Last week we embarked on a trail of discovery around Waterford’s story, Ireland’s oldest city – there is always something new to learn. This is to mark the publication of a new tourist map of the city. It is well worth getting hold of a copy, be you a local or tourist. Being the former doesn’t preclude the latter, you know! We resume our trail at the Clock Tower……
The Clock Tower:
7. Built in 1861 at a cost of £200, this elaborate High Victorian public monument fulfilled two civic functions- apart from its temporal duties it served as a public water supply including drinking bowls for horses and dogs!
8. Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity: Designed by John Roberts and built between 1793 and 1796 it is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in Britain and Ireland.
9. Blackfriars: The Friary was known as Blackfriars because the Dominican Order wore black habits. The Dominicans who built the friary first settled in Waterford in 1226. Blackfriars was dissolved in 1540 by order of Henry VIII and subsequently used as a courthouse and theatre.
10. St Olaf’s: Restored by Bishop Thomas Milles in 1734 and named after St Olaf a Norwegian saint. Its location in the centre of the old Viking city, suggest it was originally a Viking foundation.
11. Franciscan Friary: Built in 1834 and designed by architect Terence O’Reilly, the Franciscan Friary is an imposing church in the classical style which dominates the streetscapes of both narrow lanes on which it is sited.
12. Christchurch Cathedral: Considered one of the finest 18th century ecclesiastical buildings in Ireland and is the work of Waterford born architect John Roberts. The Cathedral was the scene of the marriage of Strongbow and Aoife which is the most important marriage in Irish history marking the end of the Viking age in Ireland and the beginning of English involvement in Irish affairs.
13. Bishop’s Palace: Designed by German architect Richard Castle in the 1740’s it has been described as one of the largest and finest Episcopal residences In Ireland. Bishop Foy’s School was transferred there from Grantstown in the 1920’s.
14. Medievial Undercrofts: The conjoined deanery undercrofts are cellar-like structures under the 18th century deanery building. The earliest undercroft dates from the 13th century as a mint. The upper undercroft dates from the 15th century and was used as a store.
15. Greyfriars: Ruins of a 13th century Franciscan Friary known as Greyfriars after the colour of the habits worn by the friars as a sign of humility. The grave of John Roberts lies beneath the tower arch. Beside the ruins is Greyfriars Art Gallery, formerly the Methodist Church, which houses the municipal art collection.
William Vincent Wallace Plaza
16. Named in honour of the 19th century operatic composer who was born nearby in Colbeck Street. Wallace (1812-1865) composed Maritana, Lurline and Amber Witch and is regarded as one of the greatest 19th century composers of English opera. Wallace was a founder member of the New York Philharmonic.
17. Reginald’s Tower: It stands at the apex of what is known as the Viking Triangle – the historic quarter of the city. It’s the oldest civic urban building in Ireland and is one of the most remarkable Viking buildings still in existence. It is named after the Niking Regnall who founded the city in 914.
18/19. T.F.Meagher: He was s an Irish revolutionary leader and first to fly the Irish Tricolour from 33, The Mall, a late Georgian building. He went to America where he played an heroic role in the Civil War founding the Irish Brigade. After the war he was appointed first Governor of Montana.
20. City Hall: This building was designed by John Roberts and work began in the same year the Penrose family established their famous glass house. In City Hall the Grand Banqueting Room has welcomed such notable figures as Daniel O’ Connell, T.F.Meagher, King Edward VII and Eamonn De Valera.
21. Theatre Royal: Located as well on the historic Mall, the theatre Royal is one of the finest 19th century theatres in the world. While its architectural heritage has been preserved, its programme is broad based and contemporary. It houses part of the city art collection.
House of Waterford Crystal
22. This new wonderful building comprises a fascinating visitor centre and crystal factory tour and an opulent retail store housing the largest collection of Waterford Crystal in the world.
23. Court House: Opened in 1848, the court house was designed by Waterford architect Terence O’Reilly whose austere classical lines were meant to convey the authority of the judicial system. The site here was formerly the location of St Catherine’s Abbey.
24. People’s Park: It was laid out in 1857 by the Mayor John A Blake. In the centre of the park on either side of the band stand are two cannons captured by the British Army at the battle of Sebastopol in 1854 during the Crimean War.
25. St John’s Church: A Gothic Revival church built in 1845 with an exterior of high quality local stonemasonry.
26. St Martin’s Gate: This is a 13th century gate and portcullis flanked by twin towers. The passage or entrance was kept narrow to facilitate the collection of the murtage (tax).
Towers of Strength
27 – 33: The trail goes on, going from strength to strength one could say to include in sequence: The Watch Tower; Double Tower; French Tower; Semi Lunar Tower and then St John’s Priory (all 13th C), on to St Patrick’s Church, Patrick Street (18th C), and Priory of St Saviour, Bridge Street, (19th C). We will return with more detail another day or explore further yourself on www.discoverwatwerford.ie . There is so much more to discover about our city as we have only scratched the surface above and I’m sure you will agree that there is an awful lot more to Waterford than many realised and as such a lot to be proud of hereabouts.