So I set off for the Rose Festival in St. Anne's Park and, as you can see, not a rose in sight. Now, I have been to the Rose Festival before and know that it is not just roses, roses all the way. It is a much wider based family outing with all sorts of entertainment for young and old. So, what's with the picture?
Well, I had a two hour window to check out the festival, but as parking would be a major hassle I decided to go on foot. And, not surprisingly I got distracted along the way. This to the point that I had barely a half an hour on the premises.
The first distraction was Dublin's two iconic ESB chimneys, which were unsuccessfully trying to hide behind a bush. While there is a lobby campaigning for their retention, and I gather the Council has now listed them, there is a vociferous lobby out there that wants them pulled down. So they are effectively an endangered species and entitled to some protection in the nature reserve in the photo above.
The next distraction was a pair of ducks making hay in the pond, or lake, or whatever Lord Ardilaun called it in his day.
And then there was this Greek folly. A mini Ozymandias close to home.
And if all that wasn't enough, what did I come across but my family tree with a profusion of roots to keep me busy up to next Christmas.
So it was with a half an hour or less to go that I finally hit the festival. My first priority was the Heritage Tent, and in this year of Brian Boru, I made for the Clontarf stand. Collette Gill was busy discussing Brian Boru's well with a client. I have dealt with the well's gate on Castle Avenue elsewhere. Collette has done trojan work during the year, and in the run up to it, bringing loads of threads together for the 1014 celebrations locally.
Just one of these projects has been the Battle of Clontarf Heritage Trail along the shoreline walkway at Clontarf (example of one of the panels above). I have reported elsewhere on the very high quality lecture series organised by the Clontarf and Raheny Historicals, and on other aspects of local commemorations, including the reconstruction of the Battle itself.
Next came the Raheny Heritage Society stand. The society has been working over the years researching and presenting the history of Raheny to the public and they have amassed a wonderful set of thematic displays.
The work is ongoing and their latest project is The Howth Road, exploring all sorts of aspects of the road from Fairview to Blackbanks. These include famous residents, house styles, historic sites and so on. It is the sort of project that just swallows you up if you don't call a halt at some stage. They have been reporting progress along the way in some of these displays and I hope to see a definitive book in the near future.
Before my half hour runs out, I want to come back to the Clontarf Historical Society display. It is an open question who won the Battle of Clontarf. I learned in school that Brian Boru was the decisive victor but nobody bothered to point out to me that Sitric was still King of Dublin twenty years later. Come to think of it, a lot of things were glossed over in my schooldays, like, for example, Gormlaith's romps between the sheets with at least three kings. No doubt the teaching of history has improved significantly since my day. As it happens, I'm a late comer to this sort of exciting stuff.
If the Isle of Man's 1014 exuberance is anything to go by the Vikings won by a mile. They have issued a beautiful series of stamps commemorating The Battle of Clontarf and the original artwork (on loan), along with many other aspects of the issue, were on display at the stand.
These are just two of the set of six stamps, a general battle scene and Brian with his sword and cross (yes, he had Vikings fighting on his side too and they were Christians, as were many of the opposing Vikings).
This cover for the set gives an idea of the quality of the artwork, really beautiful stuff.
And the back of the cover even has the Irish Battle of Clontarf logo on the sets at the festival, done by the IOM postal authorities. Pity An Post didn't rise to the specific occasion of the Battle's millennium celebration in this sort of style.
And what did I spot, just as my phone alarm went off to tell me to go home, but a real live version of Collette's Twitter avatar.