County Limerick village puts heart and soul into 150th chalice anniversary celebrations

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Email:

normap@limerickleader.ie

Tom Aherne with his Ardagh Chalice replica taking part in the 150th Anniversary Parade last Friday along with the Fenian Pikemen of 1867 Picture:alan place

Tom Aherne with his Ardagh Chalice replica taking part in the 150th Anniversary Parade last Friday along with the Fenian Pikemen of 1867 Picture:alan place

THE Ardagh 150th anniversary celebrations got off to a lively start last weekend, with an atmospheric parade of Ardagh Chalice replicas through the village and a packed programme of events.

But the theme of a lot to see, do and experience in Ardagh continues at an even higher pitch this weekend, which kicked off on Friday with a Viking invasion of Ardagh.

These are the Na Déise Viking Re-enactors who are setting up camp in the centre of the village. These Viking warriors are a central part of one of the weekend’s big events, The Last Druid.

This is an open-air drama in two parts, re-imagining the story of the hiding of the Ardagh Chalice and its rediscovery 1000 years later in 1868.

Written by Paul Moriarty, it features Aengus, the last Druid in Munster and describes how a very special chalice, a goblet, the brooches of the Four Suns and Ireland’s largest hill fort become central to his life. It also re-enacts the rediscovery of the Ardagh Chalice in September 1868 on the Widow Quinn’s land at Reerasta Fort by two labourers, Paddy Flanagan and Jim Quinn who were digging potatoes.

The drama has a cast of dozens, including warring Celts and Vikings, and involves music,songs, a bodhrán band and dance.

This dramatic celebration of one of Ireland’s most iconic treasures will take place in the parish field on Saturday at 7.30pm and on Sunday at 4pm.

Admission is €10 but children are free.

Throughout this Saturday and Sunday afternoon, there will be street entertainment with music, old-style pop-up shops, refreshments and stalls. There will also be a chance to dress up in old-time costumes and masks and have your photograph taken and on both afternoons, at 3pm, local historian Tony Hough will lead a free, guided tour to Reerasta Fort, the spot where the Ardagh Chalice and hoard were found.

The weekend, indeed the double weekend, of celebrations will end on a high note on Sunday night with a gala concert drawing together the best of local talent.

The Ardagh Carrigkerry Comhaltas Group will feature as will the Coolcappa Musical Group and there will also be a musical medley from Canon Tony Mullins and fellow priests Fr Tim Curtin and Fr Liam Enright.

Local schools, St Molua’s and Carrigkerry NS, and there will be duets from Theresa Doyle McMahon and Siobhan Doody. 

The programme will also include a story from seanchaí Ger Liston as well as a recitation by Dr Paddy Fullam of a poem, specially composed for the occasion. Admission is €15.