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Saturday 20 September 2014

Viking invasion helps kick off National Heritage Week

Published 06/08/2014 | 02:30

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A young fan prepares for battle with Irish and Scottish legends Fionn Mac Cumhaill and Angus the Giant at the launch of the Lough Boora Discovery Park Battle of the Giants event.
A young fan prepares for battle with Irish and Scottish legends Fionn Mac Cumhaill and Angus the Giant at the launch of the Lough Boora Discovery Park Battle of the Giants event.
Pictured at the launch of National Heritage Week was Luke Darley from Bettystown Co. Meath, (aged 7) and Georgia Tobin from Dundrum (aged 8) taking part in an archaeological demonstration.
Pictured at the launch of National Heritage Week was Luke Darley from Bettystown Co. Meath, (aged 7) and Georgia Tobin from Dundrum (aged 8) taking part in an archaeological demonstration.

Norse warriors got into the spirit of things as they stormed across normally tranquil lawns to launch National Heritage Week.

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"There's nothing like a Viking invasion to get people talking," Isabell Smyth of The Heritage Council told the Irish Independent.

Merrion Square East in Dublin will be transformed into an excavation site for the duration of the week-long celebration, which runs from August 23-31. Visitors can unearth archaeological treasures while watching Vikings go head to head in battle.

Over 400,000 people are expected to participate in the annual event, which is now in it's 27th year, and takes place in towns and villages across Ireland.

"It's all about making history and heritage accessible and engaging," Ms Smyth said. "We want people to reclaim the heritage and connect with the history."

Over 1,600 activities and events are on offer; history buffs can hunker down in replica WWI fox holes in Cavan County Museum, families can wander about the subterranean labyrinth of Dublin Castle or indulge in some road bowling in Fenor village, Co Waterford.

Unsurprisingly, new Hollywood hot spot Skellig Michael - which recently hosted a film crew from the upcoming 'Star Wars' film - has a central role in the celebrations.

"Star Wars has made Portmagee village and Skellig a real talking point again, so we thought it would be an ideal time to promote the history of the sacred monastery," said Ms Smyth of the World Heritage site. "And talk about Luke Skywalker."

Other events include mead making in the Old Mellifont Abbey in Co Louth, a tour of Arbour Hill cemetery in Dublin and a bug hunt in Abbeyleix Bog, Co Laois. The theme for this year's festival is "Family - Generations Exploring Heritage Together' and over 80pc of the events are free. "We want it to be a fun family event," said Ms Smyth.

National Heritage Week was first launched in 1987 as part of the European Heritage Open Days.

Irish Independent

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