Birr Castle, Co Offaly; strange location for a viking adventure, but the Fingal Living History Society had been asked to put on a viking village display at the National Game & Country Fair in 2011, so we found ourselves camped next to this spectacular castle. It is the home of the seventh Earl of Ross and his family, so the residential areas of the castle are not open to the public.
As the Fingal folks set up the little village, Bob soon had our tent and viking bed up! After years of sleeping on the floor of the tent I had finally put my foot down and decided that I needed a bit of comfort; I am a viking lady after all!! It proved to be a very comfy addition to our home from home!
For the weekend, Fingal put on a living history display of how a viking village would have been. The group re-creates a viking tented settlement; this is something that they are excellent at. There are cooking displays, net making, the armory, bone and antler carving, nalbinding and hand crafts and a blacksmith to mention just a few of the activities on show.
Fingal also provided a viking fight display at Birr. This highlighted the weapons that the vikings would have used and the way that they would have fought.
It’s a wonderful spectacle that also has an educational side to it! The lads explained about the different weapons, the way they were used and also the infamous shield wall. And yes those swords are made of steel – but they are blunted for safety purposes!
We escaped from the village from time to time. There was so much to see; displays in the main arena, the Tudor village next door and the gardens are spectacular! I particularly loved the waterside areas; very tranquil.
In a corner of the field we made a wonderful discovery; boar! A local farmer had started to farm them and was selling the meat to selected butchers and restaurants in Ireland.He’s brought some to the Game Fair as a display.
Watching these boar dig through the turf was amazing; those snouts are really strong and they had ploughed up their pen pretty thoroughly!
If you have never tried boar, it’s like a game version of pork, but much richer and drier than pork.
He gave us some to take home; I roasted it with some cider and apples added to the pot ………… it was absolutely delicious! Quite dry as there was very little fat in the meat – but very tasty.
And our nights were filled with campfires and song – great time had by all!!!