Taoiseach takes to minting money in Waterford

Enda Kenny heckled by anti-austerity protesters

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Peter Seymore, whose Viking name is Saemarr, at the opening of the Medieval Museum in Waterford City today. Picture: Patrick Browne

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Peter Seymore, whose Viking name is Saemarr, at the opening of the Medieval Museum in Waterford City today. Picture: Patrick Browne

Thu, Mar 28, 2013, 19:19

Enda Kenny yesterday got a taste of what it’s like to mint your own money, away from the watchful eyes of the troika, but it was just a fleeting moment recalling times gone by rather than the way of things to come.

“We won’t tell Angela Merkel you’re making money,” the director of the Waterford Medieval Museum, Eamon McEneaney, assured the Taoiseach as Mr Kenny and actor Derek McGrath re-enacted scenes from the old mints that could be found around Waterford in medieval times.

Using an old-fashioned hammer and press, Mr Kenny successfully impressed an image of Edward I on the type of solid silver coins that once were currency throughout the country and created at, among other places, three mint buildings in Waterford.

Earlier, while meeting choristers who sang while dressed in medieval costume in the museum, Mr Kenny told them, “my man is Bruce Springsteen”.

He then carried out his minting duties in the undercroft of the museum, part of the labyrinth of passages running under the City Hall and Theatre Royal in Waterford’s Viking Triangle, and went outside the front entrance to officially open the museum.

Up to 20 protesters used car horns and sirens from nearby Bailey’s New Street to try to drown out the speeches, and shouted “Kenny, Kenny, Kenny, out, out, out” during the Taoiseach’s address. At the conclusion of his remarks, he said: “I love the background music out here”.

The opening of the museum was one of a number of functions carried out by the Taoiseach during a visit to Waterford. Despite announcing generally good news, for a change, he was met by a group of angry protesters as he walked down the Mall to the museum from his first engagement at the Tower Hotel. At one point, coffee from a protester’s cup landed – accidentally, it seemed – on Mr Kenny’s shoulder while shouts of “shame, shame, shame” and “disgrace” were levelled in his direction. One man shouted “get the f**k out of Waterford”.

There were reports afterwards that the Taoiseach had been spat on by a protester as he walked along the Mall, but organisers of the anti-property tax/ anti-austerity protest moved to dissociate their group from any such action. If it happened, a spokesman said later, it was the work of campaigners who joined yesterday morning’s protest. Gardaí thought any liquid to land on Mr Kenny’s jacket was from a cup of coffee held by a nearby protester.

The museum opening comes a year ahead of next year’s events to mark 1,100 years since the foundation of Waterford city by Vikings. The Medieval Museum is the third in a trilogy of museums in the Viking Quarter, along with Reginald’s Tower (Viking) and the Bishop’s Palace (Georgian), said to cover 1,000 years of history within 1,000 paces of each other.

Visitors to the Medieval Museum can view some of Ireland’s greatest treasures, such as the Great Charter Roll from 1373 which was viewed by Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Ireland in 2011, and the cloth-of-gold vestments from about 1460, which rank among the great works of art from the early European Renaissance. The museum also contains a hat worn by Henry VIII.