10 August 1177: The Battle of the Bridge of Evora was fought on this day. The battle took place near where Howth Railway Station, Howth, Dublin is now situated. Sir John de Courcy sent a force ashore under the command of Sir Armoricus Tristram - probably a knight from Brittany.
Their opponents were descendants of Vikings who had taken over the area centuries before. The port of Howth was a prize worth having as it was one of the best landing places to the north of Dublin at that time. Howth comes from the Norse word for a headland and is still the name today for this penninsula that dominates the skyline of north county Dublin. The old Irish name is Binn Éadair - or Eadairs Peak.
A desperate battle was fought at "The Bridge of Evora," which crossed the small river, called "The Bloody Stream," flowing into the sea near the railway station, and, after heavy losses on both sides, the natives were completely defeated. This battle having been fought on 10th August (Feast of St. Laurence, the Spaniard), the Tristram family, in commemoration of the event, thereafter assumed the name of St. Lawrence.
Tristram was one of the Norman adventurers who came over to Ireland at the time of the Invasion, and had achieved a distinguished record for his prowess on many a hard-fought field. He and Sir John De Courcy sailed to Howth in 1177, accompanied by a chosen band of fighting men, and on landing were opposed by the inhabitants, mostly Danish pirates who had settled in this neighbourhood.
The following extract on the subject is taken from Hanmer's Chronicles of Ireland, but it may be observed that his account rests on no very certain authority, and that the entire circumstances connected with the landing and battle at Evora are involved in considerable obscurity:
- "They landed at Howth and there fought a cruell fight by the side of a bridge, where Sir John De Courcy, being sickly, tarried about the shippe. Sir Armoricus, being chieftaine and generall of the field by land, behaved himselfe most worthily. Many were slaine on both sides, but Sir Armoricus got the victory, with the losse of seven of his owne blood, sonnes, uncles and newphewes; whereupon, for his singular valour, and good service, there performed, that lordship was allotted unto him for his part of the conquest.
A vague tradition of this battle seems to have lingered in the neighbourhood, and is to some extent corroborated by the discoveries of human bones, antique weapons and armour, which from time to time have been made during excavations for building purposes in the vicinity of the railway station.
The Neighbourhood of Dublin by Weston St. John Joyce
De Courcy went on to raid into north east Ulster where he carved out his own domain after a series of bloody battles and held his conquests until by Royal command he was forced to hand them over to the King of England.
Armoricus was granted much of the land between the village and Sutton. Tristam took on the name of the saint on whose feast day the battle was won - St Lawrence. He built his first castle near the harbour and the St. Lawrence link remains even today. The original title of Baron of Howth was granted to Armoricus 'St. Lawrence' by Henry II of England in 1181, for one knight's fee.