Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Finding Aoife

The sister of St. Lawrence O'Toole. From author Elizabeth Chadwick:
When I decided I was going to write the story of Richard de Clare and Aoife MachMurchada, I had no idea of the digging I would have to do to find out anything about the historical Aoife (pronounced Ee-fa)  and what a mystery she was, not to mention the false trails that exist in the mainstream, including in this case Wikipedia, where the entry for Aoife is unreliable with several wrong details. It is very difficult finding accurate source material.

I had written about Aoife before as an older lady and William Marshal’s mother in law in my novel The Scarlet Lion.  During that research, I had discovered that no one was exactly sure of her death date.  She supposedly disappears from the record in the mid 1180’s but the evidence is not precise and she may actually have lived much longer.  No exact birth date is forthcoming for Aoife either, although 1152 is a reasonable circa date and the one I used for the novel.  She was one of two known children born to Diarmait MachMurchada, King of Leinster and his third wife Mór Ní Thuathail. He had other sons and daughters born of earlier relationships but it would appear that Mór was the ‘officially recognised’ wife.  The second known child was a son, Conchobar (pronounced Connor). Mór’s half brother, Lorcan, was a priest and rose to become Archbishop of Dublin.  Forty five years later he was canonised and his heart tomb can still be visited in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin.
Aoife would have been in her early teens when her father ran into a spot of more than usual bother with his enemies and rivals and had to flee the country, burning his palace of Ferns behind him as he ran.  He took his family with him into exile, his first port of call being Bristol and the merchant, fixer, and nobleman Robert FitzHarding. (Read more.)

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