They came, they saw, they eventually conquered – and now the Vikings are back in North Dublin to re-enact the Battle of Clontarf a thousand years on.
Up to 40,000 people attended Saturday’s first re-enactment of the battle between the Viking invaders and the Irish armies with the same again expected on Sunday.
The event features 500 actor soldiers dressed in Viking and Irish costumes of the time to re-enact the battle that saw the Vikings defeated but Brian Boru lose his life.
Dublin City Council have been overwhelmed by the success of the event with double the number of expected spectators, many of them tourists wooed by the Vikings TV series starring Gabriel Byrne.
The largest re-enactments ever staged in Ireland are being held in St Anne’s Park close to the original battle site.
The two-day Battle of Clontarf Festival includes a medieval village with over 80 tents, skills and weapons demonstrations, a mounted display on horses, a Viking longboat, falconry, archery, food and music.
Visitors can help create a giant tapestry on a loom and make their own Viking or Gaelic flags, swords and shields.
Spectator Tania Stewart told the Sunday Independent she was enthralled with the festival.
She said: “I think it’s absolutely brilliant, I was dying to come here because I’m half-Swedish and half-Irish – so I love the whole Celts and Vikings thing.
“I really wanted to show my son the whole battle re-enactment. The weather is beautiful, and it’s free, what more can you ask for? It’s really well put together.”
Dubliner Joe O’Neill and his children also loved it. He told the paper: “The kids are having a ball. It is a stunning event. I’m from Clontarf, but I haven’t been down this way in a long time, it’s great.”
Re-enactor Russ Scott has taken part in historical battle re-enactments for 27 years across the globe.
He said: “I did research on the Battle of Clontarf to put as much into the battle as we could and, with the 500 warriors we have on hand this weekend, we can bring in more realistic elements.
“Every group is here by invitation and we train to look good and fight well, but we don’t hurt people, although accidents do happen, but not very bad ones!”