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The Vikings in Ireland

Ship carved on a wooden plank, Winetavern St, Dublin, c 1100


When the Vikings came to Ireland they encountered the wealth of the early Christian Church. Although being described as fierce marauders in documentary sources, the Vikings also settled in Ireland and founded the most important towns on the island.

When the Vikings arrived in Ireland in 795 AD the country had already been Christian for over 350 years, and had a large number of very rich monasteries. These naturally became the target of Viking raids.

As there were no towns in Ireland at this time, the monasteries were also the main centres of population and were therefore seen by the Vikings as a good source of slaves.

From the 840’s the Vikings began to over-winter and created longphorts (fortified bases) which later developed into centres of trade, becoming the first towns in Ireland. Predominant among these are: Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, and Wexford. The Nordic language survived in these places until the end of the 12th century.

Next page: Ireland c. 700 AD