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Death of kings

16 May 2014

THEY are wonderful names that Tolkien might have used: Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, went to war against Sigtrygg Silkbeard, King of Dublin, together with Máel Mórda mac Murchada, King of Leinster, and a Viking contingent led by Sigurd of Orkney, and Brodir of Man. That was on Good Friday, 23 April 1014, when Boru was trying to take back his kingdom from the Viking-Irish alliance.

The battle went on all day, and thousands were killed. Boru's forces were victorious, although all the leaders - including Boru, Máel Mórda, Sigurd, and Brodir - were killed, and there was no high king of Ireland for another couple of hundred years.

Nevertheless, the 1000th anniversary of the battle has just been commemorated at St John the Baptist's, Clontarf, in Dublin & Glendalough diocese - the oldest parish church in the area. The theme of the service was peace and reconciliation, and it was attended by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins (centre) with his wife, Sabina; the Danish Ambassador, Niels Pultz; the Norwegian Ambassador, Ronald Names; and representatives of the Irish defence forces.

The service was led by the Rector of Clontarf, the Revd Lesley Robinson (left), and the address was given by the RC Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Eamonn Walsh, representing Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. During the service, the representatives of the six local parishes lit candles for peace.

Before the service, President Higgins planted a yew tree in the grounds of the church to commemorate the anniversary. The yew is a native Irish tree - some in Ireland may be 2000 years old - so it is hoped that the tree will be there for the battle's second millennium.

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