Mael Morda

Mael Morda @1014Retold Battle of Clontarf Twitter Retelling
  • Title - King of Leinster
  • Likes - His sister
  • Dislikes - Brian Boru
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King of Leinster, Gormlaith’s brother, King Sitric’s uncle and main ally, Brian Boru’s foe.

Mael Morda was the brother of Gormlaith, and ruled as King of Leinster, ruling over territories around the Liffey valley towards Naas and Kildare. During his reign he joined with his nephew Sitric Silkbeard, Gormlaith’s son, to form a Leinster-Dublin alliance against the authority of Brian Boru and Mael Sechnaill.

Initial attempts at rebellion failed and they were forced into reluctant submission in 999 when they were defeated in battle, in the course of which Mael Morda was humiliatingly dragged from a hiding place in a tree by Murchad, Brian’s son.

Legendary sources tell how Mael Morda chafed under Brian’s rule. Mocked and insulted by Murchad – and incited by his sister Gormlaith – he quit Brian’s household in a rage, breaching protocol and making a dangerous enemy of the High King.

He sided with Sitric again in 1013, carrying out a campaign of harassment against Mael Sechnaill and Brian’s allies. Brian retaliated with a punitive campaign which laid waste to large swathes of Leinster and culminated in a siege of Dublin in late 1013.

Harsh weather and lack of supplies forced Brian’s troops to withdraw from the city walls at Christmas, but Mael Morda and Sitric knew they would return in the Spring.

So, fearing a major onslaught, they set in train ambitious plans which would ultimately lead to the confrontation at Clontarf in April 1014, when Mael Morda himself would take to the field as the commander of the Leinster armies.