A MAJOR celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the death of Brian Boru in Killaloe next year, as part of a national event, would put it firmly on the tourist map according to a medieval re-enactment group.
Brendan Griffin of the Clare-based Mogh Roith Living History Group warned however that Government would have to confirm funding for an international event by September at the latest, if it is serious in attracting overseas visitors.
Mr Griffin, who oversaw a mock battle at the back of St Flannan’s Cathedral during the recent Féile Brian Boru, said commemorative events would be a “damp squib” unless funding issues are sorted out by the end of September.
“We know how long it takes to get people to commit to events on the Continent. Internationally, events are known at least a year in advance, sometimes they are arranged two years in advance.
“Here in Killaloe, the local committee has been fantastic pushing for it but the funding hasn’t come forward. The national steering committee is trying to do stuff but they don’t have any money, so what can they do until the money appears?
“Until there is money committed to having an event on a certain date, then it is all up in the air. The uncertainty needs to be removed from the funding issue,” he said.
Attending the Battle of Hastings 1066 Commemoration back in 2006, he recalled there was about 5,000 people on the battlefield. BBC World did a documentary on this event. Their site was limited to 14,000 for members of the public and the organisers had to host a raffle for the attendance tickets.
“Something like this is possible in Dublin. In Killaloe, you could get a site to cater for a few thousand people that would get international coverage. Once you establish that legacy, you can do smaller events every year.
“The 2014 event in Killaloe and an event in Dublin could have hundreds of visitors from Australia and US, who will come if something major is happening. People need to buy flights six months in advance when they are affordable
“The input from the local level in Killaloe and Ballina is very good they are putting in huge effort and are doing an amazing job,” he said.
He pointed out Killaloe and Scattery Island are the only places in the country with a Brian Boru-themed event this year. He noted Dublin, Cashel and Armagh hadn’t any event this year although Armagh is committed to doing something next year.
He proposed the national commemoration should start in Killaloe before moving onto Clontarf and Armagh.
“For a four or five week period you could have an event every weekend. International visitors would commit to two weeks. They will not come just for a weekend. They could take in Killaloe and Clontarf.
They need to be certain that these events are happening. The guys in the US that are interested in heritage are not necessarily wealthy so they may have to save for two years to do a trip like this.
“You could have up to 1,000 re-enactors from around the world travelling to Killaloe and Clontarf. To move equipment and tents is a major undertaking. Tents can weigh between 15 to 40 kilos. There has to be funding to provide local groups with finance to lay on tents and facilities for international re-enactors.
“If an event is on every year, people will turn up. If you are running a one-off, there is no precedence. There was nothing run in Dublin this year to prove that next year can be good. People need that certainty and funding to back that up. People will come to a major event but if it is not funded, they will not come,” he said.
The Department of Arts, Culture, Gaeltacht had not responded to Clare Champion queries at the time of going to press.