As part of today’s International Conference of National Trusts, I joined a tour into the countryside to explore a bit of Irish history and see rehabilitation and interpretive efforts at work.
Our host for the conference, An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, owns a 1748 canal running through Ireland’s valley of the kings along the River Boyne. The canal is under restoration and we had a chance to meet with the energetic project manager and learn about his work. The lock at the top is where the salt water from the sea meets the fresh water of the river. The picture below is a historical view from the An Taisce web site of the canal in operation.
This important part of the Irish attempt to capitalize on the Industrial Revolution was only one of the sites we visited. I mentioned earlier in the week about seeing the silver at Christ Church Cathedral donated by King William in honor of his victory in Ireland that solidified his hold on the English throne. Today, we visited the battlefield where that victory was won: The Battle of the Boyne. It was here in 1690 that protestant King William of Orange defeated the army of the Catholic King James II. There’s a recently opened visitors and interpretive center which we toured with a guide from the site. As An Taisce put it in the conference materials, “the outcome of this battle has been the source of much bitterness historically and the correct interpretation of the site has been integral to the Irish Peace Process.” The closing line of the center’s interpretive film put it a little more directly: Issues arose in the battle that “reverberate to today.” The good efforts to focus on how different parts of Ireland view the battle and its outcome were obvious, showing another way historic places resonate even today. You could say that Irish history isn’t even history because it is as fresh as the morning’s news.
I’ve attached a couple of photos from the center and the countryside, which also show an unfortunate highway bridge that dominates the landscape from the critical view in front of the interpretive center.
More to come…