Posts Tagged With: Brian Boru

Bog Bodies and More at the National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland – Archeology has an amazing collection of over 2 million artifacts, they allow photography, and it’s free. What more could a history nerd ask for? This is an outstanding museum, in a beautiful facility with good explanations and well presented displays. The museum is closed on Mondays but fortunately for us, we were there on Sunday when they are open from 2-5.

National Museum of Ireland - Archeology

National Museum of Ireland – Archeology

I was especially interested in the Clontarf 1014 exhibit about Brian Boru and the Battle for Dublin because our son, Brian, is named for the high king and we were staying at the Clontarf Castle. For more on that, read my earlier post here. The exhibit debunked the legendary version of the Battle at Clontarf with well-researched and compelling information. While no archeological evidence from the battle has yet been found and there are no first hand accounts, a number of secondary sources prove the battle was for economic domination of Dublin and not to expel the Vikings from Ireland. Nevertheless, Brian Boru is still regarded as the high king who united Ireland and remains a hero today.

Clontarf 1014 Exhibit, National Museum of Ireland

Clontarf 1014 Exhibit, National Museum of Ireland

After exploring the Clontarf exhibit, I moved on to see what else this museum had to offer. First of all, as I said before, it’s a beautiful facility. Built in the Victorian Palladian style with neo-classical influences, the museum opened its doors in 1890. Note on the photo below the intricately decorated cast iron columns supporting the balcony above.

IMG_0535Then on the next photo, notice the beautiful mosaic tile floor. To me, the facility is a noteworthy exhibit, in and of itself.IMG_0516

Even the ceiling is impressive.

Rotunda Ceiling in the National Museum--Archeology, Ireland

Rotunda Ceiling in the National Museum of Ireland–Archeology

The exhibits are far more ancient, however, than the building. In fact, the Archeology Museum is the repository for all archeological objects found in Ireland dating from prehistoric times through the end of the medieval period. Following are a few of my favorites just to whet your appetite.

The goldwork exhibit spanning 2200 BC to 500 BC is one of the most extensive and impressive in Europe. These gold collars from the Bronze Age are called lunulae.   IMG_0538

The 4500 year old Lurgan Logboat was discovered in 1901 in County Galway. Over 45 feet long, it is the largest artifact on display in the museum. For more information on the fascinating discovery and its transport to the museum check out this article.

Lurgan Logboat in National Museum of Ireland

Lurgan Logboat in National Museum of Ireland

The bog bodies were fascinating to me. Found in peat bogs, they have been remarkably well-preserved because of the unique conditions that existed within the bog. As I understand it, acidic conditions and a lack of oxygen within the cold watery environment prevented the microorganisms that cause decay from growing and thus, the bodies were preserved and very dark in color.  (My simple version of complex science.) In Ireland, around one hundred bog bodies have been discovered with the earliest discovery in 1780. Today, because peat cutting is mechanized, discoveries are rare but in 2011, Cashel Man was discovered in County Laois, Ireland. (My husband’s people are from County Laois so I like to think he might be a relative.) Cashel Man is the oldest bog body found in Ireland and was radiocarbon dated to around 2000 BC. He is not on display at the museum but you can view several Iron Age bog bodies dating from as old as 400 BC. Current theory holds that the Iron Age bog bodies were ritually sacrificed and placed in the bogs along tribal boundaries.

Gallagh Man, 400-200 BC, National Museum of Ireland

Gallagh Man, 400-200 BC, National Museum of Ireland

Clonycavan Man

Clonycavan Man, 392-201 BC, National Museum of Ireland

Oldcroghan Man

Oldcroghan Man, 362-175 BC, National Museum of Ireland

Oldcroghan Man

Closeup of the Hand of Oldcroghan Man, 362-175 BC, National Museum of Ireland

Early Christian artifacts include reliquaries which are containers that hold relics, believed to bring good fortune to the owner, and crucifixes and crosses.  IMG_0545IMG_0546

This is just a fraction of the exhibits you’ll find at the National Museum of Ireland. If you visit Dublin, stop into my number 1 pick for some Irish history. I think you’ll be glad you did.


National Museum of Ireland

Based on events from Aril, 2015

Categories: History, Ireland, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Clontarf Castle

As a history nerd, I’ve secretly yearned to stay in a castle but honestly thought it would be way too expensive. I also believed it was contrary to my budget travel label and I would justifiably be called a hypocrite. My budget label is based on necessity as much as choice so spending $300+ for a night’s lodging would reduce the length of my trips and the number of my trips significantly. I was researching castles in Ireland and I saw the best rate for Ashford Castle was $330 per night. Not worth it to me. But then I saw this.

Screenshot from search for castle hotel prices

Screenshot from search for castle hotel prices

Do you see $110 for Clontarf Castle Hotel? That intrigued me. I checked out their website and immediately knew this was meant to be. Clontarf is a suburb in the north of Dublin where the Battle of Clontarf took place in 1014. The simple story is that High King Brian Boru (after whom my son Brian is named) defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf ending the Viking domination of Ireland. This sounded like the perfect combination of historical significance and price for a Lalor family stay.

 It’s always more complicated than the legend, however. In actuality, the Vikings had been in Ireland for a couple hundred years and were very well integrated into Irish culture by that time. In addition, there were Irish and Vikings as well as Brian Boru’s family members on both sides of the battle and the fight was really for economic domination of Dublin. Brian Boru was 72 years old and didn’t actually fight in the battle and unfortunately, he died that day. As one of our tour guides told it, they weren’t sure where he was beheaded but it was quite likely just below his chin. 

The castle was not in existence when this battle took place. The first castle on the site was actually built in 1172 by Hugh de Lacy as part of an inner circle of defense for Dublin. The original structure stood until 1835 when it was demolished because of a sinking foundation and the current structure was completed in 1837. The  castle was continuously occupied until the 1950’s when then owner, J.G.Oulton, died there. It stood vacant until the 1960’s when it was reopened for catering and cabaret events. Then it closed again in 1997 for major reburbishment, reopening in June, 1998, as a four star hotel. In 2007, another major renovation was completed to bring the castle up to today’s standards.




Brian, Abi, Jim at the entrance to Clontarf Castle


Inner courtyard at Clontarf Castle Hotel


Reception at Clontarf Castle Hotel


My Knight in Shining Armour


Original Tower of Castle


Facade of Clontarf Castle Hotel


The original castle with Jim’s tshirt to tell you where we are

The service at the hotel was outstanding. The staff are knowledgeable, helpful, and professional. We arrived prior to 7 am after an overnight flight and they allowed us to check in early because the rooms were ready. We were able to sleep for a couple hours which refreshed us for the heavy sightseeing schedule ahead of us. The following day, we arrived at the front desk for a 9:30 rendezvous with the Hop on Hop off bus to learn that we had just missed it due to a misunderstanding about the departure time. The staff person called the bus company and asked them to return for us. When they didn’t arrive, he sent us to city center by cab at the hotel’s expense. As we pulled away, we saw the red bus pull up to the hotel to pick us up. I call this amazing customer service on everyone’s part.

Stay tuned for more adventures in Dublin, Ireland and the countryside.  


National Museum, Clontarf 1014 exhibit 

Clontarf Castle History handout at Clontarf Castle Hotel

Categories: Ireland, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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