1000+ Years of Waterford History: Waterford, Co Waterford

When we visited Waterford recently we met many tourists who had plans to view the city’s famous crystal (which is stunning), wander a bit, and then quickly leave, allowing a mere 2 hours to “see it all”. I urge you to spend a bit more time in Waterford. It is, after all, the oldest city in Ireland and filled with history of the native Irish, Vikings and Normans.

A Trio of Museums Share the History of Waterford

Great Charter Roll 1372, Medieval Museum, Waterford, Ireland

A few treasures here include the Great Charter Roll from 1372. This 4 meter long parchment depicts Waterford history, including portraits of 5 medieval Kings of England.

Over 1000 years of Waterford history is shared in the trio of museums known collectively as “Waterford Treasures”.

  • The treasures of Viking Waterford reside at Reginald’s Tower. Easy to find as it stands at the edge of the River Barrow where Merchant’s Quay meets The Mall, you’ll find public parking at the Bolton Street Car Park (turn left on William Street and follow the signs).
  • The Medieval Museum is relatively new, built over an existing tower, 12th century undercrofts and Chorsiter’s Hall. With history from 1096 to 1650, the Medieval period of Waterford’s history was both outstandingly opulent and devastatingly bloody.
  • Waterford’s more recent history- from 1700 until 1970- is on display in The Bishop’s Palace, directly next door to the Medieval Museum. The elegance of the Georgian period is on display in the first two floors of the museum, with treasures and trinkets from the more recent past displayed on the 3rd level.

While you can self-tour the museums, I highly recommend the Character Led Tours. The costumed storytellers bring Waterford’s history to life as they lead you through the ‘Viking Triangle’ as well as the museums.

Character Led Tours of Waterford, Ireland

Mr. Watwhy and Mrs. Rickards lead tours through the Bishop’s Palace

You’ll be introduced to different characters as the tour progresses, each from their own period of history. These tours are especially good for children as the guides are both interesting and engaging.


Written by Jody Halsted

Jody Halsted

Jody publishes the Ireland travel planning website, Ireland Family Vacations. Her travel philosophy is, “just because you have kids, doesn’t mean you have to stay home!” A frequent traveler to Ireland, Jody helps families plan travel budgets and itineraries that are fun for kids and adults. Jody’s Tips | Website

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