Waterford is one of Irelands oldest settlements Vikings settled here in the 8th century. It is Ireland’s only town to still hold its Scandinavian derived name Waterford coming from Vadrafjord (winter fjord). There are a few museums and the like as expected but alot of the people we talked to here seem to feel that it has been overlooked by Ireland as a tourist attraction as everyone goes to Dublin or Galway and those kinds of places. Well I suppose we only arrived by accident too as the wind was pushing us this way.
So the last blog left off as we entered the River Barrow to get to Waterford. Waterford is actually 15 miles up the tidal river and we quickly realised that we had got there on an ‘ebb’ when our speed reduced to 2 knots. We were completely knackered too so we decided to anchor up, have lunch, a nap and resume the journey when the tide turned. It is very nice going up the river, I am sure much nicer if the sun ever comes out down there (which I am entirely unconvinced of.) There is a chain ferry going across at one point from the village of ‘Passage East’ on the Westside a very obviously named place if ever there was one. We were very interested to see the chain ferry as it has been proposed to put one on one of the Shetland inter isles routes. They certainly can move and agains a 4 knot current and winds so maybe not such a pipe dream after all.
Some pics from up the river...
|Nice Irish countryside|
|Cruise liners can get right up the river too.|
|"Quickly get a picture of that boat" "why?" "because they are unloading steel piles" "oh yes now I see why you want a picture?!"|
|Some of the pricier riverside properties!|
|The Hebridean Princess we always seem to meet her on our travels but never in Ireland before.|
Getting berthed in Waterford was a little tricky as there was little space to be found ont he pontoons. Two guys shouted to us to go into a space on the inner side of one of the pontoons which we tried but the current almost had us aground as we turned in and thankfully Ali’s quick manoeuvring had us back out of danger and looking for a different spot. Definitely a place where arriving at slack water is to be recommended! We got a spot on the outside instead much easier!
|The girls got some candy floss as another Biscay reward... I think this was so bad it didn't even taste like real sugar - how do you fake candyfloss?|
As I said before we arrived at the pontoon to the sounds of live music coming from the pier and found out we had by chance arrived on the Waterford Spraoi weekend. It is basically a huge festival throughout the town with lots of street acts, stalls and stages for live music. Apparently a lot of it would have been held in a park but they have had so much rain it was like a mud pool. It was just a shame to feel so completely knackered the first night that we couldn’t enjoy it as much as we would have liked. But there was always the next day!
|In the Luminarium|
We walked around town and heard bands, and saw many acts including fire juggling unicyclists amongst all sorts of other things. The highlights of the Spraoi for the girls was the luminarium a huge light filled bouncy castle type thing
|Saw Doctors although you can't see them!|
and for us was the Saw Doctors playing on the pier stage as the last act on Sunday night.
Then the grand finale was a big fireworks display on the river which of course we had ringside seats for. Thousands of people crowded the waterfront to see the show it was great!
We stayed another night in Waterford after the Spraoi mainly to get the laundry done and we had a little wander around that day too the town was like a ghost town after the Spraoi and it was bank holiday Monday so there wasn’t a lot open. Reginalds tower was open and it boasts being Ireland’s oldest complete building and the first to use mortar no less. It was built by the Vikings (Reginald presumably. The tower/town has had a very interesting history being under attack many times from various different regimes throughout history. It has also been a defence tower, royal mint and jailhouse in its time, now it is a museum and quite a good one too. The museum here obviously suffers from the same as the Shetland museum in that anything that is found locally but is of ‘national’ significance is spirited away by the National museum only to be returned on loan. Hopefully they have got it all on a longer term loan than we got the St Ninian’s Isle treasure back from Edinburgh for though!
We also wanted to hear live Irish music and the nice lady in the tourist office directed us to Dooleys hotel for the ‘Session’ held every Monday. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting..... The word session and music to me who has worked in the Lounge Bar in Lerwick means a lively fiddle, guitar, drums anything goes kind of music session but this is not what we got. It was actually a meeting of locals doing some of the traditional Irish dances with a band and a compeer telling them which way to go. And I must say although the music wasn’t what we were expecting the dancing was impressive and way more complicated than traditional Scots dancing - you certainly wouldn’t be able to stagger up drunk into the middle of it and expect to make any sense of it!