Early March we visited Ireland. EXARC has a handful of members there. Our first stop was at Newgrange Currach where we looked at the large seagoing currach our members are building, a magnificent undertaking. We were happy to discuss the possibility of actually sailing the boat to France and Spain – who knows… We also visited the Newgrange Stone Age passage tomb (UNESCO World Heritage) and its visitor centre.
We then moved on to University College Dublin (UCD) where Dr Aidan O’Sullivan was our host. Dr O’Sullivan is very energetic and full with ideas on how to support experimental archaeology. We visited the Irish National Heritage Park (no member of EXARC yet…) and witnessed the impressive investments: almost all (re)constructed buildings were built anew or thoroughly repaired. The Park is famous for its restaurant, attracting many visitors from nearby. Our EXARC member and heritage consultant Dr Ronan O'Flaherty is important to the Park and gladly showed us around, mentioning the challenges overcome and prospects of the near future.
We then returned to Dublin where we had a meeting with Umha Aois. This group of bronze casting artists have gained an enormous expertise over the years, working with traditional Bronze Age ideas, trying to make them work in modern times. They are a true inspiration for archaeologists around the world with their sometimes unconventional but highly successful approach. Anybody wanting to learn from their metal working experience should contact them via their website (see below).
What followed next was a so called ‘brown bag presentation’, meaning people could eat their lunch while EXARC Director Dr Roeland Paardekooper gave an introductory paper about the benefits of experimental archaeology. This was a short teaser for the larger presentation at the end of that day where he presented an overview of archaeological open-air museums across Europe. Using his PhD research he explained the nature and success factors of these museums: a true bridge between science and the public.
Taking everything into account, EXARCs visit to Ireland was a success and we hope to keep up the contacts, sharing information elsewhere what is happening in Ireland. We’ll be back soon!