34 Amazing Things Waterford Has That You Won't Get in Dublin
This time it's the Déise's turn to have a go on our beloved site...
"Sorry, did you mean to say Wexford? Wait, it's beside Cork yeah? It's in Leinster though, right? Yup – if you're from Waterford, you'll know all too well that these are the questions every Dub throws at you once they hear where you're from.
The treasures Waterford has to offer are regularly overlooked by people up in the capital – but a spirited reaction to the recession has given the city and county a new lease of life, and now seems like the perfect time for a spot of boasting. So let's settle the facts and prove once and for all where the real magic of Ireland lies...
1. Lismore Castle
Well now that's an enchanting sight indeed. Lismore Castle's prized location on the River Blackwater ensured its prominence and importance for centuries – and it remains impressively intact to this day, looking awesome from every angle.
2. Waterford Crystal
In an unfortunate and bruising move, Waterford Crystal’s main manufacturing operations were moved to Slovenia in recent years. But the tourist centre is still there, reminding people with a dazzling display of the world's finest crystal where this stuff comes from.
3. Some of the best and most secluded surf spots in the country
Annestown, Kilmurren and Tramore beaches receive some serious swells that roll in off the Atlantic and have remained popular locations for decades. T-Bay in Tramore holds the distinction of being the oldest surf active club in the country, having been established back in 1967.
4. The Copper Coast
This area was once home to a vibrant copper mining community in the 18th and 19th centuries, and in recent years much of the coastline has been converted into a European Geopark. Its unspoiled shores provide incredible scenery and numerous brilliant places to go for a swim or a picnic.
5. Get Down Edits
You get to experience them for two hours at a festival each summer – we get them every odd week in Shortt’s Terrace. Daz and Martin are Ireland’s finest purveyors of disco tunes and they tour internationally with their silky cuts.
Not familiar with them? Listen here
6. Keith Barry
The magic man himself. To date the only Irish man to have driven blindfolded in a convertible with Nicole Scherzinger in the passenger seat.
U da man, Keith.
7. Curraghmore House
The De la Poer family have resided in this stunning residence for over 800 years. With more than 2,500 acres of formal gardens, woodland and grazing pastures, this is the largest private demesne in the country. Thankfully, the De la Poer's of today are more than happy to allow people access to their grounds, and so there are plans to make even better use of the beautiful features.
8. A long walk on Tramore beach
From the strand to the amusements through the sand hills and back around by the lagoon, this is an invigorating 7km walk that takes in diverse seaside landscapes. The town of Tramore boasts plenty of wonderful cafes to chill out and digest your stroll.
9. The home of news satire in Ireland
Waterford Whispers News has blown all competition out of the water and is one of the most visited sites in the country. Gold, gold and more gold.
10. The Burzza
While every city in Ireland is guilty of drawing inspiration from Dublin’s burger restaurant blueprint, one Waterford establishment has gone ahead and introduced an entire new creative twist – this one involves a 5oz premium beef burger wrapped in all the makings of a pepperoni pizza.
Sounds intriguing, tastes great.
11. An art battle over a rock face
Sitting right on the county border, the rock face of Mount Misery (cool name, right?) has been the site of a near-decade long battle between mysterious public artists representing Waterford and Kilkenny. The amount of times it's swapped between blue and white and black and amber are simply too numerous to count at this stage.
The situation seems to have reached somewhat of an impasse of late and a neutral tricolour now looks down on the city from the contested territory... but we know they'll be back. We know.
12. It's the oldest city in Ireland
Waterford was among the first places in Ireland to experience Viking raids and is the oldest city in the country, having been established in 914 – 74 years before Dublin. The city charter roll and various other artefacts from this era are housed in the award-winning Medieval Museum, if you're into that kind of thing.
13. Hurlers that capture the nation's imagination
Waterford’s status as perennial underdogs mean they are regularly the neutral’s choice in big games. Players like John Mullane, Ken McGrath and Dan the Man have earned the respect and admiration of hurling fans everywhere for their passionate displays over the years.
The Dubs' hurlers seem like a decent bunch, but they've got nothing on the Déise.
14. Mount Congreve Gardens
These beautifully landscaped gardens feature 70 acres of abundant plant life and are located just a few kilometres west of the city. The last remaining heir of the estate, Ambrose Congreve, became internationally recognised for his work on the gardens.
15. City walls dating to over a millenium ago that casually pop up around town
Okay, Dublin has exactly this. But Waterford's are better.
They just are, okay?
16. We use car ferries as a form of transport
Travel between Waterford and southern Wexford can be conveniently made by taking the Passage East-Ballyhack car ferry. Pop out of the car, stretch your legs and take a gawk at the steep wooded valleys rolling down into the wide estuary. A much better commute than losing your mind at 8am on the N11…
17. A stress-free airport experience
Even though flying to most destinations in the the UK only takes an hour and a bit, Dublin Airport's Terminal 1 often manages to make this quick jaunt a minor ordeal. Whether it's hovering impatiently for an Aircoach on O' Connell Street or having to conquer that improbably long loop to get to your gate, flying from Dublin just has a knack for being irksome.
Waterford folk can trade that for a ten minute traffic-free journey and a departures queue that disappears before you knew it existed.
18. The largest cirque in the country
*Thinks back to geography class…*
Coumshingaun is the largest cirque – a glacial feature – in the country. The view from the lake at the bottom and the surrounding hikes are awe-inducing.
19. The Book Centre
Formerly a cinema, this open-plan three-storey bookshop is one of the most visually appealing book stores in the country. Grab a coffee overlooking the bustling bodies below and feast on some quality literature for a few hours. Oh, and they're on Facebook if you're interested.
20. Hindu-gothic architecture
What's that, you ask?
Dromana Gate was built as the drawbridge entrance to a gigantic planned castle estate, and ended up remaining as the only piece completed when the owner landed himself in crippling debt. If only property developers were treated as well as they are now back then... that would have been quite a gaff.
Nowadays it functions as a working road bridge near the town of Cappoquin.
21. Winterval Festival
This festival has been running for the last couple of years and has proved an enormous success – light displays, pop-up food stalls and entertainment features fill up the cobbled streets of the city during this time, and have increased the footfall in the city centre by roughly 500,000 over the Christmas period.
Eat that, Stephen's Green market.
22. An island bursting with natural beauty situated 4km from the city centre
Better than Bull Island, even.
Waterford Castle resort and golf course occupy this 420-acre island downstream. It's a brilliant place for a Sunday walk or, if you happen to have a boat, the surrounding waters provide excellent scenery. The island is a renowned bird-watching spot and deer can be found roaming around the golf course grounds.
23. Chips and scallops from Johnnie Walkers
Not to be confused with the seafood delicacy. These deep-fried slices of potato melt in your mouth and do a solid job of soaking up some of those fizzy drinks you had down in the pub. Burdock's sure has an impressive list of celebrities, but in terms of sheer quality chips they can't compete with the likes of Johnnie's.
This has been one of Waterford's premier pubs for decades, without compromising on its homey atmosphere. With so many tucked away comfortable areas, it’s like the entire pub is one giant snug.
25. Flahavans Porridge
Those oats though.
Nobody else makes ‘em quite like us. Get into a system of grabbing a bowl of this every morning and you’re on a certain path to bettering your life. No bother, boy.
26. Dunmore East
This beautiful fishing town is a wonderful summer destination. If the concept of an ‘Irish Riviera’ wasn’t completely absurd, this town would be a serious contender for one of its crowning jewels. It’s also a popular destination for cruise ships coming to Ireland.
27. A large bottle off the shelf
A phrase that will give a Déise person away anywhere in the land. Waterford was slow to take up draught pints and many preferred the option of the large bottle well into the 80s. The tradition continues today; most pubs will stock large bottles of stout and newer off-licences offer special deals on them.
Note: must be pronounced “layrge bockle”.
28. A fully functioning Gaeltacht
An Rinn, a peninsula near Dungarvan, is one of the last remaining Gaeltacht areas in the country. This place managed to flourish for centuries despite a strong British presence in the nearby Cork town of Youghal (still can’t trust 'them lot' down there to be honest).
Every August bank holiday weekend the entire city centre is transformed into a lively arts and culture festival. Stages are set up all around the town and acts from every corner of the globe descend on the city to deliver top quality entertainment. In fact, in recent years the Dublin St Patrick's Day organisers have been calling on the Spraoi crew to give the parade a bit more of an edge.
30. The River Blackwater
Easily one of the most underrated rivers in the country in terms of raw beauty. This flows through north-west Cork and opens out from Lismore until it hits the sea near Youghal. The Blackwater boasts some of the best salmon fishing in the country, while numerous stately homes and railway remains flank the riverside, giving this area a real old world charm.
31. St Declan's Tower
Ardmore was the location of one of the most important monasteries in Ireland and it remains one of the most historically significant sites on the south coast. Nearby Ardmore Beach is a fine seaside attraction too.
32. The Deise Greenway
Disclaimer: this won’t open fully until next spring, but plenty of the groundwork has already been laid for this brilliant health-conscious development – a cross-county cycle way built over the disused Waterford-Cork railway line that makes use of scenic viaducts and red iron bridges.
33. Dungarvan Castle
One of the few royal castles built back in the 1200s. This former fortress has undergone a major revamp and is back open to the public. During the War of Independence it was successfully taken by IRA forces. Its museum provides a fascinating insight into the history of the region.
34. The Blaa
You thought we were going to leave it out, didn't you?
What on earth is a ‘floury bap’? Unsurprisingly, attempts to imitate this unique Déise delicacy always pale in comparison to the real deal. A blaa is best consumed with a healthy lashing of butter and some red lead (luncheon) on the way to a match in Semple Stadium, while discussing the undesirability of being from neighbouring counties.
In recent years, the people of M&D Bakery on Mount Sion Avenue have ensured the recipe's protected status under EU law, meaning it's only really blaa if it's made in Waterford. Just like champagne, except with more flour and with sounder people involved.