From the Church of Ireland
President Michael D Higgins planted a yew tree to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf as part of an ecumenical service in the Church of St John the Baptist this morning, Wednesday April 23.
The yew, which is a native Irish tree, was chosen for its longevity. Older yew trees in Ireland have been alive for an estimated 2,000 years so it is hoped that the tree planted in the church grounds this morning will be around for the celebrations marking the battle’s second millennium.
The date of the service coincides with the actual anniversary of the infamous battle fought on Good Friday 1014 between the forces of Brian Boru and the forces of the King of Leinster, Mael Morda mac Murchada, supplemented by Viking mercenaries. It ended in a rout of Mael Morda's forces and the death of around 10,000 warriors including Brian.
The theme of the commemorative service was Peace and Reconciliation. It was led by Rector of Clontarf, the Revd Lesley Robinson, with representatives of the six Christian churches in Clontarf, and was attended by the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson. The address was given by the Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, the Most Reverend Eamonn Walsh, representing Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Representatives of local business, sporting, educational, leisure and political interests were present along with the Danish Ambassador to Ireland, Niels Pultz, and the Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland, Ronald Names as well as representatives of the Irish Defense forces.
During the service representatives of the six local parishes lit candles for peace.
In his address Bishop Walsh said that the Battle of Clontarf could not be described as a “master class in conflict resolution”. He said the commemoration of the battle nudged us to reflect on the centre of gravity of peace and added that peace and reconciliation were in our hands.
Pope Francis had highlighted fraternity as an essential human quality for peace, he said. “It is the foundation and first pathway to peace. Seeing each other as sisters and brothers of God’s family enables us to see with a ‘fraternal optic’,” the Bishop explained.
“The brutality of the Battle of Clontarf has occasioned us with the opportunity to reflect on peaceful resolution to conflict and remembering we are sisters and brothers regardless of differences,” he concluded.
Speaking at the beginning of the service, select vestry member of the Church of St John the Baptist, John Patten, gave a history of the oldest parish in Clontarf and said it would have been in existence in 1014. He praised President Higgins and his wife and team for the manner in which the conducted the recent State visit to the UK and said that the Irish people owed him a huge debt of gratitude.