Connemara Marble

 
Hello and welcome to this weekend’s virtual walk.
 
Today let’s head for the Viking city of Waterford. The weather is mild and dry, so let’s explore this ancient city !
For many of my American and overseas friends , the name Waterford conjures up the luxury crystal – which of course is made here  but did you know that we can trace the city right back to Viking times..
 
Let’s park on the quays and head off for a look around. For me the first thing that strikes me is the width of the river Suir as it flows towards the sea at Waterford’s harbour. You can see that the role of safe harbour was important so long ago.
 
The name Waterford comes from the old Norse Veofafjoror , or in Irish “Port Lairge” , meaning Larag’s Port . It was the Vikings that first settled the City in 853 AD . They were driven out, but re settled here in 914 AD and built what was Irelands first City on the shores of the river.  In fact they held that title until the 1100’s when Dublin was declared the capital.
 
Let’s head up the quays – many of the buildings here have remained unchanged for centuries – you can imagine the hustle and bustle long ago when schooners and tall ships were unloaded at the quayside. The Granville hotel has stood here since the early 1700’s and has played a major role in the City’s Cultural and historic events over the centuries. Not far away is the long established Shaw’s department stores .. as their advert says ” almost nationwide ” Shaw’s have branches in several Irish towns and cities !
 
Traces of the Medieval city walls are still to be found, and the city is divided into the Viking quarter and the medievil quarter . Take a look at the plaque that tells us that the Turgesius tower was built on this site in 1000 AD.
A little further along is Reginald’s tower which is the oldest civic building in Ireland and is Waterford’s most recognisable landmark. The original vas built by the Vikings and what we see today dates from between 1253 and 1280 . The tower itself is 54 feet high and was once part of the actual city walls. It has been used as a mint, a prison , served as a royal castle and it is also famous for being the location of the wedding of Richard de Clare, the second earl of Pembroke  and better known as Strongbow to Aoife , the daughter of Dermot Mac Murrough , King of Leinster .
 
I love the way a replica Viking long ship is located beside the tower, it sure gives you an idea of the bravery of the Vikings as they set out on their adventures across the high seas.
This whole area is a warren of little side streets and alleys.
Nearby is the ruined Black Friars Abbey – and standing outside is a fantastic carved tree, that is fashioned to look like a Celtic sword – it is amazing.
 
We go up the lane towards the Viking treasures museum and the newly opened museum of time.
 Pardon the pun, but time is against us today so we don’t have a chance to visit either of these interesting places.
Just around the corner and in front of the Bishop’s palace is the Waterford Crystal visitor centre .. let’s go inside for a quick look around.
 
The story of Crystal making in Waterford can be traced back to 1783 when George and William Penrose started their business, the Waterford Glassworks. They produced extremely high quality glass that was world renowned , and their factory closed in June 1851. Several attempts were made over the years to revive the business , and the breakthrough happened in 1947 when the business as we know it was founded.
 
Waterford Crystal is now known as the finest crystal in the world and it’s great to see the tradition continue. You can tour the factory, chat to the cutters and craftsmen and visit the extensive showroom .
Let’s finish our walk on this high note and make our way back to the car .
 
I do hope that you enjoyed coming with me today to Waterford, take care until next time.
Stephen

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