(1190 – 1205) The Norman Invasion XXI – The Battle for Connacht
The Kingdom of Connacht in the west of Ireland represented one of the greatest obstacles to the Norman domination of Ireland. The ruling family, the O’Connors had resisted Norman intrusion into their kingdom on several occasions. However in the 1190s their power began to fade. As three members of the family – Cathal ‘of the Red Hand’ O’Connor, his brother and grandnephew battled for the crown, the Normans were quick to intervene. The results were disastrous. Led by William Burke and the self styled ‘Prince of Ulster’ John de Courcy, their arrival saw Connacht explode in violence.
This show proved to be one of the most difficult to write. While I have a fairly good handle on the topic, the intrigues that make it interesting are byzantine in nature.
The very essences of the story – a dispute within the O’Connor family is deeply confusing. There are four distinct factions all lead by relatives who share similar names. The first is lead by Rory O’Connor, two other factions are lead by his brother Cathal ‘of the Red Hand’ and his son Conor (yes his name is Conor O’Connor!). Finally to make matter even more complicated a fourth faction is lead by Conor’s son, another Cathal. He was known as a Cathal ‘Carrach’ O’Connor.
To make this story flow easier I shortened Cathal ‘Carrach’ O’Connor’s name to the simpler Carrach (pronounced Carr-ock) O’Connor.
The Norman side is equally complex. The two leading figures are John de Courcy, the self-styled Prince of Ulster and William Burke. Burke on different occasions supported three different O’Connor factions and this makes their involvement labyrinthine at times.