Hereford and Ireland History

Hereford CathedralThis is a space I’m using to re-post the best of the articles originally posted to my old website. They all relate to the Norman invasion of Ireland and the people who undertook it, most of whom already had roots in the Wye Valley. This is the background to my historical novel Strongbow’s Wife.

Articles you will find here:

The Norman Invasion: an Irish Perspective.

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“Every English schoolchild learns about the battle of Hastings in 1066. It represents in many ways the start of modern British history. But how many know of Ireland’s role in assisting Harold Godwineson or of a subsequent alliance that brought an army of Norman mercenaries to Ireland a century later?” Read more

Strongbow – the Invader.

“Best known for his exploits in Ireland this distant relative of William the Conqueror is the common ancestor of several Queens of England. He was given the name Strongbow because of his prowess with the long bow. By the time he came to Ireland he seems to have learned that negotiation often proves more successful than violence.” Read more

The Welsh Connection: a Feisty Princess. “Nest ferch Rhys was born in 1085. Her father was Rhys ap Twdwr, king of Deheubarth, her mother was the daughter of Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn. Rhiwallon and his brother were involved in an attack on Herefordshire shortly after the Norman conquest of England. Nest must have been quite a beauty. At an early age she caught the eye of no less a personage than King Henry I ” Read more …

Henry II – a Right Royal Hypocrite.  “When Henry II of England came to Ireland in 1171/2 he came with the Pope’s blessing. Indeed, the Pope had issued a Papal Bull some years earlier authorising such an expedition with the aim of bringing the Irish Church into line with Rome’s teachings. So one of the first things that Henry undertook was to call and, later, to officiate at, a synod attended by the Irish Bishops.” Read more

Henry II’s Irish Expedition. “Henry arrived in Waterford on the 17th or 18th of October 1171 with large fleet of ships loaded with men, horses and supplies. The extent of the preparations made for the expedition leave us in no doubt that Henry took the whole enterprise extremely seriously.” Read more …

The Herefordshire Contingent: #1 de Lacy. “The name de Lacy provides one of the strongest links between Herefordshire and Ireland. In Herefordshire it continues in place names like Holme Lacy and Mansell Lacy. A large area immediately to the west of the parish in which I grew up was once called Ewyas Lacy.” Read more

The Herefordshire Contingent – #2 de Braose. “Among the group of men that accompanied King Henry II to Ireland in 1171/2 were brothers William and Philip de Braose. Their ancestors arrived in England with William I and were granted lands in the Welsh border country, including Shropshire and Herefordshire. By the time of the expedition to Ireland William was married to a daughter of the Earl of Hereford and the castle at Hay-on-Wye was in his possession.” Read more

The Marauding Mortimers #1 of 4.Historians have suggested that one of the reasons the men from the Welsh border were so willing to come to Ireland is that they had achieved all they could and that they needed a new frontier to develop. Whatever their motivation, there was one man who believed there was still work to do at home.” Read more

The Marauding Mortimers #2 – Scourge of the Welsh. “The grandson of the Roger Mortimer who features in the first article of four about the Mortimers, this man was also grandson, on his mother’s side, of King John. Like his ancestors, this Roger conducted a near life-long war against the Welsh” Read more

The Marauding Mortimers #3 – Hanged or Beheaded? “When this man’s grandfather helped the young Prince Edward to escape from Hereford it was his neighbour and fellow Marcher magnate Geoffrey de Geneville who sheltered the prince in Ludlow Castle. De Geneville had acquired Ludlow and Trim castles through marriage to Maud de Lacy. 36 years later the young Roger was betrothed to de Geneville’s grand-daughter with the now King Edward’s blessing.” Read more

The Marauding Mortimers #4 – Roger Mortimer, Heir to the Throne “The man I’m featuring fourth in the series of posts about men named Roger Mortimer led a short but eventful life. Through his mother he was a great-grandson of Edward III. Because the teenaged Richard II had no issue, Roger was regarded as heir presumptive to the English throne.” Read more

Off With Their Heads “Among the more gruesome finds from an archaeological investigation of the Rock of Dunamase in County Laois were: “Fragments of 10 skulls [that] were found in the early destruction levels of the gate tower, and these are assumed to have once adorned the roof of this structure. Examination of the skulls by Lauren Buckley has shown that they were all beheadings.”” Read more

The Girl in the Tower “Much of the childhood of Strongbow’s daughter was spent in the Tower of London. Why? Was she alone? What were her mother’s feelings on having her children taken into protective custody?

The immediate cause was the fact that, following Strongbow’s death in 1176 the four-year-old was placed under the protection of the king. This was a common practice in medieval times for the children of the nobility following the death of a father. But it was more usual for the ward to remain in the family home, over-seen by the king’s local representative. Perhaps the location of the De Clare family homes in Wales and Ireland were deemed too dangerous.” Read more

Strongbow’s Son-in-law – The Greatest Knight “If Isabel was being prepared for marriage to someone worthy of inheriting her vast estates, most of which were held only in the king’s name, then the king had the difficult task of finding such a man.

Nothing is known about those, if any, he might have considered before settling on the man he chose only weeks before his death. Subsequent history suggests that it was a good choice. So who was this paragon?” Read more

Sources and Bibliography Books and websites where the curious reader can discover much more about medieval England and Ireland. Click here

The cider: Why Bulmers cider brewed in Ireland is called Magners everywhere else and vice-versa.

It was in 1887 that Henry Percival (Percy) Bulmer began making cider using apples from his father’s orchard in Credenhill a few miles north of Hereford city. A year later he moved to premises in Maylord Street, next door to where the Hereford Times was printed and now the site of the Maylord Orchard shopping centre. The following year Percy was joined by his brother Fred and moved operations to Ryeland Street.

Over the following years the brothers learned more about cider making and grew their business, introducing Champagne cider based on techniques that Percy learned from Champagne makers in France.” Read more


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