On this day, 24th June in the year 637AD, the largest battle ever fought on Irish soil began. The battle was fought between Congal, the then High King of Ireland and his foster father, Domnall mac Áedo.
It all started years earlier when Congal was blinded in one eye by a bee keeping accident. The law of the time stated that anyone who wasn’t physically perfect could not be High King, so Congal was replaced by his foster father.
Understandably Congal was not too pleased by this and in 629AD he went to war with Domnall. Congal lost and fled to the Kingdom of Dalriada which stretched from what we now know as North Antrim and as far as Western Scotland.
Artwork: The Battle of Moira by Jim Fitzpatrick
Some years later Congal returned to reclaim his throne. Domnall amassed a huge army with the help of the Uí Néill clan and marched north to Dalriada. Outnumbered, the prince of Dalriada called neighbouring kingdoms to his side. His army included Welsh, Picts and even Anglo-Saxon soldiers.
The battle lasted several days but eventually Congal was killed and his army defeated. Domnall and the Uí Néill clan went on to rule Ireland for the next 1000 years.
(Millmount Museum Facebook page 24th June 2016)