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By Edmund Curtis

A concise background of eire which covers the interval 6000 BC to 1972.

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He settled the political structure of Ireland as it lasted till the Normans came. To him is attributed the general adoption of the patronymics of O and Mac (grandson and son), which gave us the famous surnames of O'Brien, O'Connor, MacCarthy, and so on. These surnames had in fact already begun, but it may well be that Brian hastened their general acceptance. Henceforth the succession of kings was limited to the heirs male of these founders, though descent from father to son had to fight long against the 'Derb-fme' law, by which all the male descendants of a king to the fourth generation were eligible.

The letters recommending him to Anselm from the Ostmen townsmen were attested by 'Murchertach, our king', and four Irish bishops. In 1105 the Norse city of Limerick also got its first bishop, Gillebert, who. however, was Irish. their the Norman A band of native reformers now appeared alongside of this Ostman movement. A number of Irish bishops aspired to have in Ireland the status of their Continental brethren and were ready to accept Roman reform. In Gillebert of Limerick, who had been a monk at Rouen with Anselm, they found an inspiring writer who provided them with a tract on the 'status of the Church', outlining a proper episcopal and parochial organization for Ireland and advocating a uniform liturgy.

The joint sway of Brian and Malachy could not last. In 1002 Brian met his rival at Tara and gave him time to decide on open Battle with the aid of the northern Ui Ne"ill, or peacefully to surrender the High kingship. Malachy called in vain on the princes of the North and so gave in. Brian became High king of Ireland. It was his third usurpation, and a final breach of the Ui Nill succession, which had lasted for six centuries. Both Church and State, however, admitted the fact. In 1004 Brian carried out the Circuit of the High king with a pomp never equalled before or after his time, and marched from his capital at Kincora up through Connacht over the Erne, through Ulster to Armagh, down into Meath and to Dublin and back by Leinster and Ossory to Cashel again.

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A history of Ireland by Edmund Curtis


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