Waterford is an Irish city in the province of Munster. It sits on the banks of the River Suir and is famed for the fact that it is the oldest city in Ireland. Of course, back in 853, when it was first settled by the Vikings, it didn’t amount to anything as large as a city. The confines of this original settlement are still marked out by the Viking Triangle area of the city, a district marked by the presence of medieval buildings and narrow, winding streets.
Over the years, Waterford has grown, its expansion fuelled by its position on the south-east coast. The presence of its deepwater port meant it was ideally equipped to act as a hub for imports and exports. As it has grown so the city centre has changed, with many Norman and Victorian buildings rubbing shoulders with their medieval predecessors, and over 300,000 people a year now visit Waterford.
Accommodation in Waterford
The number of people choosing to visit Waterford has led to the creation of a rich and varied tourist infrastructure, and this includes the number of hotels available to stay in. Even within the relatively small confines of the city centre itself, the accommodation on offer runs from comfortable two star hotels up to a five star luxury lodge. In between you’ll find guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and inns, all offering a warm welcome and all being located along and around the River Suir, within walking distance of landmark attractions like Christ Church Cathedral.
Christ Church Cathedral
The location of Christ Church Cathedral has been a place of worship for 1,000 years, with the first cathedral being built on the site in 1096, on Cathedral Square, close to Reginald’s Tower. In 1170, Strongbow was married to Aoife, daughter of Diarmait Mac Murchada, King of Leinster, on the site of the cathedral. The fact that this all sounds, to modern ears, reminiscent of something that would happen in Game of Thrones, merely underlines the mythical aura and power of the place.
The Modern Cathedral
The original Viking cathedral gradually gave way to an expanded Norman cathedral, some remains of which are still visible to this day. In 1773 it was decided that a new cathedral should replace the Gothic construction in situ, although the Norman cathedral was so well built that it had to be demolished using gunpowder.
The replacement, the cathedral that stands there today, was designed by John Roberts, the man responsible for much of the Georgian architecture still present in Waterford. It has been described as the “finest 18th century ecclesiastical building in Ireland”.
This stunning building is open to the public all year round and entry is free (although donations toward upkeep are gratefully received). Tours can be arranged in advance and particularly noteworthy features include the beautifully restored Elliot Organ, the gruesome Edmund Rice Tomb – sculpted to depict the horrors of death and decomposition – and one of the few surviving ecclesiastical courtrooms.