One of the most colourful and contentious chapters of Ulster history will be brought to life at the Irish Game Fair & Fine Food Festival in June.
The Battle of Antrim will take centre stage with re-enactors firstly setting the mood with a skirmish at Antrim Castle Gardens at 12 noon on Saturday, June 4.
A larger re-enactment will be a flamboyant centrepiece of the historic pageantry of the Irish Game Fair & Fine Food Festival at Shane’s Castle over the weekend of June 25-26.
The re-enactors’ subject will be The Battle of Antrim which was fought on June 7 in 1798 and recognised as one of the most bitter confrontations of the Irish Rebellion.
Irish insurgents, led by Henry Joy McCracken and Roddy McCorley, attacked Antrim town.
The battle was hard fought, but following doughty resistance by the garrison, and the timely arrival of reinforcements, was eventually won by the British although the County Governor, Lord O’Neill, was fatally wounded.
The re-enactment of a skirmish in Castle Gardens will be recreated by leading players using picture-perfect uniforms, costumes, props and weaponry to create an authentic atmosphere.
Albert Titterington, Director of The Great Game Fairs of Ireland, said he was thrilled the event would host the historically accurate re-enactment of the Battle of Antrim.
“Alongside the roar and cry of the battle, we’ll also be presenting a reconstruction of a battle encampment which will allow members of the public to take a step back in history to get a feel for what life was like for those who were involved,” he said.
He added: “To my mind, how people ate, slept and prepared themselves for the fray is every bit as fascinating as the actual battle and I know that the re-enactors will be only too delighted to chat with visitors and share their extensive knowledge. They will also be able to put the Battle of Antrim into its historical context, something which I know will be appreciated not only by amateur history buffs, but also by the many schoolchildren who study the Battle today.”
Ian Crozier, Chief Executive Officer of the Ulster Scots Agency, added: “The Ulster Scots Agency is delighted to be involved in the Irish Game Fair and Fine Food Festival and the re-enactment of The Battle of Antrim.
“This will be the perfect setting for a family outing for a taste of history, education and countrysports and we are looking forward to the event.”
History will also be reflected with a Living History encampment and thrilling medieval jousting demonstrations.
Visitors to the festival will also enjoy a continuous programme of displays, competitions and entertainments at three main arenas, together with an amazing spread of tented villages, marquees and mini display arenas together with with angling competitions, air rifle shooting, clay pigeons, falconry, archery, horses and hounds, live cookery demonstrations plus a wide range of retailers showcasing their country wares.
The Irish Game Fair and Fine Food Festival is supported by Tourism NI and Antrim & Newtownabbey Council and is part of the NI Year of Food and Drink 2016.