After checking out of our hotel in Kilkenny, our next destination was Cork –the airport hotel specifically. When I researched the drive between Kilkenny and Cork, I made notes of several possible stops we could make along the way, depending on time and weather.
Our first stop was Waterford, the town. The “famous” Waterford Crystal company was started there in 1783. From the history I found, it seems like Waterford was constantly struggling to keep its head above the water the entire time. In the early 1800’s, an additional duty was put on glassware made in Ireland and England and that was the writing on the wall for Waterford. Waterford closed its doors in 1851.
In the late 1940’s, Waterford was revived by a businessman from Czechoslovakia. They didn’t make a profit before 1955. At some point along the way, production was moved away from Ireland to Europe, but Waterford maintains a small factory where some production happens –and where they give tours about the process of making Waterford Crystal.
Laura definitely wanted to buy something from Waterford Crystal. She passed up the rather large replica of Cinderella’s carriage (only priced at about $45,000.00 !!) and bought a salt and pepper shaker set.
After that, it was time for lunch. We walked around looking for a good spot and randomly picked The Reg.
The part we walked into looked very quaint –typical pub. It had several areas, but where we ate was open for lunch.
Waterford was founded by the Vikings in the 800s. In 1170, the city was taken by the Normans. A landmark from those times, which happened to be directly in front of our lunch spot, is Reginald’s tower which was built by the Normans after they took the city.
It was originally part of the city walls. We didn’t have a chance to look for them, but there are six other surviving towers from the early days. Over the years Reginald’s Tower has been used for a variety of purposes, including for munitions storage, operating as a mint, and as a prison. Between Norman times and modern times, the Tower has stood while history swirled around it. It was interesting to see it sitting there surrounded by a modern day city.
On the other side of the tower was a replica viking boat.
While trying to get a good picture of Reginald’s tower, I happened to take a picture of this statue.
It was in the median of the side street right next to the Tower. The name on the side is Thomas Francis Meagher. On a whim, I “googled” him and learned that he led the Young Irelanders in the Rebellion of 1848. He was found guilty of sedition and was sentenced to transportation to the colonies in Australia. He escaped Australia in 1852 and made it to the United States. He joined the Union Army during the Civil War and after the war was appointed Montana Territory’s Secretary of State. He drowned in the Missouri River after falling off of a steamboat in 1867. The things you learn when you take a random photo!
As we approached Youghal (pronounced Yawl), I thought we had enough time to stop and look at the city walls, which are the most intact of any remaining city walls in Ireland. They were originally built in the 1200s, but have been repaired over the years too. Since I hadn’t seriously mapped out anything relating to the village, it was almost by accident that we stumbled onto a parking area where you could explore a section of restored city wall. It was quite interesting to see.
We parked on one side of the wall that was pretty much a modern looking neighborhood, but once we passed through the wall gate and climbed up –we were overlooking the whole village in the distance.
Just below us was a very old cemetery and a church, St. Mary’s. In 460, there was a monastic settlement on the church site. An early church was built in 750 and since then, there’s been a church on that site.
Unfortunately, the sign at the wall gate said it would be closed and locked at 4:30 –so we didn’t have time to wander as far as the church (which wasn’t that far) for fear of being locked out on the wrong side of the wall from our car! Since we’d somehow bypassed the actual village by the time we arrived at the wall and since the GPS was leading us even further in the opposite direction from the village toward Cork, and because it was getting late – we decided to keep going and get to the hotel. It had already been a long day.