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Putrid while living, damned when dead', has been the epitaph of Diarmait Mac Murchada (Dermot MacMurrough), King of Leinster, the man credited with inflicting 800 years of strife on Ireland. Diarmait ruled in a time of great turbulence, when kingdoms were lost and gained through violent battle and hostage taking, and when it was common for kings to maim or blind the most accomplished of their own sons to avoid competition for the throne. Just such a black picture has built up over the years of Diarmait's outrageous behaviour: stories of rape, abduction, mutilation and murder, of the fierce hatred he provoked in his enemies, and which ultimately led to his downfall. But behind this also lies the story of a cultured and accomplished ruler, a man who inspired love and loyalty in his family and absolute devotion from his followers, and who became so attracted to church reform that he established monasteries and abbeys for the Cistercians and Augustinians. This is the story of Diarmait, King of Leinster, one of the foremost kings of Ireland, and a key figure in Irish history. Nicholas Furlong is a journalist, historian and author from County Wexford. He has written and edited several books including The Women of 1798, Young Farmer Seeks Wife and Wexford in the Rare Oul' Times.

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