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We give here an assortment of comments, in poetry and prose, about Waterford and Waterford people. They range from the adulatory to the critical and from the beginning of Waterford's recorded history to the present day. We also include a selection of quotations by Waterford people that will be of interest.

 

Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach.

('Power will have another day' - with 'Power' being a synonym of Waterford) 

Young men of Waterford learn how to fight,
For your ploughmares are being carried off.
Burnish your weapons that have long been unused,
And defend yourselves against the Powers who are patrolling the road.

Anonymous c1330:  from A History of Waterford & its Mayors from the 12th to the 20th Century, ed. E. McEneaney, p.60

And now at this time, as a remembrance and evident token of our favours, we have sent you ... a cap of maintenance, to be borne at times thought fit by you our mayor, being our officer of that our said city.

King Henry VIII, 1536: from A History of Waterford & its Mayors from the 12th to the 20th Century, ed. E. McEneaney, p.104

Ireland is a kindomship longing to the kinge of England.  It is in the west parte of the world, & is devyded in ii. partes .i. is the english pale. & the other, the wyld Iryshe.  The English pale is a good countrey, plentye of fishe, flesh wildfoule and corne.  There be good townes and cities as Dublin & Waterford, wher the english fashion is, as in meat, drinke, other fare and lodging.  The people of the english pale be metely well manered, using the english tunge but naturally, they be testy, specially yf they be vexed yet there be many well disposed people as wel in the english pale, as in the wylde Irysh, & vertuous creatures whan grace worketh above nature.

Andrew Borde 1552: from Introduction of knowledge, 2nd page of chapter 3; no page or signature number

In beholding the face and order of that city, I see many abominable idolatries maintained by the epicurish priests for their wicked bellies sake. The communion or supper of the Lord was there altogether used like a popish mass, with all the old apish toys of Antichrist, in bowings and scrapings, kneelings and knockings ... there standeth the priest, disguised like one that would show some conveyance or juggling play. He turneth his back to the people, and telleth a tale to the wall, in a foreign tongue.

John Bale, Bishop-elect of Ossory, 23 January, 1553 in his report of Waterford city's lack of progress in implementing the liturgical changes demanded in Archbishop Cranmer's recently published Prayer Book: from The Vocacyon of Johan Bale to the Bishopric of Ossorie in Ireland in the The Harleian Miscellany (London) Vol. vi p.446., W.Oldys & T.Parke, (eds) (1810) 

This city of Waterford much flourisheth and I suppose was never in better estate since it was builded, the people thereof being very civil, and (for this country) full of industry.

Sir Henry Sidney, 1567: from Church, Crown and Corporation in Waterford, 1520 -1620 in Waterford, History and Society, ed. William Nolan & Thomas P.Power, p.183

[Waterford is] a city well walled in the ancient fashion; the wealthiest city in Ireland; with a population of almost 1000, all of whom are Catholics, with the exception of 4 or 5 young men; that all the citizens are merchants or artisans, given to business rather than warfare.

David Wolf, S.J., 1574: from State Papers Ireland, 1572-8, p.161.

The proud and undutiful inhabiters of this town are so cankered in Popery, undutiful to her Majesty, slandering the gospel publicly as well this side the sea as beyond in England, that they fear not God nor man, and hath their altars, painted images, and candlesticks, in derision of the Gospel, every day in their synagogues, so detestable that they may be called the unruly newters, rather than subjects.  Masses infinite they have in their several churches every morning without any fear.  I have spied them, for I chanced to arrive last Sunday at five of the clock in the morning, and saw them resort out of the churches by heaps.  This is shameful in a reformed city.

Sir William Drury, Lord President of Munster, 1577: from State Papers, Pub. Rec. Office of  Ireland.

[The citizens of Waterford are] Massing in every corner; no burial of the dead according to the Book of Common Prayer, but buried in their houses with dirges and after cast into the ground like dogs; Romerunners and friars everywhere; public wearing of beads and praying on the same; worshipping of images and setting them openly in their street doors with ornaments and decking; ringing of bells; praying for the dead; dressing their graves with flower pots and wax candles; no marriages in accordance with the ritual of the Prayer Book because they marry in their houses with Masses; the windows and walls of their churches full of images.

Bishop Marmaduke Middleton, 1580: from Pub. Rec. Office, SP 63/73/70 

Waterford is the second city in Ireland.  It is a loyal and well administered municipality, full of honest and prudent citizens, but not particularly well lit because of the narrowness of the streets.  Its sheltered port is usually crowded with foreign ships.  A large number of the citizens are engaged in trade and their thrifty book-keeeping results in their amassing great wealth over a short space of time.  The bulk of their commerce is with Spain.  For the most part they use their own coins rather than foreign currency.  One finds no dishonest bankers there who deal fraudently in currency exchange or cheat the people by charging intolerable usury, which is the downfall of all states.  The citizens are friendly, generous, hospitable, frugal and adept in their public and private affairs.

Richard Stanihurst, De Rebus in Hibernia gestis, 1584: from A History of Waterford & its Mayors from the 12th to the 20th Century, ed. E. McEneaney, p.114

The Gentle Shure, which passing sweet Clonmel, Adorns rich Waterford.

William Spenser: from The Faerie Queen

My native city, which is called Port-Lairge by the inhabitants, and Waterford by the English, while Ptolemy knew it by the name of Menapia, was founded, according to Camden, by Norwegian pirates, others say by an Ostman named Sitaricus, about the year CLV.  It is on the banks of the Suir, and is celebrated for its commodious port, but it is more illustrious still for the constancy with which its inhabitants have clung to Christian piety and the Roman Catholic religion.  For this reason, also, it is dearer to me, and held in greater honour, than on account of its having been the place of my birth.  In the many sufferings and grievous persecutions to which its people have been subject, it has always remained firm in its attachment to the true religion, and, therefore, it deserves its motto, ‘Urbs intacta manens,’ from its fidelity to God, much more than from its loyalty to its temporal rulers.  It is also most worthy of praise for the intense devotion of its inhabitants to spiritual things, for the all-embracing charity with which they receive pious strangers and sufferers for the faith, and also because, living up to the maxim of Tertullian,  ‘Be more solicitous for the faith when it is in danger,’ they watch over the purity of the faith with unceasing vigilance, and take the utmost pains to hand it down without taint to their children.  Hence the city has been known, far and wide, by the name of ‘Little Rome.’  This tribute of praise I owe to the place of my birth, and much more of eulogy could I add were it permitted.

Luke Wadding O. F. M. (1588-1657): from Waterford Saints & Scholars, Canon P.Power, Waterford News, 1932.

Waterford is situated upon the best harbour and in a pleasant and temperate air.  The buildings are of English form and well compact.  There is a fair cathedral, but her beauty is in the Quay.

Luke Gernon, Second Justice of Munster, 1620: from A History of Waterford & its Mayors from the 12th to the 20th Century, ed. E. McEneaney, p.123

The quay of this city, which is above half a mile in length and of considerable breadth, is not inferior to, but rather exceeds the most celebrated in Europe ... The Exchange, Customhouse and other public buildings, besides the houses of the merchants and the citizens, ranged along the quay are no small addition to its beauty ... The whole is fronted with hewn stone, well paved and in some places forty foot broad.

Dr. Charles Smith, 1746: from A History of Waterford & its Mayors from the 12th to the 20th Century, ed. E. McEneaney, p.147

The finest object in this city is the quay, which is unrivalled by any I have seen; it is an English mile long, the buildings on it are only common houses but the river is near a mile (sic) over [it is, in fact, about a quarter of that], flows up to the town in one noble reach, on the opposite shore a bold hill, which  rises immediately from the water to a height that renders the whole magnificent...The Newfoundland trade is the staple of the place ... ships go loaded with pork, beef, butter, and some salt, and bring home passengers ... or what freights they can, sometimes rum ... The number of people who go passenger to Newfoundland is amazing ... 3000 to 5000 annually, in 60 to 80 ships, they come from most parts of Ireland, and in a year an industrious man will bring home £12 to £16 with him, and some more.  There is a foundry at Waterford for pots, kettles, weights, and all common utensils; and a manufactory of anvils to anchors etc., which employs 40 hands.  There are two sugar houses, and many salt-houses.

Arthur Young, 1776-79: from A Tour of Ireland, 1776-79

I expressed many objections to undertake this building. The distance from Dublin being more than seventy miles [Irish miles] rendered it very inconvenient: besides my whole time was occupied in attending to the works I was then superintending, and my heavy professional engagements left me no time whatsoever, to undertake any new engagements; but at the urgent request of Mr. Beresford to whom I could not appear ungrateful, I promised to furnish the necessary designs, from documents furnished to me ... I found the old courts of the city and county of Waterford separate buildings situated at some distance from each other, and in a very ruinous condition. At a meeting of the Grand Juries, it was resolved to erect a united court house for the accomodation of the city and county, and also to erect new gaols adjoining to the court house, thereby to form one general design, to be placed on an elevated piece of ground, where the barracks had formerly stood. The ground for this building was opened in the spring of 1784.

James Gandon, Architect, 1784. [Lord Tyrone (Beresford) had forced a commission on him to design and build a new courthouse and jail in Waterford.]: from The Life of James Gandon, Esq. (ed.) James Mulvany, Dublin, 1846, P.69

At last I arrived at Waterford, fairly tired with my long walk. I have already made some observations about this town, and I can only repeat what I have already said on the subject of ship-building yards and sheds on the quays; and, what may seem singular, this is the only thing in connection with the municipal administration here about which it is possible to say anything by way of fault-finding, for the police seem to be, here, infinitely better than in most other towns in this country. There seems to be in this town a care for the public weal which I have not found elsewhere. The markets are well supplied, and beggars and tramps were not allowed to show themselves in the streets long before the arrival of Count Rumford, for whom I had the pleasure to be taken when I visited the House of Industry. I was really astonished to find that everybody was alert to please me, running here are there, sweeping and polishing. I allowed them to go on and gave them great praise for their activity, but when, later, the caretaker, having conducted me into his private office, and submitted his accounts which I complacently examined, asked at what hour would I desire the Council of Administration to assemble to meet me, and when he told me that the Government had given orders that my directions were to be followed, it seemed to me desirable to ask to see this order, and when I saw it I found it was for Count Rumford. [Count Rumford is an Englishman and has been employed by the Elector Palatine for the maintenance of good order and the suppression of begging in his territory. He has shown much talent in the execution of these interesting projects, and in the short space of five or six years it seems he has succeeded in making the poor disgusted with a life of mendicancy, and has accustomed them so to work that there is no longer any need for compulsion in bringing them to the industrial establishments he has founded, and where they are clothed and lodged in return for their labour.

The spirit of economy there exhibited had apparently attracted the attention of the Irish Government, who consulted Count Rumford. The advice he gave has already produced happy effects, but, as I believe that begging in Ireland is not so much the product of indolence as of other more serious causes, his efforts will perhaps nut succeed so completely as might be desired until these serious causes have been removed. Count Rumford has also invented a method by which the cost of heating is much diminished, and which does away with smoky chimneys It consists principally in the contraction of the chimney close to the hearth, thereby augmenting the current of air.

I am sure he would have been as satisfied as I was with the order which reigned in the hospital, which is maintained by subscription and, in part, by a small endowment. There are quarters for the weak minded, and this is a matter of great importance, for one of the most painful spectacles to be seen in nearly all the principal towns in Ireland is the number of weak-minded people in the streets. The famous Dean Swift was the first who built at his own charges a house in Dublin for these stricken ones it would almost seem that his action indicated a sort of presentiment, for in his old age he was unfortunate enough to lose his reason, and came to be sheltered and cared for in the house which he himself had built.

The spirit of industry and commerce seems to me to be more active at Waterford than in any other Irish town, more active even than at Cork, although the size of the town is much less.

The Mayor of Waterford has the right to have carried before him a sword, even in presence of the Viceroy. The royal patents accorded to the town dispense with the necessity for laying it at the Viceroy's feet, and reserve this privilege to the Mayor alone.

De Latocnaye: from A Frenchman's Walk Through Ireland, 1796-7, translated

We came in Sight of Waterford about an hour before Sundown.  The evening was fine & the prospect before us was butiful.  The Town is large & [there were] a vast number of Ships Lying at the Key, which is So Good that vessels of 400 Tons can run along Side without discharging any part of their Cargo. The Town Stands on the River Suir, over which is a very handsome Wooden Bridge erected which adds Very much to the beauty of the Town.  I can not tell you the exact Length of the bridge, but it appeared to me to be nigh as Long as the Long Bridge of Belfast.  On the side next the Town is a Draw Arch for to Let the Shipping pass, the frame of which they Latterly converted into a Gallows, which Saved them the Double Expence of errecting a Gallows & making Graves for the unfortunate Victims, for as Soon as they were died, and Some Say Sooner, they cut them down & Let them fall into the river.  As we passed through we were Stopped & the convenience of the place explained to us by the Officer on Duty.

Andrew Bryson, jnr., 'United Irishman' prisoner, describing the 'Waterford' portion of his march, with many other prisoners, from Belfast to Geneva Barracks, Passage, Co. Waterford, Winter 1798-99: from Andrew Bryson's Ordeal, Cork University Press, pp. 54, 55

Near the city are a number of good houses, bespeaking the wealth and consequence of the place we were approaching. King William is reported to have said, when he first got sight of Waterford that it was a country well worth fighting for. Waterford is built along the west bank of the Suir, - a most noble stream. Close to its banks, the ground rises on both sides, leaving but a small space of flat ground along the river. In the old part of the town, the streets are steep and narrow; the quay is very spacious, and exceeds a mile in length; - the houses are good, and at its extremity is a very handsome modern street, in which are situated the Bishop's palace and the cathedral. The quay called to my recollection the Garonne at Bourdeaux, though undoubtedly less magnificent; yet is it highly sufficient, and so commodious that ships of considerable burden lie afloat at all times within a short distance of it. An extensive range of warehouses has recently been built on land, which sold for this purpose after the rate of eight hundred pounds an acre; the ground rent for a tolerable good house on the quay amounts yearly to forty pounds, and lands near the town let for eight pounds an acre. The merchants have lately erected a very handsome exchange and coffee room, where strangers are admitted and received in the most liberal manner. The cathedral is a large building, but its exterior has a mean appearance; the palace, however, is a handsome and commodious edifice.

Waterford, as a commercial place, has an appearance of opulence, superior to any of the sea-ports we have visited. The breweries and distilleries are extensively employed; the slaughtering trade has greatly increased of late years; seventy-five thousand pigs have been exported to England in one year, to be there cured and dried. The agricultural produce alone, exported from Waterford, yearly amounts to three millions sterling; in 1776, Mr. A. Young states that fifty thousand casks of butter, containing a hundred weight each, were then sent from this port; at present that number is nearly doubled. The American and Newfoundland trades have been also considerable, and, in the event of peace, would probably revive. I was surprised to hear of the distance whence the Irish pigs are driven to Waterford; their length of leg in this case is advantageous; and it is possible, that, on this account, they may answer better than those breeds with shorter legs, and a greater disposition to become fat; but which would, probably, be incapable of performing such journeys. The Suir is navigable to Carrick. Through a great part of the town, the pavement is extremely bad, owing, as we understood, to an existing dispute with the corporation; but as that has now terminated in an allowance of twelve hundred pounds per annum from the corporate body, it is presumed that, with the addition of eight hundred a year which the sweepings of the streets are estimated to yield, the pavement, in the course of a few years, may be completed.

J. C. Curwen, 1813

Waterford was a garrison town and an international seaport, the trade of which, though slack enough in comparison with former times, was, nevertheless, far from having disappeared ... Troop-ships were constantly embarking and disembarking soldiers coming and going, merchant schooners loading and unloading on the spacious docks, whilst side by side with the swaggering officer, the insolent sailor and the doubtful woman of the barracks, might be seen the half-clad figures of sorrowful emigrants, victims of absentee landlords in the country, of trade depression in the towns, dragging with them their little packages of salt pork and potatoes, sole hope of their subsistence during the uncertain voyage that awaited them. But strangest sight of all it must have been ... to see the crowds of comparatively succesful returned emigrants from the shores of Talamh-an-Éisc [Newfoundland] and the ice-bound borders of Labrador, congregating around the Church of the Trinity [Cathedral], with their wives and families, asking to be married by the priest and to have their children baptised at the consecrated Font. No ... you need not be shocked: there is reason, rather, to be edified. The remote places of the world were then very remote indeed. Even in the States the material Church was young: in the frozen and primitive regions of the north it can scarcely be said to have existed. Zealous priests were, of course, scattered here and there, but they could not reach to a tithe of the districts requiring their ministrations. The Irish exiles, true to the unerring instincts of the Faith within them, married with as much ceremony as circumstances permitted, having the Church represented by proxy: they also baptised their children, but, ever diffident of the efficacy of lay administration, their one desire was to make money enough to get back to the old country and be "married by the priest." Everyone concerned understood their circumstances, and they suffered no loss of respect or esteem in the public estimation. 

Alas! other and less desirable incidents must often have been witnessed... for the laws were savage and the punishment brutal ... [There were] sentences of public whippings for what [were] trivial offences. Justice... seemed to know no tempering of mercy. In 1820 a poor labouring man was lashed through the streets of Waterford for having stolen one bag of coal, then valued at one shilling ... What a scene! The cracking blows, the bleeding, yelling victim; the townspeople inured to and, hence, indifferent to the wretched sight; the procession in which the street-urchins vociferously join as though it were an express entertainment. What a disgusting and degrading spectacle! What a sight for the eyes of tender children! No wonder the lady who stirred up the apostolic zeal of Mr. Rice should have appealed to him in these words:—'Look at them (the untaught street-reared town boys). Ah! Mr Rice will you not do something for them?

Miss Gibbons: from The Life of Margaret Aylward 

[The city has] ... an exceedingly cheerful appearance ... [The Quay is] unrivalled in Ireland and, perhaps, in England also.

Mr. & Mrs. Charles Hall (Travel writers 1830's)
  

Ten years later the Halls commented on Waterford again. Hard times had obviously befallen the city.

Although Waterford is a mercantile city and one with advantages peculiarly eligible and accessible, there is a sad aspect of loneliness in its streets and a want of business along its quays, except on those days when the steam-boats embark for the English market.  The hotels, too, usually sure indications of prosperity or its opposite, have a deserted look and it would hardly an exaggeration to say that the grass springs up between the steps that lead to their doors.

Mr. & Mrs. Charles Hall (Travel writers 1840s)

Presently we caught sight of the valley through which the Suir flows, and descended the hill towards it, and went over the thundering old wooden bridge to Waterford. The view of the town from the bridge and the heights above is very imposing, as is the river both ways. Very large vessels sail up almost to the doors of the houses, and the quays are flanked by tall red warehouses, that look at a little distance as if a world of business might be doing within them, But as you get into the place, not a soul is there to greet you, except the usual society of beggars, and a sailor or two, or a green-coated policeman sauntering down the broad pavement. We drove up to the 'Coach Inn,' a huge, handsome, dirty building, of which the discomforts have been pathetically described elsewhere. The landlord is a gentleman and considerable horse-proprietor, and though a perfectly well bred, active, and intelligent man, far too much of a gentleman to play the host well: at least as an Englishman understands that character.

Opposite the town is a tower [Reginald's Tower] of questionable antiquity and undeniable ugliness; for though the inscription says it was built in the year one thousand and something, the same document adds that it was rebuilt in 1819 - to either of which dates the traveller is thus welcomed. The quays stretch for a considerable distance along the river, poor, patched-windowed, mouldy-looking shops forming the basement storey of most of the houses. We went into one, a jeweller's, to make a purchase - it might have been of a gold watch for anything the owner knew; but he was talking with a friend in his back parlour, gave us a look as we entered, allowed us to stand some minutes in the empty shop, and at length to walk out without being served. In another shop a boy was lolling behind a counter, but could not say whether the articles we wanted were to be had; turned out a heap of drawers, and could not find them; and finally went for the master, who could not come. True commercial independence and an easy way enough of life.

In one of the streets [Barronstrand Street] leading from the quay is a large, dingy Catholic chapel, of some pretensions within; but, as usual, there had been a failure for want of money, and the front of the chapel was unfinished, presenting the butt-end of a portico, and walls on which the stone coating was to be laid. But a much finer ornament to the church than any of the questionable gew-gaws which adorned the ceiling was the piety, stern, simple, and unaffected, of the people within. Their whole soul seemed to be in their prayers, as rich and poor knelt indifferently on the flags. There is of course an episcopal cathedral, well and neatly kept, and a handsome Bishop's palace; near it was a convent of nuns, and a little chapel-bell clinking melodiously. I was prepared to fancy something romantic of the place; but as we passed the convent gate, a shoeless slattern of a maid opened the door - the most dirty and unpoetical of housemaids.

Assizes were held in the town, and we ascended to the court-house through a Steep street, [Patrick Street] a sort of rag-fair, but more villainous and miserable than any rag-fair in St. Giles's: the houses and stock of the Seven Dials look as if they belonged to capitalists when compared with the scarecrow wretchedness of the goods here hung out for sale. Who wanted to buy such things? I wondered. One would have thought that the most part of the articles had passed the possibility of barter for money, even out of the reach of the half-farthings coined of late. All the street was lined with wretched hucksters and their merchandise of gooseberries, green apples, children's dirty cakes, cheap crockeries, brushes, and tin-ware; among which objects the people were swarming about busily.

Before the court is a wide street [Ballybricken], where a similar market was held, with a vast number of donkey-carts urged hither and thither, and great shucking, chattering, and bustle. It is 500 years ago since a poet who accompanied Richard II. in his voyage hither spoke of "Watreforde ou moult vilaine et orde y sont la gente." They don't seem to be much changed now, but remain faithful to their ancient habits.

About the court-house swarms of beggars of course were collected, varied by personages of a better sort grey-coated farmers, and women with their picturesque blue cloaks, who had trudged in from the country probably. The court house is as beggarly and ruinous as the rest of the neighbourhood; smart-looking policemen kept order about it, and looked very hard at me as I ventured to take a sketch.

The figures as I saw them were accurately disposed. The man in the dock, the policeman seated easily above him, the woman looking down from a gallery. The man was accused of stealing a sack of wool, and, having no counsel, made for himself as adroit a defence as any one of the counsellors (they are without robes or wigs here, by the way,) could have made for him. He had been seen examining a certain sack of wool in a coffee shop at Dungarvan, and next day was caught sight of in Waterford Market, standing under an archway from the rain, with the sack by his side.

"Wasn't there twenty other people under the arch?" said he to a witness, a noble-looking beautiful girl - the girl was obliged to own there were. "Did you see me touch the wool, or stand nearer to it than a dozen of the dacent people there?" and the girl confessed she had not. "And this it is, my lord," says he to the bench, "they attack me because I am poor and ragged, but they never think of charging the crime on a rich farmer."

But alas for the defence! another witness saw the prisoner with his legs around the sack, and being about to charge him with the theft, the prisoner fled into the arms of a policeman, to whom his first words were, "I know nothing about the sack." So, as the sack had been stolen, as he had been seen handling it four minutes before it was stolen, and holding it four minutes before it was stolen, and holding it for sale the day after, it was concluded that Patrick Malony had stolen the sack, and he was accommodated with 18 months accordingly.

In another case we had a woman and her child on the table; and others followed, in the judgment of which it was impossible not to admire the extreme leniency, acuteness, and sensibility of the judge presiding, Chief Justice Pennefather, the man against whom all the Liberals in Ireland, and every one else who has read his charge too, must be angry, for the ferocity of his charge against a Belfast newspaper editor. It seems as if no parties here will be dispassionate when they get to a party question, and that natural kindness has no claim when Whig and Tory come into collision.

The witness is here placed on a table instead of a witness-box; nor was there much farther peculiarity to remark, except in the dirt of the court, the absence of the barristerial wig and gown, and the great coolness with which a fellow who seemed a sort of clerk, usher, and Irish interpreter to the court, recommended a prisoner, who was making rather a long defence, to be quiet. I asked him why the man might not have his say. "Sure," says he, "he's said all he has to say, and there's no use in any more. But there was no use in attempting to convince Mr. Usher that the prisoner was best judge on this point: in fact the poor devil shut his mouth at the admonition, and was found guilty with perfect justice.

A considerable poor-house has been erected at Waterford, but the beggars of the place as yet prefer their liberty, and less certain means of gaining support. We asked one who was calling down all the blessings of all the saints and angels upon us, and telling a most piteous tale of poverty, why she did not go to the poor-house. The woman's look at once changed from a sentimental whine to a grin. "Dey owe £200 at dat house," said she, "and faith, an honest woman can't go dere." With which wonderful reason ought not the most squeamish to be content?

William Makepeace Thackeray, 1842: from An Irish Sketchbook, 1842.

 I ENTERED WATERFORD over another of my countryman’s wooden bridges,considered, like those built by the same man at Derry , Portumna, and Ross, rather as curiosities. The Guide-book says the bridge is eight hundred and thirty-two feet in length, and was built “by Mr. Samuel Cox of America .” They might as well say, the road was invented by Mr. M’Adam of the eastern hemisphere. It was evening when I arrived, and the broad quay, lined with lamps, and the reflection of lights on the river,with the vague outline of tall buildings on one side only of the street, struck me as giving promise of a very fine city. Though my morning walk rather disappointed me,the quay is certainly a very spacious and well-constructed one, nearly a mile in length,and devoted partly to a promenade between the street and the river. After ramblingabout in vain to find anything in the other parts of the town to interest me, I called a car-driver, and asked if his horse was able to draw me to the top of the hill oppositethe town. I had made my bargain and mounted the car, when the man turned to me before starting, and asked if I knew the toll over the bridge would be a shilling. Satisfied that I was willing to stick to my bargain with this additional expense, he whipped up, and began to chat away most merrily. I was pleased with the considerateness as well as the gaiety of my Jehu, and we were soon on excellent terms. No Yankee was ever more inquisitive, however; and after discovering by direct questions that I was not from Cork , nor Kilkenny, nor Dublin , but all the way from America , Pat said, “Then it’s yer honour has a white skin and spakes like an Irishman, and looks intirely in the face like Mr. Power O’Shay, first-cousin to the mimber.” After this compliment Pat could scarce do enough for me. He stopped several gentlemen on the road, somewhat to my annoyance, to ask where was the view, and to tell them I was come all the way from America to see Watherford, and couldn’t “for ould Pope’s big wall,” which wall, by the way, he helped me over, by allowing meto step from the car to his shoulders, climbing up after me, that I might make a ladder of him also from the other side.

The view from the top of the hill quite repaid me for my trespass. Waterford is beautiful from this distance, and the banks of the Suir above and below the longbridge, are very bold and striking. The broad bosom of the river was covered with large vessels, steamers, and small sailing-craft; the quay was thronged with pedestrians and vehicles, the sun shone brightly, and the scene altogether, with its background of fine hills, was beautiful. There is said to be from twenty to sixty-five feet of water in the Suir at low tide, and vessels of eight hundred tons may come up close to the quay, a circumstance which has been found very favourable for the debarcation of cavalry and military stores. Waterford has always, from this and other reasons, been an important port of Ireland . Its ancient name was Cuan-na-Frioth, or Haven of the Sun. It was afterwards called Gleann-na-Gleodh, or Valley of Lamentation, from the tremendous conflicts between the Irish and the Danes. By old Irish authors, it is frequently named, from its shape, the Port of the Thigh. Its historical record states that it was founded in ~ but made a considerable town under Sitric in 853. It was still inhabited by the Danes in 1171, the time of King Henry’s invasion. There are other historical events connected with King John, Richard II., (who remained nine months at Waterford to assuage his grief for the death of Queen Anne,) the Desmonds, &c. &c. Its great feature to antiquarians, however, is REGINALD’S TOWER, a fine old remnant of Danish architecture, standing near the lower end of the quay. It was built by Reginald, Son of Imar, in 1003. In 1171 it was held as a fortress by Strongbow; in 1463 a mart was established in it; and in 1819 it was partly rebuilt in its original form, and appropriated to the police establishment. Besides these various uses, it has been used as a prison. After the successful storming of the town by the English forces of Strong-bow, led on by the redoubtable Raymond le Gros, in 1171, when the city was plundered, and all theinhabitants found in arms were put to the sword, Reginald, Prince of the Danes, and Malachy O’Faelan, Prince of the Decies, with several other chiefs who had confederated to resist the invaders, were imprisoned here after they were condemned to death. They were saved, however, by the intercession of Dermot MacMurrogh, who, with many other Welsh and English gentlemen, came toWaterford to be present at the marriage of Earl Strongbow with Eva, the King of Leinster ’s daughter.

  I walked back over my fellow-townsman’s “ bridge of American oak,” enjoying very much the beauty of the banks of the river on the side opposite the town: with the exception of the banks of the Suir, however, the neighbourhood of Waterford looked bleak and uninviting. The hotel was but indifferent, and I was not sorry to curtail my stay somewhat, and hurry on by the first conveyance towards Lismore.

J. Sterling Coyne, 1842 from The Scenery and Antiquities of IRELAND, Mercury Books, London, 2003, pp, 214, 216

Waterford possesses two prominent features which are of the greatest advantage to its trade: first, one of the most wonderful quays in the world; and secondly, one of the finest harbours in Ireland.  The quay is a mile long, and so broad and convenient withal, that it must be invaluable to merchants and mariners.  It is skirted by a row of elegant houses; and the scenery on the opposite side of the river ... is extremely picturesque.

Johann Georg Kohl, 1844

You have the Irish dances yet;

Where is the Irish hurling gone?

Of two such lessons why forget

The nobler and the manlier one?

Thomas Francis Meagher, at a monster meeting on Ballybricken Hill, 1848, before he & Michael Doheny led two hurling teams on to the fairgreen to play a game.

[The city's people were] ... easy-going, light-hearted, frank, generous, but too much given to trivial amusements, and too apt to let things drift. They do not seem to think for themselves, and like to follow the example of their neighbour whether it be right or wrong.

United Irishman, 1905: Report on the people of Waterford, 

The noblest Quay in Europe.

Mark Girouard 1992: from Town and Country, World Print Ltd., 1992, P.149

The mellifluous stanzas of the Faerie Queene (Spenser) turn away momentarily from fictitious landscapes to praise the rivers of Ireland (they were invitees to the marriage of the Thames and Medway), among them 'The gentle Shure, which passing sweet Clonmel Adorns rich Waterford.'  At Waterford the Shure is gentle, certainly, but a gentle giant who has brought the city the greater part of its wealth, its history, its importance and its beauty.  It is the views of Waterford from, or across, the Shure that remain most vividly in the memory - above all as one used to to see it, coming up from the sea on the old ferry boat, when one rounded the last bend of the peacefully winding river and saw the long low line of multi-coloured houses stretching along the quay, still half asleep in the early morning sunshine with the spire of the cathedral rising above them.

Kings and armies have sailed up the Shure to Waterford and moulded the history of Ireland in doing so; cattle, corn and cloth have floated down it from the inland counties to Waterford warehouses and out again in Waterford ships to England and America.  Prosperous Waterford merchants have dotted its banks with their pleasant country houses and its broad expanse gives the city a feeling of spaciousness and scale not to be found in many larger and more important places."  

Mark Girouard 1992: from Town and Country, World Print Ltd., 1992, P.159

[Christchurch Cathedral] The finest 18th century ecclesiastical building in Ireland, and one of a piece with its surroundings, which are all of the same period.  The spire, in particular, is unfailingly satisfying; it is built of the same cool grey limestone as the bishop's palace, and soars up from its square base to its octagonal steeple in a series of delicately modulated stages. St Martin-in-the-Fields and other spires by James Gibbs are an obvious source of inspiration; but the Waterford spire is not a copy but an original creation.

Mark Girouard 1992: from Town and Country, World Print Ltd., 1992, P.159

The Protestant cathedral is cool and northern, redolent of lawn sleeves and the communion service; the Catholic cathedral, with its forest of huge Corinthian columns, is warm, luscious and Mediterranean.

Mark Girouard 1992: from Town and Country, World Print Ltd., 1992, P.161

 

 

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