Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, founded by Viking raiders in AD 914. It has played a pivotal role in the economic, political and cultural life of the country and its motto Urbs Intacta (the untaken city) bears witness to the many power struggles and conflicts in which it has been embroiled through the centuries.
Today, Waterford is a household name internationally through the fame of its hand-cut crystal. It is a lively underestimated city which always manages to surprise the visitor.
Waterford is the oldest centre of continuous urban settlement in Ireland and is consequently the island’s oldest city. It also has the distinction of being older than all of the north European capitals except London and Paris. Its age is reflected in its name: it is the largest settlement in Ireland to retain its original Norse or Viking derived place name. Its old Norse name, Vaderfiord, has two possible meanings. The first is "windy fjord" or "haven from the wind swept sea". Even today it is easy to see why it may be got its name for the River Suir is, even during bad weather, relatively calm and therefore would have been suitable for the sleek Viking longships to drop anchor. The second possible meaning is "Fjord of the rams", this is, a place where rams or sheep could be loaded for export.
Throughout the medieval period and up until the end of the seventeenth century, Waterford remained the second city in Ireland. Today Waterford is the cultural, economic, educational, technological and industrial capital of the South East region and its port – the traditional source of wealth continues to expand in line with the growth of the Irish economy.
Waterford is a historic and cultural city. It is a city of colour and excitement. Above all it is a rapidly developing and progressive city. There are many attractions to Waterford – its Gallery and Museum, its busy streets full of fascinating shops, small lanes to stroll through with 1,000 years of history meeting you on virtually every street corner.
Many of the city’s most famous landmarks are located within walking distance of The Quay. Located on the Quay is the magnificent William Vincent Wallace Plaza. Close by is John Roberts Square and a short walk down George’s Street will bring you to the Chamber of Commerce headquarters which is located in a very imposing building which was designed by the famous Waterford Georgian Architect, John Roberts. Other buildings include City Hall, also designed by John Roberts, the home of Waterford City Council and administrative headquarters of Waterford since 1813 and the ninth century granary building, home of Waterford Museum of Treasures. Amongst Waterford city’s most interesting landmarks are the fine collection of medieval buildings including Reginald’s Tower, the French Church, the Undercrofts and the city’s two neo classical eighteenth century cathedrals, both again designed by the famous John Roberts.
About a mile from the city centre you will find the factory and visitor centre of Waterford Crystal, a lifestyle product of exquisite craftsmanship, synonymous with Waterford for over 200 years.
Shopping in Waterford is lively and varied. Sophisticated high fashion boutiques, interesting antique shops and craft studios ensure that Waterford satisfies even the most fervent shopper.
Waterford offers a wide choice of eateries including gourmet, vegetarian and ethnic restaurants, lively café bars and pubs for the traditional Irish singsongs.
With an exciting medieval flavour and riverside bustle Waterford has it all.
Waterford is situated on the south eastern coast of Ireland and is the nearest major Irish port to mainland Europe. Historically Waterford has dominated the southern Irish Sea route to the UK. The port has experienced significant growth in trade to and from mainland Europe since Ireland joined the EU and has become the principal shipping centre in Ireland for continental traffic.
Waterford is the capital of the South East and the population of the city and its hinterland is about 120,000.
From the sturdy light at Hook Head - Ireland’s and possibly Europe’s oldest lighthouse - the up river passage is filled with scenic and historic interest. Ships follow in the wake of the Celts and Vikings and most profound invasion in Irish history, the arrival of the Normans led by Strongbow and King Henry II in 1171. They landed at Crooke near Passage East, taking Waterford and Ireland by "Hook or by Crooke". The river is Fjord like and with rolling pastures the visitor is welcomed to the city’s mile long Quay, described by the eminent architectural historian, Mark Girouard, as "the noblest Quay in Europe".