Brian Boru memorial events to bring king-sized celebrations

Major recreation of 1014’s Battle of Clontarf on April 23rd will be high point of 2014

Conor Pope visits Trinity College Dublin, to find out more about the myth of Brian Boru. Video: Darragh Bambrick


At the launch of a year-long celebration of the life and death of High King Brian Boru in Trinity College this morning, a security guard briefly interrupted proceedings to silence a Government Minister and some schoolchildren doing a Haka-like routine beside the Book of Kells because they were disturbing the scholars sitting on the floor above them.

For a moment confusion reigned, but such confusion was hardly out of place at an event commemorating a pretty confusing king.

He was born in Clare and crowned in Cashel and then travelled to Dublin to put manners on a rival whose mother he married. Then he won the support of Vikings to vanquish other Vikings, who killed him at the Battle of Clontarf - which was actually fought in Drumcondra - after which he was laid to rest in Armagh.

Minister For Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan acknowledged the geographical spread of Brian Boru’s legacy at the launch. He said the year-long series of exhibitions, recreations, academic seminars and commemorations involving three local authorities, Ireland’s oldest university, his department and the North-South Ministerial Council would “answer questions about what happened” in the lead-up to Boru’s last stand.

The Minister suggested one of high points of the year-long celebration would be a major recreation of the Battle of Clontarf of 1014, which actually had its epicentre on Richmond Road in Drumcondra, in St Anne’s Park on April 23rd. A major seminar and exhibition will be hosted by Trinity College while dozens of events will also take place in Clare, Tipperary and Armagh.

Schoolchildren from St Anne’s Community College in Killaloe delivered a haka-like “call to arms” to the beat of a bodhrán - much to the delight of the gathered dignitaries. However, the tail-end of their routine - being staged for photographers - was silenced by security staff after complaints from students in the university’s Long Room.

Conor O’Brien is a direct descendent of Boru, separated by 32 generations, and the 18th Baron Inchiquin. He told The Irish Times that while he would most likely be pulled from pillar to post this year, attending events all over the country, he was delighted to be involved.

“I am looking forward to the year ahead and I am very lucky to be the man, a thousand years later, to be in this position.”

He described his ancestor as a man who “promoted himself pretty well” and the man in Irish history who, “in many respects, got nearest to unifying Ireland”.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn said the millennial celebrations would be very popular. “Everyone has heard of Brian Boru, but maybe they don’t know the details and the history. It is an amazing story. It is going to be a festival to enjoy - and what is lovely about the event is the co-operation between the local authorities.”

When challenged about the High King’s fairly tenuous links to Dublin, the Lord Mayor said: “Ah yeah, but he did his best work here - and that is what we like to point out.”