Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know…?
- Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, founded by the Vikings in 914.
- Waterford Crystal, which never discontinues a stemware pattern, melts 825 tons of crystal per year.
- The Waterford City Library was the first of many Andrew Carnegie libraries in Ireland (1905).
- The 13th century Reginald’s Tower is the only monument in Ireland named to honor a Viking, the city’s founder.
- The name Waterford is based on a Norse word for ram fjord or windy fjord.
The Waterford name, which belongs to a city and county on the southeast coast of Ireland, is most often associated with crystal. It is, therefore, something of an eye-opener to learn that the iconic glass-making business, founded in 1783, ceased production in 1851, then was revived in 1947. In any case, for the visitor today, touring the factory is an obvious choice, very likely to be accompanied by some serious shopping.
The city, a port town on the River Suir about 10 miles from the coast, has a long history stretching to the 10th century and the days of the Vikings. With a substantial portion of its old city walls, vestiges of original street plans, Reginald’s Tower and a couple of 13th century abbeys, it still retains something of its medieval aura.
Newer 18th century construction, including the Chamber of Commerce building, Christ Church Cathedral, the City Hall and the Bishop’s Palace, adds its own layer of charm.
Visitors will want to get acquainted with such a city, a process that begins quite naturally by treading the same streets the Viking founders laid down in the historic center. The center is known as the Viking Triangle. The second piece to this package is Waterford’s Museum of Treasures, which indeed displays the city’s treasures — those associated with a thousand-plus years of history — in three different buildings.
The 21st century city offers a full range of diversions, including the music, theater, pub food, local beers, horseracing and the types of festivals that international visitors often seek in Irish cities and Ireland’s countryside. Genealogical research is an option here, too.
Visitors who expand their horizons beyond the city to the eponymously named county may find relics of both historic and prehistoric times as well as a few natural wonders worth considerable attention, either for the pleasure of the scenics or for an active outdoorsy vacation.
Things to do for Venturers
- Go surfing or diving — your choice — on County Waterford’s Copper Coast. Or, explore the coastal islands and caves by kayak.
- Grab pub grub and make the rounds of local establishments in Waterford City and the area to sample the range of beers on offer.
- Spend a day hiking in the Comeragh Mountains. Alternatively, ratchet up the adrenaline with rock climbing in the Comeraghs or, very occasionally, ice climbing.
- Bet on the horses in Tramore, just outside of Waterford City.
- If you are up for this, compete in the Waterford Adventure Race, held in May, which involves cycling, kayaking and running. Or, settle for the Waterford Viking Marathon in June.
- Put the Waterford New Music Week Festival, a contemporary music event, on your calendar for March. Stay on for St. Patrick’s Day activities. The county also hosts jazz and bluegrass festivals.
Things to do for Centrics
- Look for and photograph the Vadrefjord Vikings, a local reenactment group whose members roam the Waterford City in traditional Viking dress.
- Eat blaa for breakfast — or lunch or dinner. It’s a bread roll unique to Waterford believed to have been introduced by the Huguenots in the 17th century.
- Step into other time zones at Waterford’s Museum of Treasures, a collection of three museums chronicling the city’s thousand-plus years of history. They are Reginald’s Tower housing the Treasures of Viking Waterford; Chorister’s Hall covering medieval times, and the Georgian Bishop’s Palace telling the story from 1700 to 1970.
- With a permit, go fishing on the Copper Coast. There are several choices on the shore itself or at the area’s lakes and reservoirs for shore fishing, fly-fishing or fishing from a chartered boat.
- Plot a driving tour of the county making its several prehistoric sites — standing stones, burial mounds and the like — the theme of this journey.
- Take the binoculars for bird-watching in the county. There are several places for this, including Fenor Bog, a national nature reserve.
Things to do for Authentics
- Take a guided tour of the Waterford Crystal factory, noted for its handcrafted cut glass, then buy a favorite piece on site. Also, at the visitor center, look for a glass piece dedicated to New York’s 9/11 rescue workers.
- Attend a production at the historic Theatre Royal. Or, check for a show presented by the Red Kettle Theatre Company.
- Join one of the walking tours conducted by the local Waterford Tourist Services.
- If of Irish descent, do some advance planning, then research your genealogy at Waterford’s genealogical center.
- Attend the city’s Spraoi Festival, a street carnival held each August. Spraoi is Irish for fun, and the fun is defined by live music, street performers and fireworks, all free. Also consider the Bealtaine Festival celebrating creativity in older age.
- If the timing is right, go to the beach — the beach at Tramore, a short way from Waterford City.
For more information, consult the Waterford City and County Council e at www.visitwaterford.com