In the peace that followed, Donnchad came of age, becoming a Crafty Merchant. The prince was a competent administrator, though not greatly skilled in any field.
Donal O'Brien, son of courtier Malachy O'Brien, came of age was a Master Theologian. While his training was to be a Bishop, his inherent skills at subterfuge lent himself better as the new Spymaster for Ireland.
Marshal Gruffydd's mental condition continue to decline, to the point that he could no longer perform his duties well. The Marshal seemed haunted by voices, and claimed to be beset by assassins at every corner of the castle.
Murchaid reluctantly appointed Prince Donnchad as the new Marshal until Gruffydd would recover, if ever.
The ensuing peace did not lull Murchaid into complacency, as works started on a new Training Grounds in Dublin. The new facility would train and equip men faster in times of war - a necessary precaution against any foreign invasion.
More than a year after Gruffydd's unexpected departure, the High King would lose another advisor at Court - Scathach Bruce died from her a quick fever. Donnchad was granted the position as Steward. Malachy O'Brien, Murchaid's old marshal since the County days, would retake his position as Marshal of the High King's forces.
Conditions in Ireland stabilized much since the war with Munster, and courtiers had time to chase other hobbies. The scribes recounted that Spy Master Donal encountered a white stag in one such distraction, where the Spy Master chose to let the magnificent creature go unharmed. Donal was a man of God, and considered this the correct respect paid to the beauty of God's creation.
The encroaching winter saw Murchaid turning his attentions to his family. The High King had spent many seasons seeking a good bride for Donnchad. The King was clear in his mind that his son is not greatly skilled and would need all the help he could get from his wife-consort to rule Ireland. Eventually, news came of one Alis d'Auvergne, a daughter of the Count of Auvergne who was as skilled at court as she was beautiful. And a paragon of justice and modesty besides.
A marriage proposal was quickly aceded to by the Count of Auvergne. Alis and Donnchad were to wed in time for Christmas, much to the court's jubilation and Murchaid's relief. Alis was also appointed as Chancellor of the Irish Court.
Donnchad found that he was of like mind to his father-in-law and the two became fast friends. This was a first of many friendships - and enemies - Donnchad would make amongst the nobles of France.
Meanwhile, Hereford returned to England's fold. Another breakaway of the English kingdom - the Duchy of Normandy - sought alliance with Murchaid. Considering the poor position of Normandy, sandwiched between England and France, any alliance may drag Ireland into war with her powerful neighbors before she was ready. Murchaid declined. Chancellor Alis was tasked to find a suitable ally.
Darkness overcast Dublin in August, as bards sing of the loss of Tailltiu, Queen of Ireland. While there is little love between the High King and his queen, she was nonetheless dutiful and loyal to him, and so Murchaid wept.
Matters of state required attention, however. An alliance proposal came from the Kingdom of Sweden, and Murchaid to agree to it.
In order to fund more investments into the land, Murchaid ordered a quick tax on the populace. The tax would prove detrimental to the stability of the realm.
Good news came with the spring as Trian, Donnchad's firstborn, was delivered safely. The birth of his first grandson brought a smile to the grieving High King, for besides becoming a grandfather, his line was more assured than ever.
More good news came in summer as the Pope announced the Crusades at an end. Jerusalem was in the hands of the Duchy of Burgundy, which was part of the mighty Kingdom of France.
This period also saw the first Mines of the Kingdom being built in Dublin.
After a year of mourning, Murchaid decided to marry another wife - Imag O'Neill was the daughter of the Duke of Ulster - who had ever been loyal to the crown. The marriage was speculated to bring both houses closer. The proposal was sent to Mide, where Imag served the Count there as steward.
A modest Marriage Duty was levied to fund the Kingdom's continued investments in infrastructure. Imag's shrewd control of money made her an excellent Steward, replacing Donnchad.
Knowing that his son would balk at losing his position of responsibility in court, Murchaid granted his son rulership County of Mann. It was time to test the prince's skills at ruling his own demesne.
Years of unity and peace will not last for ever. While Murchaid cherished the opportunity to improve his homeland, he constantly cast wary eyes across the Irish Sea, for there were hostile powers greater than Ireland in those none-too-distant shores.