Medieval Period in Ireland

Medieval Period in Ireland

The Medieval Period or Middle Ages occurred after the Golden Age Period in Ireland. People were already coming from all over Europe to study in Ireland’s monasteries, to trade and even settle.

Life in Ireland wasn’t perfect as there had been internal feuds with the clans who had control over different areas. Ireland had been split into several large Kingdoms with lesser Kingdoms and Dynasties being established so there would always be some sort of dispute of who owned what land.

A great cause for concern though came when ruthless warriors known as Vikings started arriving in Ireland, Britain, and France. These Vikings were amazing sailors who would travel from places such as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden using well-built longboats. After first arriving in Ireland at approx 795 AD they would continue to arrive for the next 200 years, some to settle with others to plunder what they could find.

The Vikings would attack Irish monasteries and raid them for their gold but they would also create longphorts that would later become the Viking settlement of Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Wexford, and Waterford.

It wasn’t until one of Ireland’s largest battles took place that would see the Vikings lose any power they had in Ireland. In 1014 Brian Boru and his men had won the great Battle of Clontarf and although Brian had been killed it made major changes in Ireland and brought peace for a number of years after.

The next invasion on Irish soil was not from the Vikings but from the Normans in 1169. This invasion would leave England to be embroiled in Ireland’s affairs hundreds of years after right up to the current day.

Timeline of the Medieval Period in Ireland

795AD – The Vikings arrive in Ireland performing small raids
832AD – 120 Viking ships arrived in Ireland’s northern and eastern coasts
841AD – Dubhlinn (Dublin) begins as a Viking settlement
856AD – The Vikings created the settlement near Cork
848AD – Viking army was defeated in Sligo, Kildare, Cashel, and Cork
850AD – The Vikings created the settlement of Waterford
852AD – Armagh was destroyed by Vikings
902AD – The Irish attack and drive the Vikings from Dublin into Wales
914AD – Large Viking Fleets being arriving at Waterford. Further settlements built in Limerick and Wexford
915AD – The Vikings attack Dublin and regain control from the Irish
940AD – Brian Boru was born
976AD – Brian Boru becomes King of Munster
980AD – The Battle of Tara
999AD – Brian Boru defeated the Vikings
1002AD – Brian Boru becomes High King of Ireland
1005AD – Máel Mórda mac Murchada began to rebel against Brian Boru
1014AD – The Battle of Clontarf
1155 – English King Henry II is given authority over Ireland by Pope Adrian IV, an authorised invasion of Ireland
1166 – Dermait MacMurrough, King of Leinster, flees Ireland and asks King Henry II of England for help.
1169 – The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland begins
1170 – Strongbow arrived in Ireland from England
1171 – Strongbow becomes king of Leinster.
1171- King Henry II of England invades Ireland
1171 – John de Courcy Invades Ulster
1175 – King Henry II of England has most of Ireland under his control
1188 – John de Courcy invades the province of Connacht
1203 – Hugh de Lacy captures John de Courcy
1204 – John de Courcy was expelled from Ireland
1205 – Hugh de Lacy became 1st Earl of Ulster
1297 – Irish Parliament was founded
1235 – Richard de Burgo conquered Connacht
1248 – Goffraidh Ó Dónaill becomes the first to be inaugurated as “The O’Donnell (chief of the clan)
1257 – The Creadran-Cille Battles
1259 – The Gallowglasses – élite mercenary warriors arrive from Scotland
1315 – Edward Bruce of Scotland arrived in Ireland
1318 – Edward Bruce was killed by the English
1333 – The Earldom of Ulster collapsed
1366 – The Statutes of Kilkenny were introduced
1394 – King Richard II lands at Waterford and marches to Dublin
King Richard II is deposed and murdered on his return from Ireland

Last updated March 2, 2020.

About the Author

Brian O’Neill
Camera shy Brian is a proud Donegal man and regular contributor to our site.