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Vikings are set to invade Killaloe

A GROUP of medieval Vikings will engage in an eagerly-anticipated battle reenactment in memory of a former High King of Ireland during the 31st annual Féile Brian Ború festival, which runs until July 7.
Lakes Vikings is a group of Viking age enthusiasts with 20 years experience sailing Viking longboats and organising fun festivals and events. Their longboats have featured in several TV series and documentaries.
This is the first time that this group will participate in the Killaloe festival, and it is about ten years since Vikings made their presence felt in the twin communities.
It all happened by chance when Féile Brian Ború committee member, Cillian O’Meara, met Paul Kavanagh of Lakes Vikings at a conference in Northern Ireland and invited them to Killaloe, which was taken up by one of their key people about a month ago.
At the time of writing, the group had 60 members signed up for their trip to Killaloe including international participants.
They are bringing a 40-foot replica long ship with sailors to match the vessel and a replica of the Viking sword that was found in Lough Derg.
This boat will be lit up on the water just below Killaloe Library where trips will be provided from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday and from 12 noon until 3pm on Sunday.
One of their replica ships was used in the filming of the Vikings series with several of their reenactors.
Members will be involved in a number of battle re-enactments, medieval jewellery, falconry, tablet weaving, weapons and armour display and toy-making demonstrations during the Cathedral Quay on Saturday and Sunday.
Arlene White of the Féile Brian Ború committee recalled that when one of the representatives of Lakes Vikings visited the Killaloe Cathedral recently, he saw the Ogham Stone there that was dedicated to a Viking with the inscription – “A blessing On Thorgramir”.
“Lakes Vikings were delighted to come down to Killaloe, the birthplace of Brian Ború recently and a lot of their reenactors are historians as well. We are hoping this event will be popular and they would look at coming back again next year. It ties in totally with the theme of the festival,” she said.
“Because we haven’t had Vikings for years, I think it will be even more interesting for people. It is an exciting new element of this year’s festival. We felt we needed some big attraction this year.
“The festival attracts a large crowd of visitors and locals.
“People who are not from the locality are aware of the festival because it is continuing for so long and look out for it so they can attend.
“Normally, we see a huge influx of people coming to the area on Sunday. Shops, pubs and restaurants benefit from increased business. If Clare can defeat Kilkenny in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final on Saturday, it will create an even better atmosphere around the town.
“The committee tries to buy most of its supplies and prizes from local businesses as far as possible. Most of the performers and artists are local. We want locals and visitors to spend their money in local retail outlets.
“I got a query from an American group to send on details about the festival who are going to stay locally to attend the festival. We do have repeat domestic and international repeat visitors who plan their holidays around coming to Killaloe for the festival.
“Next year, the new River Crossing will reduce traffic congestion, which will make a big difference during the festival.
“I remember going to look at plans for the new bridge from drawings during a presentation at the Lakeside Hotel in October 2008.”
A number of the Vikings will leave their tented village at Cathedral Quay for a battle reenactment outside Flanagan’s Ballina before the winning clan marches back over the bridge with lit torches for what promises to be a very unusual torch parade on Saturday night at around 10pm.
Weather permitting, the Vikings are hoping to set off a lit arrow to kickstart the spectacular fireworks display by Rocket Pyrotechnics at 10.45pm.
It is anticipated it will cost more than €15,000 to run the festival this year. The committee, which started preparing since early April includes Ms White, Paddy Collins and Cillian O’Meara and Eugene McDonagh, a son-in-law of former chairman, the late John Grimes, who was a member of the inaugural committee in 1993.
Rhythm and Rhyme, an evening of poetry and music takes place in the Bridge Creative Arts Centre, Ballina on Thursday at 8pm.
The first main outdoor event will be the Brian Ború Buggie in McKeogh’s Car Park on Friday night.
Children can learn how to make medieval weapons with the help of Grainne Moloney, Bridgetown, during the swords and shields workshops on Saturday and Sunday.
Killaloe Sailing Club is offering children and adults the opportunity to enjoy dinghy sailing at Ballina Riverside Park from 12 noon at Ballina Riverside Park on Saturday.
Family swimming Gala competitions will be run at the Ballina Riverside outdoor heated pool next Sunday at 11am. Participants can come and enjoy fun and games in the 25 metre heated open swimming pool. Booking for this event is essential.
The Féile Brian Ború Fun Dog Show takes place at Cathedral Quay on Saturday from 2pm.
Categories for this event include the Handsomest Dog, Prettiest Bitch, Golden Oldie where dogs must be six years or older, The Sweetest Puppy under one year, Most Appealing Eyes, Waggiest Tail, Best Rescue Dog, Child’s Best Friend for owners of 10 years-old and under, Best Groomed and Scruffiest Dog.
The Cars and Coffee-style event is an organised car owner smeet-up where beautiful vehicles and their owners come together in McKeogh’s Car Park at 11am on Sunday.
For the full line-up of events visit feilebrianboru.com
The Hang Tough Challenge takes place on the Green opposite Flanagan’s at 2pm. There will be prizes trophies and more importantly, bragging rights for the winners.
All funds raised go to the Ballina Handball Club roof fundraiser.

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