Battle of Tara (Ireland)

Battle of Tara
LocationNear the Hill of Tara, Meath
Result Decisive Uí Néill victory
Kingdom of Meath (Southern Uí Néill) Norse Kingdom of Dublin
Commanders and leaders
Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill Amlaíb Cuarán aka Óláf Sigtryggsson
Unknown Unknown, greater than 2000
Casualties and losses
Unknown Entire army destroyed

The Battle of Tara was a battle between the Gaels and Norse that took place in Ireland in 980.


On one side there was a Norse army from the Kingdom of Dublin supported by troops from the Hebrides, which was commanded by a son of Olaf Cuaran named Ragnall.[1] The other side was led by Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, who had recently come to power as head of the southern Uí Néill. The latter's force consisted of troops from his home province of Mide (the Kingdom of Meath), probably with strong support from troops from Leinster and Ulster.

The battle ended in a devastating defeat for the Norse of Dublin, called a "red slaughter" in the Annals of the Four Masters.[1] Olaf abdicated and died in religious retirement in Iona.[1] Dublin was besieged by the victorious Máel Sechnaill, who forced it to surrender slaves and valuables, as well as give up all its prior claims to Uí Néill-held territory.[1] In the following decade, Dublin was more or less under the control of Máel Sechnaill and the southern Uí Néill.

The Battle of Tara is regarded as a far more decisive defeat for the Norse of Dublin than the later, and much more famous, Battle of Clontarf. Olaf Cuaran was the last of the great Norse kings in Ireland, and following him the status of the Kingdom of Dublin was never the same again.

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Coordinates: 53°34′39″N 6°36′43″W / 53.5775°N 6.6119°W / 53.5775; -6.6119

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