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A crystal clear day in Waterford

During my first ever trip to Ireland it seemed imperative that I visit the small Irish town of Waterford. Originally made famous by the stunning crystal that was created here, over recent years the town has seen a decline in tourism as the factory making the crystal was forced to downscale and relocate. Since then, the new centre for Waterford House of crystal visitor centre has been opened and this ws where our visit to Waterford began.

The factory tour provides a fascinating insight into the most stunning crystal glass and the process by which it's created, cut and shaped. Today this particular factory takes care of the specialist arm of the crystal production creating special one-off pieces for trophies and specially commissioned pieces. The private tour allowed us to try our hand at carving the crystal as well as smashing some defective pieces! The tour concluded in the beautiful shop and it was impossible to leave without a momento of the very special glass. The cafe on-site is also highly recommended with the most delicious of cakes!

The rest of the day was taken up with a tour of the Waterford museum of treasures - a development that is nearing completion and takes in the triangular shaped tour of this historic Viking town. The tour included a visit to Reginalds Tower, a 13th century defence tower that tells the story of Waterford's Viking history. We also visited the Bishop's Palace, a 17th century house which houses many treasures from the Georgian era and tells the story of Waterford's fascinating history as it takes it's place in the story of Ireland.

It's easy to spend a day in this delightful and newly developed town. The historians here are interesting, knowledgable and more than happy to share the cities rich heritage with the visitors. As this town is now frequently missed from the tourist trail and coach tours, it should be an essential part of your Great Irish Trip.

Ruth Lancey, April 2012

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