The Millennium of the Battle of Clontarf, 1014, was marked in Raheny (Dublin), on Sunday April 20, with a re-enactment of the Battle. A thousand years have passed since Brian Boru, from the nation of the Dal Cais in the province of Munster, defeated the Vikings and their Irish allies.
It was a fine spectacle, really the highlight of a day that included hawking, harping, tents and Viking boats. All these were interesting in themselves, but the highlight was always going to be the Battle. Many of the ‘fighters’ came from overseas, including Scandinavia and Poland. This was fitting: the Vikings spread their marauding, seafaring, slaving ways as far as the Volga; Ireland, whose monasteries were store houses of Christian treasures, was only one of many targets for their looting.
Viking attacks on Ireland had been a feature for over a hundred years. An invasion fleet arrived in Dublin in early 1014. From the Isle of Man came Brouder to side with the invaders, who found Irish allies in the men of Leinster. In the re-enactment, Brouder pranced about a good deal, so nobody liked him. But the forces of Brian Boru were not to be denied: they had the support of the Men of Meath under Maelshauglin. No sign of the Viking King of Dublin, Sitric: he stayed home and out of danger.
When the victory was already won by the Irish, Brouder killed the aged king, Brian Boru, who is praying in his tent at the time. Moving the different forces about was always going to be a challenge, but the commentator with the microphone did a fine job, even if he was a bit repetitive: ‘Avert your gaze’, ‘You don’t want to see this’, ‘Oh, look who’s coming now’. That sort of thing. Also the spectacle was in general well directed. It lacked the imprint of Cecil B. de Mille, but good use was made of the opposing champions who advanced for a few seconds of individual combat. Or, a commander would run up and don his lines to fire up his forces.