Olaf Cuaran

Olaf Cuaran (Olaf the Red, Amlav, Sitricson) was Norse King of Dublin in the 10th century. After the death of his father Sitric, he went to Scotland, and married a daughter of Constantine III. In 939, we read of his arrival at York, his siege of Northampton, and sack of Tamworth, and a few years later the cession to him by King Edmund of the northern part of his kingdom. In 945 he rebuilt Dublin, after its destruction by the Irish. In 952 he was expelled from England, and retired to Ireland. Four years afterwards he defeated and slew Congalach, King of Ireland. In 964 he was himself defeated at Innistiogue by the men of Ossory; in 970, in conjunction with the Leinster Irish, he plundered Kells; and in the same year defeated Domhnall O'Neill, King of Ireland. He again defeated the Irish in 978 and 979, on the former occasion slaying the heirs to the throne of Ireland in the two royal lines of the northern and southern O'Neills.

The last scene in Olaf's life as a warrior was his total defeat at the battle of Tara, fought in 980, against King Malachy. Dublin was occupied by the Irish, and, according to the Four Masters, the country was released from the "Babylonian captivity" of the Northmen — "next to the captivity of hell." Olaf's son Ragnall was slain, and he retired broken-hearted to Iona, where he died in 981. He was thrice married — to a daughter of Constantine III., to Gormlaith, sister widow of Domhnall, King of Ireland, and mother of King Malachy.


144. Gaedhil with the Gaill, Wars of the, or the Invasions of Ireland by the Danes: Rev. James H. Todd, D.D. (Master of the Rolls Series.) London, 1867.