Irish rogues

I had a letter published in this week’s edition of The Economist, clarifying a side comment in their article on the visit of the Queen Elizabeth to Ireland.

SIR – You said that unlike Elizabeth II, Henry II did not receive an invitation to Ireland (“Irish, and British, eyes are smiling”, May 21st). This is not quite accurate.

The Norman invasion of Ireland was instigated at the invitation of Diarmaid Mac Murchada, King of Leinster, who was dispossessed of land by the High King of Ireland, Ruaidhri Ó Conchobair. Diarmaid met Henry II in Aquitaine in 1166. Henry agreed to send a force led by Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke (nicknamed Strongbow), who was married to Aoife, Diarmaid’s daughter. They arrived in 1169, and when a dispute arose over the succession to Leinster on Diarmaid’s death in 1171, Henry II claimed fealty of the entire island of Ireland.

Naturally, this invitation from Diarmaid for foreign assistance started centuries of English involvement in Ireland, and it has earned Diarmaid a place of infamy in the gallery of rogues of Irish history.

William Quill
Bray, County Wicklow

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