Viking ship sails in to deliver peace of mind
THE commentator was adamant. "If you had seen this sight a millennium ago you would have been trembling," he repeatedly told the thousands lining the quays in Dublin yesterday as, in the distance, the sail of a Viking warship finally came into view.
After a six-week voyage from Denmark, the Sea Stallion of Glendalough arrived in the capital around 1.30pm and under the power of 64 tired and windburnt - but delighted - oarsmen.
And with them came an apology from the Danes for the havoc their ancestors brought to the rest of Europe 1,200 years ago.
"In Denmark we are certainly proud of this ship, but we are not proud of the damages to the people of Ireland that followed in the footsteps of the Vikings," said Danish Culture Minister Brian Mikkelson.
"But the warmth and friendliness with which you greet us today and the Viking ship show us that, luckily, it has all been forgiven."
The welcome certainly cheered the weary crew. And the oarsmen were also cheered by the welcome at Custom House Quay.
"Today was an amazing experience," Diarmaid Murphy from Bantry in Cork said.
"We sailed in from Malahide this morning and to see this coming into Dublin was fantastic. "There were some hairy moments," Mr Murphy admitted. "About 18 hours into it, I was just so cold and wet and I thought there was no way I could do this for four weeks. It was very emotional alright, it was very hard to keep the tears back at one stage with all the other boats around us and so on."
Some of the other boats didn't exactly aid the viewing experience of the large crowd as the replica ship - the biggest reconstruction of a Viking long ship in the world - dropped sail as it entered the docklands area and the crew put in its final rowing effort before docking at custom house quay with a Viking roar.
Rather than fleeing in terror, the large crowd at Custom House Quay warmly welcomed the replica ship. Armed members of the Irish Naval Service were on hand in case the 'Vikings' got any ideas.
The ship had left Roskilde in Denmark six weeks ago, following the traditional Viking route across the North Sea and around Scotland, and church bells across the city rang out on its arrival.
The Sea Stallion is a reconstruction of a ship, the Skuldelev 2, built in Dublin in 1042 and believed to have sunk in Roskilde Fjord, near Copenhagen 30 years later.
Yesterday's ceremony was also attended by Lord Mayor of Dublin Paddy Bourke; junior minister Noel Ahern TD; and dignitaries from both the Irish and Danish governments.
From August 17, the Sea Stallion will be displayed at the National Museum at Collins Barracks as part of a special Viking-themed exhibition, which runs until June next year.