Waterford History

Waterford city was founded by the Vikings some 1100 years ago. It had extensive trading links with Viking settlements overseas.

Later, in the year 1170, the city was taken by the Normans who sealed their victory by the marriage of their leader Strongbow to Aoife, daughter of the King of Leinster. Several Norman monarchs of England visited the city and it was extended and further fortified by the Normans. The city was first granted a charter by King John in the year 1215 some months before he signed the famous Magna Carta.

In the centuries that followed the city was Ireland's chief port for European trade and the city prospered. Waterford had privileged status and withstood siege on two occasions in 1487 and in 1492 to maintain it's loyalty to the Tudors. Administered by an oligarchy of merchant families, civic office was in the hands of the elite. One merchant James Rice was Lord Mayor on seven occasions. His macabre tomb is in Christ Church Cathedral. In the late sixteenth century, Waterford remained intensely catholic and earned the title Parva Roma.

The power and wealth of the merchant princes was broken in the seventeenth century by the Cromwellians. The local merchants left to form emigre communities all across Western Europe. Indeed the city was put up for sale, but no bids were received. Prosperity returned in the eighteenth century, efforts were made to attract foreign merchants, and French, Dutch, English and Danish merchants settled here. The city was Extended along the Quay in 1704. At this time also the important link with Newfoundland developed. This link brought wealth to Waterford, and a Waterford colony to Atlantic Canada.

One man above all others is responsible for the city we now know, John Roberts (1712-1796) an outstanding architect who stamped his mark on the city.

In the nineteenth century the city was the birthplace of the actor Charles Kean and the composer William Vincent Wallace, both by coincidence born in the same house. The first steamship to round the Cape of Good Hope was the Xenobia built in this City.

A historical walk is the ideal after dinner treat to provide a fitting finale to a day. To book, ring;

Jack Burtchaell
(051) 873 711 before 5:00pm
(051) 851 043 after 5:00pm

Fax: (051) 850 645
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Did you know that:

  • The first frog in Ireland was released in Waterford.
  • The only family in the world which has a father and son decorated with the Victoria Cross for bravery is the Roberts family from this City.
  • Thomas Francis Meagher, the man who chose the Irish flag was born here.
  • Waterford is the only city in Europe to have a Roman Catholic and a Protestant Cathedral both designed and built by the same man.
  • The modern method of Bacon Curing was developed in Waterford.
  • Waterford was the first Irish City to be besieged by artillery.
  • Waterford was the only city besieged by Cromwell which he failed to capture.
  • Our Roman Catholic Cathedral is the oldest in Ireland.
  • Waterford for centuries was Ireland's second city.
  • Henry VIII presented the City with a Cap of Maintenance.
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