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Neil Delamere Presents New Book on Vikings in Ireland

Viking book

Neil Delamere Presents New Book on Vikings in Ireland

The Vikings, that mighty race of Scandinavian men and women that brought such calamity to Ireland, who we all know and love, are the subject of a new book compiled by various authorities on the subject. The Vikings made their way to Ireland from the Nordic countries, ransacking both the Isles of Britain and Ireland, to get their hands on monastic gold. Some of the first instances of burned monasteries can be recorded as far back to the year 795, such as Rathlin Island Monastery.

Our primary and secondary school history classes accurately portray the Vikings as notorious for pillaging, burning, raiding and hit-and-run tactics.  They were thieves, they were slavers and they were hyper violent psychopaths but they weren’t the only ones.  The Irish, 300 years before we’re engaging in the exact same behaviour only against Britain, after all the only reason the Pope sent St Patrick here was due to his experience of the island as a slave.  In the same way, that the Irish despite their marauding ways developed an intricate legal system (the Brehon Laws), the Vikings also maintained a sophisticated society.  They were fantastic engineers, the long boat being a perfect example of a sea faring ship that could also be carried across land.  They were also intrepid explorers, advancing as far as the Middle East, indeed the Russian state is named after the Rus Viking tribe.  Finally, they had developed their own written form of communication through the Runaic alphabet (known as Futhark) similar, to Irish Ogham.

Though the Vikings soon realised that monasteries were richest in wealth and goods than commoner’s humble dwellings, Ireland was not always easy pickings sometimes the fiery men of the North got themselves kicked off the isle. Unfortunately, this was not often the way for the native Gael, they were guaranteed to lose more than they won.

Neil Delamere, is an Irish comedian and presents a show on RTE called ‘Only Viking in the Village’ has launched a book edited by Professor Howard Clarke, historian, and Dr. Ruth Johnson, City Archaeologist with Dublin City Council named “The Vikings in Ireland and BeyondBefore and after the Battle of Clontarf”  in City Hall.

The study includes almost thirty of the world’s leading scholars’ contributions in Viking studies from Ireland, Britain and Scandinavia. “Dublin is known rightly, nationally and internationally for the wealth of Viking archaeology uncovered in the course of excavations over the past half-century and this book aims to place it in context in the Viking world,” Dr. Ruth Johnson said.

The book has been written for a wide audience, whether you are an expert on the field of Viking history or just amateur, you will find that the author has included fascinating essays on a wide spectrum of subjects. The book covers archaeological excavations, art historical analysis, linguistics, literature, environmental remains and artifact studies dating back to the years’ c. 795 to 1170.

It’s an excellent researched account of the Vikings and their influence over Ireland and filled with evidence of Viking life and their excursions to the isle. Although the book has not reached the shelves yet, it has been made available for viewing on the website and will be available at libraries in the coming weeks ahead.

The book was launched at a special price of €35 and was for sale at a table situated at the entrance of City Hall’s Rotunda. Upon arrival, all guests were welcomed and invited to enjoy some wine and snacks that were served by waiters (Swan Catering) going around the hall. Guests could have their editions of the book signed at the top of the hall.  The two editors (Professor Howard Clarke and Dr. Ruth Johnson) were there to have their photos taken with the book.

After 5pm, the hall filled up, all the chairs were taken and the solid attendance bodes well for the book’s success. The dome, inside City Hall is covered with elaborate plasterwork (by stuccodore Charles Thorpe) and painted with beautiful golden leave and bow motifs that lead up to several frescos that are on the walls just below the stained glass dome fixture. These fresco’s represent the regions of Ireland.

One of the murals depicts the Battle of Clontarf, with Brian Boru blessing his army, holding the cross up to them. This fresco was chosen for the cover of the book and also, one of the reasons for choosing the venue at City Hall. Last year (2014) saw the millennium celebration of the Battle of Clontarf that took place in 1014.

Centre of the podium, a silver Viking helmet was brought in and placed next to The Vikings in Ireland and Beyond’ book. The evening was presented and organised by Dublin City Council. Dr Ruth Johnson, took to the podium and gave a brief account of Viking history and also spoke on why there was such an impetus for a new historical survey on Irish Viking life. She was presented with a lovely bouquet of flowers. The event was organised by Margaret Moody and Anthony (apologies I forgot his surname, he is from Four Courts Press) and Four Courts Press – the publishers.

Neil Delamere launched the book after the speeches and entertained the crowd with a few comical tales of his own Viking experiences in Dublin City. One in particular, involved himself and the crew of his show heading down the Liffey dressed like Vikings at 3 am in the morning.  They sailed past a lad on heroin on the boardwalk who was injecting.  Neil went on to say, the poor unfortunate, roused from his slumber and stared at the apparition floating down the Liffey in a complete state of shock!  He probably thought he was on the best gear of his life.

After the launch guest continued with a few more drinks and had an opportunity to speak to the authors and have their books signed, a wonderful night all round.

If you are interested and have a love for Viking lore, I recommend you see if you can get yourself a copy of this well written and entertaining study on the history of the Vikings of Ireland.

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