Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral, Waterford

Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral, Waterford

Thur, 2 Apr - Waterford to Kilkenny

Waterford claims to be Ireland's oldest city, founded in 914 by the Vikings, led by a certain Reginald, which explains why the tower outside my bedroom window (Tower Hotel, room 303) is called Reginald's Tower. To be honest, it didn't detain me long - I'm not very adept at navigating those steep, narrow, stone spiral steps.

Other historical claims to fame are that on 25 Aug 1170, Waterford Cathedral was the venue for the wedding of Strongbow and Princess Aoife, daughter of Dermot MacMurrough, who had offered the beautiful Aoife as Strongbow's reward for lending his assistance; and Waterford was the landing place of Henry II when he came over to assert his authority the following year, fearful that Strongbow was getting too big for his boots.

But for most of you, the first thing to spring to mind in association with this city is Waterford Crystal, even though little of it is made here any more. In fact the company, WWRD, or Waterford Wedgewood Royal Doulton, is American-owned, and Waterford is produced in several European locations. [See Footnote]

As well as being Head Office, the Waterford site makes all the speciality, commission work, plus R&D and a limited amount of the regular stock designs. I  signed up for the tour, and it was fascinating to observe the production processes (plural because although most is blown, some is sculpted). It's easy to see how labour-intensive it is (although we saw some steps towards automation), and therefore where the cost comes from.

After the tour I spent time in the showroom dithering over what I should buy; I even went for a walk, taking in Christ Church Cathedral (Anglican), before going back and finalising my choice on a pair of wineglasses, one of the few styles still made in Waterford.  I’ll finish their story when we get to the Postscript at the end of my trip.


It has been announced today that WWRD is to be sold by its American private-equity owners KPS to Finnish company Fiskars. Click on these links for details - Irish Times or Reuters

  • Reginald's Tower

  • Waterford Crystal Head Office

  • Glass harp

  • Luke Wadding, 1588 - 1657

  • Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral, Waterford

My choice, eventually!

 From Waterford I drove to Carrick-on-Suir, mainly to see Ormond Castle, originally built in 1309, although the Elizabethan-style manor was added by Thomas, the 10th Earl of Ormond, after 1565. Unfortunately it was closed for renovations, but I was able to see from outside what a magnificent place it must have been.

The web site describes it as “the best example of an Elizabethan manor house in Ireland.  Closely integrated into the manor house are two 15th century towers. It is the country's only major unfortified dwelling from that turbulent period.” 

The local Heritage Centre was just closing (shows how long I dithered trying to decide what to buy at Waterford Crystal), so I had a quick look in St Nicholas', the Catholic Church nearby, and then got on the move again. 

On a whim, I decided to take the R697 secondary road to Kilkenny,  which ended up taking me through the village of Kells. This turned out to be an inspired decision.

I stumbled on Kells by accident. I knew it was not the Kells as in Book of Kells - that's in Co. Meath, and I'll be going there at the end of my tour. Even when I stopped in the village, I thought it was just to photograph the pretty bridge. Then my eye caught an old mill by the river, where there was a sign pointing to Kells Priory. So I followed the path along the river, over a footbridge, and was overwhelmed to find this huge monastic settlement.

As stated on one web site, "The Augustinian Priory at Kells is one of the most amazing monastic sites in Ireland and certainly amongst the largest. The Priory was founded in 1193 by Geoffrey FitzRobert, a brother-in-law to Richard de Clare (Strongbow)."

I hadn't been aware of it at all. The Wikipedia entry describes it thus: "Kells Priory (Irish: Prióireacht Cheanannais) is one of the largest and most impressive medieval monuments in Ireland. The Augustine priory is situated alongside King's River beside the village of Kells, about 15 km south of the medieval city of Kilkenny. The priory is a National Monument and is in the guardianship of the Office of Public Works. One of its most striking feature is a collection of medieval tower houses spaced at intervals along and within walls which enclose a site of just over 3 acres (12,000 m2). These give the priory the appearance more of a fortress than of a place of worship and from them comes its local name of "Seven Castles"."

This arial shot pinched out of Wikipedia shows the extent of the settlement.

To learn more about this fascinating place, I suggest you Google "Kells Priory".  There are far more links than I could include here.

It was almost 6.00pm by the time I left Kells, so the later shots were taken in fading light, before I learned properly how to compensate.

After this exhilarating surprise, I finally got to Kilkenny and the Pembroke Hotel, my home for the next four nights.


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