In the period between c. 870 and 914, the Vikings appear to have directed
their activities in Britain and there was a relative peace in Ireland.
The following 25 years beginning in 914 AD were perhaps a highpoint of
Viking agression. More permanent Viking settlement began in this period.
Initially the Irish were unable to counter these threats, and Niall Glundub,
the Cenel nEogain king of Tara, was killed in battle at Dublin in 919. Yet
the threat gradually receded by 940's and the Viking rulers were drawn
into the Irish political order, so that their military power usually served
Irish political ends.
By the middle of the tenth century Norse and Danish Viking coastal
settlements and trading ports had been established at Dublin, Wexford,
Waterford, Cork and Limerick. These Viking trading towns and their
populations were gradually absorbed into the social and political system
that surrounded them. The annals frequently make reference to Irish
intermarriages and military alliances with the Vikings, as echoed in
the famous Battle of Clontarf in 1014 AD with Viking constituents
on both sides. By the late 10th century the 'Foreigners' in Dublin
[and elsewhere] were not seen as an enemy to be driven back into the
sea but as a potential source of wealth and tribute for the Irish
chieftains. Claimants to the High Kingship of Ireland soon came to
understand that their power would often be gauged by their ability to
control the important port of Dublin.
Although the early Vikings, or 'Ostmen', were well-known for their raids
on the Irish and the Irish Church, their contributions to Ireland were to
have a greater positive impact, This included the establishment of
Ireland's first towns, the expansion of its seafaring trade, and the
influence on its art.
Within the Irish political scene the power control of the kings of Tara
(Ireland) alternated between the Northern and Southern Ui Niaill (Neill)
clans. In the 9th century Maelsechnaill (I) of Clann Cholmain began to
make forays into Munster attempting to strengthen the Southern Ui Niaill
influence, creating enemies rather than allies of the Munstermen. This
policy led to a disastrous reaction from Munster by the end of the
10th century, viz. Brian Borumha.
Excerpts from the Annals
860 AD -
Maelseachlainn [of the Southern Ui Niaill], son of Maelruanaidh, son of
Donnchadh, Monarch of Ireland, died on the thirteenth day of November
precisely, on Tuesday, after he had been sixteen years in the sovereignty.
He was succeeded by Aedh Finnliath [of the Northern Ui Niaill],
son of Niall Caille, in sovereignty over Ireland.
876 AD -
After Aedh Finnliath, the son of Niall Caille, had been sixteen years in
the sovereignty of Ireland, he died at Druim Inesclainn, in the territory of
Conaille, on the 20th day of November. He was succeeded by
Flann Sinna [of the Southern Ui Niaill], the son of Maelsechlainn, in
sovereignty over Ireland. He was still king in 902.
916 AD - After Flann Sionna had been forty years in the sovereignty of
Ireland he was succeeded by Niall Glundubh ("Black Knee"), son of
919 AD - After Niall Glundubh, son of Aedh Finnliath had been three years
in the sovereignty of Ireland he was succeeded by Donnchadh, son of
Flann Sinna of the Southern Ui Neill. Niall was slain fighting the Danes
at the Battle of Dublin in 919.
944 - After Donnchadh had been twenty five years in the sovereignty of
Ireland he was succeeded by Congalach Cnogba, son of Máel Mithig.
956 - After Congalach had been twelve years in the sovereignty of
Ireland he was succeeded by Domhnall Ardmacha Ua Niall, son of
Muircheartach "na G-Cochaill Criceann" Ua Niall.