Brian Boru Millennium Celebration

Brian Boru Millenium CelebrationMilwaukee Irish Fest is proud to present a special millennial celebration program about Brian Boru Dalcassian, the “Emperor of the Irish,” who in 1014 changed the future of Ireland forever. Commemoration events are being held all across Ireland this year to celebrate the millennium of the Battle of Clontarf.

As Ireland’s first modern ruler, Brian Boru united the power under one leader, replacing the system of regional and clan kings. Boru also unified the settled Vikings of Ireland and supported inter-marriage between the Vikings and Irish. On Good Friday in 1014, the armies of Brian Boru met those of Leinster and Dublin at Clontarf. The bloody battle resulted in many deaths, including Máel Mórda mac Murchada, king of Leinster, many Viking mercenaries and Brian Boru himself.

Many participants in the Battle of Clontarf are still part of the Irish landscape today. Boru’s family are the O’Briens and the Kennedys. His allies included the Irish O’Donoghues, MacNamaras, O’Donovans, Sullivans, O’Neills, O’Donnells and the Viking MacManuses, McIvors and Beirnes. His opponents included the O’Byrnes, O’Tooles, and the Viking McAullifes and Broaders.

To commemorate the Battle of Clontarf, the counties of Clare, Tipperary, Dublin and Armagh will present Brian Boru’s life in culture, history, food, genealogy and music. We are excited to welcome many acclaimed guests to our 2014 festival.

The program will feature the following:Battle of Clontarf

County Clare

Brian Boru was born in Killaloe, County Clare.

  • Jane Halloran Ryan is a genealogist from Tulla, County Clare.
  • Una Kierse, a historian from Ballina, County Clare, serves as director of the Boru Heritage Trail.
  • Jack Pinson, a bow maker from Ballina, County Clare, is an expert on the weaponry of the era of Boru.
  • Kincora Traditional Music Group is based in Ballina, Killaloe, County Clare. Kincora’s leader, Michael Hackett, is an ethnomusicologist and an expert on the music of the time of Boru. Songwriter Michael Scanlan has written a song about the life of Boru.

    Bunratty Cookery School

  • Donnagh Gregson, a well-known chef, heads up the Bunratty Cookery School, based at Bunratty Castle, County Clare. Donnagh will also kick off our Cooking Tent, located on the North End of the Irish Fest grounds.

County Tipperary

Brian Boru held the kingship at Cashel, County Tipperary, seat of power of the kings of Munster. He used Cashel to launch his power-grab for the High Kingship of Ireland.

  • Sean Laffey, writer and editor for Irish Music Magazine, headed up the Cashel Heritage group, which produced the 2014 Boru celebrations. He will speak on the music of warriors, among other things.
  • Geraldine Wall Laffey, an educator, will present scriptorium lettering in both the Children’s Tent and the Boru Tent
  • Joanne Hughes, an archeologist and member of the Cashel Heritage Group, is an expert on the Viking excavations in Ireland. She will present a Viking dig in Viking costume in the Children’s area.

County Dublin

Clontarf, where the famous battle took place, is a coastal suburb on the north side of Dublin.

  • Dr. Sean Duffy, a professor at Trinity University, Dublin, is the author of a new history of Brian Boru and his impact upon Ireland. Brian Boru Statue
  • Collette Gill directs daily operations at the Clontarf historical Society and will speak on the Battle of Clontarf.

County Armagh

Armagh, where St. Patrick held power, is where Brian Boru secured the primacy of the Church of Armagh over other monastic settlements in Ireland. Boru is also buried in Armagh.

  • The Armagh Rhymers are Milwaukee Irish Fest favorites, having developed a following over the past two decades. Shows will be presented in both the Children’s Area and the Cultural Village, in both English and the Irish language.
  • Sheila Rooney & Ciaran McMahan, from Living History, Navcan, County Armagh, will connect St. Patrick to Brian Boru and explain why Armagh was important to both.
  • Armagh Pipers Club is one of the oldest music schools in Ireland. Siblings Emer Mallon (harp) and Conor Mallon (uillean pipes) will play the music of the region and the music of the time of Brian Boru.

In addition, Maurice Lennon and the Willis Clan will present Lennon’s Brian Boru The High King of Tara, at the festival. This orchestral suite, written by Lennon in 2002, was produced by Lennon and Donal Lunny, who will also appear at the 2014 Milwaukee Irish Festival.