SHARE
Knights duel with swords during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway
Knights duel with swords during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway, Ireland September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Advertisement

By Clodagh Kilcoyne
CLAREGALWAY, Ireland (Reuters)

Once the chief fortress of a powerful 15th century family descended from an English knight, the west of Ireland castle of Claregalway went back to its roots on Saturday

The grounds of the fully restored Anglo-Norman era tower house were transformed into a medieval battlefield as hundreds of enthusiastic visitors, many from around the world, re-enacted full contact combat and games from centuries ago.

 

Andrew O'Donnghaile dressed as an Ottoman warrior prepares to mount horse Bilbo to demonstrate horseback archery skills during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway
Andrew O’Donnghaile dressed as an Ottoman warrior prepares to mount horse Bilbo to demonstrate horseback archery skills during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway, Ireland September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

“It’s a nice weekend away and it’s something different,” said Denise Fitzgerald from County Kerry, who as the tavern owner for the weekend prepared food for the competitors by frying vegetables off in lard on a campfire.

“For me it’s like getting back to basics. I’ve been trying to do everything properly,” said the theater worker, who was taking part in her first armored combat festival.

 

Gokmen Altinkulp dressed as an Ottoman warrior rides horse Bento to demonstrate horseback archery skills during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway
Gokmen Altinkulp dressed as an Ottoman warrior rides horse Bento to demonstrate horseback archery skills during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway, Ireland September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

On the field, fighters dressed head to toe in authentic chain-mail armor battled it out and while their swords may have been blunt, some left with dented helmets and one, a cut lip.

Others on horseback showed off their skills by slicing cabbages and aubergines in half while on the move. Nearby, metal smelters hammered weapons into shape, spice merchants prepared remedies and tradeswomen spun and dyed wool.

 

Helena Stackpoole playing Lady Eleanor Fitzgerald embroiders during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway Castle in Galway
Helena Stackpoole playing Lady Eleanor Fitzgerald embroiders during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway Castle in Galway, Ireland September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

Deadly serious and exquisitely dressed, few dared to break character.

“Anyone can get dressed up but staying in character is an art form, I think,” said Helena Stackpoole, who as ‘Lady Eleanor Fitzgerald’ was putting her fashion design background to unique use.

“All the costumes are hand stitched. I have a belt here that I’m embroidering and it’s taken two years so far and the dress that I’m working on at the moment, the sleeves alone have 800 pearls hand sewn into them. I’m a bit serious about this,” she said.

 

(Writing by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Helen Popper)

 

 

Donna Dornan posing for a photograph in costume as a Celtic warrior patrols the roof of Claregalway Castle during a medieval combat festival in Galway
Donna Dornan posing for a photograph in costume as a Celtic warrior patrols the roof of Claregalway Castle during a medieval combat festival in Galway, Ireland September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

A man in medieval costume looks on during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway
A man in medieval costume looks on during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway, Ireland September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

Knights duel with swords during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway
Knights duel with swords during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway, Ireland September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

A man dressed as an alchemist demonstrates chemical tricks with bottles of liquids during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway
A man dressed as an alchemist demonstrates chemical tricks with bottles of liquids during a medieval combat festival at Claregalway castle in Galway, Ireland September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

 

 

Keep reading (more images ahead) …