History and Heritage

Waterford City is the oldest city in Ireland. This is a major attraction for many people who like to study the heritage of this country. There are remains of settlements from over 1000 years ago still standing in Waterford today.

Waterford Museum of Treasures

bishops-palace-waterfordWaterford Museum of Treasures comprises three museums chronicling over one thousand years of history. It is a treasury of gold, bronze, silver and crystal artefacts as well as historical documents and a treasure trail that takes you through 1000 years of Ireland’s oldest city. The treasures of Viking Waterford are to be found in Reginald’s Tower, the Chorister’s Hall will house the Medieval Treasures of Waterford, and the Georgian Bishop’s Palace tells the story from 1700 to 1970.

Reginald’s Tower

Reginald’s Tower WaterfordReginald’s Tower, which is the cornerstone of what has now become known as the Viking Triangle, is probably the most recognisable landmark in Waterford City. It was built by the Vikings in 914 AD when they settled here. The Tower, although it has been altered over the centuries, is the oldest urban civic building in Ireland. At various times during its rich history it has been used as a mint, a prison and a military store. It is now a museum that houses the Viking treasures of the City. It stands near the water’s edge where the entrance to the City would have been. Waterford City Walls were also built around this time; they are preserved in places and can be seen at intervals throughout the old part of the city.

Chorister’s Hall

Chorister’s Hall, houses the treasures of medieval Waterford.
Among the many interesting exhibits on show here is The Great Charter Roll , dated 1372, this is a 4-metre long illustrated roll, which is medieval Ireland’s equivalent to the Book of Kells, It features the earliest illustration of an Irish city, stunning depictions of five medieval kings of England, and their deputies in Ireland. It is also a compilation of royal charters and other documents

The Bishops Palace

The Bishops Palace, charts the history of Waterford from 1700 to 1970, and gives a wonderful insight into the history of what was Ireland’s second city until the 1750s. Waterford City boasts the finest architecture from this period outside of Dublin, and another great legacy from this time is the elegant silverware and its fine glassmaking. Visitors to the Bishops Palace will see the oldest piece of Waterford Crystal in the world, a decanter made in the 1780s.

Ecclesiastical Landmarks

Ecclesiastical Landmarks in Waterford City include, The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity which was designed by John Roberts and built in 1793, it is Ireland’s oldest Catholic Cathedral. Christ Church Cathedral was built in the 11th century; this Medieval Cathedral was the setting for the famous wedding of Strongbow and Aoife in 1170. This political union was to change the course of Irish History. By 1210 the Normans had taken over Waterford and they built a new Gothic Cathedral on this site.

This remained until the 18th century when the powers that be, decided that the Cathedral needed updating, it was during its demolition that the famous Waterford Vestments were discovered. Dating from late medieval times, they are the only complete set of High Mass vestments to survive the Reformation. Part of the set has been restored and is on display at Waterford Museum of Treasures. In 1779 the new redesigned Cathedral was completed by the architect John Roberts. Grey Friars also known as the French Church is so called because the original Franciscan Abbey built in 1240 was given over to the French Huguenots as a place of worship in the 17th century. Black Friars Abbey is the ruins of a monastery built for the Dominican Friars in the 13th Century.

Waterford City Council has partially restored the ruins and has plans for further restoration. The Edmund Rice Heritage centre, situated in Barrack St. within the grounds of Mount Sion School, is a commemoration to the founder of the Christian Brothers, Edmund Ignatius Rice. His vision was to open schools for the education of poorer boys in Waterford at that time. His vision eventually reached across the world.

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