Saturday, March 14, 2015

Waterford, Vikings and Crystal...

The Vikings

The name Waterford is derived from an old Norse word Vedrarfjordr that can be traced back to the late 9th century. Vedrarfjordr is believed to be derived from either Fjord of the Rams, probably a reference to the export of sheep from the area, or more prosaically, from windy fjord. This latter meaning probably refers to Waterford as being a safe haven for Viking ships sheltering from a windy Irish Sea.

The Vikings, realizing the strategic and trading importance of the three rivers which empty into Waterford Harbour, built a longphort or dock at the confluence of the St. John's River and the River Suir. Waterford City was founded in 914 AD and developed into a significant urban area during the 10th century. Waterford is arguably the oldest area of continuous urban settlement in Ireland. Reginald’s Tower marks the site of the first defensive structure built by the Viking settlers. The Tower is mentioned  in the Irish Annals as early as 1088 thus making it the oldest civic building structure on this island. 
In the 1080s, a Viking fleet at Waterford had become a major force in the tangled web of Irish and Welsh political intrigue when Diarmuid O’Brien, King  of Munster, negotiated that the fleet go to Wales to assist Gruffydd ap Cynan to recover the Kingdom of Gwynedd in Wales. A hundred years later it was the turn of a dispossessed Irish king to seek help from beyond the sea in order to regain his lost kingdom. Thus it was,that in 1169 a group of Anglo-Norman mercenaries landed in Wexford at the invitation of Dermot McMurrough and by 1170 they were at the walls of Waterford. After a bloody battle the city fell to Strongbow and his armour  clad Anglo-Norman supporters. Strongbow was made heir to the McMurrough lands in Leinster and as previously agreed married Dermot’s daughter Aoife. 

The cloth of gold Vestments that, at one time, had been hid away for over 150 years, were up for display at the Waterford Medieval Treasures Museum. 

Viking artifacts found in the Reginald Tower

Inside the tower... inside the fireplace.

A Viking way of transportation. We would have loved to take it out to sea.

The Waterford Crystal Factory!

This guided tour completely exceeded my expectations. I had no idea what I was about to go and see. We actually saw every step in the process by professionals from the hot, glowing red crystal to the finished product. It is truly an art, and now I want 800 euros to buy a lovely piece... maybe someday! I've always loved Waterford Crystal, my mom is a collector, and I think this is a collection that I want to start.

The founders of the original Waterford Crystal were brothers named George and William. George thought that was cool that he and William were the founders ha ha!

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