independent

Friday 13 December 2019

Baptism of fire and water for town's inaugural Viking Festival

Viking Kyle Nesbitt with Lyndon Hayes from Wexford on Wexford Quayfront
Viking Kyle Nesbitt with Lyndon Hayes from Wexford on Wexford Quayfront

Maria Pepper

There was a baptism of fire and water for Wexford's first annual Viking Festival which concluded with a spectacular Inferno show on the quayfront on Saturday night.

A Met Eireann yellow rainfall warning is not the weather report the organisers would have wished for but everyone including re-enactors, performers and spectators showed true Viking grit and braved the elements to make the most of it.

An estimated crowd of over 3,000 people visited an authentic Viking Village on the quays on Saturday afternoon, enjoying demonstrations of coin striking, spinning, weaving, leatherworking, metalwork and woodwork, storytelling and even some slave trading.

The Viking Village was staged by costumed re-enactors dressed in various roles from 900 AD, prompting passing motorists to wonder to do a quizzical double take as they drove by in 21st century Wexford.

Over 100 marching Vikings took to the streets at 7.15 p.m. carrying fire torches and parading from Selskar Square onto Abbey Street, South Main Street and down to the quayfront led by the Bloco Garman Drummers.

Festival organiser Maura Bell of the Irish National Heritage Park described it as a sight to behold. 'The Viking parade through the historic streets of Wexford on Saturday evening was a real highlight, providing an incredible atmosphere.'

As the parade arrived onto the quayfront, skilled fire performers from Inferno presented a daring show, casting fire into the air, juggling, dancing and showing off some fire breathing.

The Raven Dale Band and Bloco Garman Drummers provided street entertainment during the day and a food and craft beer market served up Viking-themed dishes. Families explored the streets in a treasure hunt, finding hidden clues to the town's ancient heritage with a Viking stayover in the Heritage Park for the winners. Brendan Corcoran Menswear's portrayal of the Viking world won them first prize in the the retail Window Dressing Competition.

A total of 32 schools entered a children's colouring competition and the main category winners were Olivia from Mercy School, St Johns Road, Cillian from Naomh Maodhóg, Ferns, Katie from the Faythe School and Leslie from Ard Aoibhinn. In Wexford Library the Gallivanting Storyteller Lorraine O'Dwyer told children's stories and Derek O'Brien gave a talk on 'Daily life in Viking Wexford' sharing details of the Vikings through their clothes and weapons.

Wexford People

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