Many of the local people of County Wexford in Ireland are, like so many people worldwide, huge fans of the HBO television series Game of Thrones. But here we watch in added fascination as we recognise many of the characters and the tales seems almost familiar thanks to our own history. So we invite you to discover our history and see for yourself, that even without the White Walkers and Dragons, our story is just as gripping!
It all started in Ferns, this was the seat of the King of Leinster, Diarmuid Mac Murragh. (Dermot Mac Murra) A Celtic King with a fearsome reputation, for both fighting and women. Long red hair, a full beard and plenty of battle scars. Imagine a guy who looked a little like Thurmond Giantsbane. He was considered to be quite handsome in a rough and ready kind of way and he certainly had no problems finding a woman, even with two wives at home. But the trouble started when he took up with another Kings wife, a woman called Dergavolla.
Dergavollas was married to Tiernan O’Rourke, the region he ruled is now Leitrim and Cavan, near the north of Ireland. Dergavolla and Dermot enjoyed a full 9 months of bliss before Tiernan caught up with them.
Dergavollas was married to Tiernan O’Rourke, the region he ruled is now Leitrim and Cavan , near the north of Ireland. Dergavolla and Dermot enjoyed a full 9 months of bliss before Tiernan caught up with them.
What should have happened is Dermot sends Dergavolla home, says sorry and pays a fine as decided by the ancient Brehon Laws. The laws of the land were quite strict about this sort of thing!
Instead, Dermot refused to follow any of the laws and found himself being kicked out of the country after the High King Rory O’Connor came down from his Royal Palace at the Hill of Tara in Meath and seized everything!
So off they sailed; Diarmuid, His wife, Mór and their daughter Aoife, leaving not far from where Cahore Pier stands today. A great place for a seafood platter today by the way!
Arriving in England first, they moved on to Norman France. Where eventually he caught up with the Norman King Henry the 2n A strong and very competent King he had amassed huge lands and wealth during his reign. Imagine a character like Tywin Lannister as King.
So Dermot explained his tale of woe and the King listened with caution. He had considered coming to Ireland previously, but our reputation for fighting and general wildness, had kept him away up to this point. So he was interested but very cautious and did the sensible thing. He gave him permission to Diarmuid to recruit a few knights and foot soldiers to take back his lands. Thinking, if it goes terribly, he’s only lost a few soldiers, if it goes well, he’s gained a new territory.
Dermot headed back to England, delighted with himself and set about recruiting.
But he had trouble getting anyone interested. To understand why consider what Jaime Lannister of season one might have said to the idea of going North.
But if there was one thing Dermot was, it was persistent! Eventually, he ended up in the Welsh castle of a slightly down on his luck, Knight called Richard De Claire, better known today by his nickname Strongbow.
Strongbows family had backed the wrong side in a fight between King Henry’s mum Matilda and her cousin Stephen as they fought for the Throne of England.
Matilda won, her son now sat on the Throne, and so Strongbows family found themselves shunned from the Royal Courts.
But in Dermots proposition, the young Knight saw an opportunity!
Between them they knocked out a deal. Strongbow would gather an army, he would marry Aoife and so when Dermot died, he and his heirs would inherit the Kingship and all the lands.
Now, a word about Aoife. In the Irish National Gallery in Dublin you will find, in the Shaw Room a simply huge painting called “The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife”
Aoife is depicted as being a gentle sweet young girl, wearing a yellow gown, her father’s hand on her back and Strongbow in full armour in front of her. In reality, Aoife was nothing like this. She had much more in common with Ygritte and was called Aoife Rua, or Red Aoife. That may have been from her hair, which was “Kissed by Fire” like her fathers and said to be as red as a summer sunset, or it could be from her high kill rate!
An extremely accomplished warrior, she had previously led many troops into battle. When her father was banished, she could have played it safe, found a nice monastery and become a Nun. But instead, she chose to follow her father to foreign lands in search of assistance.
According to the ancient Brehon laws a woman had to consent to a marriage, and though Dermot had plainly shown how little respect he had for the old laws, this one he might have heeded. But it seems Aoife was happy herself with the idea and agreed to marry him, once the city of Waterford was taken.
Now, this whole process didn’t happen over a couple of weeks, Strongbow had to raise an army, find ships, weapons and more. Diarmuid was gone for a few years, and back home, life had continued as normal. He was almost forgotten until…
Early one morning, in May, strange ships were spotted off the coast. The first landed in Bannow Bay, followed a little later by two more at Baginbun, which were set on fire once they landed.
At is is at Baginbun, where we meet our Brienne of Tarth.
Little is known of Alice of Abergivanny, but her name and the fact she arrived her at Baginbun as part of the initial invasion party led Raymond Le Gros
Raymond Le Gros and Strongbows uncle Harvey de Montmorency were the first to arrive With them, a small army of Archers and Knights. They quickly established a fortified camp at Baginbun, just outside Fethard on Sea.
And amongst them was Alice.