Mr. Des O’Neill [Letters, “Eire Smarts,” 3/18/10] might want to look up the list of historical Irish rulers on Wikipedia to see that Brian Boru was ninth out of 20 acknowledged high kings of Eire. The entire list, including legendary, synthetic, and semi-historical leaders is very extensive, which is why almost anyone who’s Irish can claim to be “from royal blood.”
In The Course of Irish History, edited by T.W. Moody and F.X. Martin (on p. 121), a muddying of high kingship is acknowledged, but from the 12th-century Book of Leinster among other sources, eight undisputed kings are named, starting with Donnchad, son of Brian Boroime of Munster, and ending with Ruaidri Ua Conchobair of Connacht.
By the way, another tome I saw on the subject stated it was a duty for high kings of Ireland to drink ale at a specific time each day, somewhere around noon. — Mike McLaughlin