Step Back in Time on International Museum Day
To celebrate International Museum Day Visit Waterford will take a look at some of the historical sites and artefacts located throughout Waterford city & county. Ireland’s oldest city is home to the Waterford Treasures-a collection of museums located in the heart of the Viking Triangle. Waterford Treasures comprises of five soon-to-be six museum experiences that showcase a wealth of historical and archaeological evidence reflective of the county’s rich history.
As many of you may know Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city and was founded by the Vikings in 914AD. The Norse invaders established bases around Ireland’s coastal counties in the 9th Century known as Longphuirts. The Vikings used these fortified camps seasonally as they travelled from Scandinavia to raid and pillage. The coastal setting provided direct access to the seas for ease of travel and trade. Archaeological evidence shows that the Vikings imported textiles, silver, glass, animal skins and precious stones from overseas to the Longphuirts. These temporary settlements soon developed into Ireland’s oldest towns and cities during the 10th and 11th Centuries with the Vikings establishing Waterford, Wexford, Cork and Limerick between 914-922AD. The establishment of these first towns and cities changed the Irish landscape forever and in doing so laid the foundations for Waterford to become the historically rich county it is today. One of the most iconic landmarks in the city is Reginald’s Tower, Ireland’s oldest civic building built by the Anglo-Normans to replace an earlier Viking fortification on the site. Throughout the centuries the tower has been used as a mint, a prison and a storehouse, an air raid shelter and home to the Chief Constable of Waterford and inhabited until 1954. Reginald’s Tower is now home to the Viking Museum which exhibits artefacts from the excavations at Woodstown in 2003 and is a must-visit for those interested in learning more about the origins of Waterford city and the early invasions.
Epic Walking Tour of The Viking Triangle - A Thousand Years of History in a Thousand Paces
A must-do when visiting Waterford is the Epic Tour, the tour brings you through a thousand years of history in a thousand paces. This guided walking tour allows you to discover the secrets and stories behind Ireland’s oldest city and provides you with a greater understanding of how the landscape and industries changed and developed into the city we have today. This tour will give insight into the people and stories behind many of the artefacts you will later see at The Treasures Museums.
The Medival Museum
A stones throw from Reginald’s Tower is The Viking Triangle which features The Medival Museum, this is Ireland’s only purpose-built museum and incorporates two medieval chambers the 13th Century Choristers Hall and the Mayor’s Wine Vault from the 15th Century. The museum is home to The Great Charter Roll from 1373 which displays the walled city of Waterford.
Another must-see artefact in the museum is the last remaining piece of clothing belonging to King Henry VIII in the form of the Cap of Maintenance which was given by Henry to his longtime friend William Wyse, the Mayor of Waterford in 1536.
You can’t visit the Medieval Museum without viewing the elaborate and breathtaking 15th Century gold vestments. They are the only full set of Mediveal vestments in northern Europe to survive and there were great lengths taken to ensure their protection, you can learn more about the exciting story behind the vestments on a guided tour at the Medival Museum.
Bishop’s Palace showcases the best of Georgian Waterford, the tour is re-enactor led and takes you through the rooms of what was once the home of the Bishop. The museum features the oldest surviving piece of Waterford Crystal dating from 1789 and the 4D audio-visual experience allows visitors to learn more about the origins of glass making in Waterford. Another must-see artefact while at Bishops Palace is the only surviving gold mourning cross commissioned by Napoleon’s mother after his death in 1821.
Across the road from Bishops Palace is The House of Waterford, the factory tour will provide more knowledge and understanding of Waterford’s most globally renowned export.
The Irish Museum of Time
The recently opened Horological Museum explores half a century of timekeeping in Ireland, Europe and the USA and displays a wide range of century-old clocks, from grandfather clocks to pocket watches from all over Ireland. It is a must-visit for those interested in the story and science of time.
Irish Silver Museum
The Irish Silver Museum showcases the silver treasures from Waterford city and county. Silver has been a valuable metal since the Viking age. The artefacts in this museum will guide you through the centuries and provide knowledge of some of the most personal treasures of Waterford’s social elite.
Irish Wake Museum
The Irish Wake Museum will open in June this year and will explore the traditions and rituals around celebrating life and death in Irish society, where it began and how it evolved.
Waterford’s Digital Story Trail
Waterford’s Digital Story Trail launched earlier this year, visitors and locals alike can go back in time and experience the history of 15 City sites including Reginald’s Tower and Waterford Crystal. This AR experience can be accessed by scanning QR codes allowing the user to experience animations of characters from the city’s past along with historical facts and a timeline of events.
The city also offers the King of The Vikings award-winning virtual reality experience. This will provide visitors with a greater understanding of daily life in Viking-age Ireland. VR experiences are a fantastic way of gaining insight and expanding knowledge of times gone by it allows you to explore places that may no longer exist or be accessible a definitive must-visit is the Lismore Castle VR experience at Lismore Heritage Centre.
Lismore Heritage Centre - VR Experience
The spectacular Lismore Castle is not accessible to the public however, visitors to Lismore Heritage Centre can see behind the walls of this great castle that was once home to scientists Robert Boyle, and hosted many famous guests including Fred Astaire, JFK and more. It’s a must-visit!
Waterford County Museum - Dungarvan
Waterford County Museum is located in Dungarvan, this museum showcases a wide variety of artefacts from county Waterford’s historic past including, photographs, sports memorabilia, and artefacts from the famine, the civil war, maritime, big houses, railways and includes an 18th-century portrait of a member of the Congreve family of Mount Congreve Gardens. The museum holds an important photographic archive of over 7,000 images which can be viewed at www.waterfordmuseum.ie.