First Timahoe Heritage Festival to celebrate 1100 years of Laois history

Leinster Express Reporter

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Leinster Express Reporter

First Timahoe Heritage Festival to celebrate 1100 years of Laois history

Timahoe will hold its inaugural family-friendly Heritage Festival this summer. Everyone who attends, will partake in, and enjoy all the amazing and fun-filled events lined up, over the course of the two days. And learn a little too!

The Timahoe Heritage Festival is all about sharing the story of a village in Laois, that is steeped in centuries of history; from monks, monasteries and Vikings, right up to the famine years and the War of Independence, with volumes more in between.

The inspiration behind our festival was the fact that the 1100 year anniversary of the Viking raid on Timahoe, was approaching.

It all kicks off on Saturday, June 1, when the festival literally hits the ground running, with a Ten Mile Road Race - “The March of the Vikings”, from Vicarstown to Timahoe.

This is the route the Vikings most likely took, from their fort in Dunrally to Timahoe. This challenging route will be a great way to start the festivities, and registration takes place in Timahoe at 9am.

A 5km Run/Walk had also been added in the local environs of Timahoe. Both these races can be booked through our website, or on PopUpRaces.ie

From 12 pm in the surrounds of the Round Tower, kids will get a chance to enjoy the skills of Archeology, with the “Big Dig” company coming to town to educate us all, with an archaeological dig, that spans the two days. There will also be an opportunity to see what it was like to make coins in early medieval times.

We have wonderful displays in Viking weaponry, that simply have to be seen, and a chance to learn of, and sample some early medieval cooking.

There will be lots of other attractions on site to compliment the theme of the festival, including amusements and our Food & Craft Fair.

At 4:00 pm The great Eddie Lenihan, the man with the big beard, will captivate kids and adults alike, with his ancient storytelling session in the Heritage Centre. All children aged 8 years and upwards are very welcome. Eddie will give accounts of great, age-old Irish traditions, and tales of how the Fairies can be little divil’s!

There will be music in both local pubs over the course of the festival. On both days tea, coffee and ice cream will be available from the corner shop, and all varieties of food at the Food & Craft Fair.

On Sunday, June 2 the event will begin at 11:30 am, and it will be a combination of the good old styled Irish Fun Family day out, coupled with the continuation of events of the previous day.

Timahoe’s Sports Day medley will take places on the village green, during Sunday’s festivities.

Oh and you'll see lots of Vikings, and Monks. The Viking Raid Battle Reenactment is not to be missed. Our fancy dress competition is open to both young and old, and the theme is Vikings, Monks & Medieval. We encourage everyone to come along in the ancient garb of their choice. Our aim is to establish Timahoe Heritage Festival, as an annual event, to strengthen our bonds of community, and to highlight and showcase the history and heritage of our village. Our inaugural event is simply the latest chapter in that history.

A Quick Guide To Our Events: The March of the Vikings 10 Mile Road Race - 5K Run/Walk - The Big Dig Archeology for kids- Eddie Lenihan Storytelling - Food & Craft Fair - Medieval /Viking Weaponry Display - Funfair - Bouncy Castles - Medieval Coin Making - Medieval Cooking - Weaving Display - Fancy Dress Competition - Monks of Mount St. Joseph’s - Gregorian Chant - Basket Making Display - Beekeeping Display - Viking Battle Reenactment - Sports Medley - Heritage Talks and much, much more, all in the wonderful setting of Timahoe's Round Tower & Heritage Centre!

The tower at Timahoe is considered one of the finest examples of a round tower in Ireland. It rises six storeys high, or just under 30 metres, and is topped with a conical cap, added in the late 19th century, after damage to the original roof structure.

The two metre thick walls have ensured the tower still stands tall, despite a lean from bottom to top, estimated at approximately one metre. Time has not been as kind to the structure of the interior. There were five separate levels, constructed of timber, each of which were accessed by ladders, but alas it is no longer possible to do so, as all internal floors are long gone.

Five metre from ground level, the stunning carved doorway is one of the finest examples of 12th-century Romanesque style carving. The capitals of the pillars feature beautifully carved heads, with intertwining hair, similar to carvings found at St. Saviours and Glendalough.

On the tower’s third floor window, carved into the third order is a very rare example of a ‘seán-na-gig’, the male version of the more common sheela-na-gig, one of which was said to have adorned the ruined church house structure, on the site.
In 2014, the community of Timahoe with Laois County Council and the OPW opened the Timahoe Heritage Centre, on the grounds of the former monastic site.

The centre is part of the Ireland’s Ancient East initiative and makes for an extremely enjoyable visit. Visitors to Timahoe are always welcome.

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