User:Grimhelm/Battle of Glenn Mama

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Battle of Glenn Máma
Part of the First Leinster revolt against Brian Ború
Date December, 999
Location Glenn Máma, near Dunlavin in County Wicklow
Result Crushing Munster-Meath victory
Flag of Mide.svg Kingdom of Meath
Munster Kingdom of Munster
Leinster Kingdom of Leinster
Norse Kingdom of Dublin
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Mide.svg Máel Sechnaill II[1]
Munster Brian Ború[1]
Leinster Máel Mórda[2]
Leinster Cuilen, son of Eitigen †[1]
Harald Olafsson †[1][3]
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown 7000 Danes[4]
Unknown Irish casualties

The Battle of Glenn Máma (Irish: An Cath Gleann Máma, The Battle of "The Glen of the Gap"[5]) was an important battle that took place in County Wicklow in AD 999, the decisive battle of the 999-1000 Leinster revolt against the King of Munster, Brian Boru. In it, the combined forces of the Kingdoms of Munster and Meath, under King Brian Boru and the High King of Ireland, Máel Sechnaill II, inflicted a crushing defeat on the allied armies of Leinster and Dublin, led by King Máel Mórda of Leinster.

The battle resulted in the occupation of Dublin by Brian's Munster forces, and the submission of Máel Mórda and King Sigtrygg Silkbeard of Dublin to Brian Boru. The solution did not prove permanent, however, and eventually resulted in the second Leinster revolt against Brian and the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.


In 997, the King of Munster, Brian Ború, met with his long-time rival, the King of Meath and High King of Ireland, Máel Sechnaill II mac Domnaill, at a royal meeting near Clonfert.[2] They made a truce, by which Máel Sechnaill was granted rule over the northern half of Ireland, while Ború was to rule the southern half.[4][2] In honour of this arrangement, Máel Sechnaill handed over to Brian the hostages he had taken from Dublin and Leinster;[2] and in 998, Brian handed over to Máel Sechnaill the hostages of Connacht.[2] In the same year, Brian and Máel Sechnaill began co-operating against the Norse of Dublin for the first time.[2]

Late in 999, however, the Leinstermen, historically hostile to domination by either the Uí Néill overkings or the King of Munster, allied themselves with the Norse of Dublin and revolted against Brian.[2] According to the 17th century Annals of the Four Masters, the following prophecy had predicted the Battle of Glenn Mama:

They shall come to Gleann-Mama,

It will not be water over hands,
Persons shall drink a deadly draught
Around the stone at Claen-Conghair.
From the victorious overthrow they shall retreat,
Till they reach past the wood northwards,
And Ath-cliath the fair shall be burned,
After the ravaging the Leinster plain.[1]


The Annals of the Four Masters records that Brian and Máel Sechnaill united their forces, "to the great joy of the Irish".[6] Glenn Mama, near Dunlavin in County Wicklow, was the ancient stronghold of the Kings of Leinster.[5] The two sides met there, and the Munster-Meath army defeated the Leinster-Dublin army "with red slaughter".[6] Brian took Máel Mórda of Leinster prisoner and held him until he received hostages from the Leinstermen.[2] It was said that 7000 Danes fell in the battle.[6]


This crushing victory was followed up with an attack on the city of Dublin.[2] The 12th century Cogadh Gaedhil re Gallaibh gives two accounts of the occupation: that Brian remained in Dublin from Christmas Day until Epiphany (6 January), or from Christmas Day until St. Brigid's Day (1 February).[7] The later Annals of Inisfallen date Brian's capture of the city to 1 January, 1000.[8] According the much later Annals of the Four Masters, Dublin was only occupied for "a full week" by Munster forces.[1] In any case, in 1000 Brian plundered the city, burned the Norse fortress and expelled its ruler, King Sigtrygg Silkbeard.[2]

According to the Cogadh Gaedhil re Gallaibh, Sigtrygg's flight from the city brought him north, first to the Ulaid and then to Aéd of Cenél nEógain.[9] Since Sigtrygg could find no refuge in Ireland, he eventually returned, submitted to Brian, gave hostages and was restored to Dublin.[2] This was three months after Brian ended his occupation in February.[7] In the meantime, Sigtrygg may have temporarily "turned pirate" and been responsible for a raid on St David's in Wales.[9]

Brian gave his own daughter by his first wife in marriage to Sigtrygg.[10] Brian in turn took as his second wife Sigtrygg's mother, the now thrice-married Gormflaith.[10] It has been noted, however, that the "political alliance had too many powerful personages involved to be a success."[11]

Sigtrygg meanwhile never forgot the insult of the Ulaid.[9] Two years later he exacted his revenge by ravaging their lands.[7] His fleet raided Ulster, and he plundered Kilclief and Inis Cumhscraigh, taking many prisoners from both.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Part 10 of the Annals of the Four Masters". Annals of the Four Masters. University College Cork. p. 741. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ó Corráin, p 123
  3. ^ Listed in the Annals of the Four Masters as "Aralt, son of Amhlaeibh"; evidently Harald, the son of Amlaíb Cuarán (Óláfr Kváran).
  4. ^ a b MacManus, p 276
  5. ^ a b Cusack, Margaret Anne. "King Malachy". An Illustrated History of Ireland. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  6. ^ a b c MacManus, p 276
  7. ^ a b c Hudson, p 86
  8. ^ Hudson, p 86-87
  9. ^ a b c Hudson, p 87
  10. ^ a b MacManus, p 278
  11. ^ "The Battle of Clontarf: Brian Boru's Last Costly Victory". Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  12. ^ "Part 10 of the Annals of the Four Masters". Annals of the Four Masters. University College Cork. p. 745. Retrieved 2009-03-10.