Limerick City 1610

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Limerick, a transliteration of Luimneach, originally referred to the general area along the banks of the Shannon Estuary, which was known as Loch Luimnigh. The original pre-Viking and Viking era settlement on Kings Island was known in the annals as Inis Sibhtonn and as Inis an Ghaill Duibh (the island of the black foreigners) from the Viking era.
The earliest record of Vikings at Limerick is in 845AD which is reported by the Annals of Ulster and there are intermittent reports of Vikings in the region later in the 9th century. Permanent settlement on the site of modern Limerick had begun around 922AD. In that year a Viking jarl or prince called Tomrair mac Ailchi—Thórir Helgason—led the Limerick fleet on raids along the River Shannon, from the lake of Lough Derg to the lake of Lough Ree, pillaging ecclesiastical settlements. Two years later, the Dublin Vikings led by Gofraid ua Ímair attacked Limerick but were driven off. The war between Dublin and Limerick continued until 937 when the Dubliners, now led by Gofraid’s son Amlaíb, captured Limerick’s king Amlaíb Cenncairech and destroyed his fleet.
The Annals of the Four Masters report in for the year 937: Amhlaeibh, son of Godfrey, lord of the foreigners, came at Lughnasadh [August] from Áth-Cliath [Dublin] and carried off as prisoners Amhlaeibh Ceanncairech from Loch Ribh [Lough Ree] and the foreigners who were with him after breaking their ships.”
The next entry in the same annals report: “The foreigners of Áthcliath [Dublin] left their fortress, and went to England.”
The traditional interpretation of these notices is that what Amlaíb mac Gofraid was actually doing was compelling or recruiting Amlaíb Cenncairech for his upcoming battle with Athelstan of England known to history as the Battle of Brunanburh.
More recent historians tend to interpret this as the culmination of an extended conflict between the Norse of Dublin and Limerick, dating from the arrival of Tomrair mac Ailchi in 922. They assume that the two Amlaíbs actually engaged in a battle and that mac Gofraid won a “decisive victory” over Cenncairech, effectively ending Limerick as a major player in Ireland for the next two or three decades.
The last Norse king was Ivar of Limerick, who facilitated the killing of the King of Munster Mathgamain mac Cennétig (the older brother of Brian Boru and the ancestor of the McMahon family). Possibly in retaliation for instigating the betrayal and killing of Mathgamain the year before, Ivar and two of his sons, Amlaíb/Olaf (Cuallaid or “Wild Dog”) and Dubcenn (“Dark Head”), were killed, apparently after being surprised, by Brian Boru in 977 on Scattery Island. It marked the end of independent Norse Limerick, which lasted only a surprising fifty five years from the arrival of Tomrair mac Ailchi in 922.
Image: 16th century map of Limerick City 1610
Approximate pronunciation guide.
Amlaíb/Olaf – Om-leeb
Áth-Cliath/Dublin – Aw-clee-ah
Cenncairech – ke-ann-care-ah
Cennétig/Kennedy – kenn-ah-tig
Dubcenn – Dub-ke-ann
Inis Sibhtonn – Shiv-tonn
Loch Luimnigh – Lim-nee
Luimneach – Lim-nuch
Mathgamain – maw-ga-mawn

16th century map of Limerick City 1610

16th century map of Limerick City 1610


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