Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
111Trip End Ongoing
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Of course we had to start at the Waterford crystal factory. Neither of us are really into crystal, but it was extremely impressive to watch them at each stage in the factory. It is all done by hand very casually with safety standards that would make Canadian safety officials gasp. From the glass ovens to the glass blowing to the glass cutting it is all done by eye with shockingly little protective gear. These guys are just walking around in shorts and t-shirts. They did manage to get masters degrees and apprentice for five years before even being allowed to work on anything that bears the Waterford name. They use diamond blades to cut the designs without any guides, shields, or even gloves
After the tour and with the sun shining, yet again, we decided to spend the rest of the day simply walking and exploring the town. Meg even took off the fleece jacket that you see in every picture of her (see picture)!
The next morning we took in as much of the history of Waterford as we could. Their award-winning (and deservedly so) museum is very interactive and well organized in the stages of the looong development of the town. Historically, Waterford developed into almost an independent city state. It kind of played both sides of the fence between the English and the gaelic Irish. When the English were taking over in the 1600s and forcing protestant beliefs on the people here, Waterford was very tolerant to the catholic presence. While most Catholics in Ireland were being treated as outcasts, in Waterford they were treated as equals in the community. Waterford actually has cathedrals of each religion blocks away from one another, something that is very strange in these parts.
We then toured 'reginald's tower'. It is the oldest building that has been in continuous usage in all of Ireland. It was originally a lookout post of the Roman wall that surrounded the city. It then became a royal mint in the Tudor dynasty and later became a prison.
Pretty impressive. As an added bonus considering it is the oldest building, it also has the oldest toilet (see picture). After absorbing a substantial amount of history we decided to head to a pub (surprise surprise). It happens to be the pub where Sinead O'Connor got her start. There was a fabulous traditional band with fiddle, tin flute and all. We were surprised with how many songs we knew. It was a great time of course.
Off to Kinsale!