Dermot MacMurrough

Dermot MacMurrough was the King of Leinster who lost control of his lands and titles to Tiern'n O'Rourke whose wife he had abducted 14 years previously. Dermot MacMurrough fled to the Court of Henry II to appeal for Norman knights to help him regain his lands and titles (as shown above). Henry did not offer direct help but allowed Dermot MacMurrough to recruit mercenaries from amongst his knights. Dermot MacMurrough convinced Strongbow to work for him. Strongbow was far more successful than anyone had anticipated (especially Henry). Strongbow married Dermot MacMurrough's daughter. This meant that when Dermot MacMurrough died in 1171, Strongbow could claim his title of King of Leinster according to Irish succession law. This alarmed Henry II who rushed over to Ireland to keep a lid on the aspirations and powers of Strongbow. Dermot MacMurrough is therefore considered to be the Irishman who opened the door to Norman and English meddling in Irish affairs, a door that would not be closed for another eight centuries. This is not to say that the Normans may not have found an alternative excuse to become involved in Irish affairs, but in Ireland, the blame is squarely laid at Dermot MacMurrough's door.

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by Stephen Luscombe