The Vikings (Danes) in Ireland - Sarah Woodbury

The Vikings (Danes) in Ireland

Before I learned of the Danish role in the assassination of Anarawd, King of Deheubarth, I had no idea that the Danes had ever conquered parts of Ireland.

The Danes, as a group, were part of a vast migration of men of the North to other regions of the world, initially for plunder and eventually for settlement. Coming from regions that now make up Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, these men went a Viking, and created widespread settlements: to the south, in Normandy and Sicily; to the east into Russia; and to the west in England, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, and the coast of Newfoundland.

The Dublin Danes were part of that tradition, and Ottar and Brodar were real people as described in The Viking Prince, both ruling Dublin in the mid-twelfth century. Brodar and Godfrid were part of an extensive lineage of rulership of Dublin called the Mac Torcalls, whose hegemony was briefly usurped by Ottar, but then reestablished. Scholarship is confused about some of the specifics, but it is clear that members of their clan ruled Dublin until the arrival of the Normans under the leadership of Richard de Clare (Strongbow) and ultimately King Henry, who defeated the Danes and expelled them from Dublin for good in 1171 AD.

The ruling family of Gwynedd, as led for most of the twelfth century by Owain Gwynedd, had both Danish and Irish ancestry. Through Gruffydd ap Cynan, Owain’s father, Prince Hywel is descended from both Sitric Silkbeard, King of Dublin; and Brian Boru, High King of Ireland.

The character Godfrid, Prince of Dublin, makes his first appearance in the Gareth & Gwen Medieval Mysteries in the first book, The Good Knight. He comes to Anglesey at the behest of Prince Cadwaladr of Gwynedd, but quickly realizes that the deal he’s made is not quite what he thought, and Cadwaladr is not worthy of his allegiance. He takes it upon himself to keep Gwen safe and gives her up to Gareth when he comes to Ireland in search of her.

He and Gareth grow to respect each other, and Godfrid returns to Gwynedd in The Fallen Princess, on a quest to find the Book of Kells, which has been stolen, and again in The Lost Brother, in search of allies in his conflict with Ottar of Dublin. In both instances, he ends up aiding Gareth and Gwen in their investigations.

It is the dispute with Ottar that, in the late 1140s, drives Godfrid and his brother, Brodar. They seek to overthrow Ottar, whom they believe usurped their father’s, and now Brodar’s, throne.

With the approach of the summer solstice and the coming thing, the great meeting of the Danes in Dublin, Godfrid is faced with a mystery of his own, which he must solve if his brother’s victory is ever to come to pass …

The Viking Prince is his story.

2 Replies to “The Vikings (Danes) in Ireland”

  1. My surname if Doyle, and I have read that the name means dark haired foreigner . Does that refer to the Dane Vikings? Does that mean my ancestors may have been Dane Vikings?

    1. I’m afraid I can’t comment on that or know anything different from what you can find on the internet. The Vikings weren’t known for being dark haired but that isn’t to say one family wasn’t, which resulted in the name.

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