Wyrd Designs – In the News: Priest Honored for Saving Dublin’s Viking Past

Wyrd Designs – In the News: Priest Honored for Saving Dublin’s Viking Past June 4, 2010

Far too often, most of us who have come to some form of paganism came so through experiences from Christianity. Unfortunately, the issues that made us leave that religion behind us to find and embrace this new one follows us around like baggage sometimes. But sometimes we also need to remember that without the steps on the journey that led us to this path we may not have found it in the first place.

A recent news article I stumbled across reminded me of this, that as much as we sometimes blame Christianity for the destruction of the old ways… sometimes we also need to recognize in certain cases it’s help us to preserve knowledge too.

In the 1970’s, an amazing Viking settlement was found in the Dublin area of Ireland. However plans by the Dublin Corporation were about to destroy the data rich settlement for the sake of progress. Augustinian priest Francis Martin led an exhaustive struggle against the company fighting to preserve the historic past. He waged war in the court, and time after time managed to buy crucial and critical delays. While in the end, some portions of the site were lost, his delays still enabled archaeologists to conclude excavation on those areas before building commenced. Even in defeat there was some victory… and his efforts did manage to help preserve some things from being destroyed, like part of the original stone defensive wall for the Viking-Age city of Dublin.

Director of the National Museum Dr Pat Wallace, who was the chief archaeologist at the time states, “what was found there was the best evidence of town layout and urbanisation from 920 to 1100. It’s the story of the beginning of mainstream European urbanisation. That’s what was found and documented, which would have been lost had Fr Martin not led those marches and taken those court cases.”

Martin, who died in 2000 is being honored by an exhibit this summer at the National Library in Ireland for his efforts in preserving Dublin’s Viking past.

If you would like to learn more you should check out the story at the Irish Independent.

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  • A friend of mine and her husband visited Ireland and while in Dublin were chatting with locals in the pub. They were asked if they had come to Ireland to reconnect with their ancestry and she explained they were of Scandinavian descent. The local told her she was in the right place then, since Ireland boasted the largest Viking museum in the world!