Brian became king of Munster upon defeating and killing the previous king Máel Muad mac Brain (of Éoganacht Raithlind) in 978 [AU; CGH 360 (Munster king list)]. In 1002, he was recognized as king of Ireland on the submission of Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill. His forces were victorious at the famous Battle of Clontarf near Dublin on Good Friday, 23 April 1014, but both Brian and his son Murchad were killed there [AU; AI; CS; AFM; ALC].
Date of Birth: Possibly 941.
[AU] Although his birth entry in the Annals of Ulster is certainly retrospective, it would make Brian about 73 at the time of his death, and is much more likely than the date of ca. 926 that is indicated by other annals [e.g., CS, AFM, both also retrospective].
Place of Birth: Unknown.
Date of Death: 23 April 1014.
Place of Death: Battle of Clontarf (near Dublin), buried at Ard Macha (Armagh).
[AU; AI; CS; AFM; ALC, of which the last two of these indicate that the battle occurred on Good Friday, which was on 23 April in 1014]
Father: Cennétig mac Lorcáin, king of Tuadmuman (Thomond), d. 951 [CGH 237, 250, 427]
Mother: Bé Binn ingen Aurchada, daughter of Aurchad mac Murchada, king of of Uí Briúin Seóla (West Connacht) [BS 188-9, 227]
There is some uncertainty about the order of Brian's four known wives. As mother of Murchad, apparently Brian's eldest son, Mór would appear to be the first wife, and Dub Choblaig appears to have been a wife married late in life. The order of Echrad and Gormlaith is more ambiguous, but Gormlaith's son by Brian survived Brian by fifty years, suggesting the order shown here.
(1) Mór ingen Eiden, daughter of Eiden mac Clérig of Uí Fiachrach Aidne [CGH 238; BS 228, which give her parentage and state that she was the mother of Murchad, Conchobar, and Flann, but neither of these two sources give her first name, which is given by Todd clxiii, clxxvi (citing O'Donovan, ed. The genealogies, tribes and customs of the Hy Fiachrach, 398)].
(2) Echrad ingen Carrlusa, daughter of Carrlus mac Ailella, king of Uí Áeda Odba [BS 189, 228, which states that she was Tadc's mother. The Book of Lecan version of the Banshenchus indicates that Echrad was also married (order uncertain) to a certain Gilla Pátraic (somtimes identified with the king of Osraige of that name, but actual identity uncertain) [BS 189].
(3) Gormlaith ingen Murchada, d. 1030 [AT; CS], daughter of Murchad mac Finn, king of Laigen (Leinster) [BS 314, 338, 189, 227; CS, which state that she was the mother of Murchad.] Gormlaith had previously been married to Amlaíb Cuaran (Anlaf Cwiran, Olaf Cuaran), d. 981, king of Dublin and York, by whom she was the mother of Sitriuc mac Amlaíb, king of Dublin [AT; BS 314, 338, 189, 227], and also a son-in-law of Brian (see below). She is said to have been repudiated by Brian, after which she married Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, king of Ireland and Mide (Meath).
(4) Dub Choblaig, d. 1009, daughter of the king of Connacht [AU and other Irish annals, which do not state which king of Connacht was her father. The king reigning at the time of her obituary in the annals was Cathal mac Conchobair (reigned 973-1010), and he would be the most likely candidate for her father.]
by Mór ingen Eiden:
Murchad mac Briain, rígdamna of Ireland, slain at Clontarf, 23 April 1014.
Conchobar mac Briain. No further information known.
Flann mac Briain. No further information known.
by Echrad ingen Carrlusa:
Tadc mac Briain, rígdamna of Ireland [AI], d. 1023 [CGH 250, 427; BS 189, 228]
by Gormlaith ingen Murchada:
Donnchad mac Briain, king of Mumu, d. 1065 [CGH 238; BS 314, 338, 189, 227]
Domnall mac Briain, d. 1011 [AI; AFM]
Slani ingen Briain, m. Sitriuc mac Amlaíb (Sigtryggr Óláfsson, Sitric "Silkenbeard"), king of Dublin [HGaC, which further gives the line of descent of Gruffudd ap Cynan, king of Gwynedd, from Slani. The marriage is partially confirmed by CGG193, 257, which states that the "son of Amlaíb" (clearly referring to Sitriuc) was married to a daughter of Brian.]
Sadb ingen Briain, d. 1048 [AI], said to have married Cian mac Máel Muaid, a son of Brian's predecessor in the kingship of Munster, Máel Muad mac Brain [Todd cxl, but without citing a source].
Dub Essa ingen Briain, d.1052 [CS; AFM]
Bé Binn ingen Briain, d. 1073 [AU; AFM]
Supposed additional daughter (probably falsely attributed):
NN, stated without evidence to have been a wife of Malcolm II, king of Scotland [Newman 144, 161 states that a daughter of Brian (name not provided) was married to Malcolm II, without providing any supporting evidence. This alleged daughter has been supplied with the name of "Blanaid" in some databases, evidently based on certain works of historical fiction written by novelist Morgan Llywelyn which used Newman's book as a source. This supposed daughter is absent from other recent histories of both Ireland and Scotland that would have been expected to mention the marriage if there was any good evidence for it, and the existence of this supposed daughter cannot be accepted based on any currently known evidence.]
AFM = John ODonovan, ed. & trans., Annála Rioghachta Eireann. Annals of the kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters (7 vols., Dublin, 1848-51).
ALC = W. M. Hennessy, ed. & trans., Annals of Loch Cé (Rolls Series 54, London, 1871).
AI = Seán Mac Airt, ed. & trans., The Annals of Inisfallen (Dublin, 1944, reprinted 1988).
AU = Seán Mac Airt and Gearóid Mac Niocaill, ed. & trans., The Annals of Ulster (Dublin, 1983).
AT = Whitley Stokes, ed., The Annals of Tigernach, Revue Celtique 16 (1895), 374-419; 17 (1896), 6-33, 116-263, 337-420; 18 (1897), 9-59, 150-303, 374-91. (Includes text plus translation of Irish text, but no translation of Latin text.)
BS = Margaret Dobbs, "The Ban Shenchus", Revue Celtique 47 (1930): 282-339; 48 (1931): 163-234; 49 (1932): 437-489 (an index to the other two parts); citations are by page number.
CGG = J. H. Todd, ed. & trans., Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh. The War of the Gaedhil with the Gall (Rolls Series 48, London, 1867). (An early twelfth century source describing the wars between the Irish and Vikings, generally regarded as propoganda written in favor of the descendants of Brian Bóruma, but also incorporating earlier material. Information from the actual text of Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh is cited above as "CGG", whereas statements made by Todd in the lengthy introduction are cited above as "Todd".)
CGH = M. A. OBrien, ed., Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae (Dublin, 1962, reprinted 1976 with new Introduction by J. V. Kelleher).
CS = W. M. Hennessy, ed. & trans., Chronicum Scotorum (Rolls Series 46, London, 1866).
HGaC = Genealogies from Hanes Gruffudd ap Cynan, in Peter C. Bartrum, ed., Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts (Cardiff, 1966), 35-7.
Newman = Roger Chatterton Newman, Brian Boru, King of Ireland (Dublin, 1983).
Todd = Todd's notes and introduction from CGG above.
Compiled by Stewart Baldwin
Submitted 9 September 2001.
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