Battle of Clontarf 1014 - An Irish Warrior


An Irish warrior, typical of the time of the Battle of Clontarf 1014. He is bare footed and well armed with spear, double edged sword and the dreaded  ‘catha tughta’ (axe) which he used with deadly efficiency.

His hide skinned shield was his only protection. He had no personal armor and this made him very agile and quick moving. It is recorded some actually fought nude so they would not be encumbered by any weighty clothing.


As strong as the iron of his weapons he was also known to be brave and ferocious in battle.


A very formable man indeed, as the Vikings and their allies found out that Good Friday of April 1014.


Image by Damien Goodfellow, Galway. Jan. 2013.


The Ó Ceallaigh’s were traditional allies of the Ó Brien's (formally Kennedy's).  This relationship was cemented over the years through inter marriage. A fact suggested by folklore and supported by our DNA project. So it’s understandable that when King Brien called for support his request did not fall on deaf ears as far as the Ó Ceallaigh’s and other Connaught clans were concerned. (O’Conor’s, O’Heyne’s, McDermot’s, O’Flaherty’s, O’Reilly’s, O’Farrells, O’Rourke’s, O’Dowd’s and O’Malley’s).


The relationship lasted for many hundred years, but was finally broken in 1504 at the Battle of Knockdoe, Co Galway. We will cover this event at another time.

The Battle


Opposing forces would form up facing each other, maybe 100 yards apart, or closer, depending on terrain. Responding to taunts a proven ‘warrior’ from either side would engage in single combat. This would be decisive, not on the outcome of the day, but to the combatants, one would live and one would die. Each blow delivered or received, would be cheered or cursed by the anxious on lookers.


When one of the fighting warriors fell, this was the signal for all out battle, and what followed would not be pleasant. Spears would have been thrown at about 25/30 yards cutting down many, and then a charge of ferocious energy and tempo.


Injured and dying would have been dispatched usually by decapitation, this gruesome act would be carried out by the youngsters who were there to be “blooded”.


It would not be long before the battle field would be drenched with blood and scattered with body parts, both internal and external.


The whole event would have been witnessed and recorded by the Clan’s Ollamh




Below we have two lovely poems by Sean Ó Ceallaigh, dealing with the death of Teigh Mor, the other about our Ó Kelly clan motto. Sean has published many books on various topics.


 March ’13

                      The Ó Kelly Enfield,