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From the Archives - The Death of Brian Boru

The story of Brian Boru's death, from the White Manuscript

Brian Boru (c. 941 - 1014) was a High King of Ireland famous for defeating the vikings and expelling them from Ireland. The following extract from the White Manuscript tells the story of his death.


‘Side of Bryan, were kill’d his Eldest Son Morough who led on the battle, and his Son Turlough with many other Princes of Munster and Conaught. But the greatest loss was the Death of Bryan himself, who after the battle, was lying in his tent, when a party of flying Danes went in to him, under colour of submitting to him, and he was there mortally wounded by one Bruadar a Danish Captain. This action happen’d on a good friday in year 1034. Bryan live’d to make his will, and receive the rights of the church from his chaplain the Bishop of Inis-Catha, or Scattery.’


This extract, despite being written in the 18th century, still is mostly correct to what we know today, however not completely so. There is no evidence to suggest that the Danes were pretending to submit to Brian Boru, they were actually fleeing from the battle when they found Brian in his tent and killed him. As well, Brian died in 1014, not 1034, although he was killed on a Good Friday as the extract says. Brian Boru is said to be buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh.

Author: Conor Moore, TY Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh on work experience, Limerick Diocesan Archives.