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 "XLV. But Brian son of Cennétig was not willing to make peace with the foreigners, because however small the injury he might be able to do them, he preferred it to peace; and though all others were silent on that head, he would not be so. After that however, Brian and the young champions of the Dál Cais went back into the forests and wastes of north Mumhain, and they began to plunder and kill the foreigners. They set up rude huts rather than encampments, and lived in the forests and the wastes and the the caves of Ui Blait, and they killed a great number of the foreigners. Great on the other hand was the hardship, and ruin, and the bad food and bedding the foreigners inflicted on him and his band; and they killed his people and his trusted officers and comrades, until at the last he had no more than fifteen followers…

Figures from the Shrine of St. Mogue

 
"XLVI. But when Mathgamain heard of his brother's plight, he sent a messenger to him, for he dreaded his fall by the foreigners for want of troops. And then the two brothers met. Mathgamain said that Brian's struggle against the foreigners was fruitless; if he wanted to fight the foreigners, it should be on the plains and not in the wastes and the woods. It was prideful, he said, and did not reackon on the damage it was causing to the land.


 "XLVII. "But for his part, Brian reproached Mathgamain greatly, and that it was cowardice of mind that caused him to make and keep peace with the foreigners, while they occupied his territory and his rightful inheritence. He listed the brave deeds of their forefathers and kings of Mumhain; and not one of them would have suffered what Mathgamain now endured at the hands of the foreigners. All this was true, said Mathgamain, but he had not the followers to meet the foreigners in battle, because of the greatness of their army, their champions and the excellence of the armour and weapons. And he said that he would not like to leave the Dál Cais dead in following him, as Brian had done with most of his.

  "XLVIII. After this, all the Dál Cais were assembled in one place before Mathgamain, and he asked them what decision they had come to; whether they would have peace or war with the foreigners, and with the Danars. Then they all answered, both old and young, that they preferred death and destruction in defending their freedom, rather than submit to the tyranny and opression of the pirates, or abandon their country to them. And this was the voice of hundreds, as the voice of one man…"

… from The Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill


From about 820 to 964AD, the Eóganachta (the leading family of Mumhain, or modern-day Munster), had monopolised the kingship of Munster, but had not extended its frontiers for any length of time. Nor had they been able to prevent the settlement of Norsemen on their coast, unlike the kings of the U Neill to the north, in what is now Northern Ireland.

 But during the tenth century, a new dynasty began its climb to power in Mumhain; helped perhaps by dissatisfaction with the Eóganachta's inability to protect the land from Viking incursions. The Dál Cais, led by Mathgamain mac Cennétig, began to extend their domination to the south. According to the War of the Irish against the Foreigners, Mathgamain established his camp near Cashel in 964AD, for he sought to become king of Cashel to free Mumhain from the rapacious Vikings who occupied their coasts. Then in 967AD, Mathgamain and his allies attacked the Norsemen in their stronghold of Limerick...


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