Battle site visitors’ centre gets planning permission

The BBC report that Meath County Council have granted planning permission for the Irish Government’s Office of Public Works’s application to build a visitors’ facility and associated works at the site of the Battle of the Boyne, previously announced in May 2005, although I’ve had trouble tracking down the actual plans. According to the May 2005 press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the scheme is to cost an estimated €15 million over three years and, as noted in the BBC report, they hope to increase the number of visitors from the current 25,000 per year to 100,000 per year.

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  • English

    Good idea, there are plenty of mugs who will travel and pay 30 Euro to get in. If they get 100,000 people through the door then fair play to them.

  • Greenflag

    Could be the start of a trend 🙂

    I await with bated breath demands for similar facilities at other ancient battle sites around Ireland .

    Clontarf, Farsetmore , Clontibret , Yellow Ford , Benburb , Kinsale, Aughrim , Dysert O’Dea, Knockdoe , Arklow , Vinegar Hill are just a few which spring to mind . All those interested in this aspect of history should be able to purchase an all in one ticket and be taken around the varios sites by ‘battle bus ‘

    PS does anybody know if our neighbours have anything like what’s proposed for the Boyne site at Hastings in the south east of England ? Hastings had a similar ‘world changing ‘ effect on Anglo Saxon England as the Boyne had aon Gaelic Ireland -IIRC .

  • Martin

    Greenflag,

    William the Conqueror actually erected his own visitors centre in the form of Battle Abbey. That went the way of all Abbeys in the Reformation but today English Heritage runs the site and they promise –

    Taking the interactive audio tour of the battlefield gives you a real understanding of the dramatic events of that day. Let Aelfric, a Saxon soldier, Henri a Norman Knight and Edith Swanneck, Harold’s mistress, lead you through the events of the day from their perspective and let history come alive for you.

    http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/battleabbey/visit_battle_abbey/index.asp

    I guess we’re just slightly less touchy about these things.

  • Greenflag

    Martin,

    Thanks for the link 🙂

    ‘I guess we’re just slightly less touchy about these things. ‘

    Well lets look at the numbers

    2006 -1066 = 940
    1690 + 940 = 2630

    I make it that in approx 624 years time i.e 2630 AD we should be , all other things being equal which they of course never are , as less touchy about the Boyne as our neighbours are about Hastings:)

    Mind you I would’nt bet on it 🙂

    Edith Swanneck -what a name -Sounds graceful-I guess some Norman took her as a spoil of war no doubt ?

  • Martin

    Quite.

    It will be intersting to see what the Boyne Vistor’s Centre equivalents of Aelfric, Henri and Edith will be from the Green and Orange sides…

  • Greenflag

    I’m sure they’ll do a good job . The fact that the building of such a centre has caused such little controversy is an indication that my 2630 forecast does not apply in the Republic but is probably more appropriate for NI .

    Perfectly understandable of course given that the OO are given to parading for 3 months of the year every year to remind the faithful and the faithless that they won the battle . It seems to be dawning on not a few that there is more to a war than a battle .Constant repetition is considered an aid to memory but it can be counterproductive .

    Winston Churchill said (1920) that the Balkans had more history than they could consume . This is probably also true of NI . The difference between the Balkans and NI is that the former lost it’s Austro Hungarian Empire controllers overnight whereas the latter has seen the British Empire dribble away into non existence over half a century . And when you look at NI politics today somehow the word ‘dribble’ seems somehow appropriate.

    NI disappearing from history not with a bang and not with a whimper but with a dribble .

    George Best I’m sure would approve 🙂

  • Martin

    I think I would agree with that 100%. I actually quite enjoy that sort of thing in a very old man with wellies kind of way and I have no doubt it will be facinating.

    Actually with Hastings it always gets tought as “the one we lost” thereby turning a negative into a positive. As with Dunkirk it shows that we are very good on, well, spin with these things. Then again a desendant of the victors is still the head of state which would explain a lot.

    I have to say, however, that the amount of money they are spending on the Boyne thing appears wholly excessive. A battlefield is essentially, well, a field. There’s only so much one can do to a field. €15m? I can’t think of any comparable site worldwide (with the possible exception of Gettysburg – which has a wider significance in that context) having so much spent on what is essentially a tourist attraction.

    Which leads me to the conclusion, and forgive an ignorant Brit if I am wrong, that this has more to do with building inclusivity, and perhaps taking unionist cash, than any educational or wider touristic purpose. Who would this be marketed at but a certain type of visitor from the 6 Counties?

  • Betty Boo

    There is no red line never mind a silver lining in the way heritage sites are treated in the Republic. But it seems to be always a case of shoveling cash in someone’s pocket.
    http://unknownswilly.orgfree.com/grianan2006.html

  • Greenflag

    ‘Actually with Hastings it always gets tought as “the one we lost” thereby turning a negative into a positive. ‘

    I’ve read a bit about the social/cultural /eonomic impact on England post Hastings and it is almost a carbon copy of what happened in Ireland following the second English conquest (1550-1700) except that the Norman conquest /land grab took place within a couple of years . of the 4,000 or so Anglo Saxon Thanes who held land before the conquest only 40 managed to still hold their own land 10 years after the conquest . Eventually the Normans ‘anglicised’ just as they ‘hibernicised’ later in Ireland but some historians believe that the Black Death by wiping out many of the Normans in their urban centres of population was a significant part of the reason why English and not French is the spoken language of our neighbouring island .

    ‘Which leads me to the conclusion, and forgive an ignorant Brit if I am wrong, that this has more to do with building inclusivity, and perhaps taking unionist cash, than any educational or wider touristic purpose.’

    You could be right . On the other hand I recall as a kid being taken on a school tour to visit Newgrange and Blessed Oliver Plunkett’s Head (Now Saint Oliver ) in the tabernacle at St Peters church in Drogheda . You can imagine which of these visitor attractions was of most interest to a class of 11 year olds : Rocks were just rocks but a head in a tabernacle now that was worth seeing . Ghoulish of course and from an adult perspective at least looking back somewhat bizarre . Oliver Plunkett FYI was IIRC the RC Bishop of Drogheda and belonged to waht were called the Old English in ireland who had remained faithful to the old religion and did not suit Cromwell’s new order .

    I suppose School tours in the future may lump in the Boyne centre to take the kids not only to 2,500 BC – and 1645 AD but now to 1690 AD also before they are whisked back to Dublin in 2006 AD where they can read all about it in as nuch detail as they like courtesy of Google etc etc .

    ‘Who would this be marketed at but a certain type of visitor from the 6 Counties? ‘

    Don’t worry . The lads behind this will not be relying on the cash strapped NI market segment to bring in the cash flow . The site will be added on to the hundreds of tourist buses that are always looking for somewhere different . I’ve been to Stonehenge twice and Newgrange three times . And that is probably enough 🙂

  • Martin

    Eventually the Normans ‘anglicised’ just as they ‘hibernicised’ later in Ireland but some historians believe that the Black Death by wiping out many of the Normans in their urban centres of population was a significant part of the reason why English and not French is the spoken language of our neighbouring island .

    That may well be true but modern English is really an amalgam of Old English and French which is one of the reasons that it has such a huge vocabulary compared with some other languages. Like French. That was no mean feat considering the former was germanic and the latter a romance language.

    So, for example you can use “beer” (from the French) or “Ale” (from the Anglo-Saxon) to describe the same product. Traditionally the French version was considered the posher. An example of this in Ireland is the use ruling class’s use of the French rooted “County” instead of the Anglo-Saxon “Shire” (although in America the “Shire-Reeve” or Sheriff is still the head law officer of a county). Corkshire or Antrimshire have a quaint ring but don’t really cut it.

    What is interesting is why, similarly, Irish did not become an amalgam of “Old” Gaelic and English when the Old English assimilated into the Irish population, in the same way Old English essentially fused with French when a similar process happened here, and instead remained wholly distinct languages.

    Sorry, blithering.

  • English

    You won’t get many English going to the site of what is one of the most insignificant ‘battles’ of British History. You would think the way that Orangemen go on England was saved by the battle, but this is nonsense. I am sure the canny Irish will make as much money as they can out of it, but good luck to them.