Monday, September 2, 2013

Waterford, Ireland

Leaving Dartmouth, England around 4:00 PM on the cruise-ship Ocean Princess, we traveled 233 nautical miles through the night, on up into the Celtic Sea, to arrive in Waterford, Ireland around 9:00 AM. the next morning.

As the ship was approaching the port in Waterford I grabbed my camera and stood on the balcony with the cool breezes blowing and took some photos of Ireland coming into view.

Ireland has rolling hills and was lush and green.  Ireland looked very much like England, including the patch-work fields with dark green borders.

We were looking forward to beginning our 4th day of the cruise-ship tour.  All of our tours were on a tight schedule and before we knew it we were off the ship and onto the tour-bus.

Today our itinerary included a drive into Waterford,  continuing on up to Kilkenny, Ireland.  Kilkenny is only an hour north of Waterford and it is Ireland's best preserved medieval city.  We would be visiting the ancient Kilkenny Castle.

Our bus drive took us through the countryside of Ireland.  I snapped photos through the window of the moving bus.

Yes, it was very strange to be driving on the left side of the road.

The street signs looked so foreign and very different than in the US.

 Arriving in Kilkenny, Ireland

Moving along on the bus did not make for good picture taking moments.

Arriving at Kilkenny Castle which was built in 1195 and sits on 50 acres of lush parkland.

James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormonde, bought the castle in 1391 and established himself as ruler of the area.  The Butler dynasty then ruled the surrounding area for centuries.  The Butler family lived there until 1935.  The last member of the family sold the castle to the local Castle Restoration Committee.  Then it was given to the State, and has since been refurbished and is now open to visitors.

Kilkenny Castle has become one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland.  As with so many historic sites which are open to the public, no photos were allowed to be taken inside.  I looked for some online photos of the inside,  but the below photo was the only one I could find.  It does give you some idea of the amazing size of the rooms in the castle.

Inside Kilkenny Castle with photo taken from the Internet.

After the tour there was a little time allowed for shopping and walking around the town.  We walked across the street from the castle to the shopping area in the row of buildings across the street,  which are seen in the below photo.

We found ourselves in the coffee shop and ordered a delicious Irish Scone and hot coffee.
I would love to have the recipes for the scones and the wonderful Irish bread.

Keeping on schedule we were back on the tour-bus and back in Waterford in no time.  

Waterford is the oldest and fifth most populous city in Ireland, with almost 50,000 residents.   Historically Waterford was an important trading port which brought prosperity to the city handling about 12 per cent of Ireland's trade.  Waterford's most famous export is Waterford Crystal.

Our next tour of the day included a tour of the famous House of Waterford Crystal which is home to the finest quality crystal in the world.  We would walk through and see a demonstration of all phases of production of the Waterford Crystal products,  and later visit the showroom of beautiful finished Waterford Crystal.

This beautiful Waterford Crystal grandfather clock was in the front room entrance as we began the Waterford Crystal tour.  We were told the little sea-horse on top of the clock is the Waterford trademark.

The first area of the tour is mould making.  Waterford Crystal is one of the few companies today, which still practises the ancient craft of mould making.  The wood moulds are made from Beech and Pear wood,  plus hand tools are used by Master Blowers to shape the molten cyrstal.

Red hot molten crystal taking shape.

More crystal being shaped.

Marking tools drawing the glass design.

The art of glass-cutting.

   They use the ballplayer's own personal glove to assist in making a crystal glove for a special award.

Showing the glove in crystal.

Beautiful bowls at various stages of completion.

Other items waiting to be finished.

A tribute to 9-11 in New York City,  just finished by the artists at Waterford Crystal.

More items waiting to be finished.

As we finished the tour we came out into the Waterford Crystal showroom.

Some beautiful Waterford Crystal chandeliers.

Sporting trophies are crafted by Waterford as seen in the previous photos of the crystal baseball glove they were in the process of making, and in the below football and helmet photo.  Waterford creates trophies for the Tennis Masters Series,  the AFCA National Championship Trophy and many more trophies for sporting events.

Waterford Crystal also made the 2,668 crystals for the famous New Year's Eve Ball that is dropped each year in New York City Times Square.

We enjoyed our tour of The House of Waterford Crystal very much and appreciated the time, effort and precision of the artists who created all of these beautiful works of art.

The ship's captain had requested everyone be "all aboard" by 6:30 PM,  and the ship would leave the beautiful Waterford port shortly after.  My husband and I loved to be able to stand on deck and watch the beautiful landscape go by. 

As we passed this little village,  as we were leaving the Waterford Port,  children were jumping off the dock you see there to the right, and enjoying themselves swimming.  Others on shore,  but close to the water,  were waving and hollering "Bon Voyage" as the ship slowly drifted by their beautiful village.  Somehow that moment was so touching to me!

Our boat slowly moved out into the beautiful, quiet, peaceful waters of the Irish Sea on our way to the next adventure.

How nice to end a wonderful day with such a beautiful Irish sunset.

So glad you traveled along with us today as we visited Waterford and Kilkenny, Ireland.   I hope you can join us again as we next visit the very beautiful city of Dublin, Ireland.

I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend and holiday wherever you may be!

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