Visitors to the County Limerick town of Kilmallock are being invited to step back in time and experience a glimpse of life in medieval Ireland later this month.
Medieval battle recreations and the public opening of King's Castle and Blossom Gate are amongst the highlights of Kilmallock's Walled Town Day on August 17, celebrating one of Ireland’s most intact walled towns.
Re-enactors will bring the town’s medieval heritage to life during the festival, which is being organised by the Walled Towns Committee of Kilmallock Tourism Development Ltd and funded by the Irish Walled Towns Network, Ballyhoura Leader and Limerick County Council.
Other events featured during the recreation and celebration of 12th to 16th-century Kilmallock include a guided walk, medieval themed music by harpist Brenda Malloy and the Buttevant Singers, arts and crafts demonstrations and displays, a tug of war competition, a treasure hunt, a themed parade, and children’s activities.
Kilmallock was once regarded as one of the most strategically important towns in Ireland due to its medieval wall defences, castles, gatehouses and magnificent churches. The town walls, 70% of which remain standing today, have contributed greatly to Kilmallock’s direct involvement in almost every Irish conflict since medieval times. The fortress town was burned during the Desmond Rebellion and the local Dominican Priory was attacked and destroyed during the Irish Confederate Wars.
Since the commencement of the Kilmallock Town Walls Conservation & Management Plan and Kilmallock Walled Town Public Realm Plan in 2009, Limerick County Council has restored 285 metres of Kilmallock’s medieval walls.
Sarah McCutcheon, Executive Archaeologist, Limerick County Council commented “The upcoming Walled Town Day is one of a number of initiatives being developed to promote the town and its rich heritage, which is unique in County Limerick for its range of standing medieval monuments. We are seeking to further enhance the visitor offering with particular emphasis on Kilmallock’s Walled Town status. Hundreds of people attended last year’s festival and we look forward to introducing many hundreds more to what is now regarded as one of Ireland’s most historically important towns.”
Ms McCutcheon confirmed that funding is expected to be made available shortly under the Leader Programme to undertake tour guide training.
“A key step towards opening up the tourism potential of the town is the presence of a team of qualified tour guides. It is anticipated that guides will be ready to provide regular tours of the town using King’s Castle and Blossom Gate as the centrepiece of any public tour.
Meanwhile, Ms. McCutcheon said that plans are underway to establish direct links between Kilmallock and a walled town called Niedernhall in the Hohenlohe Region of Germany, which is twinned with Co. Limerick. She continued: “Representatives from Kilmallock visited Niedernhall in May 2013 as part of the Limerick County Council delegation to Hohenlohe and the towns seem to be a very good match. We’re looking forward to a return visit next year and to start establishing good links. Kilmallock is also a member of the European Walled Towns group who will be holding a symposium in Derry/Londonderry in October.
Kilmallock's Walled Town Day commences at 10am on Saturday August 17th with the opening of Blossom Gate and King’s Castle which are not always accessible to the public. Kilmallock Historical Society will also be opening the local museum. All three buildings will remain open to the public until 1pm.
A guided walk of the town, commencing from the carpark behind King’s Castle, will take place from 11.00am to 12.30pm, while White Horse Living History Society will accompany this year’s medieval parade from King’s Castle to the grounds of Coláiste Iósaef. Here, there will be medieval re-enactors, a children’s medieval battle, face painting, stocks, kiddies races and archery, as well as a crafts and food fair featuring demonstrations by Eric O'Neill (Blacksmith), Clare Jordan (Potter) and Pat Broderick (Sugán maker).
At 3.30pm, harpist Brenda Malloy and the Buttevant Singers will perform music from the medieval age. A Tug-of-War competition featuring local GAA and Rugby teams is planned for 4pm, while the day will conclude with a treasure hunt at 4.45pm.
In advance of Kilmallock Walled Town Day and to help children in the local are prepare for the festival, Jane Howe will host a workshop on making a medieval costume at Friarsgate Theatre on 15/16th August.
Further information on Kilmallock Walled Town Day is available from www.friarsgate.ie