The Drowning of Turgesius

Turgesius was the leader of an invading Viking force around 837 A.D. who plundered the area for seven years. According to the Bardic tale, the tyrant had a passion for the daughter of King O’Melachlin (Malachy) and demanded her from her father, who, fearing to refuse, acceded to this request and promised to send his daughter, attended by fifteen young maidens, to the palace of Turgesius. In the meantime, King Malachy gathered fifteen young men of known honour and bravery and had them dress up in women’s clothes, each with a weapon concealed under his garments. They were to defend the honour of the princess at the peril of their lives, and open a door to the palace so that he could come to their aid with his army. Once inside the palace the princess was brought to Turgesius, whereupon the young men threw off their disguises and, drawing their weapons, seized Turgesius and opened the castle gates for King Malachy and his army. Turgesius was bound with chains and cast into Lough Owel, just outside Mullingar, and Malachy wore the collar of gold that he won from the proud invader.

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