Battle of Clontarf 1014 - Mac Liags account


Mac Liag’s account of the Battle of Clontarf:

(Please click on the article for larger view)



From the Anals of the Ó Kelly's and submitted by Dr. Joe Kelly, Oranmore. Co Galway.

extract from the Annals of Ulster, Year 1014 p.447


Brian son of Ceinnétig (Kennedy) son of Lorcán, king of Ireland, and Mael Sechnaill son of Domnall, king of Temair, led an army to Áth Cliath. All the Laigin were assembled to meet him, and the foreigners of Áth Cliath, and a like number of the foreigners of Scandinavia, i.e. to the number of 1,000 breastplates. A valiant battle was fought between them, the like of which was never before encountered. Then the foreigners and the Laigin first broke in defeat, and they were completely wiped out. There fell on the side of the foreign troop in this battle Mael Mórda son of Murchad, king of Laigin, and Domnall son of Fergal, king of the Forthuatha, and of the foreigners there fell Dubgall son of Amlaíb, Siucraid son of Lodur, jarl of Innsi Orc, and Gilla Ciaráin



son of Glún Iairn, heir designate of the foreigners, and Oittir Dub and Suartgair and Donnchad grandson of Erulb and Griséne and Luimne and Amlaíb son of Lagmann and Brotor who slew Brian i.e. chief of the Scandinavian fleet, and six thousand who were killed or drowned. Of the Irish moreover there fell in the counter-shock Brian son of Ceinnétig, over-king of the Irish of Ireland, and of the foreigners and of the Britons, the Augustus of the whole of north-west Europe, and his son Murchad, and the latter's son, i.e. Tairdelbach son of Murchad, and Conaing son of Donn Cuan son of Cennéitig, heir designate of Mumu, and Mothla son of Domnall son of Faelán, king of the Déisi Muman; Eochu son of Dúnadach and Niall ua Cuinn and Ceinnéitig's son, —


''Brian's three companions; two kings of UíMaine, Ua Cellaig . . . . . . . . , and Mael Ruanaid ua hEidin, king of Aidne, and Géibennach ua Dubagáin, king of Fernmag, and Mac Bethad son of Muiredach Claen, king of Ciarraige Luachra and Domnall son of Diarmait, king of Corcu Baiscinn, and Scannlán son of Cathal, king of Eóganacht of Loch Léin, and Domnall son of Eimen son of Cainnech, earl of Marr in Scotland, and many other nobles.(this is the reference to Ó Kelly at Clontarf - submitted by Tomas Ó Brogan).


Mael Muire son of Eochaid, successor of Patrick, with his venerable clerics and relics, came moreover to Sord Coluim Chille, and brought away the body of Brian, king of Ireland, and the body of his son Murchad, and the head of Conaing and the head of Mothla, and buried them in Ard Macha in a new tomb. For twelve nights the community of Patrick waked the bodies in honour of the dead king.

When one looks at the map and the disposition of the troops it can be seen that the centreline was led by Teigh Mor Ó Kelly. He was commander of the second division. It will be a clear distortion of history if the effort of the Ó Kellys and the other clans was not recognised for the brave commitment they made on this historic day.

 As best can be seen on the map the armies were deployed over a five mile front which extended from Dublin City. on the left flank of the Danish side, as far out to the village of Swords on the Irish left flank.The Irish were formed in 3 main fighting units with a small contingent of Scots on their left flank.

                                                            The Irish Army

The Right flank Division.                   The Centre Division.               The Left flank Division         

The King of Munster’s men.               The Ui Maine Men

Commanded by Morda Ó Brien         Teigh Mor Ó Ceallaigh           Ó Mahony

Clansmen                                            Clansmen                                Clansmen

Ó Briens                                              Ó Connor                                Mac Carthy

Ó Quinns                                             Ó Kelly                                   Ó Mahony

Ó Kennedy                                         Ó Heyne                                  Ó Callaghan

Mac Colgan                                         Mac Dermot                            Ó Donovan

Mac NaMara                                       Ó Flaherty                               Ó Moriarty                 

Ó Grady                                              Ó Reilly                                   Ó Sullivan

Ó Scanlan                                            Ó Farrell                                  Ó Donoahou

Ó Carroll-Ely                                      Ó Rourke                                Ó Carroll-Louth                     

Ó Meager                                            Ó Dowd                                  Ó Connel ?

Ó Hogan                                             Ó Malley                                 Ó Shea

Ó Dwyer.                                                                                            Ó Felan


                                                                                                            2 Corps of Scottish troops

In reserve and acting as King

Brian’s guard.

King of Tara, Ó Malaclin


Ó Malaclin

Ó Kelly Breag

Mac Guegan

Mac Auly

Ó Molloy

Ó Carny


                                                            The Danish Army.

Danish left flank                                 Danish centre (Insulars)          Right flank (Leinster men)

Danes of Dublin                                  Orcadians                                King Maormorda Ó Failey

Danes of Jutland                                 Hebridians                               Clansmen

Norwegians                                         Isle of Manians                       Ó Connor-Failey

Swedes                                                                                                Ó Byrne

                                                                                                            Ó Toole

                                                                                                            Ó Gorman

                                                                                                            Ó Ryan

                                                                                                            Ó Mora

                                                                                                            Ó Dempsy

                                                                                                            Ó Dunne.


We Kelly’s paid a very high price for the support of Brian in the battle. Our King, Teigh Mor. along with one of his son were killed on that faithful day. We know from "Ó Curry" that it was a fellow Irishman who killed Teigh Mor. Broderhan Ó Connor, king of Offaly was the man responsible. They both died and it is said that Teigh "died fighting like a wolf-dog". It was then the famous hybrid creature emerged from the sea to protect our fallen King's body.

Conor O’Kelly, son of Teige Mór O’Kelly, established a priory in Duleek, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. After the death of Tadhg Mór O’Kelly he was originally interned in Kilmainham beside the body of his hero Brian Ború, the High King. Teige remains were later transferred to the monastery of Duleek, by his son Conor who had also fought at Clontarf. Brian Ború’s body was later moved to the grounds of the Cathedral in Armagh.


 The above map is that of Denis H Kelly, late of Castlekelly, Ballygar, and ancestor of Teigh Mor.

Cav Kelly, April ‘14