On Good Friday, April 23, 1014 just north of Dublin a momentous and bloody battle was fought. At stake was the nascent unification of the island under its first true king, Brian Boru; and the future influence of the Vikings, who had settled and meddled in Ireland for nearly two centuries. The battle that resulted changed the course of Irish history, forever!
The Vikings had first begun raiding Ireland in the late 8th century. As throughout western Europe, Scandinavian longships, crammed with warriors bent on rapine and plunder, descended on the coastal settlements and raided deep into the countryside; bringing death and destruction to the unwary inhabitants. These Vikings were perhaps the first iron-clad, mailed warriors the Irish had ever encountered: the defending Gaelic warriors “had nothing to defend their bodies… save only elegant tunics, shields, and finely wrought collars”; who fought in as light infantry in loose-formation. By contrast, the Vikings were often veteran warriors, who fought in close order, “a solid, skillful, and firm rampart of strong coats mail like a thick, dark stronghold of black iron with a battle-wall of gleaming shields around their chiefs”.