Chariot fires into Shore Front

On July 18, 2012 by admin

From The Inish Times – Tuesday, 17th July 2012

Roisin McLaughlin

Living history showcase to take place in Buncrana

Revellers at the upcoming Buncrana Music Festival will be in for a treat this month when an event, which has been seen only once in a thousand years, takes place on the town’s Shore Front.

The dramatic “living history” celebration “Defending Aileach” takes place at the end of the month and is to feature the highly unique sight of an ancient Irish chariot making manoeuvres and turning circles on Buncrana’s Shore Green.
It will be only the second time in over a thousand years that an authentic Irish chariot will have been seen in action. Its creator, David O’Reilly, explained how the chariot was a reproduction “based on what we see on the Ahenny High Crosses of Ireland and what we have in museums in Dublin” and had been created using artefacts and technology of the era, circa 900AD.

David – who works with his 15 year old son Raphael – said that they built the chariot during last winter and had been training the ponies for the last few months. The only time it has been seen in action in public since then, was at the recent Féile Grianán Ailigh in Burt.

He added, while he is based in Galway and had been getting great interest in the project from across the nation, it was the people of Inishowen, who had so far been the most enthusiastic about the chariot. “I’ve been giving talks and representations on the chariot, but so far the most interest has been from Donegal. You seem to have got the whole idea straight off up there!” said David.
“I suppose it makes sense – it was Ulster men who first came to Tara in a chariot, and then the men of Leinster, Connacht and Munster all followed.”

Also lined up for “Defending Aileach” – which takes place on Saturday, July 28, from 12.00 – 6 pm – includes battle re-enactments and demonstrations by Eireann Edge, who will also be known for their performance at Féile Grianán Ailigh.
David said he hoped to work with the Celtic warrior group and incorporate the chariot into their demonstrations, however, he added, it would be dependent on how well the ponies cope. “They’re still getting used to it,” he explained. “We’re all a little bit cautious. It will be a very controlled environment.”

Other events will include the chance to learn to sword fight or to try your hand at archery or man the bellows of an ancient forge – all of the watchful eye of a trained instructor.

Organiser Bettina Linke, a member of the West Inishowen History and Heritage Group, said: “Who doesn’t like a great battle? But no one has ever seen anything like this. For the first time, the chariot and horses will be put in their natural environment fighting alongside the Celtic warriors – they belong together.”

“You might see films on television but this time (history) is right in front of your eyes. You can hold a shield, fire an arrow and sit in the chariot.”

Finally, over 18s, who are interested in taking part in the battle re-enactments on the day, are encouraged to attending a training session on the morning of the event. For further details contact Bettina at

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