Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

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Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

Postby brendan on Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:42 am

All of you have at some stage or another talked about the idea of an event to commemorate the battle of Clontarf. In fact I have talked to many of you about it myself.
I did some research amongst members of the Irish reenactment community, spending 100 hours talking to people who expressed an interest in the topic and found that people have varied but detailed opinions on what the event should be. I attempted to assemble these in a single document but when I asked a few people to review most of them couldn't read it. I abandoned the idea.
Lets get one thing clear: I have no interest in running Clontarf. I do not have either the time or inclination to do so.
So why am I making the effort to write this now? Mainly it is as a result of a conversation with the Heritage Product Officer from Failte Ireland in which Clontarf and some other topics were discussed. The following is my take on it:

Something will definitely happen. There will be a big event in Dublin and Several others elsewhere scattered around the country, effectively 'Business as Usual'
  • The National Museum will probably run something themed around Clontarf. This may feature an event with up to 50 participants in Collins Barracks but that is about as big as it gets in that site.
  • Something will happen in or around Clontarf. This might achieve a reasonably big event with maybe 100 to 200 participants, but the logistics and other factors mean that it is unlikely that more than 20,000 people could pass through over a weekend without transport mayhem. This scale of event will require significant participation from overseas as we are not able to provide more than 50 home grown reenactors with an ability to represent that time periond (And 50 is ambitious)
  • There will be something in Killaloe as the home place of Boru, and Limerick will definitely want in on the act. Shannon heritage will see the $ signs and do something, but will probably want a bouncy castle.
  • There will be something in Swords where Boru's body was laid to rest.
  • There will be several other themed events around the country.
If we continue to go as we are then that is what we can expect.

From talking to people, when we think of Clontarf the ideas we have are on the scale of Hastings or other mega events and how cool they would be if they were to happen here. We think of a fleet of Viking ships on the Liffey; musterings of troops around the country; a battle with a thousand per side; an encampment covering acres of ground and a representation of Viking Dublin that brings us back to the time.
Can we bridge the gap? The answer is yes, but it will be very hard work.
  • Fáilte Ireland and other similar organisations will put their financial and organisational muscle behind an event if it is sold to them. This means:
    • A single organiser with demonstrable experience running major events. Maybe this needs to be an outsider with events management experience.
    • Incremental revenue. A band playing in a pub is expected to draw people who would not otherwise be there; a large event is expected to bring significant money to the area. For smaller events this is measured in pints or lunches sold, for large events it is measured in flights and bed nights.
    • Sustainable Tourism. Funders want to see something that can become part of the calendar, a major draw that happens on an annual basis (Hastings is an example)
  • People involved in this hobby will need to live up to their stated willingness to deal with others whom they detest for reasons that are not entirely without cause. That will be hard. This is not the place or time to discuss it, but it is real.
  • The team of people who work on this can expect to spend several hours a week over a 2 to 3 year period working on this. In the year of the event the person will probably use all of their annual holidays and every waking moment to do this. That is how hard it will be.
  • There will be money but no one will make money out of this unless they do so at the expense of the event. It may be that people run a number of smaller events where they make a chunk of cash, but for the main event it will be break even at best. Unless someone is actually employed to work on this - in which case they will be competing with event management professionals for the job. Oh! and they will be accused of stealing all the money raised for the event and spending it on hookers and blackjack or kit that they already have.
So you got this far, the question is: What next?
  • People and groups need to make an honest assessment of where they are as individuals and groups and where they can reasonably expect to be in 4 years time. How big do they want their involvement to be? You might want to raise 100, but if your existing 10 are flakey about their current level of commitment how likely is that?
  • No one person can do this. It is too much. It needs a team of people who are willing to talk to each other a lot and meet at least once a month.
  • People need to look at their strengths: What is the thing that you as an individual can bring that no one else can? Is it wearing a suit and looking respectable? Is it making contact with the participants and getting them to the event? Is it working with people to establish reasonable but well researched kit guidelines?...the list goes on

To do anything constructive there will need to be a 'Clontarf 2014' organisation. This should be a mechanism to co-ordinate groups who have an interest in the time period and are willing to work towards an agreed goal. It might end up a Monopoly, it might end up a talking shop with nothing actually happening - that is up to the participants. Personally I don't care which. Money will be involved in this at some level, either self or externally funded, but at best it will cover expenses.
Of course, for the organisation to fail it has to get off the ground, and maybe that is where we need external input. Otherwise we end up with the first meeting consumed with arguments about who should be in charge and nothing else decided except that people cannot work together. The sort of stuff that has rational people leaving this hobby.

The single most important question is: Do you really want it to happen and are you willing to work to make it happen?

Personally, I think that we can do something pretty amazing here, and it is currently about 50:50 as to whether it happens or not. Clontarf will take two to three years to organise. We are already running out of time. It is already too late to sort out something co-ordinated this year.

If we do not have something in place by December this year the dream is over
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Re: Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

Postby brendan on Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:45 am

Replying to my own post to avoid confusing the detail.
I stated that I have no interest in running Clontarf, but I do have skills that I am willing to use to help those who do. The difference is that I am not willing to commit to this for the duration, there is too much other stuff that interests me.
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Re: Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

Postby Jess de Búrca Monty on Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:21 pm

Some interesting points raised. Just to say I that I am very willing to throw my oar in. I have spoken to people also over the years and recently spoke informally with a committee member which is already in existence with regard to this matter. If we do not commemorate this event, we cannot call ourselves living historians, re-enactors or heritage specialists. To allow this event slide by while we as a community sit on our hands grumbling about who didn't organise it or why, is a pathetic but very real possibility. I have many reasons to walk away from a project of this size but there are too many valid reasons why we should galvanise ourselves towards this common goal. Count me in. Next question, is there anyone else out there?

Ború Abú?!?
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Re: Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

Postby consmiles on Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:54 am

Hi Guys,
it is encouraging to see two dedicated committed specialists linking up to organize what will be the biggest ever event for Viking Age re-enactment in Ireland. Even though Brendan says he cant do it - he has already begun to do it and should be congratulated for his work on behalf of all medieval re-enactors. With Jess DeBurca Monty also involved the levels of professionalism are high. I offer my support to the emerging committee to help set this up and to help make it the flagship event for the medieval scene in Ireland.

The entire battle plan already exists, the flags are known, the brown leather tent for Brian is known, the sequence of run away and return to the battle, the ships going out and back, Brian getting done in and the de-boweling of his assailant so he can be tied to a tree.... This is epic stuff and it should have all of us sword and spear guys itching to be involved.

It will be the best medieval re-enactment craic ever and should be every year. I suggest that a rehearsals need to be planned now for next year.....
Regards
Con
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Re: Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

Postby panda on Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:27 pm

I'm good at talking to people and I'd be willing to do as much work as it takes to make sure every Viking age re-enactor I can acquire contact details for knows about any event(s).
Also when I was at Hastings in 2008 every one that I talked to (only half the camp. :P ) was asking me was there going to be something on for it. From what I saw The Vike are of the opinion "Build it and we will come"
"Althalus was a thief after all and he devoutly believed that actually working for a living was immoral"

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Fightin, drinkin' an' snaffling coo beastie!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

Postby wolfvine on Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:20 pm

Greetings my friends.

Hi Brendan.
You and I spoke about this a while back. I have to tell you I would love to see 'Clontarf' being celebrated. My concern is Money, and when money is involved it brings in an element that can leave a sour taste in everyone's mouth. Its a double edged sword cutting both negitive and positive. I understand finance is needed but could we end up selling our re-enactment souls to do this? Anyone wanting to be involved would want to have all the decks cleared before they could get involved. It is a huge undertaking requiring great energy, and a clear vision on how the event should be.
Every event starts with an idea which is then discussed but after a while some action has to be taken to get things moving. Who is going to do that? and will others agree that person should do it, so now we are into Politics .I fear that money and politics are the two areas that could finish 'Clontarf' before it even begins. Over the years I have seen these two elements destroy events leaving a lot of fallout in their wake. I woundn't like to see that happen for 'Clontarf'

Thats just my speal on it guys. :|
May words speak only truth.
Seán
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Re: Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

Postby brendan on Sun Jul 04, 2010 1:07 am

Seán, yeah you were one of the people I talked to and I think that the conversation showed that something pretty cool could happen.
The concerns you have raised are valid and would have to be dealt with. There will be money to subsidize some of this (See above for the basic list of what I reckon will happen). And people will compete for that funding and committees or commercial enterprises will push us to get the best deal possible - it is their job. There will be a period of discomfort while the power dynamic works itself out - if it can; and power/political struggle/tension can lead to good stuff if it is harnessed.

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Re: Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

Postby brendan on Sun Jul 04, 2010 1:15 am

So, is anyone else willing to state their position on this?
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Re: Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

Postby consmiles on Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:58 pm

Hi
good to see Brendan, Jess, Sean and Panda openly discussing Clontarf 2014.
I should make it clear that I am not seeking any position on any committee - my previous post may have indicated such but it is not so. I will support as I am able and really want to see this as an annual flagship event for medieval re-enactors in Ireland.
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Re: Clontarf - are we serious about it? (long)

Postby Dave Mooney on Fri Jul 16, 2010 12:39 am

Sorry, I've not been on LH in ages.

As some will be aware from my FB postings (it really has taken over from here) I am working on 'Boru 2014' things beginning to rise here in the West.
It is Mogh Roith's opinion (Discussed at our AGM) as the group right in the Northern Dalcassian territory, that do the era, that it is our duty to engage with organisational bodies in the region and specifically in Boru associated areas such as Limerick City, Killaloe and Tuamgreaney. Not only on our own behalf and as representatives of the community that do that era.
As my take on this is that it is a national event I am trying to have an influence on committees developing here and stretching their conciousness to beyond thinking at solely a local level. I am of course pushing for the inclusion of re-enactment as a primary element in their event plans. I'm also trying to encourage the idea that whatever is developed for Western events could be shipped up to Dublin and plugged into the over all 'Clontarf 2014' scheme there. If the country is subbing into the scheme then it will be a lot better than Dublin being left to carry it. It was a national event then so why not now?

I was at a meeting last night in Ballina-Killaloe discussing the 2014 issue on a local level (I had hoped they were going to be talking regional, I'll work on them) and ideas were shared and the starts of the network established. There was not enough of the right people to establish a committee so there will be another meeting in September.

Again, as with Brendan, I don't care who runs it just as long as stuff happens. And a multitude of stuff will. As I've said before it's just up to us to have an influence as to what gets run. If we're not attending meetings or knocking on doors then, as Jess points out, we'll only have our selves to blame when it turns into a damp squib. If we don't trust each other with the cash (like who's going to hand it to us anyway) then we're looking at a non re-enactment event manager. Frankly that's the best option because 'Clontarf 2014' will go beyond just a re-enactment. The main thing, again, is to make sure our collective vision ends up in the right hands.

On the trust issue; people are going to have to get past that stuff or think about staying at home. We're going to have to work together, it's inevitable in order to hold big events. The terms and conditions under which people will do so can be set elsewhere but there must be willing to do so. Basically this event, or series of events, are greater than any of us. If you're holding on to a grudge or issue then you're holding yourself and this project back.

On build-ups to it: This year was too early for build-up events or to start putting the Clontarf badge about. Next year may also be a bit early. It's ok for us to be using the title amongst ourselves but if it goes into the public domain too early it will burn out and lose interest and impact. It is a good time now for drafting the 3-4 year plan (2011-13/14) and developing a strategy on grant applications. Each application should build on the last. If we wait till 2014 the development cash will be too thin on the ground. I'd suggest to start now and build up. Next year may be a good time for training/LHE camps associated with it though.

As per the meeting I was at last night, we are looking at 3 years of work to make this happen, that is the reality.

(If workers would join the que on the right please, we'll issue you with a shiny new clip board and box of pens.)

It's late so that's what I got for now.

Ború Abú! [No '?' ] ;)

Dave.
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