A Medieval welcome for minister joe o’brien in ferns!

Its not every day you have a visit from a Minister and especially one who is willing to have a go!. Minister Joe O’Brien was in Ferns to meet with local community groups and community employment scheme participants.

He was certainly up for it when he visited the Medieval Ferns Experience, Wexford’s newest visitor attraction and one that tells an old and fascinating story in an entertaining and informative way.

The Experience uses a mix of media to explore Ferns’ medieval history. A film narrated by Ann Doyle gives context to the whole Experience. Spanning the centuries from the 6th through to the 12th, it sets the scene of why Ferns, the Ancient Capital of Leinster, became the significant place it was in the medieval period. Ann’s narration is terrific, showcasing the skills honed as a newsreader over the years and brings an additional quality to the film admired by all who’ve seen it.

One of the most popular things to do in the Experience is to take the ‘Inauguration Stone Challenge’ and, when invited, Minister O’Brien was game! So up he popped, stood on the stone, listened to a Brehon lawyer tell him about what being a Gaelic king entailed and invited him to see if he was ‘fit to be a king’. He was to be asked one question – if he answered correctly, he was fit to be a king and if not, well, you know……… he wasn’t! So the question was asked and the Minister answered and … he was correct and deemed fit to be a king. Of course we were all pleased for him, and he wasn’t put off when he heard he wasn’t the only contender – there are others with ambitions to be King of Leinster. Only last week 9 year old Cathal O’Neill of the Ui Néill dynasty took the challenge and was also deemed fit while many others failed the test!

So what to do, we have a predicament which will have to be resolved – this was not an unusual situation in the time of Diarmait MacMurrough. In the true spirit of provincial kings in medieval Ireland, since the time of Brian Boru, Gaelic kings ruled ‘in opposition’. They were continually being challenged and ousted from their kingship, sometimes by their own kin. However we do things differently now and we’re just going to have to deal with it, without resorting to battle.

We look forward in the months ahead to people accepting the Inauguration Stone Challenge – don’t leave it too long before visiting this new north Wexford visitor attraction in Ferns.

After the Ministers visit, we’re now looking ahead, making plans for Halloween – so watch this space!

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