Viking heritage runs deep in Ireland, as a visit to Waterford, Kilkenny or Wexford testifies
Waterford’s Medieval Museum, as the name suggests, tells the story of life in the city during the era and incorporates several preserved medieval structures within its walls, not least the beautiful Chorister’s Hall. Carefully preserving several medieval structures within its walls, the Museum was opened to the public in 2012.
Among the exhibits on display are the 4m-long Great Charter Roll dating from 1372, which was viewed by Queen Elizabeth II during her historic visit to Ireland, and the 15th century cloth-of-gold vestments – Ireland’s finest late medieval treasures. The Dalmatic vestment is one of the most important pieces from the set of Waterford vestments on display at the new Medieval Museum, Cathedral Square.
King Of The Vikings. The World's First Virtual Reality Viking Adventure - Take a further look at the Viking history of Waterford with this dynamic virtual reality experience. Set in a replica Viking house in the ruins of a medieval monestry, you will be met by Viking comb-maker, regaled with stories about life in Viking Waterford and given a 3D Oculus headset that will transport you back 1100 years. Come face to face with the great heroic vikings and the founder of the city of Waterford.
Re-enactor guides will welcome you to this adventure and tell you about Viking Waterford. The exciting attraction is steps from Reginald’s great Viking tower where the Treasures of Viking Age Waterford and a full-size replica Viking long ship are on display.
For more on Waterford, from culinary treats to festivals and global geoparks 0don't miss our top 9 experiences here.
Sea tales, stormy characters and centuries of history are imprinted in Wexford. And the Vikings played a starring role in that history from the early 9th century when they established a small settlement at the mouth of the River Slaney, which they called "Ueigsfjord", meaning "the ford of the waterlogged island".
The Vikings spent 300 years making Wexford a true Viking town. They worked as traders, became allies to the local Gaelic kings, and hired themselves out as mercenaries. You can still see their influence as you walk through the winding streets of the town centre, and follow the narrow lanes that slope down towards the quay. Because in a Viking town, all roads lead to the water.
Wexford’s Viking roots are properly celebrated at the nearby National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig where you can get a look at reconstructed longboats, ring forts and reconstructed Viking homes within 35 acres of woodland. And if you’re after a room with a view, then make your way to the Ferrycarrig Hotel where you can enjoy dishes such as cider-braised belly of Irish pork overlooking the River Slaney.
“The Vikings influenced design, seafaring, shipbuilding and they plugged Ireland into a trading network that stretched from Iceland to Turkey and the Baltic.” According to Jack Burtchaell, historian and tour guide in Waterford. Jack believes the Viking reputation for disproprotionate violence is unfair. 'Yes, the Vikings attacked monasteries,” says Burtchaell, “but as for bloodthirsty pillaging, well, basically, they were no worse than the natives.”
The Vikings weren’t without their sensitive side and the Urnes style is evidence of that. Derived from a style of decoration used on the Urnes stave church in southern Norway, this is the Norse answer to the Celtic swirl found at places such as Newgrange and on countless pieces of traditional jewellery. Defined by interlacing animals such as snakes and greyhounds, the motif has marked itself on a handful of priceless historical relics. Among them is a stone sarcophagus in Cormac’s Chapel at the Rock of Cashel, and The Cross of Cong, housed in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
See for yourself: Cormac’s Chapel at the Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary; The National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology, Kildare Street, County Dublin.
For the entire story of Vikings in Ireland told in colorful and interactive style, check out Dublinia in Dublin city. Also in Dublin, the Viking Splash Tour is a land and water ride at the hands of friendly Viking guides.
Vikings in Ireland: Did you know?
Road Trip across The Viking Triangle
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