At the end of the 8th Century Ireland was a rural nation with the Christian monasteries at the heart of its communities.

Over the next two centuries this society was to be torn asunder by waves of Viking raiders who pillaged its monasteries and towns. The Viking raids (first recorded in 795) were at first small and intermittent, but over the following decades they intensified in number and ferocity.

The Vikings began to stay in Ireland over the winter months instead of returning to their native Scandinavia and their raiding parties grew in size to become small armies, gradually progressing further inland on their plundering sprees.

An attempt to gain control of the whole country was defeated by Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014

The Vikings retained the permanent settlements they had established notably Waterford, Cork, Dublin, Wexford and Limerick. Thus irrevocably changed the landscape and society of Gaelic Ireland.