Waterford County is a place of varied scenery with diverse attractions, set against the dramatic backdrop of the mountains and lakes of the Comeragh Range.
Waterford City is distinguished as the oldest city in Ireland, with origins that date back to Viking times and monuments that have stood in its streets for more than a thousand years.
Located in the slightly more temperate southeast of the country, Waterford County also offers the fun and relaxation of seaside resorts and an abundance of beautiful mountain and river scenery and activities.
County Waterford Highlights
A visit to the Waterford Crystal Factory, originally opened in 1783 and recently reopened in Waterford City after several financial difficulties and takeovers, is a must for anyone travelling through the region.
Tours of the famous facility demonstrate the manufacturing process, offer the facilities of an excellent visitor’s centre and display examples of the finished product, many available for sale. Avid shoppers at Waterford City's Square Shopping Centre can also find Waterford crystal, along with many other local treasures.
Another interesting attraction in Waterford City is the Waterford Treasures Exhibition, a multi-tiered facility that uses displays of artefacts and other media tools to authentically reproduce the history of the region from the beginnings of recorded history during the Viking Era to the present day.
True antiquity of Waterford can also be found on the quay at Waterford City, where the thousand year old Reginald’s Tower stands guard.
For those interested in the rich religious history of County Waterford, a visit to Mount Melleray Abbey should not be missed. Services are held and retreats offered at this operational monastic community founded by the Cistercian monks in the early 1800s.
Christ Church Cathedral is a well-preserved Protestant house of worship from the 18th century. It is an authentic example of the style and beauty of ecclesiastical architecture during the period. Also notable is Holy Trinity Cathedral, its Roman Catholic counterpart and the oldest Catholic cathedral in all of Ireland.
The town of Lismore is rich in heritage attractions that include exhibitions, crafts and information on regional history, including that of massive Lismore Castle, a beautifully maintained monument where unique (and rather expensive) lodging is available.
Curraghmore House and Gardens is exceptional both inside and out, and offers interesting and entertaining guided tours on a regular basis.
The smaller towns of Waterford County, including Dungarvan and Passage East, offer visitors the opportunity to explore the country and culture as well as to interact with residents in a less tourist-oriented atmosphere.
County Waterford History
Human inhabitants have occupied the County Waterford area since around 7000 BC. Evidence of Stone Age settlements has been discovered locally, and artefacts from the societies of miners, gatherers and hunters that arrived in later centuries are on display in local museums.
Waterford City is thought to be even older than some Scandinavian cities, and was a functioning port at the mouth of the River Suir during the Viking Era. It prospered well into the Middle Ages after coming under Norman control.
Cromwell’s armies invaded the region in the 17th century, but the area rebounded from the attacks and many of the stylish medieval structures remain standing to this day, due to large and successful private and public restoration efforts.
The modern economic history of Waterford County centred around the development of the glass and crystal industry that was begun during the 18th century, and which grown to and maintained worldwide notoriety.
More recently, the area's economy has evolved around a mixture of grassroots entrepreneurship and foreign direct investment.Various high-tech corporations, including large pharmaceuticals and other multinationals, are located in the region. The Waterford Institute of Technology provides students in the region with information economy skills. Popular Wateford Surnames Common surnames in Waterford include
Ardmore, County Waterford by Mícheál Ó Foghlú