- For other places with the same name, see Waterford (disambiguation).
Waterford is a city in County Waterford in the south of Ireland. Founded over 1100 years ago, it's famous for its fine glassware, though the glassworks has closed down and Waterford Crystal is nowadays made abroad. The city's main attraction is its Viking, medieval and Georgian heritage, reflecting its importance as a port. With a population of 53,504 in 2016, Waterford is the largest conurbation in the area and has the best range of visitor amenities.
The River Suir is tidal here, and navigable by sea-going craft. This attracted the Vikings, who settled in 853 and called it Veðrafjǫrðr - the rams' fjord. They were ousted by the native Irish in 902 but returned and held on from 914. This precedes Dublin's settlement in 988 so Waterford is Ireland's oldest city. Its landscape is dominated by walls and fortifications from the Anglo-Norman period, and architecture of the 18th century when it grew rapidly as a port. The Suir was bridged in 1793 but the city remained on the south bank: a strip along the north bank has the railway station and suburb of Ferrybank, then the boundary with County Kilkenny.
Waterford Airport, 7 km south, has had no scheduled flights since 2016. Since then, large amounts of money have been poured in to create a bigger airport than Cork, nicely in time for Covid to ruin the air travel business.
Ryanair's first flight was here on 8 July 1985, flying an Embraer Bandeirante 15-seater turboprop between Waterford and London Gatwick. In 1986 they added the Dublin-Luton route, competing with the flag-carrier airlines, assisted by EEC deregulation rules. In the new few years they moved to a budget carrier model, web-based booking and demand-priced fares, and began their march towards European domination. In 1992 they declined to pay Waterford Airport's charges, and axed the route.
Waterford railway station is 1 Plunkett just north of the river bridge. Of the many illustrious Plunketts that it might be named for, it commemorates Joseph Plunkett (1887-1916), executed for his part in the Easter Rising.
Waterford 2 bus station is on Merchants Quay by the riverside.
By road from Dublin follow N7 / M7 onto M9, 160 km and reckon 2 hr 30 min.
From Wexford follow N25. You can take that route from Rosslare, but there's a shortcut along the minor roads and across the 3 Passage East Ferry from Ballyhack. It sails 07:00-20:00 every 15 min or so; a car and its passengers is €8 single and €12 return.
The N25 bypassing the city to the west has a toll bridge: cars €1.90.
Walking is generally the best option. The area of interest is compact, and you should avoid bringing a car into the centre.
- W1 loops clockwise via Cork Road, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ballybeg, Cannon Street and back to the Quays, every 20-30 min.
- W2 loops anticlockwise via Cannon Street, Waterford Institute of Technology, Cork Road and back to the Quays, every 20-30 min. .
- W3 runs south to St Johns Park every 20-30 min.
- W4 runs west via Peter Street to Browne's Road every 30 min.
- W5 shuttles cross-town between University Hospital in the east, the Quays, and Oakwood in the west, every 30 min.
Bus Éireann also run the hourly Bus 360 / 360A to Tramore, which does start from the bus station.
The fare within the city (as of Sept 2020) is €2.40 adult and €1.40 child by cash, or €1.68 adult, 98c child by Leap Card. To Tramore is €2.80 adult by cash, €1.96 by Leap Card. 24 hour, 7 day and monthly tickets are also available.
In addition Kavanagh Coaches run buses between the housing estates, college and shopping centres.
Taxi: fares are nationally regulated and taxis must use the meter. As of March 2021, fares M-Sa 08:00 to 20:00 are €3.80 flagfall then €1.14-1.50 per km, 20:00 to 08:00 and Sunday €4.20 flagfall then €1.45-1.80 per km. In slow traffic or if asked to wait they charge by the minute, 40-50 cents. The most reliable operator is Rapid Cabs, +353 51 858585 or book online.
The ferry to Little Island may only be used by guests of the hotel (see Sleep) or clients of resort facilities eg the golf course. See above for the public ferry from County Wexford.
- Waterford Treasures consists of two museums: Medieval Museum and Bishop's Palace. Both have a guided tour lasting 45 min, after which you can explore at liberty. (A third, Reginald's Tower, is closed in 2020 for restoration.) They're open daily M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 11:00-17:00. Admission to one is adult €10, conc €8, under-12 with paying adult free. For both museums it's adult €15, conc €14. There's also a combi-ticket with Mount Congreve Gardens.
- 1 Medieval Museum (Treasures of Medieval Waterford), The Mall, ☏ . Hours and prices as above. Descend by spiral staircase into the 1270 Choristers' Hall, which extends into the wine vaults - Waterford had extensive trade with Bordeaux, which was ruled by the English. Religious artifacts include a relic of the True Cross (it must be a true relic if Pope Paschal II deemed it so in 1110, but no wonder Europe was rapidly de-forested in that era) and a pilgrim badge (violently anti-semitic). There's a sumptuous gold brooch of 1210, a charter roll stating Waterford's precedence over a rival nearby port (which they destroyed just to be on the safe side), and a ceremonial sword presented by Edward IV. The Cloth of Gold clerical vestments were woven circa 1460 with Florence silk and embroidered in Bruges: they were hidden in the cathedral from Cromwell’s army in 1650, and only rediscovered 123 years later. They were in an ornate Spanish iron chest, also displayed. The "cap of maintenance" was presented by Henry VIII; the Great Parchment Book is the city records from 1356 to 1649. The Luker chalice is from 1595. Finally the Mayor's Treasury is a summary of civic history.
- Bishop's Palace (Treasures of Georgian Waterford), The Mall (next to Medieval Museum), ☏ . Hours and prices as above. Grand Georgian residence with decor and items mostly from that era, including a 1789 piece of Waterford Crystal and a Napoleon Mourning Cross. The Hucklebuck shoes are from 1963 (from pop group Royal Showband) yet resemble the attire of a Regency buck.
- 2 Reginald's Tower, Parade Quay. Closed. It's named for Røgnvaldr, a common name among Viking rulers, so he may or may not be the fellow who founded Waterford in 914. The tower was probably built late 13th century - Prince (and later King) John began fortification of the city with stout walls and towers a century earlier. It's been variously a mint, a prison, a military bastion and munitions store, and the residence of the Chief Constable. It's nowadays part of the "Museum of Treasures" complex and normally displays the Viking era, but in 2020 it's closed for restoration.
- Other towers: seven still stand: Semi-Lunar Tower, Beach Tower, Turgesius’s Tower, St Martin’s Gate, The Watch Tower, The Double Tower and The French Tower. Sections of the city walls remain, linking the towers, west crossing Patrick St and south in a loop across Parnell St and John's Lane.
- The French Church or Greyfriars Abbey is a ruin next to Reginald's Tower. It was built in 1241 and the bell tower added in the 15th century; the friary was dissolved in 1540.
- King of the Vikings is a virtual-reality museum next to the tower, open daily 11:00-17:00. Adult €10, child under 12 €5.
- Christ Church Cathedral is the C of I (Protestant) building in Cathedral Square next to the two museums. It was built in Georgian style 1773-79 replacing the 13th century Gothic cathedral, from which the Catholics had been ejected at the Reformation. When the old one was demolished, they found the remarkable medieval vestments now in the museum.
- Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity is the RC building on the Quays. It was completed in 1793 on the site of a chapel when the Penal Laws against Catholic assemblies were relaxed. It's in Romanesque style resembling a particularly august bank.
- 3 Edmund Rice Heritage Centre, Mount Sion, Barrack St, ☏ . M-F 09:00-17:00. Chapel, shrine and museum commemorating the work of the Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844). Widowed young, he gave up his business and threw himself into the education of the city's impoverished youngsters. Others joined him and by 1803 Mount Sion was established as a school, monastery, and teacher-training centre, in an era when RC education was slowly recovering from the Penal days of "hedge schools". But as the initiative expanded, Rice as a layman had no authority in the RC church, and had to laboriously seek permission from the local bishop whenever one of his teacher-priest Brothers was to be relocated. In 1820 he obtained papal authority to manage these Christian Brothers, and the scheme extended geographically (eg to England) and to secondary education. A minority remained subject to the bishops under the earlier arrangements and these were called the Presentation Brothers. Both societies remain active internationally, but the Christian Brothers' regime in the 20th and 21st centuries was marked by systematic physical and sexual abuse of their pupils. Rice himself lived in retirement at Mount Sion and died there. In the 20th century a campaign began for his beautification. In 1976 a boy who seemed sure to die of a gangrenous colon had a relic of Rice placed at his bedside and recovered fully; post hoc ergo propter hoc and in 1996 Rice was declared a saint. Free.
- House of Waterford Crystal, 28 The Mall (opposite Medieval Museum). Mar-Oct daily, Nov-Feb M-F, 10:00-17:00. Waterford Crystal is the brand name of a fine flint glass, used in glass tumblers, chandeliers, decorative bowls, trophies and similar luxury wares. The brand is owned by WWRD (who also own Wedgewood and Royal Doulton), in turn owned by the Finnish company Fiskars. It's almost all manufactured abroad - the factory in Kilbarry, south edge of Waterford city, closed in 2009, in spite of a long sit-in by the workforce. Visits to the House are by guided tour, taking 50 min and demonstrating the glass-making process. Then, of course, you troop to the gift shop. Adult €13.50.
- 4 Mount Congreve Gardens, Kilmeaden X91 PX05 (8 km west of city), ☏ . Apr-Oct Th-Su 11:00-17:30. 70 acres of woodland garden and a 4-acre walled garden, a riot of colour in summer. There's normally a combi-ticket with the city museums, but it's not available in 2020. The Georgian mansion isn't open to visit. Adult €7, conc €6, child €3.
- Kilmeadan Castle is the stump of a tower house built late 17th C, glimpsed from the Greenway between Mount Congreve and the WSVR station (see below). It's not worth thrashing through the undergrowth for a closer view.
- 5 Fairbrook House is an old wool mill turned into an art-space and gardens. It's open May-Sept W-Su, adult €7, no dogs. It's 1 km west of Kilmeadan along Greenway, or follow N25 from Carrick Road Roundabout.
- 6 Curraghmorehouse is a palatial grand mansion, mostly 18th / 19th century, the home of the Marquess of Waterford. It can only be visited by pre-arranged group tour; its grounds sometimes hold events.
- County Kilkenny lies just north of the city, and some of its sights are easier to reach from Waterford than from there.
- Grannagh Castle is a crumbling medieval turret, off N24 about 500 m west of Meagher Bridge. It was wrecked in 1650 by Cromwell's forces.
- 7 Mooncoin: great name, too bad it's just a nondescript modern village straggling along N24 ten miles northwest of the city. But then again, Móin Choinn means "the bogland of Coyne". You might look into the parish church. Or you might croon "Rose of Mooncoin", the mawkish ballad penned by Watt Murphy, sundered from his dear Molly (aka Elizabeth) by her flint-hearted father the vicar. The first problem was, Watt was 56 and Molly was 20. And second, he had rebel sympathies, with the Young Irelander rebellion of 1848 threatening a return to the bad old days. Molly's father had every reason to believe he was saving his entire family's lives by decamping to London. The ballad has been adopted as the anthem of Kilkenny GAA, who can have no complaints if their sporting hopes are crushed by teams half their age.
- 8 Piltown has a "sham castle", a Napoleonic-era monument that's now a water tower. However it's not the birthplace of the sham "Piltdown Man" - that's near Uckfield in East Sussex, England. Stay on N24 to cross into County Tipperary and the genuine castle of Carrick-on-Suir.
- 9 is 16 km north, with Poulanassy waterfall 1 km west of the village.
- Theatre Royal is on The Mall, box office +353 51 874 402.
- Central Arts is at 123A Parade Quay and includes Red Kettle Theatre. Box office +353 86 545 3246. The Film Festival is held here in November: the next event is 20-22 Nov 2020.
- Garter Lane Arts Centre on O'Connel St has theatre, film and dance. Box office +353 51 855 038.
- Cinema: the Omniplex is on Patrick St, the Odeon is 500 m south on Poleberry Link Rd.
- People's Park is the pleasant green space just south of the smaller river.
- Gaelic games: the County GAA plays hurling and Gaelic football at Walsh Park, on Keane's Road 1 km southwest of city centre. Its capacity of 11,000 is expected to increase to 16,500 in 2021. There's a secondary home stadium in Dungarvan.
- 1 Waterford Golf Club is north bank of the river on Newrath Road. Blue tees 5652 yards, par 70.
- 2 Waterford and Suir Valley Railway, Kilmeadan Station, ☏ . April-Oct 11:00-16:00. The WSVR is a 3-foot (914 cm) railway along the south bank of the river, along the bed of an abandoned standard-gauge railway. Its diesel-hauled trains ply 10 km from Kilmeadan towards Waterford, with a halt at Mount Congreve. You normally have to board at Kilmeadan, as only occasional specials run as far as the city. Adult €10, conc €9, child €3.
- Deise Greenway is a 46 km walking and cycling route along an old railway track. It heads west from Waterford along the south bank of the river, alongside the WSV Railway as far as Kilmeadan. It continues west cross-country then turns south to the coast at Dungarvan.
- All Together Now is a modern music festival held around the August holiday weekend. The next event is 30 July - 1 Aug 2021 at Curraghmore House 10 km west of the city.
The main retail mall is a block back from the Quay.
- A blaa is a floury bread bun unique to this region - see County Waterford#Eat. Walsh's Bakehouse and Hickey's Bakery still produce blaas in Waterford by the traditional method, as does Barron's Bakery in Cappoquin near Lismore.
- Café Lucia, 2 Arundel Lane X91 A302, ☏ . Tu-Th 09:00-16:30 F Sa 09:00-17:30. A lovely little café in a lane besides the shopping centre. Soups, panini, wraps, burgers, all go down well. They have another branch at Ardkeen Shopping Centre down Dunmore Road.
- Bodéga, 54 John Street XW2R, ☏ . W-Su 16:30-21:30. Spanish name but French cuisine, seafood a speciality.
- Dry Dock Bar is within Dooley’s Hotel on Merchant's Quay, see Sleep. It wins good reviews as much for its food as its ambiance and has live music at weekends; open daily 09:00-00:00.
- Espresso, Parnell Street, ☏ . W-Sa 17:00-21:00, Su 13:00-20:00. Cheap and cheerful Italian pizza and pasta restaurant in city centre.
- Kyoto, John Collyn House, High St X91 EF8F, ☏ . M-Th 12:30-14:30, 16:00-22:30, F-Su 12:30-22:30. Not that you'd admit to wanting a break from trad Irish fare, but here are all the staple Japanese offerings. Inexpensive.
- La Bohème, 2 George’s St (one block south of bus station), ☏ . Tu-Sa 17:30-22:00. Good French food in an atmospheric restaurant in the vaulted cellars of a Georgian townhouse.
- 1 Momo, 47 Patrick St X91 DX49, ☏ . Tu-Sa 12:00-15:00, 17:00-22:00, Su 13:00-20:00. Eclectic modern cuisine with plenty of choice for veggies, vegans and GF. Gets great reviews.
- Geoff's Cafe Bar, 9 John St X91 WP98. Daily 11:30-00:00. Big lively pub, good choice of beer and food.
- Henry Downes, 10 Thomas St. Grand old pub, a Waterford institution.
- Jordan's, 123 Parade Quay X91 CP89. Trad Irish pub, popular with visitors and locals alike.
- Kazbar, John St X91 F974. Daily 12:30-23:00. Buzzing bar, good food, TV sport, live music most nights.
- The Munster, 11 The Mall X91 EF2D. M-W 12:00-15:00, Th-Su 12:00-22:30. Charming bar, good food and company.
- Katty Barry's (previously Queen's), 2 Mall Lane. M-F 16:00-23:30, Sa Su 12:30-00:00. Cosy trad Irish bar, often has live music.
- The Tavern, 5 Lower Yellow Road X91 W6FH. Cosy friendly pub, good food.
- Other popular pubs are The Gingerman, Phil Grimes, The Tap Room, The Three Shippes, and Tom Maher.
- Metalman Brewing Co on Tycor Business Park produce an off-beat collection of beers. No tours.
- Waterford Distillery on Grattan Quay makes whiskey. The shop is open M-F 08:00-16:30 but in 2020 they don't offer tours.
- 1 Portree Guesthouse, 10 Mary St X91 KF10, ☏ . Simple B&B in a Georgian block on a quiet street near bridge. No dogs. B&B double €80.
- 2 Fitzwilton Hotel, Bridge St X91 RC9A (Big puce block just south of bridge), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Modern midrange hotel, very central. The car park is cramped, only 7 spaces which fill early. B&B double €100.
- Treacey's Hotel, 1 Merchants Quay St X91 AV9W (south end of bridge), ☏ . Decent midrange hotel on Quays. B&B double €80.
- Dooley's Hotel, 30 Merchant's Quay X91 P86C (opposite bus station), ☏ . Midrange modern hotel with 112 rooms and conference suite. With Ship Restaurant and Dry Dock Bar, see Eat. B&B double €110.
- Granville Hotel, 62 Meagher's Quay X91 XH5R (100 m east of bus station), ☏ . Good modern hotel on riverside, some street noise, but great reviews for comfort and service. Cheap parking. B&B double €110.
- 3 Tower Hotel, The Mall X91 VXE0, ☏ . Bright modern hotel on riverside, has parking, good reviews for comfort, service and food. B&B double €110.
- 4 Travelodge Waterford Hotel, Cork Road X91 YV04 (On retail park 1 km south of centre), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Basic chain hotel, clean and value for money. Free parking. B&B double €80.
- 5 [dead link] Waterford Castle Hotel, Little Island X91 Y722 (ferry from Ballinakill), ☏ . Gothic mansion built 1895 over a medieval turret, and since the 1980s a plush hotel and golf resort. Gets great reviews for comfort, service and dining. Often booked for wedding parties, and also has self-catering lodges. B&B double €200.
- 6 Viking Hotel Waterford, Cork Road X91 Y657 (jcn with ring road, 3 km southwest of centre), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Decent budget-to-mid-range place at edge of town, convenient for motorists. B&B double €80.
Standard advice about road safety and avoiding drunks. The city centre is safe day and night, and the revellers are noisy rather than threatening.
The city has a good mobile and 4G signal from all Irish carriers. As of Sept 2020, 5G has not reached this area.
- Along the coast nearby are the resorts of Dunmore East and Tramore; further west is the "Copper Coast" towards Dungarvan.
- The Comeragh Mountains form the border with Tipperary to the northeast, similarly the Knockmealdown Mountains northwest. They're scenic and easy to access.
- Cahir, across the mountains in County Tipperary, has a river-island castle and the playful Swiss Cottage.
- Inistioge is a picture-postcard village north in County Kilkenny.