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The Ages of Carlingford

Carlingford Lough Heritage Trust recently received support from the Heritage Council through the Irish Walled Towns Network to undertake a feasibility study into the possibility of staging sound and light spectaculars to promote local heritage and culture.

We have called the overall project “Lighting Up Time”. For some months therefore we at Carlingford Heritage Centre have been dutifully toiling away with our friends on a pilot son et lumière event centred around a video telling the story of Carlingford through the ages.

The video, entitled “The Ages of Carlingford”, tells the story of Carlingford and Cooley – in words, pictures and music – from the Ice Age and the first human settlement through the Viking and Norman invasions and on to the Age of Steam.

Along the way we meet Cuchulainn, Queen Maeve and the Great O’Neill and marvel at original drone footage – shot especially for the piece – clearly showing cultivation ridges still left behind on our uplands by the first farmers.


The video, lasting approximately twenty-minutes, is set to a stirring original sound track and concludes with a tribute to the heroic crew of Rescue 116. “The Ages of Carlingford” is an entirely local and original work from a collective of local artists, storytellers and musicians.

The script was written by journalist and local historian Seamus Murphy, who worked with Patrick Conway on obtaining drone images of historic sites, such as Lios an tSigeal, where the Brown Bull of Cooley was hidden from the men of Connacht. Seamus’ script is beautifully spoken by professional actor Aoibheann McCann and musician John McIntyre. Around this is woven an original musical score composed by our own Zoe Conway. Local technology wunderkind Cormac McCann of Candy Shop Digital and then pulled the whole thing together: sourcing and overlaying original still and moving imagery and layering this with the narration and Zoe’s foot-tapping score.

The video and wider project are managed by the Carlingford Collective; Gerry McAlinden, Kieran McCourt, Paraic McKevitt, Cormac McCann and Norman McMullan for Carlingford Lough Heritage Trust.

A preview of the video was screened at the Heritage Centre in Carlingford, on Saturday 19th August.


The real objective of our feasibility study and of both performances of course is to test the idea of mounting an outdoor son et lumière spectacular as an annual event. This would comprise not only video but also other elements – such as large scale projections of animated imagery, holograms or live performance – to the accompaniment of music and sound effects. Many of us have seen such performances elsewhere in Ireland and in continental Europe, where they are a staple of the summer festivities.

Carlingford and Cooley offer extraordinary historical and cultural interest as well as outstanding natural beauty. Carlingford itself boasts a wealth of iconic backdrops for such an event.

Imagine images of chanting monks, marauding Vikings or haughty Normans flitting across King John’s Castle, Taaffe’s Castle, the Abbey, the Mint, the Tholsel Gate, the ancient Harbour or along the winding streets and lanes. Carlingford Lough Heritage Trust will shortly report back to the Heritage Council on our feasibility study. In the meantime we now hope that, with substantive funding, our pilot could in future be scaled up to become a major annual event, contributing to the life of the village and to its image as a quality family destination. We hope that the project will offer many opportunities for prestigious sponsorship and endorsement by local businesses, and not only in the hospitality and tourism sectors. 

Please contact us at Carlingford Lough Heritage Trust if you are interested in being associated with future events.

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