Er­rors on Nor­man Way signs, leaflets and web­site are slammed


New Ross Standard - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID TUCKER

CRIT­I­CAL er­rors of fact have been made in leaflets and in­for­ma­tion plaques and an of­fi­cial web­site pro­mot­ing The Nor­man Way, a 43km tourism route from Ross­lare to New Ross, de­scribed as one of the trea­sures in Ire­land’s An­cient East, says lo­cal his­to­ri­ans.

Now they are call­ing on Wex­ford County Coun­cil to cor­rect the mis­takes ‘to avoid rep­re­sent­ing fan­tasy as fact’.

‘The er­rors will per­pet­u­ate mis­takes for time to come and be rep­re­sented as fact when it is plain that they are not,’ said his­to­rian Ni­cholas Fur­long, who un­cov­ered the mis­takes.

The coun­cil’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager David Minogue said the coun­cil ap­pre­ci­ates the sig­nif­i­cant role played by the large num­ber of ex­perts from the field of me­dieval history who have as­sisted in re­search­ing the Nor­man Way and said that er­rors that were dis­cov­ered would be cor­rected. ‘From time to time, di­verg­ing views and opin­ions will emerge among re­searchers in re­la­tion to the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of el­e­ments of this re­search,’ said Mr Minogue.

‘Such di­verg­ing views are part and par­cel of his­tor­i­cal re­search and serve to en­cour­age use­ful de­bate on the sub­ject mat­ter,’ he said, adding that so far only one er­ror had been brought to the coun­cil’s at­ten­tion and that was in a leaflet, not on the pan­els, and would be cor­rected when the leaflet is reprinted.

Mr Fur­long said mean­while it was ironic that Wex­ford County Coun­cil has within the County Li­brary ser­vice some of the lead­ing ex­pert his­to­ri­ans in the coun­try. Their of­fice is only a few yards away from the de­part­ment which pro­duced the in­for­ma­tion leaflets, the web­site and the mis­lead­ing pan­els,’ said Mr Fur­long.

He said a ma­jor er­ror was the nam­ing of a ‘new king’ of Le­in­ster ‘King Strong­bow the First.’

‘Strong­bow,’ whose real name was Richard de Clare, sec­ond earl of Pem­broke, Earl of Striguil, was a mer­ce­nary sol­dier from Wales who led the Nor­man mer­ce­nar­ies hired by the then king of Le­in­ster, Diar­muid MacMur­rough, vari­ably known as Diar­mait MacMur­chada, of Ferns in 1169.’

Mr Fur­long and other his­to­ri­ans, some mem­bers of Wex­ford His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, point out that Strong­bow could not have in­her­ited the king­ship of Le­in­ster as the right to elect a king of Le­in­ster be­longed only to reg­nal mem­bers of the MacMur­rough royal fam­ily.

How­ever, the county coun­cil in­for­ma­tion states: ‘Af­ter Diar­muid died, the Nor­man knight Richard de Clare (known as ‘Strong­bow’) in­her­ited the throne of Le­in­ster and the Nor­mans never left’.

The his­to­ri­ans say there was no throne and that he did not and could not in­herit royal power. In a hard-hit­ting let­ter sent to coun­cil di­rec­tor of ser­vices Tony Larkin, Mr Fur­long says ‘the ap­palling gaffe that con­fers the royal rul­ing power of Le­in­ster on a hired mer­ce­nary mil­i­tary of­fi­cer, in spite of the reg­nal pow­ers and pre­rog­a­tives of the ex­ist­ing MacMur­rough, is and will be seen as ap­palling.’

Call­ing on the coun­cil to ur­gently ad­dress the er­rors, Mr Fur­long writes that he and his peers are ‘anx­ious and ter­ri­fied’ that the same dis­tor­tion will ap­pear on the plaques all the way to New Ross and be­yond. The first 10 pan­els on the Nor­man Way route are in place at But­lers of St Ivers in Broad­way, Tacumshane mill, St Cather­ine’s Church, Sig­gin­stown Cas­tle, Ishart­mon Church, Tomhag­gard, Bal­ly­healy Cas­tle, Grange Church, Our Lady’s Is­land and Kilmore Quay.

The re­main­ing 30 are to be erected later bring­ing the Nor­man Way to New Ross. Among per­ceived er­rors: There are claims that the wind­mill at Tacumshane was in­spired by the Nor­mans whereas it was built in the 19th cen­tury and was of Flem­ish in­spi­ra­tion. They say the claim is spu­ri­ous that the Nor­mans im­proved agri­cul­tural and food pro­duc­tion. The Nor­mans hired were vet­eran sol­diers, not farm­ers. The web­site says that Strong­bow mar­ried Diar­mait MacMur­rchada’s daugh­ter and in 1189 Wil­liam Mar­shall sig­na­tor of the Magna Carta mar­ried Strong­bow’s daugh­ter. How­ever, the his­to­ri­ans say it fails to say that Diar­mait’s daugh­ter was Aoife and that Wil­liam Mar­shall mar­ried Aoife’s daugh­ter Iso­bel.

The web­site claims says Ban­now Bay was the first land­ing point and set­tle­ment of the mer­ce­nary Nor­mans into Ire­land in 1169. They say there was no Nor­man set­tle­ment in Ban­now at that time.

A sign for the Nor­man Way which runs from Ross­lare to New Ross.

His­to­rian Ni­cholas Fur­long.

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