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Scattery Island

Preparing for 2016 Viking challenge

EXACTLY 1,200 years since Scattery Island off Kilrush was attacked by Viking invaders, the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland (RWYCI), which is based in the town, will host as many Vikings as they can unearth in July 2016 for the Viking Challenge.
In the summer of 816 AD, a Viking raiding party sailed southwards around Loop Head for the first time and proceeded up the Shannon Estuary to attack the entirely unsuspecting monastic settlement on Scattery Island.
Having plundered and pillaged, the Vikings sailed off with their spoils in terms of slaves, treasure and food, not to return again until 835 AD.
The RWYCI is to host a sailing regatta from July 27 to 30, 2016 to mark the anniversary. Among the family surnames believed to be of Viking descent are Halpins, Doyles, McLoughlins and O’Loughlins.
“It’s based on fact. It’s something that hasn’t been done in Ireland before or at least anywhere that I’m aware of. I’m not aware of any other monastery in Ireland commemorating the first Viking attack on the monastery,” Randal Counihan of the RWYCI explained.
“It’s about 800 miles from the south-west of Norway down to the Shannon Estuary, over the top of Scotland. We’d said we’d start early and try to get Norwegian boats to travel down some of the journey this year.
“Next year in Kilrush we’re also hosting the West Of Ireland Racing Association (WOIRA) annual racing championships. We have them purely because of the Viking Challenge. We’re hoping to get Norwegian or Scandinavian yachts to come down and participate in WIORA with us in a peaceable championships,”he laughed.
Randal has already started letting people know about the event.
“Our marketing campaign at the moment is centred very much of Ireland to see if we can gauge the level of interest. In the next couple of weeks I’ll be putting a webpage up and doing a video promo. Then I’m going to launch a marketing campaign into Norway itself.
“We have made contact with the Norwegian sailing ship and we got good help from the Norwegian embassy. We’re also making contact with all of the Viking centres around Europe to see if we can get Viking boats to come in. If that happens, we will have Viking boats sailing in the estuary,” he said.
He is confident that the event will be a huge economic boost to Kilrush.
“This is a huge opportunity and it’s very new. We’d hope to tie it in with cultural and social events. We’re meeting with the Scattery Island group at the moment.
“We could turn this into a major event on the estuary. The marina has been seriously refurbished and an awful lot of work has gone into it,” he pointed out.

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