Choose from 4 Fun Things to Do in South East Ireland
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Waterford Crystal, the prestigious brand behind New York City’s Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball and the chandeliers at Westminster Abbey, was founded back in 1783. These days, the public can visit the main crystal factory complex to observe skilled craftsmen blowing the molten crystal or browse a collection of dazzling crystal pieces.
Visitors can get inside the facility during a guided tour. Factory tours, lasting around 90 minutes, give visitors an overview of the crystal-making process—from how it’s blown, molded, shaped, cut, engraved, and finished. The factory also showcases examples of the acclaimed crystal in the on-site retail store and showroom. Dublin-based travelers can tour the factory as part of daylong rail trips to Waterford and Kilkenny or on longer multi-day tours around Southeast Ireland.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Learn about the legacy of Irish glassmaking.
- The Waterford Crystal facility is wheelchair accessible.
- A café on-site sells drinks and food, much of which is locally sourced.
How to Get There
The House of Waterford Crystal factory is situated on the mall in the center of Waterford City in Southeast Ireland. The factory is about a 20-minute walk from Waterford Plunkett railway station. Parking is available at a pay-and-display car park directly behind the factory.
When to Get There
The factory is busiest during the summer months. Tour numbers are limited, so if you plan on visiting during July or August, get there early in the day to secure your spot. Midweek is quieter than the weekend.
Historic Waterford City
Ireland’s oldest city, Waterford is packed with historical attractions. After touring the factory, you may want to explore the lanes of the so-called Viking Triangle. You can learn about Waterford in times past at the enlightening Medieval Museum, at the 11th-century Reginald's Tower, which houses exhibits on Viking and medieval history, and at the Georgian-era Bishop's Palace, which chronicles life in 18th-century Waterford.
Address: 28 The Mall, Waterford, Ireland
From $ 16
Wayfaring Norse invaders first arrived in Ireland in the eighth century, and while they looted, enslaved and caused quite a bit of destruction, these early Vikings also founded several Irish towns, including Waterford. Established in 914, Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, and its cultural and historic center — once surrounded by Viking walls — is today known as the Viking Triangle.
One of the Triangle’s most fascinating landmarks is Reginald’s Tower, a twelfth century building that now houses one of the three Waterford Treasures Museums. It is also the only monument in the country to be named after a Viking. Other attractions of note in the Viking Triangle’s narrow streets are the Medieval Museum, Bishop’s Palace and the House of Waterford Crystal.
Pick up a map of the Viking Triangle from Reginald’s Tower before beginning your explorations.
Address: Viking Triangle, Waterford, South East Ireland, Ireland
From $ 8
The Bishop’s Palace is one of the three museums known as the Waterford Treasures located in the Viking Triangle in Waterford, Ireland. It was designed in 1741 by architect Richard Castles, one of Ireland’s greatest architects. The front of the palace overlooks the town wall, which forms part of the palace’s terraced garden. The ground floor and first floors of the palace are furnished as an elegant 18th century townhouse and feature period furniture, beautiful fireplaces and rare paintings.
The museum tells the history of Waterford from 1700 to the mid-20th century, with an entire floor dedicated to stories about Waterford’s Home Rule story, World War I in Waterford and the War of Independence in Waterford. It also displays unique pieces such as the Penrose Decanter, the oldest surviving piece of Waterford Crystal, dating to 1789, and the only surviving Bonaparte “mourning cross,” one of just 12 crosses produced upon Napoleon’s death in 1821.
Admission to the Palace is 7 Euros for adults or 10 Euros for a combined ticket to the Bishop’s Palace and Medieval Museum. The Palace is open daily year round, except Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 9:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. September to May); Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. September to May); and Sundays and bank holidays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. September to May). The last admission is at 5:20 p.m. (4:20 p.m. September to May). Guided tours are available and last about 45 minutes.
Address: The Mall, Waterford, Ireland
Admission: Adults: 7 Euros
From $ 8
The Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum is one of three museums that make up the Viking Triangle in Waterford, Ireland. It is Ireland’s only purpose-built medieval museum and features two medieval chambers: the 13th century Choristers’ Hall and the 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault. The latter is the oldest wine vault in Ireland, built around 1440.
Visitors to the Medieval Museum have the opportunity to see an impressive collection of historical treasures, including the Relic of the True Cross, acquired by Pope Paschal II during the First Crusade, and King Henry VIII’s Cap of Maintenance, the only piece of the king’s wardrobe to survive anywhere in the world. Also on display are the Great Charter Roll of Waterford from the 14th century, the Sword of King Edward IV, the Cloth of Gold Vestments from the 15th century, the Great Parchment Book of Waterford, which contains city records from 1356 to 1649, and the Luker Chalice, the oldest Waterford chalice in existence.
The museum is open daily year round, except Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 9:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. September to May); Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. September to May); and Sundays and bank holidays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. September to May). The last admission is at 5:20 p.m. (4:20 p.m. September to May). Admission is 7 Euros or 10 Euros for a combined ticket with the Bishop’s Palace. Tours are available and take about 45 minutes.
Address: Cathedral Square, Waterford, Ireland
Admission: Adults: 7 Euros
From $ 8