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PARK LIFE: The Battle of Clontarf will be re-enacted at St Anne's Park in Raheny.

PARK LIFE: The Battle of Clontarf will be re-enacted at St Anne's Park in Raheny.

PARK LIFE: The Battle of Clontarf will be re-enacted at St Anne's Park in Raheny.

HUNDREDS of 'Viking' invaders are sharpening their swords and preparing for battle in Dublin over Easter weekend.

St Anne's Park in Raheny is set for a ferocious invasion of more than 500 warriors from around the world.

Viking enthusiasts are travelling from the US, Australia and Europe to take part in Ireland's largest ever reenactment of the 1014 Battle of Clontarf.

The group have spent the past five years rallying the troops from around the globe to recreate the day-long battle of Good Friday 1014 that forever changed the face of Irish history.

Wearing authentic handmade costumes that mirror the chainmail armour and pointy helmets worn by the original Vikings, the warriors will re-create the fierce combat that claimed thousands of lives. Historians believe that the site of the battle is now the seafront promenade and lands surrounding Clontarf Castle.

Chief organiser and co-founder of the Fingal Living History Society, Barry Gaynor (36) from Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, said he and his brother Brian, who co-founded the society more than 20 years ago, were always fascinated with Viking history.

MONKS

Mr Gaynor grew up in Swords, Co Dublin, where Brian Boru's body and that of his son Murrough were waked by monks following their deaths.

And fellow Viking enthusiasts from around the world whose own histories share a Viking past, are equally passionate about the battle and are paying for their own travel and accommodation costs in order to take part.

St Anne's Park in Raheny in north Dublin will be transformed into a Viking village for the Easter weekend. An estimated 40,000 visitors are expected at the event which will show how to prepare for battle, create a tapestry and taste the Viking experience.

But the piece de resistance is the battle itself when warriors will be divided into two camps.

The 'Norsemen' from Iceland, Wales and the European mainland fought alongside Brian Boru's men from Connacht, Munster and Mide (Meath) while the Viking side included Irishmen from Leinster and Dublin, Norsemen allied to King Sitric as well as Scottish mercenaries from the Orkney Islands.

And in a departure from the real battle, about a quarter of the warriors will be women.

While the actual battle was a "bloodbath", participants will only make it look like they are decapitating each other with spears and swords, Mr Gaynor explained. Although the weapons used in the reenactment have been painstakingly re-created, they are all blunt. Participants are forbidden from spearing each other below the knees or elbows or in the head or groin, he said.

But it's more than just play fighting, Mr Gaynor added.

"You hit hard enough so your opponent knows he's hit but you don't hurt them," he said. But it's still hard enough to leave a bruise."

However, participants are passionate history buffs so authenticity in re-creating the historic, albeit gory, facts are essential, he added.

The Battle of Clontarf Festival will run from 11am-7pm between April 19 – 20 in St Anne's Park Raheny.

DART and Dublin Bus will be running additional services to transport budding warriors to the battle site.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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