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(1922) [MARC] Author: A. Walsh
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Scandinavian Relations with Ireland
during the Viking Period.


The Vikings made their first appearance[1] on the Irish
coasts in 795 a.d., when they plundered and burned the
church on Recru, or Lambay Island, near Dublin. During
the next ten or twelve years Ireland seems to have been
almost free from further attacks, but in 807 they descended
on Inis Murray, off the Sligo coast, and from there made
their way inland to Roscommon.[2] After that the raids
ceased for a few years, then began again with renewed
vigour on Connacht and Munster, on some of the inland
counties of Leinster, and on several places along the east

The arrival of Turgeis[4] (O.N. Thorgestr) in Armagh, about
832, marks a new phase of the invasions. Hitherto the
Vikings had come in isolated parties solely for purposes

Zimmer was of the opinion that the Norsemen made their way
to Ireland as early as the seventh century. He bases his theory
on an entry in the Annals of Ulster and in certain other Irish annals
(under the year 617) recording “the devastation of Tory Island
by a marine fleet.” (über die frühesten Berührungen der Iren mit
den Nordgermanen
, p. 279 ff. in Sitzungsberichte der kgl. preussischen
Akademie der Wissenschaften
. 1891. Bd. I., pp. 279-317.) But this
attack is likely to have been due to Saxon or Pictish raiders rather
than to the Norsemen.
Annals of the Four Masters, a.d. 807.
Annals of Ulster, a.d. 811, 820-824, 827, 830.
Some writers would identify Turgeis with Thorgils, son of Harold
Fairhair, who with his brother Frothi went on a viking expedition
to Ireland. They captured Dublin, and Thorgils reigned there for
a long time as king. In the end, however, he was betrayed by the
Irish and was killed. (Heimskringla : Harolds saga hins hárfagra,
ch. 35.)

This account of Thorgils certainly bears a resemblance to that
of Turgeis contained in the Irish chronicles and Giraldus
Cambrensis (cf. Todd: Introduction to War of the Gaedhil with
the Gaill
, I., ii.), but it is of course incorrect to say that Turgeis
was a son of Harold Fairhair.

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