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Brian Boru Festival Programme Officially Announced –

Representatives from Armagh City and District Council were at Trinity College in Dublin to officially launch a major programme of festivals and events to commemorate the life and times of one of Armagh’s most historic figures, Brian Boru, and to mark 1,000 years since his death.

The events will run throughout the millennium year at locations across Ireland and Northern Ireland which have close associations with Brian Boru – the High King of Ireland.

Included in the Millennium Festival calendar is a series of family-friendly events such as the re-enactment of the largest-ever medieval battle to be staged in Ireland, in Clontarf, the reconstruction of an original Viking tented village on the Mall in Armagh, a ‘Viking Big Dig’ event in Dublin; and a ‘Féile Brian Boru’ celebration in Killaloe, County Clare.

The programme has been compiled by a steering group of community and voluntary organisations and a variety of cultural institutions working with Dublin City Council, Tipperary North and South County Councils, Clare County Council and Armagh City & District Council with the support of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the North South Ministerial Council.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City and District, Councillor Robert Turner, said:

“As the final resting place of Brian Boru – as was always his wish – the ancient Cathedral City of Armagh has a vital role to play in the millennium celebrations. On behalf of every citizen in Armagh, I’m delighted and proud to be playing such an important part in this exciting anniversary festival of events.

“To commemorate the 1,000 years since the death of Brian Boru and to mark this significant period in Armagh’s history, a series of local events are planned which include a full warrior re-enactment, Viking long-boats, a Viking village, church services and a variety of musical performances.

“This is a unique opportunity for everyone to learn more about one of our most important historical figures and to commemorate and celebrate his life.”

The island-wide programme of commemorative events will centre on four key locations with connections to the life of Ireland’s best-known historical medieval figure: Cashel, where Brian was crowned High King of Ireland; Killaloe in County Clare, which was the seat of Brian’s High Kingship of Ireland; Clontarf, where Brian was killed following his victory over the Viking rulers of Dublin at the Battle of Clontarf and the City of Armagh, where Brian was finally laid to rest as was his wish.

The bones of the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, who defeated the Vikings in 1014 are said to be buried in the North Wall of Saint Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh which dates back to medieval times.

Brian, by his victory at Clontarf on Good Friday, 1014, delivered a final blow to Danish power in Ireland. He lost his life in the battle and his body was brought to Armagh, as was his wish, where it lay in state in the Cathedral for 12 days before burial.

Speaking about the year ahead, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oisín Quinn, said:

“The series of commemorative events will stimulate a renewed interest in Ireland’s medieval history, the enduring fascination with Brian Boru and his role in the emergence of Dublin as the capital of Ireland.
Lord Mayor & young vikings

Clare McCoy, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Sara McGeary from Armagh City & District Council join Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan with pupils from St Anne’s Community College, Killaloe, Co Clare, at the launch of events to commemorate Brian Boru at Trinity College Dublin.

“Dublin City Council welcomes this opportunity to work with other Local Authorities and we look forward to the development of a successful North – South tourism initiative.”

Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation officially launched the Battle of Clontarf Commemoration Program of Events at the Clasac, Alfie Byrne Road, Clontarf. He attended the first event of the year long program, an evening lecture by local historian and author, Dennis McIntyre.

The Clontarf program of events has been co-ordinated by the Clontarf Committee and includes events by the Clontarf Historical Society & Raheny Heritage Society and events organised by many of the local community groups. Minister Bruton said that “there wasn’t a club or a society in the Clontarf area that is not putting their shoulder to the wheel “and that the commemoration “was a great occasion to bring communities together”.

A wide ranging program to suit everyone from monthly historical lectures, competitions with local schools, a Historical Exhibition, major Bridge Tournament, Millennium Art Exhibition, Golf competition, Ecumenical service, Barbarians taking on Clontarf in the real battle of Clontarf and keynote peace and reconciliation event marking both the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf (1014) and the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1 (1914).

Dublin City Council are organising the flagship event at the Easter weekend in St. Anne’s Park, with Battle of Clontarf Battle Re-Enactment and a Medieval Village.
This will be the biggest living history battle re-enactment ever held in Ireland and will feature over 300 living history re-enactors.

Other events include the Annual Clontarf Viking festival on Clontarf Promenade, world premier of the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann commissioned suite of music, Tennis marathon and tournaments, Battle for the Bay Kite surfing festival, Clontarf half marathon and a special traditional boat rally similar to those used by the Viking!

Clontarf will also host the Giro d’Italia cycle race as it is passing along the coast road next May. The legacy project for Clontarf is the Battle of Clontarf Heritage Trail which will run along the 3km stretch of the Clontarf Promenade. Minister Bruton also announced that Jimmy Deenihan, minister for Art Heritage and the Gaeltacht has committed €10.25K for the Battle of Clontarf Heritage Trail which is also be part funding by Dublin City Council North Central Area.

Minister Bruton said that “it will be a permanent asset to the area” and “an area that we want to enhance its tourism attraction”.

In the broader historical context, 1014 millennium commemorations will be a useful lead in to the centenary commemorations over the next few years. To have people engage with a less emotive and further distant topic of the Battle of Clontarf can help condition people to see how our history is far more complex than often portrayed!

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