Cathedral service marks millennium of Brian Boru’s death

Mural of Brian Boru blessing his troops before going into battle at Clontarf. Pic courtesy of Dublin City Council.
Mural of Brian Boru blessing his troops before going into battle at Clontarf. Pic courtesy of Dublin City Council.

The death of Ireland’s High King during the famous bloody battle of Clontarf almost exactly 1,000 years ago will be remembered with a special service in his burial county of Armagh next month.

Brian Boru (Bóraime) may have been born in County Clare but, as the well-known theme song ‘The Boys from the County Armagh’ notes, his ashes lie in the city, at the Church of Ireland Cathedral.

Armagh Cathedral

Armagh Cathedral

The legendary leader had requested to be buried in Armagh, possibly due to its religious links to St Patrick, and it is said he was brought to the city by the clergy following his death at Clontarf on Good Friday 1014, after a battle in which his side actually claimed victory.

He was waked 12 nights in Armagh alongside his son before burial in a new tomb, “on the north side of the great church”.

Next month an ecumenical service at the Cathedral, which has a memorial stone on its north wall, will mark the millennium since the well-remembered historical figure’s death and, according to organisers, have a prayer for the Ireland of today.

Brian Boru’s life, reign and death deserve to be commemorated in such a way, said the Dean of Armagh, the Very Revd Gregory Dunstan.

“The Battle of Clontarf was of European importance,” he said. “The commemorative programme runs from Killaloe through Cashel and Dublin to Armagh. “In this service, the Cathedral aims both to reflect on an historic tragedy and to highlight its significance for the Island of today.”

Mark Patrick Hederman, OSB, Abbot of Glenstal, will preach at the service, which will be based on the Anglican liturgy of Choral Evensong.

Organisers expect the service on April 27 at 3.15 pm to be well-attended, and are urging anyone interested to apply for a ticket by March 28, to, or by post to The Administrator, Armagh Public Library, 43 Abbey Street, Armagh, BT61 7DY.

Visit for a list of all this year’s commemorative events,including a re-enactment at Navan Fort on April 23 of Brian’s party’s arrival in the Orchard county as they prepare to announce his death in battle.