by Jayde Gavlik
Medieval archery contests, mounted swordsmanship and jousting will be showcased during the inaugural Grand Medieval Tournament at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in County Clare this coming Saturday and Sunday.
Reenactors from the Wexford-based Horsemen of Éire group will play the knights of the Earl of Ulster Hugh De Lacy and his bitter rival John DeCourcy as they take over the paddocks of the Folk Park.
Visitors can also experience a true to life medieval encampment and witness history come to life by meeting the characters, learning about the turbulent times, lifestyles, customs and skills of 12th and 13th century Ireland.
The two-day medieval spectacle will also afford the public a unique opportunity to witness the preparation and training required for those facing into battle and see how their customs, crafts and traditions have shaped modern society.
The tournament consists of a series of duels and feats of arms horseback and on foot where the two teams try to accumulate points. Visitors will see mounted knights joust at the quintain attempting to strike stationary objects with a lance and hurl javelins at targets, archers demonstrate their accuracy and precision by shooting at distant targets, knights duelling while mounted on their steeds, and multiple knights engaging in a fierce battle within the arena, demonstrating their swordplay, agility, and tactics.
The closing ceremony each day will feature two of the most outstanding knights facing each other in an epic duel on horseback and on foot. A panel of experienced judges will assess the participants’ skill, technique, sportsmanship, and adherence to the code of chivalry. Points are awarded for successful strikes, deft manoeuvres, and demonstrations of honour and respect. The victorious knight will be crowned the Champion of the Grand Tournament, awarded with a glittering laurel wreath, and the admiration of the crowd.
Bunratty Castle was itself the target of multiple attacks during medieval times. The castle was captured and destroyed in 1284 before being rebuilt by Thomas de Clare, Lord of Thomond, three years later.
See www.bunrattycastle.ie for more on the Grand Medieval Tournament at Bunratty Castle and September 9-10th