Did you know that Viking raiders first appeared in Irish waters at the end of the eighth century? These mysterious raiders came exclusively from Norway and their attacks were usually on coastal targets, with no raids recorded more than twenty miles inland.
Considering the huge distress and disorder caused over the years by Viking attacks and the fascination people around the world have with these Nordic raiders, it came as no surprise when The History Channel came up with the idea to produce the highly successful TV series, 'Vikings'.
With the third series premiering earlier this year to over 4.6 million viewers, and a huge casting-call issued in Dublin last week to recruit extras for the fourth series, we have decided to put a piece together outlining the best places in Ireland to meet a viking!
8. Lough Tay
If you are looking to meet the entire cast of the Vikings series and even catch a glimpse of the scene been shot, then Lough Tay is the place to go. Almost 70% of all scenes in Season One were shot in the great outdoors, many in and around Lough Tay, a beautiful Lake in County Wicklow that looks like a giant Pint of Guinness. This location also happens to be one of Ireland's oldest monastic settlements, with ancient churches and a round tower to be found at nearby Glendalough.
7. National Museum of Ireland
Okay, so when we said you could meet Vikings, we never clarified if they would be alive or not! The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin has a brilliant Viking exhibition which includes a ninth century Viking skeleton and spearhead, found in the War Memorial Park in Dublin in 1934. At the centre of the exhibition you can also see a display of finds from the Museum's Dublin excavations, carried out between 1962 and 1981, which represents the finest collection of excavation finds from an early medieval urban centre anywhere in Europe.
6. Waterford City
Did you know Waterford city, in Ireland's South East, was actually founded by Vikings in 914 and is the only city in Ireland to retain its Norse name - Vadrarfjodr - which eventually became Waterford. Reginald's Tower, which can still be visited to this day, marks the first defensive structure built by the Vikings in 1088 and is the oldest civic building in Ireland. If you are looking to meet some 21st Century Vikings, or you would like to play the part yourself, then be sure to look up the Waterford Living History Society (members pictured above) who regularly engage in re-enactments of historical eras such as Waterford's Viking period.
5. Isoldes Tower
The remains of Isolde's Tower in the Temple Bar area of Dublin City were only discovered in recent years. The ancient tower formed part of the old city walls of Dublin and was the first part of the city's defenses from any sea-borne attacks, such as from ravaging Vikings! If the name sounds familiar...it should! It comes from the old Nordic legend of Isolde and Tristan. Isolde was an Irish Princess who was suppose to wed England's King Mark but after drinking a love potion she subsequently fell in love with a Knight named Tristan, who was delivering her to her husband-to-be.
2014 saw many Dubliner's commemorate the Millennium of the Battle of Clontarf, one of Ireland's most famous Vikings battles and an event which led to the death of Irish hero, Brian Boru. The event involved Ireland's largest historical re-enactment and saw over 60,000 people turn up to watch Irish clansmen defeat English raiders aided by the Nordic Vikings. If you are looking to catch a glimpse of some Vikings who may have been left behind, head on up to the sunny coastal village of Clontarf, only 15 minutes North of Dublin City.
Dublinia is a heritage centre in the heart of Dublin City that takes the visitor back to life in the city during Viking times. If you would like to see what life was like on board a Viking warship, visit a Viking house or even take a trip down a Viking street (or down the streets of Dublin!) then Dublinia, close to Christ Church Cathedral is worth a visit! Take the opportunity to Investigate ancient burial customs, explore the Viking legacy and meet some modern day Vikings.
2. Dunmore Caves
Have you ever dreamed about exploring some remote area and coming across some real-life treasure? Well, that's exactly what happened to a tour guide in the Dunmore Caves near Kilkenny a few years ago. While cleaning the path around the cave, the guide found a viking treasure of coins and woven silver buttons. The discovery was so astonishing it was mentioned in a documentary called, "The Ultimate Ten Amazing Treasure" aired on The Learning Channel in the U.S. The caves also have a darked history when it comes to Vikings, as it was the scene of a Viking massacre of over 1,000 people circa 928 AD.
1. Blessington Lake
If you are looking to meet a modern day Viking, otherwise known as Travis Fimmel (who plays leading character Ragnar Lothbrok in the Vikings TV series) you should make your way to the Blessington Lake in Co. Wicklow. Many scenes from the third series were filmed here so don't be surprised to see fake bodies hanging off of trees by the shore as traditional, wooden viking ships set sail into the sunset.