Sunday, November 26, 2023

Waterford, Ireland

 In my last blog post about our recent trip to Ireland and Scotland, which we began in Dublin --see that post here--after visiting Kilkenny we drove further south in Ireland to the city of  Waterford.  Waterford, located in the province of Munster,  is situated at the head of Waterford Harbor. It is the oldest and the fifth most populous city in the Republic of Ireland.   

My husband and I visited Waterford for the second time. Our first visit was about 15 years ago when we were on a tour. During that visit, I bought a few beautiful pieces of Waterford crystal, which we have enjoyed using over the years.

Waterford was founded by Vikings in 914 A.D. and parts of its ancient walled core remain.  Throughout the city, there were many interesting and fun displays profiling its Viking beginning 

Thomas Francis Meagher was born on 3 August 1823 in Waterford and a statue of him on horseback stands on the mall. He was one of Waterford’s and Ireland’s most famous nationalist leaders, and he also has an American connection. Meagher protested and fought vehemently for Irish Independence from British Rule and during the battle for independence he designed and introduced the green, white, and gold tricolor flag which later became the national flag of Ireland still used today. 
Meagher was arrested and convicted by the British authorities on charges of sedition and was subsequently sentenced to death. This sentence was later changed and Meagher was instead exiled to Tasmania in Australia, then known as Van Diemen’s Land. In 1852 Meagher escaped to America where he studied journalism and law and later joined the U.S. Army where he gained the rank of Brigadier General and led the Irish Brigade during the American Civil War. Before his death by drowning accident in 1897, Meagher had served as Governor of Montana. A similar statue of him stands in front of the Montana State Capital in Helena. 

 We had a few hours of free time to explore the city on foot.

I enjoyed seeing the architecture and walking along the riverfront.

There were many beautiful murals painted all around Waterford!

They are part of the Waterford Wall Project, where in 2022, over 30 national and international artists created large-scale mural artworks around Waterford City and the surrounding areas. The Festival consisted of 10 days of live art, music, workshops, guided tours, and much more. You can see some more photos of the murals on this link.

Waterford is known for its former glassmaking industry, including at the Waterford Crystal factory, with decorative glass being manufactured in the city from 1783 until early 2009 when the factory sadly closed following the receivership of Waterford Wedgwood. The Waterford Crystal visitor center was opened in the city's Viking Quarter in 2010 under new ownership by Fiskers. Visitors can take a tour to see the glassmaking and cutting 
process, although most of the crystal is now made outside of Ireland. The 12,000-square-foot retail store inside the center has the largest collection of Waterford in the world, and pieces are available for sale. I admired many pieces but did not purchase anything on this trip as I have entered a more minimalistic stage of life.

We walked by Christ Church Cathedral--a Church of Ireland/Anglican Episcopalian church that has been a place of Christian worship for over 1,000 years. The first church on the site was built in the 11th century. In 1170 it was the venue for the marriage of Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke also known as "Strongbow", and Aoife NĂ­ Diarmait. Strongbow was the first Norman conqueror of Waterford and Dublin. Aoife was an Irish Princess, the daughter of King Dermot MacMurrough. The marriage built a political bond between the Irish Gaelic and the Anglo-Normans. The chairs/sculptures by Eithne Ring and Liam Lavery were installed in Bishop’s Palace Garden in 2014 located next to the cathedral.

Please double-click on the photo above to enlarge it.

Information about Strongbow and Aoife is given in this informational display nearby.

I was surprised to see flowers still blooming in late October and a very unusual tree!

A close-up of the tree...

it had its eyes on us! 


As our tour bus drove away from Waterford we saw beautiful rolling green hills and fluffy white clouds in the sky. 

I'll be blogging about our next tour stops at the thatched-roof cottages of Dunmore East, Tramore, and Blarney, Ireland in the future. 

I can't believe that Christmas is only a month away--a busy time ahead!

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Kilkenny, Ireland

After leaving Dublin, Ireland --see my last post--our Ireland/Scotland tour headed southeast to Kilkenny, (Irish: Cill Chainnigh). It is a city in County Kilkenny, Ireland, and is located in the provenance of Leinster.   We stopped at Kilkenny Castle, built in 1260 to control a fording point of the River Nore and the junction of several routeways. The castle was a symbol of Norman occupation, and in its original 13th-century condition, with its four large circular towers, it would have formed an important element to the town's defenses.

The castle grounds entrance with the Ormonde Coat of Arms on the top

Kilkenny Castle was remodeled and restored and set in the 1830’s with a Victorian flair. In 1967, Arthur Butler, 6th Marquess of Ormonde, sold the castle for £50 to the Castle Restoration Committee for the people of Kilkenny. The castle and grounds are now managed by the Office of Public Works.  There is an admission fee to tour inside the castle but the gardens and parkland are open to the public.

My husband and I toured the castle on a prior visit to Ireland so we decided to stroll in the gardens and in town during our visit, while my sister and brother in-laws went inside.

The details in the castle statuary were interesting to see.

The castle is surrounded by beautiful fifty-one acres (21 hectares) of parkland and gardens.

I really enjoyed walking in the gardens and still seeing some flowers blooming in late October and some fall foliage.

A sweet little robin and a wise old crow greeted us in the gardens.

When I saw this lake filled with swans I thought about the Irish Folktale, "Children of Lir" in which a jealous stepmother used a spell to turn her four stepchildren into swans and doomed them to spend 900 years swimming in three different bodies of water in Ireland for 300 years each, until the spell would be broken.


Kilkenny is built on both banks of the River Nore.  
It reflected many colorful autumnal trees along its banks.

Kilkenny City Walls protected the medieval town of Kilkenny. The town was surrounded by walls with regular towers and gates. Remnants of the Town Walls survive such as Talbot Tower (1207), which is also known as Talbot's Bastion or Castle.

My husband and I strolled into town hoping to visit St Canice's Cathedral, which is also known as Kilkenny Cathedral. The present building dates from the 13th century and is the second-longest cathedral in Ireland. Unfortunately, we realized the walk was longer than the time we had to be back on our tour bus to leave for Waterford. We had glimpses of the cathedral in the distance as we walked around.

As you can see in the photo collage above, located beside the cathedral stands a 100 ft 9th-century round tower. St. Canice's tower is an excellent example of a well-preserved early Christian (9th century) Round Tower. Accessible only by a steep set of internal ladders, it may once have been both a watchtower and a refuge, and the summit gives a good view of Kilkenny and the countryside around. The hill on which the cathedral stands is believed to be the center of the first major settlement at Kilkenny.

There was a lot to see and do in town but we only had a limited time. The building on the middle right of the collage above had a Smithwick's Brewery Tour.  Smithwick’s Ale has been brewed in Ireland since 1710.

I smiled when I saw the cow and sheep vases in a shop window. They are two animals seen frequently all over Ireland!

Our next stop on the tour was the City of Waterford--it will be in my next blog post.

Monday, November 6, 2023

A Trip to Ireland and Scotland

Autumn scenes in Ireland

 When I stated that I was taking a break in my last blog post a few weeks ago I said I was going to "take time to watch the leaves fall." What I did not mention then was that I was going to experience autumn in Ireland and Scotland!  My husband and I and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law took a two-week Cosmos bus tour called "Highlights of Ireland and Scotland," at the end of October.  We all had a wonderful time and met the nicest people. I've been fortunate to have visited Ireland many times in the past. One of my sister-in-laws was born and raised in County Cork and my husband and I have met her family over the years on trips to Ireland. plus my husband had a few business trips in Belfast Northern Ireland. If interested you can read the total of 37 posts I wrote about those visits under this blog tag: Ireland.  This was the first time I visited Scotland, however, and I was very excited to finally see it!

"In Dublin's fair city
Where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!"
Alive, alive, oh
Alive, alive, oh
Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh"

We arrived a day earlier than our scheduled tour and had a fun day walking around Dublin and taking the "Hop On and Hop Off" bus.  A landmark we were excited to see was the statue of Molly Malone. My husband and I were confused that she was no longer located on Grafton Street, where we had seen her in the past, but she had to be moved to a new location when Dublin installed a light rail system on Grafton. Dublin was certainly busier and had more commuters than we last saw years ago. She is a very modern bustling city!  I guess it is pretty evident looking at the statue what part of Molly is considered "good luck" to rub!  "Molly Malone" (also known as "Cockles and Mussels" or "In Dublin's Fair City") is a popular song set in Dublin, Ireland, which has become its unofficial anthem.

Another Dublin icon is the Guinness Brewery! 

The day we arrived in Dublin the aftereffects of Storm Babet were still being felt as it rained heavily almost all day. I braved sitting on the top of the Hop On Hop Off bus wearing a rain poncho to take photos. You can see the gloomy rainy skies in my photos. Sadly, areas in County Cork and the east coast of Scotland suffered flooding from the storm.

Views of the famous Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin.

Dublin's Phoenix Park was aglow in autumn beauty! 

 The home of the President of Ireland is located in Phonix Park. The house was built in 1751, and it is nicknamed "The Irish White House" due to its resemblance to the US White House in Washington DC.

We also visited Dublin Castle

"Constructed in the early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement, Dublin Castle served for centuries as the headquarters of English, and later British, administration in Ireland. In 1922, following Ireland’s independence, Dublin Castle was handed over to the new Irish government. It is now a major government complex and a key tourist attraction."

"Built on the site where Saint Patrick baptized Christian converts nearly over 1500 years ago, this holy site has been a place of spiritual encounter for countless generations."

Random photos of Dublin. 

We enjoyed exploring the city again over two days!

As a tour excursion on our last day in Dublin, we attended the Taylor Irish Cabaret. It consisted of a three-course dinner, a drink, and an Irish Coffee, with a wonderful musical and dance production afterward.  If you'd like to see the Irish dancers you can see them on a reel on my Mille Fiori Facebook page at this link. To hear a song by Rob Vicker--an Irish tenor, and hear traditional music click on this reel link.  Make sure to turn on the sound with the speaker in the upper right corner of each reel.

We have many stops ahead on our tour of Ireland and Scotland and I'd love to show you some highlights in my upcoming posts. Please join me again to see them.

You can also find me on: