Newcomer's Guide to the Barony of Eplaheimr

View into the garden at an event in Clara, Co. OffalyChances are you are visiting or living in Ireland and you've discovered something about us because you have an interest in things medieval. Eplaheimr is one of three groups in Ireland that are part of the Society for Creative Anachronism — a worldwide organisation for people interested in practical history research of the Middle Ages. Our Barony and Shires are smaller groups within a larger group that covers the UK, Ireland and Iceland — our Principality Insulae Draconis. That, in turn, is one Principality in a Kingdom, The Kingdom of Drachenwald, which covers most of Europe and South Africa.

The SCA is a practical history society. We have members interested in all aspects of recreating the arts and skills of pre-17th century Europe, be it combat skills, astronomy, brewing, dancing, costuming feasting, calligraphy, or one of many, many more skills. We are family friendly and hold practices in armoured combat, rapier combat, and archery, and meet up to work on various arts and sciences, like armouring, brewing, spinning, metal casting, illlumination and more. We cover many cultures and time periods, and don't restrict our members to any one area — Vikings mingle freely with 16th Venetian ladies, and swap skills and stories. We work with the idea of selecting a persona to research; some go for a general "medieval" and don't get too worried about the details, while others lovingly craft an entire identity with time-appropriate clothes, accessories, weapons, household goods and skillsets.

Events are held all over Ireland between the Barony and two Shires: some will be local to you, some might be held in another Shire, and yet more are held in the Principality and Kingdom. These events are a great way to meet people interested in the same things you are, and you can experience tournaments, royal courts, feasts, and medieval entertainments. Events can be run over the course of a day (revels) or a weekend, and there's even a ten-day camping event in Wales at Raglan Castle.

Athlone Viking CruiseAs a Barony we're your best point of contact for local practices if you are looking to participate in Galway, Limerick, Clare, Westmeath, Offaly, Meath, Longford, Laois or Tipperary.

Can children come along?

Of course! We currently have members in the full range of ages, from small kids, teens, college students all the way through to those who may be celebrating their 21st for more years than they care to remember. All we ask is that children be accompanied by a responsible adult, and to be aware that there are waiver forms for parents/gurdians to sign at events and practices for children.

How do I find out if I really like it?

Our SeneschalYou don't have to join and pay membership fees straight away: you can still participate without being a member. The easiest way to start getting involved is probably to come along to some of our classes and practices. There are fencing and heavy fighter practices in Limerick, fencing practices and archery practices in Kingeslake, and regular A&S meetups all over the Barony. You don't need to be a master of any art, craft or science to join in. To give you an idea, what we call "A&S" meetings will give you a chance to try some new skills and classes. Some of our past classes have included calligraphy, silk painting, brasswork, leatherwork, glass bead making, garb making (costuming), pottery, and banner making.

We would also encourage anyone to jump straight in and attend an event. Our most common type of event are weekend events where we run archery, fencing and often heavy fighting competitions outside, while inside you might try any of our Arts and Sciences, listen to some storytelling, or just enjoy the atmosphere and join us for feast. You can just come along for the day if a whole weekend seems too daunting.

What do you mean by an Event and what can I expect?

At Portumna CastleAn event is usually a themed weekend with a selection of typical SCA activities. We run events all over. For example, there are regularly held events in Clara, Co. Offaly. There is accommodation (bunks, very comfortable) or crash space (somewhere to lay your head on the floor with your sleeping bag out of the elements with heating). In our events and practices page you will find upcoming events.

Here are some things to be aware of

What is covered by the event fee?

The fee mentioned on each event page covers the whole weekend or the daytrip, including accommodation, food (breakfast, lunch and feast) and site costs. You may wish to bring your own snacks and drinks.

A word of caution — do please book in advance if you do decide to try an event. We need to know you're coming to make sure there's room and to make sure the regulars know to keep an eye out for new people. We especially want to make sure newcomers are put in touch with our Chatelaine, the officer responsible for making sure you're welcomed. The booking form will be clearly linked from each event announcement.

What do I need to bring?

We try to use tableware that fits in with the look and feel of medieval tableware, so wooden, pottery or pewter style dishes and cutlery, taking care to cover modern bottles and cans. We can loan you a set of tableware (feast gear) for your first event. It will be your responsibility for the weekend, you wash and dry it after each meal, each person taking care of their own setting.

Medieval clothes — we all wear them and, as each event is about participation and not just looking on, you will need to too. It's surprising how fast you feel totally at home in medieval clothes when everyone around you is too, and it really does help with the experience. We can organise loaner garb (the medieval clothes we wear) for new people: just let us know when you book.

What kind of things happen at an event?

  • Fighting: Fencing and Heavy fighting obviously need some training as we don't want preventable injuries. To properly participate in these at an event you need to have attended practices and become authorised. That said, if you're dying to have a go there is usually someone on hand who may be able to introduce you to the beginner's basics, let you handle some of the equipment and talk you through how to get properly involved. Even if you're not directly involved, tournaments are very enjoyable to watch. Learn more about Heavy fighting. Learn more about fencing.
  • Archery and thrown weapons: The good news is that total beginners at their first event will be able to try and participate in archery and thrown weapons (knives and axes) at their first event. We just want you to make yourself and your previous experience known to the archery marshal, and to ensure that you attend very careful to their instructions on the day. Learn more.
  • Arts and Sciences: While folk are outside fighting with one another or sticking arrows in innocent targets, there are always folk inside carrying out the quiet business of their special projects, maybe while telling stories or just catching up with the news. There will usually be small classes at points during the day and most A&S minded folk will have a small project with them for newcomers to try, for example luceting, or beadwork. Some events are built around A&S classes, like Yuletide University. Learn more.
  • Cooking: If you're the sort of person usually found in the kitchen at parties, have no fear! The kitchen staff are all event attendees, volunteers who have decided to throw their lot onto the kitchen to prepare the wonderful medieval spreads we eat at lunch and feast. Volunteers are ALWAYS welcome, to help with the slicing and dicing or to wash a pot or two. You are guaranteed to learn a lot and to have a lovely, animated bunch of people to hang out with.
  • Storytelling and bardic performances: After feast people will sing, tell stories, perform acts of witchcraft, and introduce you to the medieval world of entertainment without TV.

Finding out more

You can check out the Insulae Draconis website for more information about what we do in the SCA.

You can contact one of our officers — we especially recommend getting in touch with the officer assigned to welcoming newcomers, our Chatelaine. Our current Chatelaine is Lord Cullen (Iain healy). Email the Chatelaine

Other officers