Waterford to Cork
The final day of your driving trip along Ireland’s South East and the Celtic Coast will see you explore Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city. Famous around the world for its Crystal, Waterford has a strong connection to the Viking era, and this is something you will discover when you visit the city’s famous Viking Triangle. The towns of Ardmore and Lismore are steeped in history, while the seaside town of Tramore is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Ireland. You’ll finish your final day along the Celtic Coast in Rebel Country, as you visit Blarney Castle. From here you’re perfectly placed to get to know County Cork a bit better, or set off exploring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Explore The Viking Triangle
Begin your exploration of Waterford by getting familiar with the city centre. Referred to as Ireland’s oldest city, Waterford can trace its roots back to 914 AD and the Viking times. Indeed, the city still holds these Viking ties close to their hearts today, and none more-so than The Viking Triangle. The Viking Triangle allows you to explore some of the city’s most significant tourist attractions, including Waterford’s Treasures; The Bishop’s Palace, The Medieval Museum and Reginald’s Tower. Named after a Viking, Reginald’s Tower takes you on a journey through Waterford’s ancient past and tells the story of the Viking’s, from their arrival on Irish shores over 1,000 years ago.
The Medieval Museum in the heart of the city, is another treasure that tells the ancient story of Waterford. Take time to walk around the many exhibitions of the museum, with the Great Parchment Book of Waterford sharing some great insights into the city. The book contains records as far back as 1356 AD, and gives you a real taste of life in Waterford down through the years. The final treasure to take time getting familiar with is the Bishop’s Palace, a stunning Georgian building dating back over 200 years. This elegant building tells the story of Georgian Waterford, and is also home to the oldest surviving piece of Waterford Crystal.
As you leave Bishop’s Palace, make the short walk across the road to The House of Waterford Crystal, and enjoy a tour like no other, as you get to experience the history of this famous crystal, and journey through the factory to witness some stunning pieces of crystal being made before your very eyes.
Marvel at Copper Coast
From Waterford City, head south towards the popular coastal town of Tramore and enjoy a relaxing stroll along the beach. If you’re feeling more active, Tramore is a popular surfing town, so head to Oceanics Surf School and get ready to hit the waves. With a golf course and racecourse, and an abundance of bars, cafes and restaurants, it’s easy to see why Tramore is such a popular holiday destination throughout the year.
From Tramore, make the short trip west towards the stunning Copper Coast Geopark. This UNESCO Geopark took some 460 million years to create, so it’s fair to say the area has a story or two to tell, and lots to be discovered. The Geopark takes in some 90 square kilometres and is dotted with stunning beaches and walking trails. The Copper Coast Geopark Centre tells the story of the land and is open Monday – Thursday from 11am – 5pm, with the last exhibition at 4.30pm.
Waterford’s Ancient Towns and Castles
Having spent time getting familiar with the impressive landscape of Copper Coast, the next stage of your drive through Waterford will see you take in some of the county’s ancient towns and castles. First up is the popular coastal town of Dungarvan, home to the Waterford County Museum. While you’ll already have a understanding of the history of Waterford from your time in the Viking Triangle, the Waterford County Museum continues this story, while also looking closer at Dungarvan and other historic Waterford townlands. From the County Museum, head to Castle Street to visit Dungarvan Castle, the first of 3 castles you will see on this part of your drive. Dungarvan Castle dates back to 1185 and is an Anglo-Norman castle that has been restored in recent years.
From Dungarvan, the final leg of your journey through Waterford will take you to the towns of Lismore and Ardmore. First up is the town of Ardmore, which is located along the coast and said to be Ireland’s oldest Christian site, dating back to 350 – 450 AD. The town has a wealth of ancient sites to explore including McKenna’s Castle, Ardmore Cathedral and Ardmore Round Tower. If you have time, set off along the popular Ardmore Cliff Walk or head down to Ardmore Pier.
From Ardmore, travel to the town of Lismore, your final stop in Waterford. Begin with Lismore Heritage Centre where you will find out more about Lismore, a story that dates back to 636 AD. The heritage centre is a must see for anyone travelling with kids. Continue to explore Lismore by visiting Lismore Castle and Gardens and take a stroll round this seven acre, 17th Century building. The castle, surrounding gardens and a contemporary art gallery will certainly keep you occupied as you spend the last hours of your Waterford trip in Lismore.
Last stop, Blarney and Cork
As you leave Lismore, continue to head west for Cork, where you will finish the Celtic Coast route by visiting Blarney Castle before calling it a day in Cork City. On your way from Lismore to Blarney, be sure to visit the town of Midleton, and head further south to Cobh, if time is on your side. The historic town of Midleton dates back to the 12th Century, while it is also home to the Jameson Whiskey Distillery, a must see when travelling through this part of Cork. Indeed, legend has it that Irish whiskey was invented in Midleton back in the 18th Century.
From Midleton, head to the town of Blarney, home of Blarney Castle and the world famous Blarney Stone. The castle and grounds are over 600 years old and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cork. A trip to Blarney wouldn’t be complete without climbing to the top and kissing the Blarney Stone, and receiving the gift of eloquence for the rest of your days. From Blarney, make the short trip to Cork City where you can spend the night and take time to explore the city the following day. Some of the highlights of Cork City include Cork City Gaol, St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, the English Market and Crawford Art Gallery.