Battle of Clontarf kicks off with audience of 40,000
More than 500 Vikings descended on Dublin this Easter weekend for the largest-ever living history battle re-enactment in Ireland at the Battle of Clontarf Festival.
An estimated 40,000 people flocked to the event as the spring sunshine beamed down on St. Anne’s Park in today, during the first day of festival.
Over 60,000 visitors are expected to attend the spectacular clashes between Irish and Viking armies over the weekend featuring re-enactors from all around the world.
“I think it’s absolutely brilliant, I was dying to come here because I’m half Swedish, half Irish so I love the whole Celt and Viking thing,” Tania Stewart said.
“I really wanted to show my son the whole battle re-enactment. The weather is beautiful and it’s free what more can you ask for? It’s really well put together,” Tania added.
Along with the twice daily battle re-enactments, the festival includes a display of Viking life in a medieval village with over 80 tents, skills and weapons demonstrations, a mounted display on horses, a Viking longboat, falconry, archery, food, music and entertainment.
Joe O’Neill and his children Jack (3) and Reilly (1) travelled to the festival from Lucan.
“They’re having a ball- they’re all just pirates to Jack, they’re not Vikings at all,” Joe laughed. “It is a stunning event. I’m from Clontarf, but I haven’t been down this way in a long time, it’s great.”
Others were happy to see the 1000th anniversary of the historic battle being marked by Dublin City Council.
“It’s great to see that there is something on to commemorate the battle of Clontarf,” said Gareth Feeney from Baldoyle, who was at the festival with his partner Rachel and their six month old daughter Sarah.
“It very busy though,” Gareth added. “It’s a bit difficult to get in to see everything, but that’s just the way things are. I don’t think they expected so many people, but because of the weather loads have come out.”
One of the festival’s re-enactors, Russ Scott, has been travelling the world to take part in historical battle re-enactments for 27 years.
“I did research on the Battle of Clontarf to put as much into the battle as we could and with the 500 warriors we have on hand this weekend, we can bring in more realistic elements,” he said.
The re-enactments are not for the faint hearted, there may not be any blood, but the real weapons and strategic, well rehearsed fighting techniques leave little room for error.
“Every group is here by invitation and we train to look good and fight well, but we don’t hurt people, although accidents do happen, but not very bad ones!” Russ added.
Nuala Collins of Dublin City Council was delighted with the turnout so far.
“We have been blessed with the weather this weekend and the Viking village has really brought the whole event to life, the re-enactors have all been camping out here since Tuesday,” she explained.
“St. Anne’s Park is in very close proximity to where the battle of Clontarf took place a thousand years ago, so it’s of huge significance and gives the story back to the people,” Nuala added.
The Battle of Clontarf took place on 23 April 1014 between the high king of Ireland Brian Boru and an alliance of the king of Leinster, the king of Dublin and a Viking contingent.
The battle is believed to have lasted all day, resulting in the deaths of almost all of the important figures on both sides. Brian Boru was killed, not in the bloodshed, but in his tent where he had retreated to pray.
The Battle of Clontarf Festival continues tomorrow at St. Anne’s Park in Raheny from 11am to 7pm.
There will be no north Dublin Dart services tomorrow, due to scheduled works between Connolly station and Malahide, however, Dublin Bus is accepting valid on scheduled services between the closed stations.