Today we explored more of Waterford. The Reginald tower and replica Viking ship on the Quay give clues to its ancient origins. Waterford has always been a very important port because of its position on the sea inlet, and a city since the times of the Vikings and Normans – it is regarded as the oldest city in Ireland. The medieval treasures in the museum offered a feast of embroidery, real gold thread on heavy red velvet, the episcopal capes which survived attack and seige.
Visiting the Bishops Palace gave us an insight into the life and industry of Waterford under the Georgian period. It was a time of amazing exapansion, invention and industrialisation, and much beautiful architecture. Many of the entrepreneurs were Quakers. Two Penrose brothers started Waterford Crystal, the Malcomsons built the first ‘model’ village at Portlaw to house their mill workers, and they built ships too atvthe Neptune ironworks. There are Penroses and Malcomsons in my family tree.
My 3x great grandfather Thomas Jackson was born here in 1807 and grew up in the Quaker community. He grew up to be a prestigious architect in Belfast, and I would not be surprised if he was inspired by all the new beautiful buildings around him, and the spirit of enterprise amongst the Quakers. In Waterford two cathedrals were newly built, both the catholic and the Protestant cathedrals built by the same architect, John Roberts, after whom a central square of the city is named.
We found the original Quaker Meeting house, now used as an arts centre, but still with a curving staircase and big windows. In 1798 the Quakers started a school which thrives to this day at Newtown, where their current Meeting house is.
We finished an interesting day with a drive to the coast south of Waterford, where we had tea at Dunmore East, overlooking the oldest working lighthouse in the world at Hook Point, and then enjoyed the late afternoon light on the rocks of the Copper coast beyond Tramore.