VIKINGS invaded Timahoe at the weekend for the second time in 1,100 years, but it was a lot more fun this time!
The inaugural Timahoe Heritage Festival was a spectacular success, as marauding Norsemen faced far-from-meek monks in a recreation of the 919 invasion of the monastic site.
The idyllic village was a cacophony of colour and sound as fierce Viking re-enactment group Triejul from Co Antrim descended on Co Laois for a bloodthirsty battle against beleaguered monks in the shadow of the round tower.
It was a hugely entertaining spectacle for onlookers young and old. Combat turned to comedy with a certain Brother Stefan constantly in trouble with his petty larcenies, which ranged from a bag of chips to a mouth-watering ice-cream cone. It was terrific fun.
A huge variety of events throughout Saturday and Sunday featured medieval cooking displays, craft fairs and an archaeological dig for children to coin-making exhibitions, displays of Viking weaponry, ancient storytelling, music and much more.
The imaginative festival commemorated the devastating raid on the village a millennium and one century ago, when fierce Norsemen from Dunrally Fort in Vicarstown laid siege to the monastic settlement in Timahoe. The Vikings sacked the peaceful monastic site and burned the oratory to the ground.
Fortunately, the second invasion over the 2019 June bank holiday weekend was infinitely happier, as locals and visitors enjoyed a carnival atmosphere at the commemoration of one of the most important events in Laois history.
Eager athletes of various fitness levels also enjoyed the Timahoe Heritage Festival 10km and 5km runs, which followed the route taken by the Vikings as they set out from Vicarstown through Stradbally and on to Timahoe to plunder the peaceful Christian settlement.
The organisers paid tribute to everyone who made the 21st century invasion such a memorable success and helped put the historic village – which deserves to be far better known – even more firmly on the map as a wonderful visitor attraction.