Vikings reach the shores of Lough Neagh!

Vikings lead the procession to a funeral pyre for a slain warrior at Maghery Country Park. INTT3812-059X
Vikings lead the procession to a funeral pyre for a slain warrior at Maghery Country Park. INTT3812-059X

SCORES of Viking warriors descended on the shores of Lough Neagh last weekend, where they engaged in battle and bade farewell to one of their own on a blazing funeral pyre, watched by hundreds of people, young and old.

There was no need to panic, though, as the events of the day were part of the first ever Viking Festival organised at Maghery Country Park.

The hugely successful event - which drew massive crowds throughout the day - featured battle re-enactments, Viking villages and camps, as well as displays of the various skills of the era.

Longboats sailed across the Lough to Coney Island, a sight which hasn’t been witnessed in 1,200 years, and artefacts uncovered locally by Coalisland man, Dominic Quinn, were on show to the public, along with a fascinating display of clothing and other items by John Tate from the Birches.

Children were kept well entertained by a whole host of crafts and activities, as well as free bouncy castles, face painting and horse and cart rides.

Also present on the day were boat builders from Maghery, who displayed fine examples of vessels which would have worked the Lough, while a grand Viking Banquet with music and stories, finished proceedings later in the evening.

The event was made possible through the efforts of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council; Craigavon Borough Council; International Fund for Ireland; Community Relations Council; Department of Foreign Affairs; South Lough Neagh Regeneration Association; South Lough Neagh Historical Society; Saltmarine; and the Magnus Barelegs Vikings from Strangford Lough.

The organisers would also like to thank Jack and Michael Salt (of Saltmarine) for their help with all the transport requirements on the day, as well as everybody who assisted in any way.