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Up to about 1000, Ireland was divided into several warring kingdoms. This had made it easy for the Vikings to establish themselves in many areas. In 1002 Brian Boru (c 926-1014), king of Munster, made himself High King over all Ireland. Brian spent much of his reign consolidating his position. In 1013 Vikings who had settled in the Dublin area joined with discontented lords to challenge his authority. The two sides met at the Battle of Clontarf (1014), at which he was killed, aged about 88. The Irish triumphed, but allowed the Vikings to stay because they brought wealth to the country through their trading ports. But the threat of Viking dominance over Ireland was at an end.

Many Irish legends tell of Boru's magnificent palace at Kincora, in County Clare. In 1006 he visited Armagh. He distributed gold, some of it paid to him as tribute (the name Boru means 'taker of tributes'). While there, he caused to be added to the ninth-century Book of Armagh a note of his visit as 'Emperor of the Irish'.

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