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Revel in the raiders, traders and settlers of Viking Ireland

Arts & Culture | Family Friendly | Heritage & History | Things to Do | Viking Waterford Walking / Hiking / Trails | Waterford City

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Route: Tipperary to Waterford

Day 1 – 3 hrs 18 mins 171 km 106 miles

Looking out on the sweep of green of the Glen of Aherlow, it’s easy to see how this spot got its Irish name –eathralach; between two highlands.

Nestled between Slievenamuck and the Galtee Mountains, the beauty here is breathtaking with a fringe of woods, a softly flowing river and a patchwork of green fields, all of which makes it harder to imagine the Vikings stalking these languid lands. They may have walked, but you can drive all the way to the Rock of Cashel. This collection of monumental medieval buildings perched on a 30ft rock is most famous for its associations with St Patrick, but it was also where Brian Boru, enemy of the Vikings, was crowned King of Munster in 977. Boru may have gone to north Dublin for the Battle of Clontarf, but follow the road south to Fethard, a small village surrounded by thick 15th century walls. Walk the 2km historic town trail and keep an eye out for the rather explicit Sheela-na-Gigs carved into stone along the way. Back on the road, drive through the riverside Carrick-on-Suir towards the Viking big-hitter: Waterford city.

If you have more time:

Winner of the Irish Times’s Best Inland Holiday Destination in Ireland, the Glen of Aherlow is well known for its wonderful walking trails. Follow one of the eight looped walking trails through the glen. Afterwards, treat yourself to afternoon tea at by the fire at Aherlow House.

Day 2 - Walking Tour

3 hrs 0 mins 2 km 1 miles

Start the day with a breakfast “blaa” at the Granary Café, then walk along the quays to the first of the trio of the Waterford Treasures museums: Reginald’s Tower.

This 12th century granite tower anchors the city’s Viking history with a special exhibition, including a 12th century Gold Kite Brooch and a Viking Warrior’s Sword. Here, Strongbow, leader of the Anglo Normans, met Aoife, daughter of the King of Leinster. Walk around the corner to see the site of Aoife and Strongbow’s wedding in 1172. A cathedral has stood on the site of Christ Church since the 11th century, but the building there today dates from 18th century and is considered one of the most beautiful neoclassical Georgian cathedral buildings in Ireland. Another of the treasures, the Medieval Museum tells the bitter tale of rival ports Waterford and New Ross, which resulted in the Great Charter Roll of Waterford being presented to King Edward III in support their case as the premier port in the region. At the end of the day, enjoy a pint and great food with a side order of history at the Reg Bar, which has a 900-year-old wall running right through it.

If you have more time:

It’s best to keep away from the 1300-degree furnace, but watching the glass being blown at the House of Waterford Crystal is an experience you’ll definitely remember. Take the factory tour and finish with a coffee in the Crystal Café.

Day 3

1 hr 50 mins 111 km 69 miles

With five-stars on TripAdvisor, Arch Coffee is a great spot for a morning caffeine kick. Afterwards, walk down Blackfriars – named after the 13th century friary whose monks wore black habits – towards Bishop’s Palace, the final of the Waterford Treasures in the city’s Viking Triangle. Designed by esteemed architect Richard Castles in 1741, one of the more unusual pieces here is a lock of Napoleon Bonaparte’s hair, provided by his niece Letitia, as well the oldest surviving piece of Waterford Crystal.

Out of the city, Mount Congreve Gardens beckons. Located on the River Suir, the landscape contains 70-acres of woodlands, flowers and a walled garden. Moving on, Dungarvan is also thought to have Viking origins, although it’s the Anglo-Normans that are more formally associated with the town. Step into the Waterford County Museum to discover how the history of the area has been preserved, before visiting a castle so beautiful Sir Walter Raleigh just had to buy it. When you see Lismore’s Castle’s position overlooking the scenic Blackwater Valley and river, you’ll see why.

If you have more time:

Waterford & Suir Valley Heritage Railway: Take the 8.5km train through the Suir Valley, and the conductor will regale you with tales about the area, while a railway carriage doubles as a ticket office and coffee shop.

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