Sunday, February 18, 2018

Tenth anniversary of the 'spear'

The 10th anniversary of the installation of the Dun Ailinne Interpretive Park will be marked this year by a walk and picnic, writes Brian Byrne.

The Park, with its distinctive 'spear' sculpture by local artist Noel Scullion, was an initiative by Kilcullen Community Action, and marks the importance of the Dun Ailinne royal site a few kilometres south of the town.

It was officially opened in the summer of 2008 by the late Professor Bernard Wailes, who had led archeological excavations of the site in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The work confirmed and expanded the importance of the site as a regular place of congregation from pre-Christian times.

More recent investigations have extended knowledge of the underlying ancient gathering place, and while the site is on private land, the Interpretive Park provides a very clear timeline and explanation of the development and importance of Dun Ailinne in its time.

The spearhead monument is based on an artefact found during Professor Wailes' excavations, and Noel Scullion incorporated a number of elements which provide experiences at the Equinoxes that rival those of the ancient site at Newgrange. And you don't have to be in a lottery to enjoy them ... as long as there is a cloud-free dawn.

Since its installation, a tradition has grown that the Equinoxes are celebrated on the nearest Saturday morning with a sausages and brown bread breakfast in Ray Kelly's nearby Nicholastown home. That will happen again in March, we'll confirm the date closer to the event.

Meantime, KCA is considering how to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the official opening of the Park. In the most recent discussion, a 'walk and picnic' were suggested for starters. It should, and probably will grow beyond that.

In particular, it would seem very appropriate that we might once again hear a live rendition of the KCA-commissioned special piece of music sponsored by Dr Tony O'Reilly of Castlemartin House, 'Dun Ailinne and the Clann March' composed and played by Liam O'Flynn in a really extraordinary evening in Kilcullen Town Hall during the dedication of the sculpture in 2008.

And then we can take the celebration from there ...