Aoife and Strongbow

Aoife and Strongbow

David Carr |

Aoife and Strongbow

With the 1916 centenary celebrations close at hand, the country is focused on that Easter week which marked the last years of English Dominion over Ireland. How did we end up under British rule in the first place? Well, just in time for Valentine's Day, that's a tale of love and war (all the best tales are).

The star crossed couple in question are Aoife MacMurrough, princess of Leinster, and Strongbow, an Anglo-Norman lord. Aoife's father, Dermot, had been driven from his kingdom by enemies in Ireland. Determined to get  Leinster back, he asked the Normans for help.

Dermot had a daughter and therefore a title to offer any willing Norman lord. Under Irish Brehon law a daughter was to pick her own husband. 

But Aoife willingly married the Norman Earl Strongbow, we can assume she didn't want to live as a princess in exile forever.

The happy couple wasted no time going on a honeymoon to Leinster, where they crushed the native lords and established the first English Dominion in Ireland.  

It's fair to say most couples in Ireland will be toasting each other this February 14th, not Aoife and Strongbow...