Waterford Castle is singled out by the latest ‘Lonely Planet’ guide.    | PHOTO: EOIN MURPHY

Waterford Castle is singled out by the latest ‘Lonely Planet’ guide. | PHOTO: EOIN MURPHY

A ‘rejuvenated, well-preserved’ city and a county brimming with sightseeing diversity: that captures the essence of what Waterford has to offer according to the latest ‘Lonely Planet’ guide to Ireland. 
The new edition, which was published on Wednesday, heartily recommends the Crystal County to visitors looking for something away from all the decades-old traditional Irish holiday destinations.
“But the overwhelming popularity of scenic superstars like Connemara and Kerry has seen the emergence of quieter idylls as the preferred destination of the discerning traveller, who has discovered the beauty of the lakes of Roscommon and the villages of Waterford, of rarely visited counties like Westmeath.”
So states one of the more interesting elements of the new guide’s introduction, just the sort of positive message that the city needs ahead of the tourist season.
And with the Holiday World Show being held this weekend at the RDS, at which Waterford and the south east will be showcased (see News & Business 5), the guide’s timing could hardly have proven more apt.
In introducing the city, the guide, one could argue, errs in describing Waterford as “a busy port” since the Port of Waterford itself is now located at Belview, County Kilkenny.
But that’s a minor quibble when one considers the profile’s positive sentiments regarding Waterford.
“Some parts of the city still feel medieval, though, with narrow alleyways leading off larger streets,” a fact which cannot be argued with.
The guide also singles the city out for its winding lanes, “open-air plazas soundtracked by buskers and well-preserved Georgian architecture”.
The award-winning Waterford Museum of Treasures at the Granary “is one of Ireland’s widest-ranging and most high-tech museums” and provides a great introduction the area, according to the guide.
Waterford Crystal’s recent woes merit mention in the guide, although its publication date precludes reference to the WWRD/City Council project on The Mall, which we’ll have more about in next Wednesday’s Early Edition.
The splendour of our two city centre cathedrals, the “whiz-bang” Edmund Rice Centre in Mount Sion, along with City Hall and the refurbished Theatre Royal all get a critical ‘thumbs up’.
Munster Express/Dooley’s Hotel Heritage Award winner Jack Burtchaell is singled out for his ever popular guided walking tour of the city, “effortlessly squeezing 1,000 years of history into one hour”.
While acknowledging that the city is well-served by bars (Geoff’s, Downes’s, T&H Doolan’s, Katty Barry’s and The Munster) and eateries (Bodega, Harlequin, Café Lucia, 47 The Bistro and La Boheme), Waterford Castle caught the guide writer’s eye.
“Getting away from it all is an understatement” states the guide when referring to the 19th century castle located on the Estuary’s famed 310-acre island, which also salutes chef Michael Quinn’s “sublime oak-panelled restaurant”.
Regarding the county (which, along with our neighbours we’ll examine in more detail next Wednesday), its concealed coves such as Tramore’s Guillamene, neat harbours and “mesmerising” coastal views clearly won the guide over.
Let’s hope the ‘Lonely Planet’ guide’s upbeat assessment of the city and county leads to more tourists filing towards Port Láirge during 2010.