BOATS from several locations will descend upon Scattery Island this weekend for the island’s heritage and tourism forum.
Crack’d Spoon Theatre will spearhead the events at this weekend’s gathering, which is being dubbed Invade Scattery by the Scattery Island Heritage and Tourism Group. As part of the Millennium celebrations of the life of High King, Brian Ború, the local community drama outfit created a prize-winning musical and dance pageant, which toured Patrick’s Day celebrations in the locality and were then part of national commemorations at Brian’s place of birth in Killaloe in May.
Director of the production, Rob Hopkins explained the background. “Having waged, in effect, a guerrilla offensive during the 970s against Norse King, Ivar of Limerick, culminating in an ambush in Kilaloe woods, Brian’s band of warriors torched the Norse stronghold on what is now St John’s Island and left only smoke and dust. Ivar then retreated to Inis Cathaig, a major monastic settlement and pivotal trading outpost at the mouth of the Shannon river,” he said.
“Brian laid siege to Scattery, ringing the circumference of the island with beheaded norsemen. The annals indicate a sacrilege took place in the cathedral of St Senan, where Ivar and his two sons, Dubchen and Olaf, retreated for safe sanctuary but were put to the sword by Brian and his men,” Rob outlined.
“The stories themselves, bloody battles and gruesome acts of revenge, we turned into a symbolic ritual of dance sequences, with accompanying tableaux of freeze-frame encounters between the main protagonists. That all might sound a bit starchy but what you see is traditional dancers from Moyasta school, with Bríd Latham’s Creative Energies group representing the trading aspect of the Viking presence and the rest of the Crack’d Spooners all dressed up, having fun and showing a gory yet glorious epoch of significant Irish history. right in our own backyard.
“The ruins themselves are majestic, you couldn’t wish for a more spectacular or appropriate backdrop,” he concluded.
Crack’d Spoon will perform on Scattery Island on Saturday at 3pm and 4pm.
Amongst the boats and clubs due on Scattery Island on Saturday are the Sally O’ Keeffe, Naval Reserve Kilrush, West Clare Currachs, Kildysart Currachs, Clarecastle Currachs, Fergus Rowing Club, Ilen-Gandelows and City One Design, Dutch Barge ‘Driftin’, ‘Draoicht’ – Dolphin Watch Carrigaholt, Kilrush RNLI Lifeboat, Foynes Yacht Club, Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland, Deal River Boaters and Cruising Club, Ballylongford Boat Club, Querrin Five-Man Currach, Tarbert Maritime Club, Glin Pier Boaters, Knock Pier and the Loop Head Pilot Boat, Cappa, subject to availability.
The new five-man currach was built this year by a dedicated group from West Clare Currachs in Ned Griffin’s shed in Querrin. She is an example of traditional boat-building and the group was led by local man, James Madigan, whose family have been building currachs for generations. She is an excellent sea boat, with great proportions and very attractive lines.
On Sunday, the new fleet of 23-feet Gandelows, which were recently built by the AK Ilen Project, in partnership with the Limerick City of Culture 2014, will be on view. These Gandelows have already sailed the upper lakes of the Shannon, Dublin City and also went to Venice. AK Ilen are currently completing a sailing dinghy/performance boat, designed especially for the Shannon Estuary, which will also be part of the Scattery Island celebration.
Organisers stress that all boaters are responsible for their own crews and safety during this event. In small, open boats, lifejackets are to be worn at all times. Boaters are also asked give a wide berth to Scattery Island Ferries, as they will be running a continuous service. Also give good clearance to the ‘Shannon 1’ and the ‘Celtic Banner’ on Sunday afternoon.