Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

The Waterford Treasures Museum

I have spent the morning at the Waterford Treasures Museum, which I found really rather impressive: spread over three floors of an ancient granary, full of exhibits mainly concentrating on the medieval period - apparently 20% of the original Viking town of Waterford has been excavated properly which is one of the most thorough such cases in Europe; exhibits include a half-dirham coin minted near Baghdad in 742, as well as a surprising number of leather artifacts.

Waterford claims to be the oldest city in Ireland; it was also where Strongbow married Dermot McMorrough's daughter Aoife in 1170, to seal the Norman conquest of Ireland; later it resisted both Perkin Warbeck and Cromwell (though surrendered to Ireton). Through accidents of history the museum holds some amazing survivals - church vestments dating from the fifteenth century, a Cap of Maintenance which was given to the town, presumably after having been worn, by Henry VIII. Later centuries featured the poitician and diplomat Thomas Wyse, who married one of Napoleon's nieces, and the growth of glass-making which culminated in Waterford Crystal.

Plus bonus Bronze Age exhibition on the ground floor - never a bad thing.

The museum isn't perfectly organised - it has an awful lot to say, and despite the creative use of limited space it still feels a little cramped and a little crammed, and the audio tour isn't always a perfect match to the exhibition. But it is pretty impressive. I hadn't been to Waterford since attending the Ard Fheis of Young Fine Gael in 1996 (a story which will have to remain untold for now), but I am impressed by what has been done with its heritage.

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