My husband and I had a trip booked to Ireland in June 2020. Due to Covid, the trip never happened. For a myriad of reasons, it’s a trip that likely won’t happen any time soon. I’ve pulled up my old itinerary, and I’m going to explore as much of this holiday as virtually as I can! Please visit my BLOG page for previous entries.
DAY 10: take bus 600 from St. Patrick’s Quay (Cork) to WATERFORD (705a-948a)
This was the day I was most worried about because we were going to be stuck carrying our bags. (We were not overnighting in Waterford — it was merely a stop along the way to Killkenny.) I read that there was a cloakroom at the Medieval Museum, so I guess we were going to find out if we could use them!
It’s the oldest city in Ireland. Viking raiders first established a settlement near Waterford in 853. It and all the other longphorts (a term used in Ireland for a Viking ship enclosure or shore fortress) were vacated in 902, the Vikings having been driven out by the native Irish. The Vikings re-established themselves in Ireland at Waterford in 914, led at first by Ottir Iarla (Jarl Ottar) until 917, and after that by Ragnall ua Ímair and the Uí Ímair dynasty, and built what would be Ireland’s first city. Among the most prominent rulers of Waterford was Ivar of Waterford.
The Waterford Viking Triangle
The Waterford Viking Triangle is part of the cultural and heritage area in Waterford City. It is so called because of the 1000-year-old Viking walls which once surrounded it. The Vikings chose to settle in Waterford on a triangle of land between two rivers. Easy to defend and with access to coast and inland rivers for their raids, it was an ideal spot for the Vikings to use as a base and settlement. Sites include:
Reginald’s Tower (Viking Museum)
It is the oldest civic building in Ireland and it is the only urban monument in Ireland to retain a Norse or Viking name. Reginald’s Tower was built by the Anglo-Normans after their conquest of Waterford, replacing an earlier Viking fortification. It was strategically located on the high ground between a branch of St. John’s River on the southeast (since drained, and now known as the Mall) and the River Suir to the north. The tower has since been used as a mint, a prison, and a military storehouse.
Waterford Medieval Museum
Museum was built over the medieval mayor’s vaults and Choristers’ Hall, it consists of three floors. The tour begins underground in the medieval vaults, which have northern Europe’s only intact wickerwork vaulted ceiling. The upper floor, while ostensibly about life in medieval Waterford, is really about its relationship to the English crown. Worth mentioning are Ireland’s only surviving example of a medieval half-bow, the famous Waterford brooch, the New Ross silver mace, and a cap of maintenance that belonged to Henry VIII. The latter is the only surviving piece of clothing from a Tudor monarch anywhere in the world.
Waterford Crystal Factory
“What is so special about Waterford crystal? you ask?” Waterford Crystal is one of the only places in the world that is highly successful with achieving a full 33% lead content in their Irish crystal. Adding lead to glass makes glass softer and more pliable. This pliability is what allows Waterford Crystal to carve such intricate, highly acclaimed designs into their glass. While some crystal manufacturers agree more research is needed, there is disagreement about consumer risk.
Bishop’s Palace Museum
The Bishop’s Palace Museum is a 250-year-old Georgian structure and contains artifacts dating from 17th century Waterford to the present day. The Museum tells the story of Waterford from 1700 to the 1970s and contains the only surviving Bonaparte “mourning cross” which was one of 12 produced upon Napoleon Bonaparte’s death in 1821. The oldest surviving piece of Waterford Crystal, a Penrose decanter is also on exhibition which dates back to 1789.
Somewhere along the way, we’d have to try Waterford’s famous Blaa Bread!
Modern Waterford bakers now believe the name ‘Blaa’ was corrupted from Huguenot words ‘Blaad’ – an old French word for flour, or ‘Blanc,’ – a French word meaning white, which refers to the unique white floury appearance of these rolls. This bread is one of only four Irish foods with Protected Geographical Indication from the European Union. Only four bakeries in County Waterford, Ireland, are licensed to make and sell Waterford blaas. Among these bakeries, they sell 12,000 blaas each day!
end: take bus 600 to Killkenny. (5p-548p)
Hotel Killkenny Bridge View B&B. 1 night. $89, breakfast included.
Next up: Killkenny castle