Ireland is a beautiful country with a colorful history. There are signs of old and new all around us. Our village is a great example as we have the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey dating back to 1312 ( https://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/historic-st-marys-abbey-and-st-mochtas-house-in-our-own-little-village/ ) while our church was just rebuilt in 2004.
My youngest daughter recently brought home a note from school informing us that there would be a re-enactment marking the 1000 year anniversary of a famous funeral procession in our little village. 1000 years??? That is amazing.
Encouraged by the Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen, our primary school children and local villagers participated in a re-enactment of the funeral procession. It was such a fun way for the kids (and adults) to keep the history alive! A few of the children read out speeches to inform the locals what would have taken place back in 1014.
The history of Ireland before Brian Boru is equally as important. Ireland had been a land of strife for centuries; the main culprits being invading Norseman and Irish Celtic Chieftains. Simply stated, the Vikings were not wanted in Ireland.
While Brian Boru, who is from Killaloe, County Clare, was king of north Munster he defeated the Vikings of Limerick and Waterford. With this he became the king of all of Munster. Those same Vikings of Waterford and Limerick supported him in battle and with that he gained control of Connacht, Leinster, and Meath. The title of High King of Ireland followed his victorious “meeting” with Mael Sechnaill II who himself had taken control of the Vikings of Dublin. Brian Boru had proved himself to be the strongest King in Ireland.
The kings of northern Leinster and the Vikings of Dublin wanted their freedom, though. They were the organizers of the Battle of Clontarf in April 1014, even bringing in 2,000 Vikings from overseas. At this stage Brian was an old man. Some say he was in his 70s, other claim he was in his 80s. Either way, he most likely didn’t actively participate in the battle.
At the end of the very bloody day Brian’s army lost 4,000 men, while the opposition lost 6,000 men. A victory for Brian.
A full victory it was not, though. Brian’s oldest son had been killed in battle. Brian, himself, had been killed after the battle while praying in his tent. His other sons were not strong enough to maintain a stronghold of their kingdom.
Ironically, following the Battle of Clontarf there was a period of relative peace. The Celtic Chieftains and Vikings lived together with a common goal of integration, co-operation and commerce. Thankfully, the battle was not all for naught.
Our little village did a super job with bringing the story of Brian Boru to life! It was wonderful how many people made an effort to dress in costume and support the initiative of keeping history alive!
It was a long walk to the next village (about 5 miles). We were lucky to have the weather on our side. What a glorious day it was!
When we arrived in Inniskeen there was a blacksmith demonstration. I didn’t stay long enough to see it finished, but the blacksmith made a crown of commemoration for Brian Boru. I must stop over to the Patrick Kavanagh Centre to have a look at it!
There was also tea and sandwiches for the weary funeral procession participants! It was truly a lovely experience for one and all. I am so glad that so many people took the time and effort to make this such a wonderful experience. Here’s to our local historians who are so important to us!