Donald O'Brien, Prince of Thomond 

DIED A. D. 1194

From The Irish Nation: Its History and Its Biography

By James and Freeman Wills

THIS chief is famous among the Irish writers, and was popular in his day. He occupies an equal place in the history of the troubles of this period, and in the annals of the Irish church. He was among the first of the Irish princes who submitted to the English--a step for which his character has suffered some unjust reprehension, from the inconsiderate nationality of some of our most respectable authorities. To enter on the subject here would involve us in needless repetition, as we have had occasion to weigh the force of such opinions, once for all, in our life of Roderic O'Conor, who, in the same manner, has been grossly misrepresented.

Donald succeeded, on the death of his brother, to the kingdom of Thomond, in 1168. To this he soon added the kingdom of Ormond, which he took from his brother Brian, whom he deprived of his eyes; he thus became sole chief of north Munster. Two years after, he became involved in hostilities with Roderic O'Conor, against whom he was assisted by Fitz-Stephen, an alliance by which the English gained a footing in Munster. In the following year, he took the oath of allegiance to king Henry; but, conceiving soon that he was likely to lose his independence, and to have his territory endangered--or, more probably, taking up a tone of opposition from the surrounding chiefs--he appears, in 1173, engaged in repeated struggles with the English. In this year, he destroyed the castle of Kilkenny, and made various destructive incursions upon the English lands. In 1175, he was dethroned by Roderic, and his brother raised to his throne; but, on making submission, he was, in the following year, restored.

He died in 1194, king of all Munster. He left many sons, and is celebrated by ecclesiastical writers. His monastic foundations were many; among these the most important to mention are the cathedrals of Limerick and Cashel. The latter of these occupied the site of the king's palace, and included the venerable ancient structure called Cormac's chapel, which was, from the new erection, allotted to the purpose of a chapter-house.