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The History and Topography of the County of Clare by James Frost


Part II. History of Thomond
Chapter 12. History of Thomond before it was formed into an English county: From the earliest times, to the death of De Clare, and expulsion of the English in 1318.

Brian Boroimhe succeeds; Character and actions of Brian, particularly as connected with Thomond; Repairs round towers and churches; Enormous contributions of Thomond to Brian’s tribute

His successor to the sovereignty of all Munster was his brother Brian “the Augustus of the West of Europe" [2] surnamed Boroimhe, from the tributes of cattle levied by him from every part of Ireland. As the story of this remarkable man’s life belongs rather to the history of Ireland than to a particular district, we shall not here refer to it further than where it relates to matters connected with Thomond. He annihilated the power of the Danes of Limerick, utterly routing them and driving them from that place, and from Iniscathy, their stronghold on the Shannon. [3] From the annals of these times it is evident that the Northmen must have flocked in great numbers into Ireland. Their armies are spoken of as numbering thousands of fighting men. In the single fight on Iniscathy in 977, Brian put to the sword no less then eight hundred of them, with Harold and his two sons at their head. [4] He afterwards proceeded to the other islands of the Shannon and put every foreigner whom he found there to death. He successively defeated the Connaughtmen, the Leinstermen, [5] the Danes of Dublin, and finally had himself crowned king of all Ireland in 1002. After thus attaining to the highest point of his ambition, he still pursued the Danes with unrelenting hostility, until at length, having fought twenty-five battles against them, he practically cleared the island of them, after they had maintained a footing there for two hundred years. Clontarf was the spot where they made their supreme effort. There, after an obstinate fight, they were defeated on Good Friday, the 23rd of April, 1014, and utterly destroyed. Brian lost his life on the day of battle.

During all the years of his reign he devoted himself with great energy and success to the improvement of the country and to the civilization of its people. He built and repaired many churches and bridges. He erected Ceann Coradh as his royal residence in 1012. [6] He rebuilt the churches of Killaloe and Iniscaltra. He repaired the round tower (Clogteach) of Tomgraney. He erected bridges and made roads, he constructed fortresses for the defence of every post in Munster, and finally, did everything that a good king should do to make the condition of his subjects secure and happy. [7]

If it were not recorded on unquestionable authority, the quantity of tribute paid to Brian, in each year during his rule as king of Ireland, would appear incredible. From the present baronies of Corcomroe and Burren alone, he received annually a thousand cows, a thousand oxen, a thousand rams, and a thousand cloaks; and from Corcabaskin, a thousand cows and a thousand oxen. All the remaining parts of Thomond, being the patrimony of the Dal Cais, appear to have been exempted from taxation. Every other district of Ireland contributed with equal liberality, and these enormous supplies were devoted to purposes of the most lavish hospitality. A large body of armed retainers were constantly maintained about the person and palace of the king. Subordinate kings had to be received and entertained at Ceann-Coradh, and we have a description of these State receptions as given by an eye witness, which agrees in a singular manner with the accounts of the banquets of the earlier kings of Ireland at Tara. [8]

 

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