The Vikings established a settlement called Port Lairge on the River Suir at Waterford in the 8th century and by the 10th century Vadrafjord was the most important Viking trading port in Ireland. The city still centres around its quays, which give it an initial industrial ugliness, but is one of the liveliest towns in the south for nightlife.
The City is now best known for its glass Crystal and you can visit the Waterford Crystal Factory and visitors centre on the Cork Road to see the skilled craftsmanship which goes into blowing, cutting and engraving the lead crystal and some gargantuan show pieces. Other interesting places to visit in Waterford include the neo-classical Georgian Christ Church Cathedral, the French Church, the 13th century ruined Blackfriarrs Abbey, Waterford Heritage Centre (which has a display of Viking artefacts) and Rice Chapel (where the founder of the Christian Brothers schools, Edmund Rice is buried).
Waterford also has some attractive Georgian streets.
Beaches in County Waterford
Long popular sandy beach backed by dunes at the touristy resort of Tramore, popular sandy Ladies Cove and Counsellors beaches at the seaside resort of Dunmore East, popular sandy Clonea Strand near Stradbally, nice sandy beaches at Ardmore, Annestown and Bunmahon.
Blackwater River Valley
Scenic valley easily accessible from Cappoquin, salmon fishing on the River Blackwater
Comeragh and Monavullagh Mountains
Red sandstone mountain ranges covered with heath near Ballymacarbry in west Waterford. The scenic Nire Valley running though the Comeragh Mountains is popular with hill walkers and pony trekkers.
Attractive landscaped gardens of the stately home of the Marquis of Waterford, near Waterford City (Open on Thursdays and Bank Holidays from Easter to October Tel: 051 387102).
Glenshelane Forest Park
Scenic forest walks and picnic spots near Cappoquin
Scenic mountain range on the border with Tipperary which are accessible from Ballymacarbry and Lismore, scenic Vee Gap with views across rolling farmland to the Galtee Mountains in Tipperary
Lismore Castle Gardens
The impressive Lismore Castle in Lismore town was built by Prince John in 1185, and owned by the famous English sea captain Sir Walter Raleigh, Earl of Cork Richard Boyle (of the scientific gas theory Boyles Law) and successive Dukes of Devonshire, but is not open to the public.
The Ring Gaeltacht
An Rinn, or Ring, is a pocket of Irish tradition hidden away on the modern Waterford coast and is signposted off the N25 about nine kilometres outside Dungarvan. Famous for its language school, this tiny Irish speaking community of about 1,500 has somehow survived along with traditional music and set dancing. A community of farms and a handful of bars are spread over a wide area with no real centre.
Saint Declan’s Church Oratory and Round Tower
Ruined 13th century cathedral with Romanesque carvings of the Archangel Michael weighing souls, Adam and Eve, the Judgement of Solomon and the Adoration of the Magi, well preserved 12th century 95 feet high round tower and small 8th century Saint Declan’s Oratory church on the site of Saint Declan’s monastery overlooking the sea near Ardmore. Saint Declan was said to have been a Christian bishop and founded the monastery before the arrival of Saint Patrick around the fourth century some time between 350AD and 420AD The area around the church is called Old Parish because it is said to be the oldest Christian parish in Ireland.
Two ogham stones (with ancient Irish stroke writing) in the church have inscriptions, which read: ‘a stone commemorating Lugaid, son of Nia Segmon’ and ‘the loved one.’ One of the stones was found in Saint Declan’s Oratory, where the Saint is said to be buried where there is a hollow in the southeast corner of the church. Saint Declan’s holy Well and the ruins of Dysert Church and Saint Declan’s stone, a stone which is said to be able to cure rheumatism on Saint Declan’s Day (July 24).
Touraneena Heritage Centre
Heritage centre with displays on traditions of home produce and traditional trades including butter making and bacon curing, with working forge near Dungarvan.