MacMurrough to regain his seat as the King of Leinster, a position that Strongbow then eventually took up.

1175AD Signs Treaty of Windsor

Rory agreed on terms of the Treaty of Windsor with King Henry II in 1175. enabling him to remain as King of Ireland. This agreement excluded the lands of Leinster, Dublin and Waterford, although this was just the beginning of the end for Irish kingship.

1193AD A King no More

Rory's reign as King of Ireland is thought to have ended around 1193, after which Ireland went through a period of British Rule following an invasion from Henry II.

1198AD The Death of Rory

Rory lived out his final days in relative peace on his estates, dying in 1198. Following his death, Rory was rumoured to be buried next to his father, Turlough, near the altar of the largest cathedral at Clonmacnoise in Offaly.