Waterford & Kilkenny
When George and William Penrose opened the Waterford Glass Factory in 1783, it provided English royalty and nobility with a regular supply of ornate handcrafted stemware, chandeliers and decorative knick-knacks. Since then, Waterford crystal has graced the tables of heads of state the world over, and Waterford’s earlier pieces have become priceless heirlooms.
There is more to see in Waterford besides shiny treasures, however, and with a number of ornate churches, historic buildings and fascinating museums, lovers of fine architecture and history will truly fall for Waterford.
An imposing city, complete with an impressive Norman castle and collection of beautiful abbeys and cathedrals, Kilkenny is one of Ireland’s most historic cities. It boasts a vibrant cultural life and is a wonderful base for exploring the surrounding countryside.
Waterford's most famous export, crystal, is still going strong in this town despite a setback in 2009. The best Waterford glass was produced from the late 18th century to the early 19th century – characterised by a unique, slightly opaque cast. Much Waterford crystal is produced outside the country now, but the base in Waterford still produces fine crystal.
Many fine sporting trophies are produced by Waterford, including the Ashes trophy. Waterford chandeliers have been installed in Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, The Kennedy Centre and more. The crystals that form the ball dropped in Times Square on New Years are also manufactured by Waterford Crystal.
The factory tour, which includes moulding, blowing, sculpting, and cutting departments, is a must for any visitor who appreciates timeless craftsmanship and unique design.
Kilkenny is one of the 'big three' in hurling, along with Cork and Tipperary, and hold the most titles in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. This Championship Final was listed in second place by CNN in its "10 sporting events you have to see live", after the Olympics and before the FIFA World Cup!
Hurling is an outdoor team sport of ancient Gaelic origin and has been played for 3000 years! The idea is to get the ball through the goal by using a paddle, called a hurley. The goal is similar to a rugby goal, with a soccer net in the lower part. Putting the ball above the crossbar is worth one point and below the crossbar, which is guarded by a goalkeeper, is worth three points.
Hurling is a rough and exciting game and is a major part of life for many Irish citizens. No padding except for a helmet is worn. It's well worth getting along to a game if you can - the season runs from February to September.
St Canice's Cathedral
Also known as Kilkenny Cathedral, St Canice's Cathedral is an important part of the city of Kilkenny. The cathedral was founded in the 6th century and is named after St Canice who was a successful missionary and a friend of St Columba.
The round tower, which is the oldest standing structure in Kilkenny, is open to be climbed by the public and offers outstanding views of the city. The cathedral is also home to some notable stained glass windows.
The Infinity Experience
Bishop's Palace, WaterfordBishop's Palace Museum
Reginald's Tower, WaterfordReginald's Tower Museum
The Black Abbey, Kilkenny