Turgesius Island

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Turgesius Island
Inis Thuresius
Turgesius Island is located in Ireland
Turgesius Island
Turgesius Island
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°39′45″N 7°13′20″W / 53.6625°N 7.222201°W / 53.6625; -7.222201Coordinates: 53°39′45″N 7°13′20″W / 53.6625°N 7.222201°W / 53.6625; -7.222201
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Westmeath
Elevation 125 m (410 ft)
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)

Turgesius (also spelled "Turgeis") was a Viking leader who is said to have conquered Dublin. The principal island on Lough Lene is named after him.

Turgesius Island middle Lough Lene


No history is recorded for Turgesius in his native Scandinavia, and knowledge of him is based on the history of his conquests as recorded in Ireland and Great Britain.

It is believed that Turgesius first came to Ireland in the year 820,[1] but his arrival as a leader of his own force was in around 837. He led a fleet of 120 ships, half of which entered the River Boyne, and the other half the River Liffey. He took the settlement of Dublin by force from the native rural and fishing community. He built a strong fort, according to Scandinavian methods, on the hill where now stands Dublin Castle. From there, he launched further conquests into Ireland (Leinster and Munster), and across the Irish Sea to Wales. Among the sites he captured was the rich monastery of Clonmacnoise on the eastern shore of Lough Ree.

He established several inland centres of operation. One of his cardinal forts was on Lough Ree, north of Athlone. Another fort was at a point called Lyndwachill on Lough Neagh, while others were on the high ground southwest of Lough Lene and on the major island of this lake, which still bears his name and was where he dominated the Leinster midland from.

Defeat and Death[edit]

In 843, King Niall met Turgesius in battle when defending his ancestral province of Ulster. Niall fought against both the Vikings of Lough Neagh and a further party who sailed into Lough Swilly.

On the plain of Moynith, the forces of King Niall and Turgesius met and, according to the annals, "a countless number fell". The result of the battle was that King Niall had vanquished Turgesius.

In the year 843 or 844 Turgesius was killed by Melaghlin, (also called Malacky) a local lord of Westmeath, and a subordinate of Turgesius'.

There are conflicting reports of how Turgesius met his death. He is reputed to have been put to death by drowning in Lough Owel near Mullingar. Local tradition says that Melaghlin governed under Turgesius and is believed to have asked advice from Turgesius how best to rid the area of a recently invading flock of birds who were causing damage. Without a second thought, Turgesius recommended destroying their nests and this inspired Melaghlin to do the same in order to rid his territory of the Vikings.

Another story of his death states that he demanded Melaghlin's daughter's hand in marriage. While pretending to agree, Melaghlin sent Turgesius 12 beardless youths, disguised as his daughter and her attendants, who were in reality assassins.

The seventeenth century historian Geoffrey Keating wrote in the Foras Feasa ar Éirinn,

"Now at this time Maoilseachlainn with a body of soldiers was with his daughter, and he directed a number of those youths who were with her disguised as women, the moment Turgesius should lay hands on his daughter for the purpose of detaining her with him, to seize him by force and take him captive, and another party to take possession of the arms that were in the house, and to spring upon the chiefs who were within; and he said that he himself with his body of soldiers would be near the house, and that he would rush into the house at the first cry to help them slay the Lochlannaigh. Thereupon the maiden with her ladies went in by a back door of the house and reached the room of Turgesius; and when they had come into his presence, he glanced at the maiden and her ladies and none of them pleased him but herself, and then he laid hands on her to detain her with him. When the youths who were with her saw this, a party of them seized Turgesius by force and made him captive; the remaining party seized the arms and held them in their possession, and then Maoilseachlainn with his party of soldiers came in, and they sprang on the party of Lochlonnaigh that were in the fortress, and slew them all, both chiefs and underlings except Turgesius alone; and when they had stripped the fortress bare they led Turgesius to the duinlios of Maoilseachlainn where they kept him for a time in captivity."

See also[edit]



  1. ^ A Popular History of Ireland: from the Earliest Period to the Emancipation of the Catholics By Thomas D'Arcy McGee- book-2 Chapter 2 from Nalanda Digital Library at NIT Calicut