Richard was born sometime around 1130. He inherited his father’s estates in 1149 becoming Earl of Pembroke and Strigul but was rather extravagant and fell out of favour with King Henry II. So he had to go and seek his fortune. He did this when he went to Ireland to help Dermot MacMurrough make his claim to the kingdom of Leinster.
Dermot showered Richard with lands and the hand of his daughter Eva which rang alarm bells with King Henry as Richard was looking increasingly powerful and ordered that there should be no further campaigning in Ireland until he was present but de Clare had his army and went to Normandy to gain the approval of Henry II which was given albeit reluctantly. It was a gamble but one which paid dividends for de Clare. He went on to capture Dublin and on Dermot’s death, Strongbow took the throne of Leinster and began a campaign against the Irish with the assistance of Raymond le Gros who eventually became Strongbow’s brother-in-law. Henry, as might be expected, was not terribly amused by Richard de Clare’s elevation and Richard hurried to England to offer his homage and protestations of loyalty to the king. Henry II accepted Richard’s oath and also Dublin as well as the other seaports that Richard had captured during his campaign.
Strongbow may have had a reputation but the Irish continued to make life difficult for him even when Henry II recognised his role in Ireland and gave him an official title. By 1177 he was dead as a result of an on-going illness having established himself as a man of power. His son Gilbert died eight years later without attaining his majority. Strongbow’s daughter, Isabel, became the wife of William Marshall.