Ireland day 0869. Wednesday 14 February 2024- Waterford *

Ireland day 0869. Wednesday 14 February 2024- Waterford
Today’s summary A long-ish day trip to Waterford to check out one of the six remaining counties we hadn’t visited.   Had a look round the Waterford Crystal glassworks, and the Reginald’s Tower museum.   Altogether excellent and really interesting.   Champagne and crisps to celebrate St Valentine’s Day in the evening
Today’s weather Heavy cloud and thick drizzle all day.   Lights southerly wind.   Appx 11c
Today’s overview location
(The green mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The orange line shows where we walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Waterford Wander in the Wet

(Summary blog only.   Last full blog was Day 0368).

This morning there were six counties in the island of Ireland that we hadn’t been to.   But as of this evening, we crossed off Waterford, leaving just Roscommon, Leitrim, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Limerick to be visited.

Waterford is about 190km / 130 mi from where we live in Malahide but thanks to the M1, M50, M7 and M9 it’s only a 2 hour drive to get there.   So we got up (relatively) promptly and were on the road by 10:30.   Our first stop was the Waterford glass factory, which I had actually visited 45 years ago on a cycling trip in 1979.   Since then, it has gone into and out of receivership at least once.   Nowadays, crystal glass production has mostly moved to Czechia and Slovenia, but some high end manufacturing is still carried out in a new factory Waterford.   (Actually the “factory” is more like the bottom two floors of what looks very much like an office block in the middle of Waterford town.   It’s very odd).

After a quick cup of coffee (and scone!) in the Waterford Crystal café, we joined a 1 hour tour of the manufacturing facility which was actually very interesting.   There was a good opportunity to observe the skill of the glassblowers close-up.   It’s very impressive and it’s not surprising that it takes eight years of apprenticeship to learn it.   Though there is also a large glass engraving machine on display, and I did wonder exactly how much is done by hand and how much by machine.

There was a good showroom at the end which looked nice but as almost nothing came with anything less than a 4 figure price tag, we didn’t linger.   Instead we crossed the road to have a brief glance at the Mediaeval museum and then on to Reginald’s Tower.

It’s a prominent landmark and a relic of ancient fortifications.   It resembles a Martello Tower but is six hundred years older.   Inside the tower there’s an excellent museum charting the history of the Vikings in Ireland.   In fact Waterford was the first Viking settlement in Ireland – being founded in 914AD.   The name “Waterford” is neither Irish nor English – it’s actually Norwegian, derived from “Veðrafjǫrðr” which means something like “Haven from the Winter Sea”.

We had a good chat with the curator of this excellent OPW facility, who explained that while parts of England were relatively easily subjugated by the Vikings (e.g. York), Ireland proved more robust because the kingdoms were generally much smaller so the effort required to conquer significant areas was disproportionally much larger.

After loading up on Viking history, we decided to load up on carbs and found a nearby Italian café for a cup of tea and a sausage roll.   From there we headed back to the car park via Dunnes where we picked up a couple of packets of vernacular “blaa” rolls (a Waterford speciality) for breakfasts of the future.   The drive back up the motorway was straightforward if wet and we were back at the flat by 7:30pm.   Now it’s time to settle down to enjoy the remains of Valentine’s Day with a glass of champagne, some crisps, and a YouTube video about the Vikings in Ireland.   It’s incredibly complicated.


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Tasteful (….) glass train for sale in the Waterford Crystal showroom.   Yours for a mere €34,000 The world’s largest wooden sword sculpture, allegedly (although that’s probably a rather narrow category).   “Dragonslayer” – a 20m Viking Sword carved from a single tree, outside the ruins of Blackfriars Abbey
Reginald’s Tower – looks like a Martello tower but isn’t.   It was probably built around 1250 though additional storeys were added later (the Napoleonic era Martellos were built around 1801) There’s an exhibition inside the tower and as it’s run by the OPW it’s excellent.  The guide on the front desk was especially knowledgeable about the Vikings and their complex history
Strongbow and Aoife outside Christ Church cathedral on their wedding day in August 1170 This morning there were six unvisited counties in ireland.  Now there are only five as Waterford (bottom right) joins the list of the 26 others we have been to so far
Glassblower in action.   The training programme lasts at least eight years
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 2931 m
Max elevation: 9 m
Min elevation: 2 m
Total climbing: 29 m
Total descent: -29 m
Total time: 04:30:25
Download file: Waterford-wander-in-the-wet-compressed-corrected.gpx

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