The day is long gone – I visited the National Heritage Park in 2017. The park is still there, a few minutes drive from Wexford, and an hour drive from Waterford. If you travel with children this is the best place to have fun and learn about the past. If you have no children, you can do just the same thing. A very informative website and Facebook page will answer all your questions. In a good weather you can spend there a whole day – I was there about five-six hours.
This magic entrance into The Past greets you with the scary sound effects. You are in the Middle Stone Age, 9000 years ago, surrounded with a swamp and woodland landscape. There are 16 sites altogether, taking you on a long and exciting journey through the Irish history.
This is a dwelling of a stone age hunter and gatherer. Please read the Event page. In the Park you can learn amazing skills, like basket weaving, foraging, wool felting, or building a Stone age house 🙂
These Stone Age thatched huts are a part of the exhibition. They look quite livable.
After another 3000 years the first farmers came to Ireland. They tilled the land, planted crops and kept cattle. They lived in bigger houses. About 70 Neolithic houses are known from Ireland.
The houses were divided into rooms.
This is a replica of a portal tomb.
To build such tomb, huge stones had to be moved to the site from a distance. Some of the stones can weigh many tonnes. This ‘stone’ weighs 2 tonnes. Everyone can have a go pushing it 🙂
There are also the replicas of a Stone circle and Ogham stone in the park.
This is an amazing reconstruction of a 5th century ringfort. More than 40,000 examples of ringforts were recorded in Ireland – both earthen and stone forts. Here is my favorite site for information on prehistoric Ireland.
It took some 400 oak trees to build the fort.
There are three houses in the ringfort, all thatched in different styles using reed or wheat straw.
The next site is a reconstruction of a Christian monastery.
There are more sites – Corn-drying Kiln, Horizontal Water Mill, Cooking Place (Fulacht Fiadh) – you will have to visit them by yourself – I got a little distracted by birds 🙂
A Robin shows me the way to the crannog – a settlement that is built on top of an artificial island. Crannogs were used in Ireland from the Stone Age to the Middle Age.
On my way to the island I also saw a Dunnock …
… and a Chaffinch.
This is the crannog. The causeway was closed for some reason, and I started walking around the lake. Do you see a boat and a heron on the left from the houses? He is a part of the story I am going to tell.
So, here is that heron. I paid attention because I always pay attention to herons. All of a sudden he darted into the water and came out with something black in his beak.
He took off and headed straight to the crannog. I followed, by foot 😉
When I entered the crannog from the other side, there was no sight of the heron, but I immediately spotted something very strange and big on the ground. It looked like a snake. Slowly I moved closer. Poor creature tried to wriggle away, and looked me straight in the eye ( you can see the enlarged inset). It was a terrified eel, slimy, covered with gravel, the heron’s prey.
I only took one picture, put away my camera and tried to pick him up, but he was incredibly slimy and fell back to the ground. I felt so helpless. I did want to save his life. Somehow I managed to throw him over the palisade and was glad to hear that he hit the water. Hope he stays away from herons 🙂
Moorhen didn’t look interested 🙂
I left the crannog and walked through the tunnel to the next site – Viking Boatyard.
The barrels were used for curing fish with dry salt.
The Vikings came to Ireland 12 centuries ago. They eventually settled and built the first real towns. The first documented history of Dublin begins with the Viking raids, and Viking ports were also established at Waterford, Wexford, Cork and Limerick – which still remain the biggest cities in Ireland.
I sat in the viking long boat and watched the beautiful River Slaney flow towards the Irish Sea.
After resting my legs, I started climbing up the hill – and up the history lane.
When the Normans invited in by Dermot MacMurrough arrived in 1169, they began building strong castles, often lime-whitened. This reconstructed castle was built beside a real site – a ringwork castle built by Robert Fitzstephen following the Norman capture of the town of Wexford. The original ditch marks the site, and two silver pennies found during the excavations are on display in the Visitor centre.
The tower you see in background is a replica of Irish round tower, built in 1857 as a monument to the Wexford men that lost their lives in the Crimea War.
The tower is overlooking Roche’s Norman Tower House and Ferrycarrig bridge. The view is beautiful, but the chain fence ruins all the photography efforts. Of course there are the ways to remove the obnoxious fence from the pictures. Read Digital Lady Syd’s fantastic blog and you will learn very useful skills.
There is a ‘time capsule’ beneath the foundations of the tower, placed in 1857. It contains coins and newspapers from that time, and the list of those who contributed to the tower’s construction.
Here ends our journey from prehistoric times into the 19th century. Time traveling isn’t that hard, right? In my next blog post we will mingle with the local Vikings – shop and fight and have fun 🙂
Comments are closed for this post – I won’t be able to reply. Yet I will do my rounds visiting other blogs.
Have a wonderful weekend!