A car obtained and south we head toward Waterford, home of world-famous crystal. Like it seems most days in Ireland, the weather is misty, wet, and green! I have always said when discussing Ireland, I think that God created green when looking at Ireland! There is every shade of green here and every one more beautiful than the next! In our path to Waterford, is the town of Kilkenny. With lunchtime looming and an abbey to see, we head the car toward Kilkenny. As our start that morning was a bit late, our visit to Kilkenny was only long enough for a very un-Irish lunch of burritos and a quick walk to see the Dominion Black Abbey that was founded in 1225. Unfortunately we arrived at the Abbey about 1pm, the time of their daily mass, which prevents us from visiting the inside. A beautiful church but the inside will be have to be seen another day.
Lunch over, we are back in the car and onward to Waterford. A seaport in southeast Ireland, it is the country’s oldest city founded by Vikings in 914 A.D. The Viking history is prominent in the city’s center from the Viking Triangle, a geometric grouping of streets, to the replica Viking longboat displayed at the forefront of the triangle. The city even has life size replicas around the square that folks can stand behind for memories of their visit (not everyone (my grandson) is pleased being asked to be in said pictures). I found Waterford a pleasant city with warm folks at my every encounter.
Our dinner the first evening took us to Grattan Bar. The owner Melisa and his wonderful bartender Danielle treated us like old friends and I enjoyed a wonderful Irish stew made by Melisa and a shot of Waterford Whiskey, new to me but one I would gladly drink again. Even my grandson rid himself of his resting frown and enjoyed our visit to this little pub. If in Waterford, I suggest you stop into Grattan and say hi to Melisa. Back to the hotel, work, and sleep in preparation of our next day and our tour of the Waterford factory.
The next morning it is off early to visit the factory responsible for the world-renowned crystal called Waterford. When we see the crystal in the store, and the price attached, we wonder why so high; I learned why that day. Most of the more intricate pieces are handmade, we saw a craftsman working on a toy soldier that would take him a week to finish! We were told it takes an intern 5 years to be a craftsman with an additional 3 years to become a master craftsman! In their engraving room we also saw a beautiful tribute to 9/11 that the masters had made.
After our tour of the factory, we decided to work around the area between the factory and our hotel and see what this Viking obsession was all about. While Waterford is much more than the block we walked, those blocks had a lot to see. Our hotel had been kind enough to give us a typical tourist map of the area. You know the ones; they look like something drawn by a cartoonist with ads for restaurants and insurance agencies around the sides. The one we received of Waterford was great as the front had a map with numbers on each of the notable sights with the back side having a short blurb on each sight.
One of the coolest things on the list was a wood carving called the Dragon Slayer. A 23-meter-long Bayeux tapestry-like narrative story in wood created by John Hayes telling the fascinating story of the coming of the Vikings to Ireland and their eventual assimilation. The carving is located in the square outside of the ‘King of the Vikings’ which is the sight of a Viking house inside the ruins of a 13th century Franciscan Friary. Unfortunately, the King of Vikings was not open so I could only peek through the gates to see the straw roof of the interior rooms. Onward for more sights in Waterford.
After walking around and lunch, my grandson was out for the day and returned to the hotel and a nap and video games. I did a walk around the shopping area, and of course had to stop at the neighborhood ice cream shop before heading back to work and pack for our travels the next day; it was a nice visit to Waterford even if too short.