The Tomb of Strongbow , Christchurch , Dublin

The Tomb of Strongbow , Christchurch , Dublin

In Christchurch Cathedral lies the tomb of a former King of Leinster, a hidden gem that dates back to the 12th century and is a must see on your Ireland tours.

When the disposed King of Leinster , Diarmaid Mac Murchadha , went to Britain to seek Norman aid to regain his dominion , one of the most eager adventurers he encountered was Richard de Clare , Earl of Pembroke , nicknamed ‘Strongbow’. King Henry II had confiscated Strongbow’s own estate in Wales , and the ambitious Earl soon assented to Diarmaid’s offer of his daughter in marriage and the succession to the Leinster Kingship.

In 1169 , he sent an expedition to Ireland in support of Diarmaid , and in the following year he himself landed near Waterford with over 1,000 fighting men. He took that city after much slaughter , and married Diarmaid’s daughter Aoife among the ruins.

After their combined forces took Dublin , Diarmaid unexpectedly died , leaving Strongbow to benefit from the second part of his contract , the Kingship of Leinster. Fearing that Strongbow would set up a rival Norman Kingdom , Henry II himself crossed to Ireland with a large army in 1171.

Strongbow wisely submitted to his old King , but three years later he invaded Munster. Defeated by a strong Irish alliance near Thurles , he concentrated on consolidating his Leinster Kingdom until his death in Dublin in 1176.

It is said that the dead Saints of Ireland conspired against him , and he even imagined that St. Brigid himself came from the otherworld to kill him! The Earl of mixed fortunes was buried in Christchurch Cathedral , but his tomb was broken in a fall of the Cathedral’s roof in 1562. In an attempt to repair the tomb some years later the effigy of another knight was mistakenly placed on it. In popular tradition , however , this figure of a knight in chain armour and the smaller figure beside it are still claimed to represent ‘Strongbow and his son’.

To see this amazing tomb and discover more about the history of Leinster why not organise a visit on your Ireland tours.