ArticleChildren Of The North Wind
High Kings ruled over Ireland for a while after Palladius, followed by St. Patrick, had brought Christianity into the country in the middle of the 5th century AD - that's why some structures on Tara combine the Christian cross with pagan symbols, such as the circle. King John's forces landed in Ireland in 1172 - to ensure the presence of the English for the next 750 years. The gap in-between had been filled by the third major force leaving an indelible mark on Irish history and identity - the Vikings who considered themselves “made by the North wind”.
Arguably, the Norsemen are one of the most fascinating and controversial phenomenon in Medieval History. Ruthless and fearsome raiders whose killing, raping and pillaging spread terror all over Medieval Europe, they might have shared the sentiment expressed by one of the characters of the “Westside Story” musical. Facing arrest, that character is trying to convince a police officer to let him and his friends go - so, he claims that “…we ain't no delinquents, we are misunderstood. Deep down inside us there is good!” The Vikings could also claim “being good” - and rest their case, too. To start with, they were indomitable explorers - and it was Erik the Red who discovered Greenland, while his son, Leif Eriksson, happened to be the first European to land in North America, long before Columbus did. As for raiding, killing and such, the Vikings were just peaceful farmers who spent their summers toiling in the fields. It was only in winters, when there was nothing else to do in that terribly cold weather, that they would travel around a bit. After all, all they needed was a little warmth, a little love…and a little wealth - so, they used their time away from home to find all three, and find a new home, at that. Quite surprisingly, this seemingly “humorous only” argument isn't completely devoid of truth. Notwithstanding all the bloodshed, they did settle down in many countries they had just raided - and once they did, they would indeed become peaceful farmers and, often, good neighbours contributing to the local society. For instance, England owes them a big segment of its language, and Ireland - its current capital.
In 795 a raiding party found itself at a point where two rivers met and created a tidal pool. The churning water looked black - so, the party leader called the place “black pool”, or “dubh lynn”. It took the Vikings 46 years to stop coming back and forth, and create a permanent settlement. When they did, they remembered the name… Over time, the settlement grew enough to develop into the Kingdom of Dublin, and its inhabitants put down enough roots through trade and intermarriages to become Norse-Gaels. When in 1014 the warriors of the Kingdom faced the High King Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf, both Norsemen and Gaels could be found in numbers in both armies. The amalgamation of two people into one nation was essentially completed. The process wasn't necessarily peaceful but it seemed to have left few hard feelings - and a lot of interest in the Viking culture instead. Centuries later that interest resulted in the creation of a unique thematic museum called “Dublinia”. Three floors of exhibits shedding light on the Medieval Dublin - its crafts, health system, public and private life. In a way, the latter topic provides the most concise and, at the same time, comprehensive picture of the Viking transformation - a reconstruction of a room in a family house belonging to a Norseman and a Gaelic woman