On the Ancient Races of Ireland: The Boromean Tribute - Sir William Wilde

The Boromean, or cattle tribute, which the King of Tara demanded from the Leinstermen, was perhaps the cause of the greatest intestinal feud which ever convulsed so small a space of European ground for so great a length of time. This triennial cattle tax, besides 5,000 ounces of silver, 5,000 cloaks, and 5,000 brazen vessels, consisted of 15,000 head of cattle of different descriptions, the value of which, at the present price of stock, would amount to about £130,000. The cattle tribute also paid to the Prince or petty King of Cashel upwards of a thousand years ago was 6,500 cows, 4,500 oxen, 4,500 swine, and 1,200 sheep; in all, 16,700, or, at the present value of stock, between £80,000 and £100,000. In addition to which we read of horses and valuables of various descriptions.

Brian O'Kennedy, who drove the Norsemen from the shores of Clontarf, derived his cognomen of Borrome from his reimposition of this cattle tax. And in the Leabhar-na-Garth or ancient Book of Rights and Privileges of the Kings of Erin, the cattle statistics, as they are there set forth, show that the Irish were solely a pastoral people; and the whole text and tenor of the Irish annals and histories, and the notices of the wars of the Desmonds and of O'Neil, confirm this view.