National Heritage Week is upon us once again and there’s a wide range of Medieval and Renaissance events taking place around Ireland. We’ve cherry-picked just a few of these fabulous historical, cultural, and artistic events which aim to build awareness and education about Ireland’s heritage. Please see the National Heritage Week website for details on these and the many other events taking place around the country.
On August 25th, the Pearse Museum throws open its doors for an evening of dramatic readings from some of Patrick Pearse’s favourite Shakespeare plays. And in case you have missed it, this will be a great opportunity to view the museum’s Pearse and Shakespeare exhibition.
The Royal Irish Academy hosts the “Book of Fenagh 500th anniversary exhibition” from August 22nd-26th. Showcasing Irish manuscripts, the exhibit will include the famous Annals of the Four Masters which chronicle Irish history. The RIA will also host a lunchtime lecture entitled “From medieval text to mobile: folk medicine in Irish tradition” on the 24th.
On the 21st, the National Print Museum hosts Printfest where kids can get a chance to be apprentices for the day. Additionally, the Museum’s daily interactive guided tours are free of charge for Heritage Week.
On the 27th, Archaeofest in Merrion Square Park promises even more fun for the whole family with historical re-enactments and archaeological digs, and make sure to look out for the Bouncy Dolmen!
On the 24th, the National Library of Ireland offers what promises to be a fascinating peak behind the scenes with a talk on conserving manuscripts from the sixteenth century to modern day books.
The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland throws open its doors for special tours that look back over 350 years of medical history (booking required.)
If castles and Medieval history are your thing, then there’s a smorgasbord of choice in Dublin. On the 20th, 22nd, 24th, 26th, and 27th, the Friends of Medieval Dublin will hold free walking tours that explore the city in the Middle Ages. Throughout the week, there are tours of Rathfarnham Castle where you can see 16th century gun loops, 17th century panelling, 18th century ceilings and hear the story of Philip Wharton, the infamous Rathfarnham Rake! At Swords Castle on Saturday 27th, a range of talks on its history culminates in a tour. You can’t miss either the tour of Archbold’s Castle, a late Medieval tower house located in Dalkey, on August 27th and 28th. Christ Church Cathedral has a range of events on offer, but Medieval and Renaissance enthusiasts may be interested in its “1016-2016 walking tour” on August 22nd, led by historian Mike Neill.
Kildare town will host a Medieval Festival on Sunday 21st August. This event promises fun for the whole family – events include Medieval games and activities, puppet shows, music, a food & craft fair, falconry, street theatre, walking tours and much more. Visitors are most welcome to attend in costume!
Castledermot Community Library will host a talk entitled “1348 – A medieval apocalypse” on the 26th August. Focusing on the lives of eight people, from earls to outlaws, the talk will take you on a journey through the chaotic world of 14th century Ireland.
On 24th August, journey to Athy for a walking tour of the Medieval town, departing from the Athy Heritage Centre. The Centre is also holding a Medieval festival evening on Friday 19th with the theme of “Introducing the Fitzgeralds”.
Journey to the picturesque village of Inistioge, on the river Nore in Co. Kilkenny, for a guided walk on Sunday 28th exploring its history as a walled town in the medieval and early modern period, c.900-1700. While there are also a range of tours and talks on in Kilkenny city, Paulstown and Castlecomer during Heritage Week.
Drogheda Museum will hold a family fun day on the 28th with free guided tours, child friendly re-enactments of an archaeological dig, folklore storytelling for children, firing of the famous Millmount Cannons, music, and battle re-enactments.
A fine offer comes from the Old Mellifont Abbey in Tullyallen, Co. Louth – it invites all epicureans and Medieval enthusiasts to come along to “Taste Medieval Ale and Mead” on the afternoon of 28th August.
Wexford will hold a Walled Town Medieval Day on the 27th. Some of the delights on offer include falconry displays, children’s digging pits, Viking shield making, medieval pottery making, a medieval archaeology exhibition, and guided walking tours of town wall.
On 23rd August you can enjoy a guided tour and animated talk on the history of St Peter’s Church, on North Main St., including a look at how the city has grown and changed around Cork’s oldest church which dates back to 1270.
On the 21st and 28th, Baltimore Castle (known also as Dún na Séad castle) will host a talk on Baltimore piracy from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century. In the surroundings of this Norman Castle, which housed the O’Donnell clan for several centuries, visitors will learn about the castle history and an infamous historical event – the Sack of Baltimore by Algerian pirates in 1631.
Youghal Medieval Festival will take place on 21st August. This is the tenth year the event has been held and it takes place in St.Mary’s College Gardens. These Medieval gardens are within the 13th century town walls and showcase Youghal’s unique history and heritage. This year’s festival will feature Medieval battle re-enactments, Medieval cookery displays, archery, and blacksmith displays. The kids’ kingdom will feature traditional Arts and Crafts making (including ‘make your own shield’!) and much more.
On the afternoon of Friday 26th, the Schoolhouse at Muckross Traditional Farms will host a special talk on book and manuscript preservation with Master Binder, Paul Curtis.
While in Killarney, you can catch one of the tours of the impressive Ross Castle, overlooking Killarney lakes, on Sunday 28th August. Built by the O’Donoghues in the fifteenth century, Ross Castle was the last castle to surrender to Oliver Cromwell’s roundheads in the mid-seventeenth century.
In Tralee, visit the Kerry County Museum for a guided walking tour to discover the vanished medieval town. Free entry to the Medieval Experience before or after the walking tour is also part of this Heritage Week event. Visiting the Medieval Experience is also free on Sunday 28th.
Throughout Heritage week, you can tour the Hall of the Red Earl, a fascinating 13th century building on Druid Lane and the oldest archaeological site to be excavated in the heart of Galway city. Guided walks on Galway’s Medieval Treasures will held on the 23rd and 25th, and they depart from the Hall of the Red Earl.
On 25th August, the Woodford Heritage Centre will host a talk entitled “The Burkes of Clanrickard in Tudor Times”, focusing on some famous battles and lives of Irish earls in the sixteenth century.
The Loughrea Medieval Festival, from 26-28th August, has something for everyone – from archery displays to medieval heritage talks, medieval combat displays to medieval cookery demonstrations, and the fantastic Loughrea 780 Parade.
On 27th August, the Battle of Aughrim Visitor Centre hosts “Talk about & walk about the Battle of Aughrim”, a lecture on this famous battle between the Jacobites and the forces of William III in July 1691.
On Sunday 28th, Donegal Castle will host a Medieval Fun Day for all the family. Situated on the river Eske, the castle was built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century, and has extensive 17th century additions.
In Clonmel, Finbar Dwyer author and creator of Irish History Podcasts will talk on “Prostitution in Medieval Ireland”. This talk, on 24th August, will present an intriguing account of a precarious life on the fringes of medieval society.
On Saturday 20th the Square in Newcastle West will come alive as reenactors from Bran Dubh Living History Group don full medieval costume to present a display of weaponry and medical tools at the castle.
For details on these and other events taking place during Heritage Week 2016, see the National Heritage Week website.