Godred Crovan

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Godred Crovan
King of Mann and the Isles and King of Dublin
Reign 1079–1095
Predecessor Fingal mac Gofraid
Successor Magnus Barefoot
Issue Lagmann, Olaf and Harald
Father possibly Ímar mac Arailt
Died 1095
Islay (Inner Hebrides)

Godred Crovan (Old Irish: Gofraid mac meic Arailt, Gofraid Méranech; Guðrøðr;[1] Manx: Gorree Crovan) (died 1095) was a Norse-Gael ruler of Dublin, and King of Mann and the Isles in the second half of the 11th century. Godred's epithet Crovan may mean "white hand" (Middle Irish: crobh bhan).[2] In Manx folklore he is known as King Orry.

Ancestry and early life[edit]

The notice of Godred's death in the Annals of Tigernach calls him Gofraid mac meic Aralt or Godred, son of Harald's son. As a result, it has been suggested that Godred was a son, or nephew, of the Norse-Gael king Ímar mac Arailt who ruled Dublin from 1038 to 1046, who was in turn a nephew of Sigtrygg Silkbeard and grandson of Amlaíb Cuarán.[3] This would make Godred a dynast of the Uí Ímair.

The Chronicles of Mann call Godred the son of Harald the Black of Ysland, variously interpreted as Islay, Ireland or Iceland,[4] and make him a survivor of Harald Hardraade's defeat at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066. They say that he took refuge with his kinsman Gofraid mac Sitriuc, then King of the Isles. Irish annals record that this Gofraid was subject to the Irish King of Dublin, Murchad son of Diarmait mac Maíl na mBó of the Uí Cheinnselaig. Gofraid and Murchad both died in 1070 and the rule of the Isle of Man passed to Gofraid's son Fingal.

Invasions of the Isle of Man[edit]

Main article: Battle of Skyhill

In 1079, the Chronicles of Mann say that Godred invaded the Isle of Man three times:

Conquest and loss of Dublin[edit]

Carragh Bhan, Islay.

The Chronicles say, and Irish sources agree, that Godred then took Dublin although the date is unknown. In 1087 the Annals of Ulster record that "the grandsons of Ragnall" were killed on an expedition to the Isle of Man. In 1094 Godred was driven out of Dublin by Muircheartach Ua Briain. He died the following year, "of pestilence" according the Annals of the Four Masters, on Islay.

According to local tradition on Islay, Godred's grave is marked by Carragh Bhan, a standing stone situated near the settlement of Kintra, on the island's Oa peninsula (grid reference NR32834781).[5]

The remnants of a neolithic chambered long barrow near Laxey in the Isle of Man, is known locally as King Orry's Grave. This name is of comparatively recent origin and the site has no connection with his actual grave.[6]

Issue and legacy[edit]

Godred left three known sons, Lagmann, Aralt, and Olaf. Lagmann ruled after his father's death, or perhaps alongside him. Aralt revolted against Lagmann, for which he was blinded and emasculated by Lagmann and disappears from the record. The descendants of Lagmann and Olaf ruled the Kingdom of the Isles until the rise of Somerled and his sons, who ruled the Isle of Man until the end of the kingdom 1265 and its annexation by Alexander III, King of Scots. Even as late as 1275 Godred son of the last King of Mann tried to seize the island.

"King Orry" is remembered in song and he gave his name to the Milky Way, which was known as raad mooar ree Gorry (the great track of King Gorry) in the Manx language.[7]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Fingal Godredson
King of Mann and the Isles
Succeeded by
Domnall mac Taidc Ua Briain
Preceded by
Énna mac Diarmata
Donnchad mac Domnaill Remair
King of Dublin
Succeeded by
Domnall mac Taidc Ua Briain

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Seán Duffy, 'Godred Crovan (d. 1095)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  2. ^ His other epithet, Méranech, means "furious", Crovan might also derive from Irish crúbach, "claw", or Old Norse kruppin, "cripple"; Hudson, p. 173.
  3. ^ Duffy, Irishmen and Islesmen..., p. 106
  4. ^ Hudson notes that Ysland in the Manx Chronicle may represent "Ireland"; Hudson, p. 171.
  5. ^ McDonald 2007 p. 64. See also: Hudson 2005 p. 183. See also: Graham-Campbell; Batey 1998 p. 89. See also: Islay, Carragh Bhan, Canmore, retrieved 1 August 2013 .
  6. ^ Details of barrow known as King Orry's Grave
  7. ^ Sellar (2000) p. 190