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1100 years in Waterford, Ireland

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Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, founded in 914 A.D. That makes it older than all of Northern Europe’s capitals, except London and Paris. In 2014 it celebrates its 1100th anniversary.

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Vikings built a settlement in Waterford at the confluence of the River Suir and St. John’s River, with Reginald’s Tower marking the spot of their first defensive structure. As you walk around Waterford today, the “Blue Plaque” Trail starts here and informs the tourist of historical structures and prominent citizens throughout the central city. Allow at least an hour to walk the trail and add however much time you’d like to explore the various site’s interiors.

While many tourists come to admire the hand-cut glass of Waterford Crystal fame, there are so many more wonderful, but less well known sites to see. Heading south from the famous clock tower, we were headed to John Roberts Square when we wandered into a building looking like a great court house. Turns out it was the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, mother church of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore.

This cathedral is the oldest post-reformation Roman Catholic Cathedral in Ireland, constructed in 1793. Funds for the construction came primarily from poor parishioners, pennies at a time. In the book rack at the back of the church, you’ll find a great guide explaining the history of the cathedral, the statuary and the stained glass windows.

One of the most striking features of the cathedral is the dark oak baroque pulpit, carved by Buisine and Sons of Lille, France in 1883. The heavily carved panels on either side reflect stories of Jesus meeting the woman at the well and teaching from a boat on the Sea of Galilee.

In the same year, the stained glass window of St. Patrick, Apostle of the Irish was installed. Looking up, you also can’t help but notice the gorgeous column capitals and the 10 Waterford Crystal chandeliers presented to the cathedral in 1979.

The cathedral is but one of many wonderful historic buildings that can’t be fully appreciated without venturing inside. Be sure to pick up the Waterford City Map and the Blue Plaques’ Trail map at the Tourist Office on Meagher’s Quay. For more information, check out their website at http://www.discoverwaterfordcity.ie or call at +353 0)51 875823.

Bonus tip: If you’re shopping in Arundel Square, be sure to stop by our favorite little sandwich shop in all of Ireland – the Tuck Away Café and Sandwich Bar.

Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about travel destinations, photography and tech topics across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at travel.dougbardwell@gmail.com with suggestions for future stories. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here. For travel ideas in Cleveland and around the world, check his Calendar of Events. To see his travel photo collection, see BardwellPhotography.com.

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